overhand knot jewelry

Tie it at the end of sewing thread, at the bottom of a rope or fringe to prevent fraying, as a stopper knot, or at the four corners of a handkerchief to improvise a sun hat. The overhand knot is multipurpose, and the basis for many other knots. Did you know there are actually two ways to tie it? Chances are your hands naturally make it one way or the other; let’s take a look at both ways, and then at two simple decorative versions you can see in the necklaces above.

Tying the Knot

Overhand knots over and under

In knotting, an end that is manipulated is a “working end” and an end that doesn’t is a “standing end.” Tightening a knot is called “shaping up.”

In the top pair of photos, the working end goes over the standing end and through the resulting loop from back to front. Gentle tugging shapes up the knot.

In the bottom pair of photos, the working end goes under the standing end and over, through the resulting loop from front to back. Gentle tugging shapes up the knot.

With a piece of rope or cord, watch your hands tie an overhand knot. Which knot do they make automatically, right over left or right under left? Now try tying the knot the other way. Feels weird, right?

Overhand knots two ways.
At left, the two knots are shown in series. Bend the cord in the middle, and you can see they are mirror images of each other.

Why would you want to know how to tie it both ways? Perhaps to use the opposing knots in the same project, adding a bit of decorative aspect as you tie them one after another in a bracelet or in multiple chains of a necklace. (Or across your knit fabric, as you’ll see in the next post of this series).

Going Around Again. And Again.

Double overhand
Double overhand knot, over and under method.

The simplest variation on an overhand knot? The double overhand knot.

Tuck the working end around one more time before gently pulling the two ends in opposite directions. As you shape up the knot, twist the ends slightly in opposite directions to help the knot’s turns nest with each other.

Triple overhand
Triple overhand knot, over and under method.

If you can go around once, what happens if you go around one more time? Why, you get a triple overhand knot!

Tuck the working end around three times before shaping up the knot. As with the double, twist ends slightly in opposite directions.

As someone whose mother grew up in the Depression and therefore taught her daughter Extreme Thriftiness, I have not just a stash of yarn but a stash of odds and ends. A great way to use up these odds and ends? Make lengths of I-cord, crochet chain cords, or cast-on/bind-off cord with scraps, and tie them into bracelets, necklaces, key fobs, and the like. Below you’ll see a few I’ve made using our friend the overhand knot, variously single, double, or triple. One, the green at lower right, is made with a rubber “yarn” I got at my LYS, ImagiKnit. Another (inside the beaded I-cord necklace) is plied cotton cord from the hardware store. The rest are yarn leftovers.

Overhand knot projects

On the question of how to make your knotted length wearable: Some I’ve tied closed with tails, braided tails, or loops and knots. Others are closed with jewelry findings like these; head over to Craftsy if you’re interested in learning how to make your own findings. It’s really pretty easy.

Interested but need more help? Below are some references in my knotting library. Stay tuned for next post, where I’m going to take these overhand knots and apply them to knit fabric—a new knot and how to apply it, KLITCH class students!


Chinese, Celtic & Ornamental Knots for Beaded Jewellery Book by Suzen Millodot – $20.24

from: CreateForLess

4th Level Indie Paracord Project Inspirations Book by J. D. Lenzen – $12.49

from: CreateForLess

Cico Paracord Jewelry & Other Accessories Book – $11.99
from: CreateForLess