In this article we will discuss four of the most common knots used to tie beading thread. I do think one of the most difficult things about bead weaving or any beading using thread or cord is ending it…okay maybe second to adding additional beading thread when weaving! But I do have a knot for that listed here! Other than in beadwork, I haven’t given much thought to knots. The only other use I’ve had for knots is learning them for my Girl Scout Badge or hoping my knot will hold my fish hook on when I catch that big one! I mean, I have lost a few fish for that reason! Wikipedia provides a definition of knots as a method of fastening or securing linear material such as rope or in our case, thread by tying or interweaving. It is so that the line can either bind to itself or some other object, perhaps a bead. Knots have an ancient origin and happen to be one of those fundamentals that we use every day.
1. Tying an overhand knot in your thread
- Photo Credit: Bead and Button Magazine
This is one of the most fundamental knots and forms the basis of many including the square knot. One of the first things we learn as children when tying our shoes, is how to make an overhand knot. Tying an overhand knot is the easiest of the four knots we will discuss in this article. To tie an overhand knot, fold your thread over and bring your thread behind itself. Then, bring the thread around (so it is now on top of itself) and through the loop that’s created. Pull both ends to tighten. If you would like a video demonstration of how to create this knot, click here.
2. Tying a half-hitch knot in your thread
Half-hitch knots are an essential knot for beading, as it is often used to secure your working thread in your beadwork once you’ve completed the piece. It is the knot I referred to in the opening paragraph as the knot I use to add the dreaded extra thread in my bead work! In my Peyote Stitch Video, I purposely started with a short amount of thread so I can demonstrate how to add thread using this knot. I also utilize this knot in our Flat Spiral Stitch Video.
A half-hitch knot is done between two beads in beadwork. Bring your thread out of a bead and form a loop going right to left. Make sure that the loop is perpendicular to the thread in your beadwork. After you have made your loop, bring your thread underneath the thread that’s going through your beads (the one we made the loop perpendicular to). Then, simply bring your thread through the loop going left to right, but this time go over your thread. Pull securely, and you have yourself a half-hitch knot. Visit the Bead and Button website for a wonderful instructional video demonstrating how to create this knot. You have to register to see the video, but registration is free.
3. Tying a square knot in your thread
If your knots tend to slip you may need to try a square knot, which is an ancient binding knot. A square knot is also known as a “reef knot”. A common way to remember how to tie this knot is the rhyme, “right over left, left over right, makes a knot both tidy and tight”. A square knot is a basic knot and one of the easiest to master and remember! See me tie a square knot in our Beading with the Right Angle Weave Video and our Embellished Filigree Video.
To make a square knot, take your left hand thread and bring it under the right hand thread, then over it, then under it again. It will look like you twisted it once. Then, bend your left hand thread (forming a curve on the right) and your right hand thread (forming a curve on the left) and bring your left hand thread over, under and then over the right hand thread just like you did before. Pull tightly and you’re done.
4. Tying a surgeon’s knot in your thread
- Photo credit: Bead and Button Magazine
You will find that beading project instructions often call for a Surgeon’s Knot, so it’s a great idea to learn how to make one. The knot is very secure when done correctly. Did you know that a surgeon will use this knot when it is important to maintain tension as in a suture, hence the name? The Surgeon’s Knot is the best when working with Elasticity, as it lends itself not to slip! See me tie a surgeon’s knot in our Making Stretch Bracelets out of Elastic Video and our Elastic Rings video.
Tying a surgeon’s knot is almost the same as tying a square knot, which is described above. However, in the first part of the knot, you twist the threads together more times than you do in a square knot. Those extra twists are part of the reason that a surgeon’s knot is so secure. To tie a surgeon’s knot, take your left hand thread and bring it under the right hand thread, then over it, then under it again, then over it, then under it again. It will look like you twisted it twice (this is how it’s different from a square knot). Then, bend your left hand thread (forming a curve on the right) and your right hand thread (forming a curve on the left) and bring your left hand thread over, under and then over the right hand thread just like you would for a square knot. Pull tightly to secure it and you’re all set.
If you can master the four types of knots above, you will find you are well prepared to take on a bead stitching project with your favorite seed beads and beading thread. Note that there are many other kinds of knots used in jewelry making, these are just four of the most common using thread. Are these the knots you most commonly use in your beadwork using thread? Did we leave one out? We would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment below.