Chinese Knotting Home Page

If you buy ye large tome of knots you'll generally find (along with all the sailing and climbing knots) a section marked "decorative knots". Contained therein are largely Chinese knots. Chinese knotting is related to macrame in that both involve putting knots into string, however, macrame almost always uses many separate cords while Chinese knotting almost always uses just one unbroken cord. Frequently a contrasting cord is used, but it follows the same path, thus interacting solely in a cosmetic and non-structural manner.

Nevertheless, in the final analysis macrame and Chinese knotting can be viewed as essentially the same discipline and I will henceforth refer to it all as knotting.

Other Chinese Knotting Pages


Other Knot Pages


Here is a directory of book covers, annotations to follow.

Ornamental Knots

[bookcover] Chinese Knotting
Lydia Chen
Published by Echo Craft Books
Echo Communications
5-2, Pa Teh Road, Sec. 4, Lane 72, Alley 16, Taipei, Taiwan, ROC, Tel: (02) 7631452-5
North and South American Distributor: Charles E. Tuttle Co, Post Office Drawer F, Rutland, Vermont, USA, 05701, Tel: (802) 773-8930
Taiwan, ROC, 1981
ISBN 0-8048-1389-2
A beginner's book with both individual knot instructions as well as assembly ideas.
[bookcover] Chinese Knotting 2
(sequel to the above book, although I have never seen an English version, I'm just going to assume that all the contact info (at least in Taiwan) is the same)
A slightly more advanced book than the previous with more woven type knots. I have never found that being able to actually read the Chinese text to be much of a necessity.
[bookcover] The Art of Chinese and Western Knotting
ISBN 962-15-0234-9
Printed and published in Hong Kong, the text is in both English and Chinese, although all of the publishing info is in Chinese. Another basic book, but with some fairly interesting 3D projects including a giraffe. 8)
[bookcover] The Book of Ornamental Knots
John J. Hensel
Published by Cornell Maritime Press
Centreville, Maryland 21617
USA, 1973, 1990
ISBN 0-87033-410-7
A heavily macrame flavoured book consisting almost entirely of flat knots.
[bookcover] Introducing Traditional Chinese Knotting
Rio Lee
ISBN 1058960-7 (?)
A small, just above pamphlet, sized book that nonetheless has some very keen things in it like how to make a double or tripled sized button knot. A convenient size for carrying around in case you need occasional reminders of the basic knots. I have found it in just about any Chinatown that I've visited that has any kind of bookstore. There is pretty much no English except for the book title (which is why I can't extract more publishing info ... 8(
[bookcover] Classical Chinese Knotting
Writer/Publisher: Chiou, Young-Chang
No. 83 San Min Road, Tai-Chung City, Taiwan, 400, ROC, Tel: 04-2225436
ROC, 1983
An especially clear and well illustrated book with slightly more complicated projects than the other introductory books. It also seems to be(?)/have a catalog in the back for "Clever Arts" which will sell you all the supplies for all the projects in the book, in pre-packaged packets, no less 8). The Clever Arts contact info has the same phone number as the writer/publisher, so I'd guess that it has the same address as well, although there is a small map in the book (in case you're in town 8). This is also a Chinese only book.
[bookcover] Classical Oriental Knotting II
(Sequel with slight title change to the Classical Chinese Knotting book. There is also a survey in this book asking what you want to see in a third book that they have planned).
This installment focuses more on the two-sided woven knots, with many exercises for the reader.

General Knots

The Ashley Book of Knots
Clifford W. Ashley
Published by Doubleday
666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY, 10103
USA, 1944
ISBN 0-385-04025-3
A huge tome of knots and just about anything else you can do with string.
Chapman's Nautical Guides: Knots
by Brion Toss, illustrations by Gae Pilon
Published by William Morrow and Company, Inc
105 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10016
USA, 1990
ISBN 0-688-09415-5
A nicely illustrated book with a very clearly defined scope.
The Morrow Guide to Knots
by Mario Bigon and Guido Regazzoni
Translated from the Italian by Maria Piotrowska
Published by William Morrow and Company, Inc
105 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, 10016
USA, 1982
ISBN 0-688-01226-4 (pbk)
ISBN 0-688-01225-6
The official subtitle is "for sailing, fishing, camping, climbing" but it also has a small section for decorative knots and is nicely illustrated with photos of color coded rope.
This is The Colour Book of Knots 2e
Floris Hin
Published by Adlard Coles Nautical
35 Bedford Row, London WC1R 4JH
Switzerland, 1991
ISBN 0-7136-3391-3
An interesting book with big bright colour coded examples such that the knots are easy to see and duplication fairly simple.


Chinese knotting is slightly different than macrame in another way in that the cord used must have a certain amount of stiffness or body to hold the structure of the knot. Completely limp strings will almost never produce the desired effect, and something that is too stiff (ie. wire) will probably not survive the knotting process for anything but the simplest designs.

However, these days you can find a small selection of the appropriate cording in just about every craft or bead store under the name of "rat-tail" or "satin cord" (at nastily inflated prices, of course). Personally, I acquired my supplies while visiting Taiwan (where there are whole stores dedicated to the craft, scattered hither and yon) and stocking up. Friends and family that occasionally travel back and forth help to keep me supplied.

For more local (to North America, I have no info on Europe, the rest of the Commonwealth Nations, or anywhere else) and more complete supply sources one would need to find a large Chinatown. The locations listed below are places I have personally visited, but hopefully more info is forthcoming from the friendly net.people around the world .... 8)

Vancouver, British Columbia
Mayway Creatives Inc.
Beads and Gifts Shop
Suite 2405 Yaohan Shopping Centre
3700, No.3 Road, Richmond, BC
Canada V6X 2C1
Tel: (604) 244-9398
Fax: (604) 732-6039
Toronto, Ontario
Transmondiale Co. Ltd.
Suite #82 Unit F (I can't remember the mall name, it's across the street from a Canadian Tire. The info here is from my credit card receipt, but I think I have a business card somewhere)
Markham, ON


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