Introduction: Three-hitch Mat Hair Ornament

This instructable aims to show you how to make a nice hair ornament by tying a three-hitch mat. Complete it with a chopstick, or a handcarved stick, to complete the ensemble.

The core idea of the whole thing is to tie a three-hitch mat (don't worry - I'll describe this in minute detail), and then use it as a sort of coarse hair net - with the hair in a knot underneath the knot, and the stick to hold it all in place.

Step 1: Materials Used

In this example, I'm using black 550 paracord. I picked out about 11.5 ft / 345cm of rope.

In most photos I use, there's a DVD case for size comparison.

Step 2: Make the Hitches

Make three hitches, one after another. Then "invert" them - putting each later hitch in front of the strand of rope preceding it. The result should be three hitches that are stacked in the "wrong" order, so that the intersections between them mostly alternate. The knot-theoretically inclined can view this as three Reidemeister 1 moves, followed by appropriate amounts of Reidemeister 2 moves.

Finally, nudge the two bights in the middle to overlap each other. This is a Reidemeister 2 move.

Step 3: Interweave

Grab one of the free ends, and move it back through the entire knot, interweaving it and making sure that all the knot crossings alternate. This is what's going to make the knot stay together, as this strand holds all other parts from falling apart again.

Step 4: Double the Knot

And once you've gotten the knot tied, it's time to make it ornamental - we do this by doubling the knot - following the knot strand with your loose ends until you have a pleasant number (I did 3) of parallell rope lengths all through the knot.

Step 5: Shaping the Knot

This step overlaps to some extent with the previous step: as you pull your ends through the knot, interweaving the same way over and over, you'll want to start giving the whole mat a pleasant shape. For the mats you use as hair ornament, you want it to approach a slight bowl-ish shape, so that you can fit a lot of hair into the knot.

This shaping is done by tightening the knot around itself - not too much, that'll result in too small a knot - while moving the slack through the knot by pulling the excess rope around and around through the knot until it arrives at one of the loose ends. This part can be somewhat longwinded, but I find it relaxing, and pleasant - something to make your hands do while you do something else. This knot was created while watching Cirque du Soleil and parts of the first Matrix movie!

Step 6: Fixing the Knot

Once your knot is nice and tight, and in the shape you want it, you still have those loose strands of rope. Solution? Cut them off - and seal them up.

With paracord, there is a geniune issue with the core; it'll look horrible if you just cut the cord, so you'll want to either melt it or tie a tight knot around the end with a thinner rope. The latter method is far outside the scope of this instructable, so I'll just recommend you use a lighter (or like I did - a gas stove) and melt the end of the cord.

Subsequently, sew the ends together with the surrounding knot so that it can't slip. I just used black cotton thread and an ordinary sharp sewing needle for this.

And then, finally, to make sure that these melted blobs aren't visible while you wear the ornament. Again, I use black cotton thread and a sewing needle to just sew the very ends together underneath a well-hidden part of the knot.