Trivets (those things you put on your table to protect the surface from hot pans and casserole dishes) come in many forms and few people ever really think about them, but many households use a trivet or two daily.  If you're looking to give homemade gifts this holiday season (or any other time) trivets are easy to make, can be very decorative, and are useful to everyone!  In this instructable I present a way to create trivets out of small rope mats and provide some discussion on other aspects of ropework.

Ropework is something of a lost art in the modern world.  This is understandable: modern materials and manufacturing processes have made ingenious devices that we use instead.  Ropes and straps are now made out of cheap and strong synthetics like nylon and polypropylene instead of natrual fibers like hemp or sisal.  The synthetics are, although much more durable and often stronger, usually slipperier than their natural counterparts and as such don't hold knots as well, so we attach hooks permanently to the end of straps and use ratchets to roll up extra length.

Unfortunately, decorative ropework faded along with its functional counterpart.  A simple search on flickr turns up a wide variety of decorative knots and a similar Google search finds even more.  For this instructable I will show you how to tie a very simple rope mat that can be used as a trivet, how to work it into shape, and two ways of tying off the ends of the mat to prevent it from coming undone.

From there I have a number of photos of other knots that I've used for trivets and links to web pages that describe how to tie them and others.

The end of the instructable holds some considerations about what kind of rope you might want to use for your mats and references to sources of further knowledge so you can learn how to do other things, both useful and decorative, with rope.

Please enjoy this insturctable; I sincerely enjoy working with rope and am delighted to be able to share something with you that is rarely seen today.

Step 1: Tying a Carrick Bend.

The Carrick bend (I've also heard it called the double Carrick bend and one of its variations the double coin knot; It's ABOK #1439, and I'll explain that reference at the end) is a fairly decorative knot all on its own.  It is a bend, which is jargon for a knot that joins two ropes (or two ends of the same rope).  Because of its symmetry it is often used as a symbol for things nautical -- it can be found on the insignia for US Navy Master Divers -- and is quite popular as a base for decorative work.  I've never seen it tied as a mat before*, but it actually lends itself quite nicely to our purpose.

To begin, take your first rope (I'm using two ropes with different colors in the pictures below) and fold one end back on itself.  This is called a bight.  We actually want a crossing turn, so tuck the end back under itself as shown in the second picture below.

Next, place the end of your second rope over the top of the your crossing turn and weave it under and over the two ends sticking out (technically called the working end and the standing part) like in the third picture.

Take your end under the next section of the crossing turn, over its own standing part and back under the last part of the crossing turn as shown in the first picture.  Congratulations!  You now know how to tie a Carrick bend!

Actually, if you're interested in the details, the true Carrick bend is fully interwoven (meaning that the lines alternate over and under at each crossing) like ours but is also diagonally opposed, which means that the two ends come out on opposite sides of the knot.  This variation, according to Wikipedia, is known as the Josephine Knot in macramé, the double coin knot in Chinese knotting, and Wake knot in heraldry.  I told you it was popular.

*edit: as I was writing Step 8 I flipped through The Book of Knots and Ropework (Practical and Decorative) and discovered that Mr. Fry suggested tying the carrick bend as a mat and actually has quite an extensive section on different rope mats.  I highly recommend his book if you're looking to learn more ropework.
That is SOOOO much clearer. THNX!!
You're very welcome! Glad I was able to help!
I am lost...
Yeah, my pictures aren't very clear for this part. Fortunately, the internet has a lot of good resources for learning knots and splices. Try watching this animated picture series and see if that helps [0]. Good luck, and if you have specific questions about tying off the ends of your mat I'm happy to answer them!<br><br>[0] http://www.animatedknots.com/splice/index.php
If I've got the right Des Pawson (and how many can there be?), I met him at a Scout Leader training event. Thoroughly nice chap, very helpful.<br><br>
It's gotta be the same guy. His book is amazing; if it's any indication of how he is in person then he's an excellent instructor. He definitely knows his knots.

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Bio: I'm a developer for DreamHost. I enjoy working with my hands and building things. I also enjoy working with electronics. Halloween is my favorite ... More »
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