Decorative knots are used to finish articles, to make buttons, to cover ragged ends of cord, and as sliding knots for a kerchief or lanyard. Such knots give an extra "finish" to knotted and braided projects, and are good progressive steps. Two of the most useful are given here; there are hundreds of variations or similar knots, found in any encyclopedia of knots.

Monkey's Fist

This is a decorative knot used at the end of a strand for a button, or as a "stopper" knot to keep the cord from slipping through a hole or ring, as on a buckle.

Equipment needed: none.

Materials needed: cord or leather strip-about 18" of seine twine or leather, to 30" for 1/4" rope.


1. Make 3 complete turns around fingers of left hand (Fig. 11-54).

2. Bring cord up to center, and make 3 horizontal turns to left, behind and around first turns (Figs. 11-54 and 55).

3. Pass end through center of first loops (Fig. 11-55), and around second group of loops 3 times (Fig. 11-56). End in center of knot.

4. Tighten by pulling all loops in the order in which they were made; end with the two ends coming out from center (Fig. 11-57). Put both ends through opening, and join as needed (Fig. 11-58)

Pass End Through Center Of First LoopsEnd With The Two Ends Coming OutPut Both Ends Through Opening

Turk's Head Knot

This is a decorative knot used to cover ends, as a whipping is used in previous projects, or as a sliding knot for a lanyard or kerchief.

Equipment needed: spike or big nail, or awl, or large-eyed needle for small cord.

Materials needed: any cord or leather strip, as desired; for practice, a 1/4" soft cord or rope 3' long is good; 18" of seine twine, for tie slide.


1. Start with the cord over fingers of left hand, holding end down with thumb.

2. Go around hand,- cross end in palm, around back of hand, up in palm again, crossing second strand, and ending at top of fingers, parallel with the first strand (Fig. 11-59).

3. Tuck end under first strand, and turn hand over. Back of knot shows two parallel lines (Fig. 11-60). Cross left-hand strand A over right-hand strand B (Fig. 11-61), and tuck working end up, over A and under B, through center of loops, over A and under B at top of hand (Fig. 11-62).

4. Turn hand back, and tuck working end, which is in middle, over strand in left, and on beside, and to the right of, the first strand (Fig. 11-63). One complete turn is now completed.

5. Follow the course taken by the first strand, keeping working end parallel to first strand, always at the right.

6. Continue complete turn, two, three, or four times. Tighten as desired by taking up slack in all turns.

7. Fasten ends underneath, inside, by sewing if knot is to be used as a slide, or by tucking under finished knot.

This knot may be made over a cylinder, as a decorative knot; to finish, pull tight and tuck ends underneath.

For small turk's head, work on two fingers or pencil with threaded needle.

Knotted Twine Bag

This is a bag of many uses; it is a good general "tote" bag, and if lined with plastic or cotton, may be used for small as well as large articles. In some camps, especially in pioneer units and on trips, a "dunking" bag is used for dish washing; small bags of knotted twine are excellent for individual dish-kits, and larger bags for group use.

Equipment needed: knife.

Materials needed: small cord or twine, such as mason's or seine twine; heavier cord or twine for handle.

Knotted Twine Bag


1. To measure and cut: cut 24 strands 72" long; double in half to make 48 working strands. Cut one 24" piece for top. For handle-cut 18" for short handle, 36" for shoulder handle.

2. Tie single strand in circle with square knot, whipping loose ends to strand (Fig. 11-65A). (See earlier pages in this chapter for knot and whipping.)

3. Attach the center loops of the 24 strands with lark's head knots to the circle (Fig. 11-65 B); place one inch apart.

4. Tie either overhand or triangle knots.

To tie overhand knot (Fig. 11-66) : hold both strands between thumb and finger of left hand; with right hand, make a loop loosely around left forefinger, crossing over from right to left; put end down through loop, from back to center, and out in front and down. Tighten with a downward pull; move into place before tightening.

To tie triangle knot (Figs. 11-67 and 68) : make loop of left-hand strand, to right. Bring right-hand strand over top of loop, carry to left, under both parts of left-hand loop, up and back to right, over first right-hand strand, crossing over, and down under loop (Fig. 11-67). Pull evenly to tighten (Fig. 11-68).

5. Tie one strand from one set to adjacent strand of next set, and continue around bag until all strands are joined to next strands.

6. Start next row, keeping knots evenly spaced; continue to within 2" of bottom of bag. Tie ends across, making squared bottoms (Fig. 11-69).

7. Gather all ends together, in a tassel (Fig. 11-70). Tie around, and cover with a whipping.

8. Make a handle of twisted seine twine or braided twine or cord, and attach at top, on opposite sides (Fig. 11-69).

Three-Strand Braided Lanyard

This is a beginner's project which may lead to many progressive steps. Lanyards arc used to carry knives, whistles, small hand lenses for nature study, or similar small articles.

Equipment needed: peg or nail; knife.

Materials needed; seine twine or hard cord, like Belfast cord, in desired colors; swivel, if desired (from craft supply house); small piece for whipping.


1. To measure and cut: seine twine-3 strands, 2 yards each; Belfast (or similar) cord: use triple lengths to make each working strand-9 lengths in all, each 2 yards in length.

To Measure And Cut

2. Arrange strands as in Figure 11-71; cut loop(s) at one end.

3. If swivel is used, thread loop end through swivel ring, making a 2" loop (Fig. 11-71 x); sew this loop and end to working strands (Fig. 11-72 x). If no swivel is used, make the loop and sew in same manner.

4. Hang loop on peg; braid (see Three-Strand Braided Belt earlier in chapter) evenly until desired length is reached. Measure around neck, making long enough to go in pocket, if desired.

5. Stitch loose ends of braiding to same spot where loop ends were stitched (Fig. 11-73 x).

6. Cover stitching with whipping or turk's head knot (see earlier in chapter).

For Belfast cord: make loop at swivel of 3 strands, rather than all 9; be careful to keep the groups of 3 strands flat as you braid.

Lanyards often combine a number of knots and braids; square knotting, round and square braiding, crown or turk's head knots, etc. (Fig. 11-75). See following pages for variations.