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How-to

Making Chinese Knots from Unusual Materials

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Chinese knots can shine in a number of materials aside from handmade cording. Ellen W. Miller, author of “Chinese Knots” from Threads #207 (Feb./March 2020), enjoys playing with different techniques and materials to find new and interesting combinations. In the article, she describes how to make your own cording and shares step-by-step instructions on how to tie two types of Chinese knots. Below are five examples of different or difficult materials for Chinese knots, as well as pros and cons of working with each.

The knot below is tied in 2.0-mm-wide rattail cord. Rattail makes an elegant knot, with its shiny, satin finish. However, the satin finish also makes rattail slippery and challenging to knot. Additionally, rattail’s narrow width makes a small knot. This fabrication would be ideal if you wanted a number of small knots and loops to ornament a closure

This knot is tied in a crimped bamboo/acrylic yarn approximately 2.0 mm thick. The soft yarn makes a cuddly knot, which would be useful only as a decorative element. The knot is too soft and thin to be easily picked up and manipulated like a button; additionally, the fuzzy quality of the yarn obscures the inner lines of the knot. If you wanted a swirly, fuzzy shape to cover a snap or a hole, this fabrication would be an excellent choice.

This knot is tied in a stiff, shiny multistrand cord. It is approximately 6.0 mm thick. The multistrand cord makes a substantial knot that can be easily grasped and manipulated. However, the cord’s multiple strands obscure the inner lines of the knot, making it one big blob from afar. The round cord makes a lovely trim as it is; if you used the cord as a trim and made Chinese knots with it, your embellishments would be serpentine.

This knot is tied in a multistrand cord that could be used as a sweatshirt hood tie. It is approximately 6.0 mm thick. The woven texture of this cord lends a maritime air to this knot. The inner lines of the knot are easy to see, and the knot is firm enough to be easily grasped and manipulated. If your design has a nautical feel, this fabrication would work well.

This knot is tied in wool roving (unspun wool). It will not withstand abrasive forces, including pulling to make it more compact. It is approximately 4.0 mm thick. The ephemeral nature of this knot might make the perfect embellishment for a garment that explores strength and weakness, but should not be used as a closure.

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