Family Beading Fun: A Kid-Tested Project Idea

The prospect of spending a week at my brother’s cabin this summer was an absolute thrill for me and my family. My vision included floating in an inner tube on a still lake with no noise other than the “plop” of an occasional fishing bobber. The kids’ visions included wild inner-tube rides with their cousins punctuated by bottle rockets and sparklers. And, of course, my bottomless-pit teenagers also envisioned the all-day feasts that always are part of a trip to the lake.

While we were packing our bags, though, I got a buzz-kill thought  . . . rain + small cabin in the wilderness + children of various ages (7–49) counting on me to come up with a creative way to suppress the boredom. So I rummaged through my bead stash and packed away a spool of red waxed linen, several dozen natural bone and wood beads, and a wide selection of size 6° seed beads. Thank goodness I did, because that portable stash turned out to be one of the week’s golden tickets.

Like many of you, I’ve been beading for a long time in front of my family, and they have shown little to no interest in participating themselves. Oh, when the kids were little, perhaps. . . . But this vacation week was different. Everyone got in on the action! We didn’t even have rain, but once the first person macraméd a necklace, everyone else wanted one, too. Then it became a sort of contest. Who could tie knots the fastest? The straightest? The curviest? Who did the coolest design? The most interesting toggle? Wearing our pieces became like a badge of honor, as if we were Survivor contestants and these beaded items helped keep us on the island. It was an absolute hoot and certainly a welcome, healthy diversion in the absence of cell phones, TVs, and iPods.

This project is fun to do, but it’s also surprisingly stylish. The thin waxed linen provides a more sophisticated look than thick hemp would, and I think even the little ones were excited about how “pro” their finished pieces looked.

Survivor Macramé Bracelet or Necklace

1. Cut 2 pieces of waxed linen about five times the length you wish your finished piece to be.

2. Fold the cords in half and twist them tightly together at the center for about 1 inch. Tie an overhand knot to secure the twist, making a loop.

3. Use the two outside cords to tie macramé square knots around the two inside ones. String beads on the cords as desired. When the outside cords become shorter than the inside ones, just switch them. A good place to do this is when you’re adding beads—the swap can be hidden within the bead holes.

4. Finish by stringing a toggle bead that fits snugly through your initial loop. Tie an overhand knot and trim all the cords.

Do you have some ideas for group beading of all ages and skill levels? Share your comments below!  

Jean Campbell writes about beading and life every Wednesday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Jean, please post them on the website. Thanks!

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Beading Daily Blog, Beading for Kids
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  You can also follow me on Twitter at: Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

7 thoughts on “Family Beading Fun: A Kid-Tested Project Idea

  1. Using memory wire is a good medium for all ages and can be done by beginners. You only need the wire, a stash of beads, a strong wire cutter and a good strong pliers to bend the wire into a loop at each end of a bracelet or necklace.

  2. Actually, I *love* this idea (especially for the kids). However, we do not like hemp, and hemp is all I can find. I’ve looked in all the local stores, my usual supplier, and online. Where does one find waxed linen? And what widths do we need? We have a variety of beads, from seed beads to big wooden beads (I prefer the medium to small sizes beads). Is this something that will be very durable, and color fast?

  3. Waxed linen is a very common stringing material. Most local bead shops carry it, and you can probably find it at other craft shops as well. I’ve found it to be very durable, but not very colorfast if the wearer insists on swimming, sleeping, waterskiing, showering, and whatnot with the jewelry on like my kids do! Their deep red macramed pieces are now more rose-colored.
    Good luck!

  4. I’ve been working with macrame over 20 years, but my experience has been only with Russian materials. When I moved to the U.S. , I was so happy to discover a new type of cord for me in Polished Hemp. I have been working in hemp (bracelets, watches, necklaces, rings, and children’s items) and it has a huge variety of colors. It’s not scratchy or rough and is very strong and does not fall apart plus It’s been very fun to work with many styles of hemp.

  5. Back, way back, when I was a kid, we vacationed in Ocean City, Maryland. A round, strong cotton string was very common – the duct tape of yore. We used square knots and four strings, the same as the survivor bracelet given on July 9. The difference was, ours were “shark strings” to wear around an ankle. They must have worked, because we were never bothered by sharks. Then, again, we were never bothered by elephants, either. Back then, we never gave that a thought.

  6. I loved hearing about your macrame fun. Yes, children just love macrame once they get the knots down they do not want to stop. I use all sorts of stringing material from yarn to waxed cotton. The waxed cotton I can get at Micheal’s but it only comes in natural and black.

    Sandy from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada