Knotting: The Overhand Knot

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


I-Cord, I-Cord, I-Cord

Knotted Coasters and Trivets
Knotted Coasters and Trivets

Ever get obsessed with something? I-cord was the topic for me a few months back. A simple little tube, yet so many possibilities: drawstrings for bags and booties, edgings for sweaters and cowls, button loops, …  and MORE!

End result of obsession? New patterns for you in Creative Knitting Presents Just in Time Knits and a series of 3 1-hour Market Session classes that will debut at STITCHES West in Santa Clara this coming weekend.

Yards of plain Stockinette I-cord are knotted with sailors’ knots to form the coasters and trivets you see above; a tutorial I wrote is included to lead you through the knotty bits (ha. ha.). The necklaces below are also embellished with knots, and if you like, you can up your I-cord game by using stitch patterns.

Look interesting, but you have no idea how to make I-cord? If you’re heading to STITCHES, the Market Session series begins with an Introducing I-Cord class on Friday afternoon, then continues with Jazz Up That I-Cord and I-Cord on the Edge on Saturday.

One last shameless plug, though this one is not for me! If you’re looking for other things to do with these and other types of cord, check out Kellie Nuss’s Almost Instant Necklace Scarf Market Session, which just happens to be right between Jazz Up That I-Cord and I-Cord on the Edge on Saturday’s schedule (no, that wasn’t planned or anything… ;).

Addendum to the Post

In my writing and teaching, it is always my intent to share information: to excite, empower and inspire readers and students about the topic at hand.

I research and read, I experiment, I synthesize, and then present curated content to the reader and student. It is not my intention to claim credit for invention, but merely to spread knowledge.

While my class handouts always list resources for the student to consult for further study, the article published in Creative Knitting did not have space for such attribution, being only a two-page spread. Herewith, I present the list of relevant resources, exclusive of the ones that did not add to knowledge already gained.



Epstein, Nicky. Knitting Over the Edge
Hershberg, Betsy. Betsy Beads
Hiatt, June Hemmons. Principles of Knitting
McEneely, Naomi. Compendium of Finishing Techniques
Phillips, Mary Walker. Creative Knitting
Thomas, Mary. Mary Thomas’s Knitting Book
Zimmerman, Elizabeth. Knitting Without Tears, Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around




Belash, Constantine A. Braiding & Knotting
Budworth, Geoffrey & Hopkins, Richard. What Knot?
Budworth, Geoffrey & Hopkins, Richard. What Knot?
Collingwood, Peter. The Techniques of Ply-Split Braiding
Owen, Roderick. Braids: 250 Patterns from Japan, Peru & Beyond