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


National Craft Month is here!

During National Craft Month two years ago I explored two new hobby areas I’d always wanted to learn more about. The first was photography, as in photography with a REAL camera (remember those?). I watched Rick Allred’s Basics of Digital Photography class on Craftsy, tried to learn and practice a few things to make it all stick, and wrote about it. I certainly learned a lot, and I think you can see the difference in my photographs here and on social media.

The second hobby I wanted to learn more about was jewelry. as I’d mucked around a bit with jump rings and bead cones and the like but wanted to know if I’d “done it right.” For this I turned to Craftsy again, and Candie Cooper’s class on Beading with Wire, Chain, and Leather. Candie has a great upbeat attitude, and some nice projects that I WILL get to some day. I’ve used what I learned  in some of my newer knotting projects. You can read about my experience with that class here.

All Craftsy Classes Under $20 at 3/8-3/11/18.

In addition to writing about what I was learning, I wrote a series of craft blog posts to share what I know. The first covered making single-row stripes in my usual medium, knitting. The second contained a tutorial on tying a braid knot with different elements (yarn itself, knit I-cord, cast-on bind-off cord, and slip-stitch crochet cord). In the third, I detailed how to make a small cardboard loom and do some basic weaving moves (I was obsessed with this at the time—need to get back to it soon!). And the final post of the series showed how to use herringbone stitch, an embroidery technique, on a bandana scarf I had made but didn’t wear as it didn’t seem *finished*.

So what am I doing this year for National Craft Month? Next post I want to talk about knotting, something I’ve been dabbling in for a few years and the “K” in my KLITCH class (going to STITCHES United in Hartford, CT? I’ll be teaching it there!). What can you do with an overhand knot, besides make the first stitch of a cast-on? Hmmm… :-)











Improving Me Time: Jewelry!

Beading with Wire, Chain and Leather on Craftsy

As you may know, I have a 12-year-old son. A couple of years ago when we were in Joann’s for other reasons he found a kit for making a paracord bracelet. I had a childhood flashback looking at it (summer camp! square knots! MACRAMÉ!), and of course bought it for him. And so began yet another hobby, knotting. It has bled over into my work world as some published magazine patterns for I-cord coasters, free macramé craft patterns, and in several classes (Knotting Nuttiness, Macrame Friendship Bracelets).

The Motivation

So great, right? I have all this leftover cool yarn, and I learned how to tie knots with it (patience is a virtue when tying knots in stretchy yarn instead of firm paracord). But how do I turn fasten all these pretty chains of yarn and knots around my arms or neck??  I learned some of the lingo (findings, jump rings, bead cone), picked up some of the tools (glue, round nose and chain nose pliers, flush cutter), and figured out *a* way to join and attach chain and clasps, but have always thought there must be better ways.

The Class

I looked through the jewelry offerings on Craftsy for something that would cover the basics. There didn’t seem to be a “Basics of Jewelry-making” class, so, having met the delightful Candie Cooper at the Craftsy Instructor Summit in January, I settled on her class Beading with Wire, Chain and Leather.* Hearing her say “one of the keys to being happy is learning something new” made me sure I’d made a good choice.

I learned exactly what I wanted to learn. Lesson 1 started with basics of materials for beading—diameter and # strands of beading wire, crimp beads and tubes—and tools and continued with how to string and crimp. There were great details like how much slack to leave between finding and crimp, and gauge of wire used for different tasks. Lesson 2 continued by teaching how to make simple and wrapped loops, both things I want to practice by making some simple earrings using head pins!

Each lesson built on the one before, yet also I think could be viewed on its own. I used the Notes feature of the Craftsy platform for the first time while watching this class so I could find some of the techniques I really want to try. I’m intrigued with the idea of wrapping wire around large beads, and with making tassels (chain and yarn together!). Perhaps both will get used on the lariat I’m now planning. ;-)

The projects used to demonstrate each skill were simple enough that I felt I could make them, while also being beautiful enough that I wanted to. She showed ways each project could be changed, and displayed alternate versions of projects. I would have liked more closeups of those projects, to better see their construction. I understand there might not have been time for more footage, but a photo montage that I could have paused video on and stared at would have worked!

I love that Candie demonstrated how she sketches, specifically the simple shapes she uses to depict particular findings or chain types. I’m a fan of sketching, but sometimes get hung up on how to represent what I see in my head so seeing this was very helpful. She also said the same thing I say to my own students, and as I make future forays into jewelry making will need to remember for myself: “Be patient with yourself when you’re trying something new.”

My jewelry-making supplies
Stay tuned for results of my first forays!


*Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link. That means if you like what you see after clicking through on it, and you buy the class, I get a tiny bit of financial credit.

*Full disclosure: this is an affiliate link. That means if you like what you see after clicking through on it, and you buy the class, I get a tiny bit of financial credit.SaveSave