The Legend of the Sailors Knot and The Jewelry of Michael Saiger

Florida-based designer, Michael Saiger’s take on the Sailor’s Knot.

For the first time in five years, I did not spend Memorial Day dolphin diving with friends at the beach. By happenstance, each year on Memorial Day, at the surf shop pit stop, in addition to picking up a bottle of NO-AD SPF15 and a six of Bud Light, I made a tradition of buying a Sailor’s Knot bracelet, also referred to as a Nantucket Bracelet. And I’d wear the thing until it fell off, or until Labor Day reared its narsty head.

n22102112_30891844_8550Caught, red-handed stealing cookies, The Sailor’s Knot Bandit.

Legend suggests that the bracelets were made by sailors at sea to demonstrate their knot-tying skills, and then given to their sweethearts upon return. I did ask a friend to send me a Sailor’s Knot bracelet this year, and though every year I promise myself that this will be the summer I learn how to make my own, I always manage to forget.

Growing up, the best parts of my summers in Saint Louis were spent swimming and shoving and punching the cuss out of my fellow water-weirdo, water polo jocks (Believe it or not, “The Gateway to the West” is a hotbed of star polo players). Many of my significant firsts — first kiss, first blue ribbon, first serious injury — happened at the pool. All I really need to know I learned playing Sharks & Minnows. And, yet in all those hours spent snagging my suit on the concrete deck floor of the bullpen, one of the most interesting skills I learned — besides, obviously, eggbeater kick — was how to make a mean friendship bracelet. Clipboards, deck chairs, the racerback straps of my girlfriend’s neon splatter graphic suit, anywhere I could clamp down some thread, I went to making lots and lots of totally gnarly knots. About a year ago, I toyed with the idea of combining my knowledge of knotting with my fondness for traditional men’s dress by making a series of diagonal friendship bracelets in colorways that nodded to the regimental stripes typically reserved for neckwear. I still think there’s a market for repp stripe friendship bracelets, and I would love some help making this dream a reality.

Followers of my Twitter account have noticed that I always wear a few friendship bracelets, and I tell them each carries a significant story. Once during a board room meeting, my boss referred to them, suggesting, as with my unshaven face and sockless suit, it was reflective of a generational chasm. Under normal circumstances, I would never go out of my way to buy a bracelet for myself, but upon discovering Michael Saiger’s crazy creations on Facebook, I’ve given it serious consideration.

So crazy are his creations, with their combining of the frippery of a friendship bracelet and the sturdy function of a fish hook, a monkey’s fist, or some other bit of sea paraphernalia, I kept exclaiming to myself, “Cool! So, so cool.” I’m excited by their ability to look at the same time silly and sturdy. Strong and sweet. Twee and tough. Forgive the question, but shouldn’t riding these lines, as his jewelry does, be one of life’s goals? Much like my favorite people, Mr. Saiger’s offerings don’t take themselves too seriously, they’re nice to have around for a laugh, and they are there for you in a jam (I’ve used many a knotted floss to fix a broken shoelace, as a makeshift key chain, and in one case, it kept the wheel of a rollerblade from wobbling too much until we made it home to the Craftsman toolbox. I can already imagine all the nutty stuff I’ll be fixing with his hooks).

If, like me, you love summer, like the occasional reminder of what it’s like to be a girl-crazy ten-year-old, trying, in vain, to impress the lanky, thirteen-year-old junior lifeguards, or even if you just want to have fun, colorful stuff around, Michael Saiger’s bracelets are the way to go this summer. Totes, brotes.

Special thanks to Michael Macko for alerting me to Mr. Saiger’s designs.

For more of my picks from Saiger’s current offerings, visit my Flickr account.