Introduction: Making a Knotted Rosary

The Rosary is one of the most common Roman Catholic devotions and is often prayed using a string of prayer beads.  This Rosary, however, is made with knots.  It is simple, durable, and easy to put in your pocket or wrap around your wrist.  It also makes a great gift, because as any Catholic will tell you, you can never have too many Rosaries!

What you will need:

•       #18 Nylon thread (Larger sizes may be used, but I prefer #18)
•       Scissors
•       Lighter

Step 1: Getting Started

To begin, you will need to cut a length of approximately 20 feet of nylon thread.  Find the midpoint of the cut thread.  Wrap the thread around the end of your pointer finger, crossing behind the first loop to make an X.

Step 2: The First Knot

Wrap the thread two more times around your finger, each new loop being closer to your knuckle than the last.

Note:  Make sure the loops are snug, but not tight.  You will need to be able to slide them off your finger in the next step.

Step 3: The First Knot (continued)

Slide the loops off your finger, being careful not to tangle them.  Take the end that was used to wrap around the finger and thread it through the loops, from back to front.

Step 4: Finishing the First Hail Mary Knot

Pull the ends of the thread until the knot tightens to finish your first Hail Mary knot. 

Note:  It may be helpful to hold the loops in place so that they don’t tangle.  If the loops do not stay in order, the knot will not be pretty.  This is the hardest part and it will take some practice, so don’t get discouraged if you don't get it on the first try.

Step 5: Completing the Middle Decade

When you have completed the first knot, create nine more knots next to it.  Spacing between each knot is up to you, but a standard length between knots is about half a centimeter.  These ten knots are your third decade* of the Rosary.

*Each section of the Rosary is called a decade.

Step 6: Adding the Our Father Knots

Between each set of ten Hail Mary knots, there is an Our Father knot.  An Our Father knot is made the same way as the Hail Mary knot, except that five loops are used instead of three loops around the finger.  Tie an Our Father knot at each end of the ten Hail Mary knots you just made.  Leave more space between the Hail Mary knots and the Our Father knots.  I suggest a space of half an inch.

Step 7: Completing the Main Loop

After each Our Father knot, leave another half an inch of space, then tie ten more Hail Mary knots.  Follow those with an Our Father knot, then ten more Hail Mary knots.  By this point you should have tied fifty Hail Mary knots, with an Our Father knot between each set of ten.

Step 8: Tying the Rosary Center

Now is when the Rosary will begin to look like a necklace.  To tie the Rosary center knot, take both ends of the thread and put them together, holding them close to the last knots made on each end.  Tie a knot in the same way the previous knots were tied, but this time use both ends of the thread at the same time.  When you are done tying this knot, the Rosary should now be a loop, connected at the center knot you just tied, with two strands stemming from that knot.

Step 9: The Last Stretch!

This is the section of the Rosary that is not part of the main loop.  Using only one of the loose strands stemming from the center knot, tie five knots in this order: Our Father, three Hail Mary's, and another Our Father.  The spacing used previously between knots should be repeated here.

Step 10: The Vertical Part of the Cross

You are now ready to make the cross at the end of the Rosary.  Leave about half an inch of space after the last Our Father knot, then tie three Our Father knots so close together that they are touching.  The middle knot of the three should be closer to the last knot than the first one.

Step 11: Horizontal Part of the Cross

Cut the end of thread that was not used to make the cross.  Place it perpendicular to the vertical part of the cross and place the cross on top of it.  Tie a knot between the top two Our Father knots of the cross.  Then tie an Our Father knot on each loose end, close enough to touch the vertical part of the cross.  The cross is now complete.

Step 12: Finishing Up

Cut off all loose ends of thread, leaving about  half a centimeter next to the knots.  Use a lighter to burn the ends and keep the knots from unraveling.  

Caution:  Hold the Rosary at a point far enough away from the part you are burning to avoid injury to yourself.

Step 13: The Finished Product--Your Rosary!

Congratulations, you have now completed your Rosary!  You may ask a priest to bless it for you.  For instructions on how to pray the Rosary, click here.