Introduction: Modern Pearl Knotting

About: Retired techie in love with crafts, cooking, and all things creative.

A friend of mine gave me several strands of freshwater pearls that she no longer wanted. I quickly accepted her gift, but knew such generosity meant that I would actually have to make something with them instead of saving them in my never-ending stash. They were lovely, and I decided they would make nice Mothers Day gifts. There were enough strands for me to make a piece of jewelry for all of the mothers in my life (and my thoughtful friend). My own mother has difficulty putting on jewelry due to an injury, so my first requirement was to make something that didn't involve clasps.

I started out experimenting with classic pearl knotting where a single overhand knot is used to separate each pearl, but the small size and irregular shape of the pearls had a "don't take me too seriously" vibe, and I decided to do something casual with a loop and button closure. I knew this would involve macrame knots, but finding a strong knotable thread that fits the tiny holes of the pearls was a challenge. Thankfully, I found a firm thin nylon thread made for bead weaving that looks great knotted. I'm excited to share this fun and easy jewelry making technique that doesn't require any fancy findings. Once you learn the process, you will discover an assortment of variations. See the "more ideas" step for variation instructions. I hope you enjoy making these as much as I do.

Step 1: Supplies

Here's the tools and supplies that I used.

Step 2: Prepare Cord and Nylon Thread

Cut the cord to 25 inches. Since the cord will be folded in half, the working length will be 12.5 inches. This will be enough cord for a variety of wrist sizes. The length is deliberately larger than the finished product to make it more manageable on the macrame board.

Cut the nylon thread to 2 yards. This is a bit of an overkill, but it is insurance that it will not run out before your knotting is complete.

Notes: These instructions are written for a 7 inch bracelet. This size will fit perfectly on a 6 inch wrist. You will want to adjust based on your wrist size and how loose you want the bracelet to fall on your wrist.

Step 3: Thread Pearls

Use a beading needle to add 25 pearls onto the thread. Wind the thread around the plastic bobbins as shown. Leave a 30 inch tail.

Notes: If you are using freshwater pearls, you will likely find that the holes are too small for a regular beading needle. I found that flexible beading needles work best with pearls. Alternatively, try applying clear nail polish, super glue gel, or fray block to the ends of the thread. All of these products will stiffen the cord so that the pearls can be beaded without a needle.

Step 4: Cover Loop

Center the cord on the macrame board.

With the bobbin on the left and the thread tail on the right, make a lark's head knot to attach the thread onto the cord. Pull to make snug. This will be the center lark's head knot for the loop.

Make a left-facing vertical lark's head knot using the left thread. Continue knotting to the left until you have half of the required loop size.

Use the right thread to make a right facing lark's head knot. Continue knotting to the right until you have enough covered cord to fit your button.

Notes: See the macrame basics step for more information on how to make lark's head knots.

This step is optional. I like the refined look of a covered loop. However, it is not necessary for the bracelet to function. Feel free to skip this step if desired.

Step 5: Form Loop

Fold the cord in half and place it on your macrame board using pins. Make 2 square knots to secure the knot in place (see macrame basics step). Test to make sure it is sized to snugly fit your button.

Step 6: ​Attach Pearls to Cord

Move the first pearl from the bobbin and position it next to the cord. With the left thread, make a left facing lark's head knot directly under the pearl. This is the same knot that was used to cover the cord for the loop, but this time you will be creating the knot with a pearl above it. The key is to make the knot so the pearl stays firmly in place.

Move the right thread to the side and out of the way. This thread will be woven into the bracelet on the last step of the process.

Continue adding pearls from the bobbin until you reach the desired length. I used 25 pearl for 6 inches of beads.

Make at least an additional 1/8 inch of lark's head after the pearl portion is complete. This will give some space to add the button.

Step 7: Add Button

This step is literally as easy as sewing on a button. Position the button shank between the two cords. Sew under the cord and through the shank, then over and under the cord and through the shank. Repeat until the button is secure. Tie. Drag the thread through the 1/8 inch of knots under the last pearl. If desired, make an overhand knot with both sides of the cord. Trim cord and thread.

All done!

Note: You will need a rigid beading needle for this step.

Step 8: More Ideas

Here are some variations of this bracelet.

- Instead of adding beads to the left side only, add beads to both sides of the cord. To do this, thread pearls on both the left and right threads. Alternate knotting the pearls with the left and right threads as shown in picture.

- Add beads to both sides, but instead of knotting two cords together, separate the cords.

- Make it extra long for a wrap bracelet.

- Swap out the pearls for something cooler, like wood.

Step 9: Macrame Basics

Basic Square Knot

For the first half, take the left cord under the center cord and then over the right cord. Take the right cord under the center cord and then over the left cord. Pull to tighten.

For the second half, take the right cord under the center cord and then over the left cord. Take the left cord under the center cord and then over the right cord. Pull to tighten.

Basic Lark's Head Knot

A lark's head knot is used to attach a working cord to an anchor cord. Fold the working cord in half. Move it under the anchor cord with the loop going down.

Pull both ends of the working cord down through the loop. Pull to tighten.

Left-Facing Lark's Head Knot

With the working cord on the left, move it over and then under the filler cord and pass it through the loop. This makes the first half of the knot. Pull to tighten.

For the second half of the knot, move it under and then over the filler cord and pass it through the loop. Pull to tighten.

Right-Facing Lark's Head Knot

This knot is identical to the left facing vertical lark's head knot except the working cord will be on the right.

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