Chinese knotwork books and necklace

Sometime in November I had this dilemma: What on earth could I get my other half’s Mum for Christmas? His parents have reached that zenith of home building where they have acquired everything they need, and his Mum doesn’t have that many hobbies (apart from baking, but I was informed by Rob that buying her cooking related presents was tantamount to suggesting she should be chained to the stove).

Solution: Make her something.

Next dilemma: What to make? I ended up going for a necklace. On my fairly recent trip to Hong Kong, I was reminded about the intricacy of Chinese decorative knots. A short time trawling Amazon resulted in the purchase of Chinese Knots for Beaded Jewellery by Susan Millodot and Decorative Knot Craft by Kim Sang Lang (Korean knots).

The Millodot book was the one I used for the necklace, but this was because it was more orientated at Western necklace and bracelet design, and the knots in it better suited what I had in mind. Some of the Amazon reviews said that the instructions weren’t clear enough without a companion book describing the same knots in more detail, but I didn’t have any trouble with it myself provided I was careful. I think it depends on how good you are at deciphering diagrams; some of the ones showing the “exploded” knot took a bit of concentration to work out which cord went over/under which, and I spent a lot of time double checking all the interweaving before pulling it tight.

The Korean book has some beautiful knots in it (showing how to make dragonflies and butterflies out of cord, which the Millodot doesn’t) and it also shows the steps in much more detail. Each step has a separate photograph and paragraph of text, with some of the more complicated knots covering several pages. I’m itching to have a go at some of these for other projects, but although there are quite a few project suggestions at the back, none of them matched what I had pictured in my head. I’d definitely recommend this though.

So, to the necklace design. I chose to create a double corded pendant necklace with the pendant hanging from a prosperity knot. I added some beads sandwiched between button knots and used two double connection knots to create a sliding clasp so that the length could be adjusted to suit. In my usual deadline orientated style of crafting, I started designing it at 9pm the day before I visited Rob’s parents, knotting commenced around 10.30pm and I finished it (bar final adjustments) at around 2.30am. Quite a quick project all told, but I do wish I’d started it earlier!

Please see pictures below. Unfortunately they didn’t come out as well as I’d like as I was taking them indoors at night, and taking flash photos of reflective cord and beads is really tricky.

Making the prosperity knot:

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The book actually said to lay it out on cork board, but I decided that carpet was just as good (and far cheaper!). I placed a piece of scrap wrapping paper underneath the cords before pinning so I could see them over the carpet pattern. Actually, in the above photo, I missed out one of the inter-weaves, so I had to re-do it.

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One completed prosperity knot! Note the many, many pin holes in the wrapping paper by this point… :) Next stage was to make some button knots and thread beads in between them.

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By the way, beads and cord came from a place called Rainbow Silks, actually based in Great Missenden. Once ordered the stuff arrived incredibly fast! I was very impressed.

Anyway, after finishing the main knots, the necklace looked like this: 

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Only one thing left to do – make two double connection knots to act as a sliding clasp! The next picture shows one complete knot in the bottom left hand corner, and one just before it’s pulled tight and adjusted.

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Looks a right mess! Anyway, once that was done, it could finally be worn as a necklace. I tried it on to see if it would actually go over my head.

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Et voila! One completed necklace! My apologies for the blurriness of that last photo. The camera operator was unfamiliar with the equipment, and it was 2.30a.m. by this point. Anyway, it was done in time to be given to its recipient, even if I did then have to adjust it to fit. Next time I make one of these using two cords at a time, I’ll do more knots along the length to keep the cords sitting nicely next to each other. The distance between the last bead and the sliding clasp was long enough that the two cords acted as two separate cords, rather than one necklace loopy thing.

Sorry for the delay in this post btw. Hopefully the next one will be fairly prompt, I have loads of things to post about! Knitting AND crochet things! :D