There are two ways to wear a traditional sailor bracelet.
The purist squeezes the smallest one they can fit, wet it down with hot water, and make it tight on their wrist so it might come off with enough cold water to loosen it and some aggressive tugging. The goal is to wear it about a year or two and cut it off for the new one.
The fashionista, for lack of a better word, finds the perfect color to match the day. They pick one just a little bit bigger than the other guy. That way, when it does eventually get wet and shrink down, they can slip out of it like a bangle and chose a different color or style for the next day. This is as common as the purist method above. For the fashionista, you've found paradise here. With 18 colors paired together, the combinations are endless (ok, 18x17=306 combos, but still it will take time to collect them all)
2 How do you size a sailor bracelet?
In shop, we suggest trying them on. When you find the right one, you'll know. If you can't find the right one, we'll make it for you here, on the spot.
Online, we make them in 3 stock sizes: small, medium, and large. Pretty straight forward. We have sizing jigs here to keep that sizing consistent.
Small: fits 5-6 inch wrists
Medium: fits 6-7 inch wrists
Large: fits 7-8 inch wrists
Since we make all these knots ourselves, you can also leave special instructions in the message box during checkout. We'll be happy to make a custom size for you. That leads to the next question:
3 Can I put a bracelet on my ankle?
You can do whatever you're willing to try. In humans, the hand and wrist anatomy is a bit different to the foot and ankle. There is this one spot. Where the heel and the instep line up that is MUCH bigger than either around the ankle or around the foot. Because the traditional turks head knot (sailor bracelet) doesn't stretch much, nor does it have a clasp, you'll have to work it over that size. If it is easy to fit, the anklet will be really really loose on your ankle. If it is a class a pain to put on, it might shrink up enough to look normal. This was the original reason we started making our adjustable anklets. It makes a weave that looks like a sailor bracelet without the struggles of pulling one on like that.
Now, with all that said, we do have customers that are putting them on their ankles. It involves tow straps, Crisco, a fair amount of cheap tequila and a bit of a masochistic streak. It could be used as a way to get the feeling of a tattoo without the permanence of your kindergarten child's artwork on your forehead.
If you choose to do this yourself, just let us know the size that will actually work. Take a string, measure that instep to heel length by wrapping and measuring with a piece of string, and we'll make that size for you. Alternatively, if you ask, we can leave it 'unfinished' at the size you'd like. If you are comfortable 'drawing it up' and tightening it in place, you can get a really nice look by sizing it for yourself.
4 What is the history of a sailor bracelet?
The sailor bracelet has a tongue in cheek story about sailors using them to show their love for the lass he left at port. Now, given they take less than 20 minutes to make, using material readily found on board, tell me how much love he's really expressing.
There is another story, that has more plausibility, some of the crews on the herreshoff race fleet would make them for each other, wearing them on either wrists or ankles. The dockmaster became familiar with each boat's chosen style and could recognize people that belonged on certain docks and on certain boats and they became a defacto dock pass.
Other, more historic lore, had the deckhands making them for themselves as a makeshift sweat band. Kind of grody, but they do work that way, been there, done that.
The regional tradition was to put one of these on in the beginning of summer, see how much trouble you can get into and see how dirty you could make them. Eventually, mom would win out and you'd have to cut them off. Now, older and wiser, we all try to keep them clean. It's not ever going to be as white as it was originally, but I personally wear mine 24/7 and am almost done with year 2. In the shower, I lather them up, inside and out, with my shampoo. The shampoo can break down the body oils and detergent cleans it a bit. The color balances into a multi-tone grey/white where the areas that don't touch anything stay close to white and the outer surface darkens over time.
If you REALLY want to clean it, you can carefully mix a solution of 1 part household bleach to 10 parts water into a glass bowl or cup. Splash risks and all that, bleach can be a bad thing. Take off the bracelet. Using a stainless steel fork or something else nonreactive, press the bracelet under water and let it set for 30 min or longer.
DO NOT let any of the cotton get above the waterline.
There is a serious oxidation space just above the solution surface and you'll get brown scorch lines. After the soak time, rinse the bracelet by cross pouring into fresh water, exchange the bleach water for clear and continue 3x. Wring out the bracelet and start agitating it under fresh water and rinse until you cannot smell the bleach any more.
That was the process I used, in smaller scale when we used to bleach out our cotton for wedding napkin rings and were going for the bright white. Personally, I like the aging effect of a clean, smell free bracelet that darkens and discolors over time, but that's how I'd keep it bright if I had to.
Like a well loved pair of jeans or tshirt, this is cotton and is destined to fade into some really complex and fun combinations. Be wary of bleach, as a child of the 80's, I'm aware of bleach burns and acid washing. I never fell victim to the trend, but if you bleach your color bracelet, you will find a new world of color hiding beneath the color you bought. That could be good, more likely bad.
Again, like any other cotton, a mild detergent, rinsing out afterwards is the best plan. Personally, I just wash my bracelet with the same shampoo I use for my hair, wash the outer surface AND the underneath. That keeps the plethora of fragrances down to a more pleasing subset of smells.
6 Are glasses tippy on your coasters?
Nope. The weave of a coaster looks rough and bumpy as the cord goes up and down through the pattern, but there are five surfaces on the face of the coaster that are on the same plane. As long as the bottom of your stemware, mug, or glass is normal, there's no problem. Just put the cup on the coaster and not overhang an edge.
The only glasses I don't recommend for the coaster are the stemware with the tiny little bases and viking drinking horns. They just tip over unless you hang them from a cool strap.
7 How does your coaster work? What makes them better?
The coasters work like any other coaster, but better. The coaster serves to keep the hot cup off your woodwork, and keeps the cold drink from 'sweating' all over that same woodwork. Unlike the ceramic, glass, or other non-porous coasters, ours suck. Ok, I said that wrong. Ours absorb water and keep the beads of condensation from pooling up and rolling off. Some coasters turn an unsightly round water ring into a somewhat differently unsightly water damage square.
Our coasters air dry pretty quickly and while possible, I've had no reports in the last 20 odd years of condensation actually being enough to soak a coaster completely and reaching the goal of all errant water: pretty wood surfaces. 123
8 How do you clean a coaster?
Our coasters are made from cotton, hand woven into this cool shape. You can wash them like anything else cotton, but it doesn't like to be pulled on.
I don't recommend just throwing them in the wash. If you have a delicates garment bag, you can throw them in that and add them to your wash along with appropriate colors (dark/dark, white/white, etc). It's just a safe move for the first wash of any cotton color. As soon as the wash cycle is over, they need to be lain flat on a flat surface to finish drying, otherwise you risk curling.
Customers have had good luck just putting them in the top tray of their dishwasher, letting the magic scrubbing fairies do their thing. Just be sure your detergent doesn't have any bleach or other whitening agent or it could whiten those awesome navy coasters. As soon as the wash cycle is over, they need to be lain flat on a flat surface to finish drying, otherwise you risk curling.
Alternatively, there is the tried and true. Hand wash with light detergent, rinse, press and allow to air dry flat.
9 Are there tricks to keeping a wreath round?
Yes. We make our wreaths in manila, cotton, and spun polyester. We also put a frame on the back as an option. The framed ones don't take much effort to keep their shape, but still, the natural fiber wreaths do change shape over time. There are tricks to keeping the unframed ones round.
First: If you mount the frame using more than one spot (dropping it on a nail), you'll spread the weight out and make it easier to stay round.
Second: Chris Linley shared on FB: "like in high school volleyball...rotate! Your wreath graces our front door for 8-9 months per year. I haven't added a frame, but I do rotate it from time to time. It still looks great!"
10 Do you have a real store, or are you just online?
Yes, we reopened to the public in 2014 in at 25 Cottrell Street in Downtown Mystic, CT, and we opened our second shop closer to my in-laws house on 2 Holmes Street, 600 feet north.
11 Do you have to study String Theory to tie knots?
No, String Theory is a theoretical framework in which the point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by one-dimensional objects called strings. These quantum strings are too small for us to work with, so while interesting, knowledge of sub atomic physics is not as important to the knot tyer as you'd expect.