A Link To A Downloadable PDF File On How To Make An Eastern Orthodox Prayer Cord

Please Note: The original link in this post is now officially dead. Please use this link to download the PDF file mentioned. I have also tried to change the link below but don’t count on my skills in re-editing the post. You will also want to check out my latest post in this series — it has some good information and a link to a video tutorial.

The Original Post Starts Here…….

There is a site named “Semantron” which I found while following my normal tangential surfing pattern, bouncing from knot to knot. The Semantron is a large wooden plank that is sounded by striking it with a wooden mallet. It is used to summon the faithful to prayer in much of the Eastern Orthodox world. It can range from being a large plank planed down from a tree trunk, to being so large it has to be hung from chains.

The gentleman who runs this site,  Zacharias Thornbury, has made and uploaded a PDF file which you, in turn, may download. (This link will take you to his site; click on the link to the PDF file, this will take you to “MediaFire” where the download lives.) It shows a well-done tutorial on using the “one-handed cat’s cradle” method of making an Eastern Orthodox Prayer cord — also called a kombskini.

He does answer several questions which have come up about the prayer cords and their construction. Evidently, while you may say a prayer before you start, to assist you in your labors, there is no set prayer to be repeated as you tie each knot. Some people do have the habit of saying the same prayer they would use while praying with a cord, but it is not mandated. They use wool to make them to remind them they pray to the Lamb of God. I would also imagine that wool was historically one of the more available fibers to fulfill the needs of the cord maker. The basic wool was black to symbolize mourning for having committed sins, and as a reminder to be serious and sober in living a religious life.

In addition to the basic knotted cord with a doubled gathering knot, he also makes a cross using the same knots. There is also a tassel under the cross. Considering there are no store-bought beads or chains used, it would be available to almost everyone. The whole arrangement as he shows it is a handsome piece of knotwork.

The original post about the possible use of the Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knots in prayer cords.

The follow-up post trying to answer some of the questions raised by the first post.

Thank you for coming by my site. If you have any ideas on how I could make either my site or my knots better, sing out. I greatly appreciate hearing your thoughts. Come back again; the parade of knots goes on:



Medicine Bottle #31; 3 Turk’s Heads And A Button Knot Adorn This Bottle

Medicine Bottle #31; Turk's Heads and a Sailor's Knife Lanyard knot make a handsome covering.

Medicine Bottle #31; Turk's Heads and a Sailor's Knife Lanyard knot make a handsome covering.

This is another faithful servant, though not so long-serving as #30. For anyone who came in late, I try to make these bottles easy to differentiate in dim light, assisted by touch. At 0-dark-30 in the morning I don’t think it fair to wake My Lady Rose because I have to take my meds. The choices are a very bright light that always wakes her … bumbling around in the dark that wakes her some portion of the time … using a dim light and my coded knots to find the right bottle. Only the last one has any chance of keeping her happy — and when she’s happy, I’m happy.

The knots on this bottles are, from the top:

A thin black Turk’s Head knot of 3 Leads X 14 Bights.

The white ring is also a 3 Lead Turk’s Head, this one of 8 Bights — tied in a utility cord of slightly larger diameter. This knot also serves as the carrier for the Chinese Button knot – also called the Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knot. This knot was tied and then doubled — by either name. I’ll give you 1,932 guesses as to what the 2 major uses of these knots were.

The feature knot on this bottle is a Turk’s Head of 9 Leads X 7 Bights, doubled in black paracord. The weave on this knot is one of my favorites; over 2, under 2, over 2, under 2, from either edge. This weave and its inverse, starting with an under 2, I find very handsome. Because of this, I tie more than my fair share in these 2 weaves.

Thank you for coming by my site. If you know of any way in which I could improve either my site, or my knots, sing out. I would greatly appreciate your input. Come back again; the next band is warming up for the parade:


Sailor’s Knife Lanyard Knot, As Used On A Prayer Rope: Take Two

A very short prayer cord to show the use of the Sailor's Knife Lanyard knot.

A very short prayer cord to show the use of the Sailor's Knife Lanyard knot.


I have to admit that when I posted the original article about the use of Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knots ( ABOK #787 ) I didn’t think it would generate the level of interest shown. I thought a few interested people might be saved some labor by using the sailor’s in-hand method of making prayer cord knots. There are evidently many more people interested in making prayer cords than I would have guessed. I don’t have a benchmark to measure from, so I don’t know if this is usual or not.

This level of interest, interests me. The traffic numbers, and any comments, give me a slow but fairly accurate indicator of what I should post. You have shown a strong interest in using the Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knot to make prayer cords — so On With The Show …..

One of the questions was if it were possible to tie the knots as close together as beads would be — the answer, by testing, is yes. It is easy to extend the normal working of the completed knot to the strands leading in from the last knot tied. It just adds 2 more tucks to the finishing process. Before I forced these knots into an arc to add the doubled joining knot, you could pick them up by an end knot, and they stood up straight.

Another suggestion, by a gentleman from Poland, was that the people tying them use wool yarns, not paracord, and that this may make working the knots down tight difficult, or impossible. I borrowed some yarn from My Lady Rose, and tied knots in both single strands and 3 strand laid cord. I did lay the cord up fairly tight — no surprise there — but not so tight that I thought it gave me an unfair edge. The knots did have a slight tendency to tangle where the stray fibers stuck out from the yarn. It was noticeable only because I was watching for it very closely. It only meant that you had to pull slightly harder on the yarn to seat it snugly. If I hadn’t been watching for it, I doubt I would have seen it.

There were also statements to back up my theory (SWAG) that the one-handed cat’s cradle technique was a form of prayer/meditation. It was suggested that the prolonged tying time allowed the completion of a short prayer over every knot. Personally I would rather finish the knot and then hold it while I finished the prayer — and then tie the next knot. Of course I am not a monk, and I don’t tie these for religious use. I just tie knots, and am always keeping a sharp watch for knot-related information.

The doubled knot that joins the four ends of the cord isn’t doubled in the usual way. Instead of following the lead with the same cord, it is tied using two ends as a single strand. This joins the cord ends handsomely and is very secure. It would make a good tool to put in your ditty bag for making lanyards.

Thank you for coming by my site. I’ll try to keep it interesting. You could help me steer that course by giving me guidance via comments. You can use the normal comment-under-post system, or the “Write To Me Directly, Here” link at the upper right of the page. Come back again; wave if you see me at the parade of knots:

Published in: on November 28, 2009 at 12:39 AM  Comments (4)  
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Scissors With A Turk’s Head Knots And Tassel-Adorned Fob

A knotted fob ( tail ) on a pair of scissors makes it easier to find.

A knotted fob ( tail ) on a pair of scissors makes it easier to find.



I realize that this may be pushing the definition of the word “fob”. I am going on the fact that this is an extension of a key fob, both in size and similarity of function. On boats those things that you might carry in your pocket, and that don’t rate/need a full lanyard, are often put on fobs. This allows you to access them without using both hands. It also allows you to get them out of your pocket when you are in an awkward position. For years I carried a knife which had a fob that was long enough to reach just past my belt. With one doubled Chinese Button knot on the end, and another spaced so that it was just below the belt, I could get my knife out with either hand — very quickly, if necessary. While it might seem counter-fintuitive, it also makes your knife more secure. I never did figure out the exact mechanism of function, but I never had a knife with a fob fall out of my pocket, regardless of my position or activity. I have had knives without fobs fall out. Hardly a scientific survey, but it convinced me.

The knots used on this project are, from the scissor end:

A strand of of white paracord doubled and hitched to the handle with a Lark’s Head knot. This cord forms the core of the fob. At an estimated breaking strength of 550 pounds, it is more than enough.

To add stiffness for easier handling, I laid a length of paracord next to this, and worked in a short section of 4 strand round braid.

The outboard end of the sinnet is dressed by a Turk’s Head knot of 5 Leads X 3 Bights, tripled ( doubled twice for Ashley’s fans ) in black paracord.

A Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knot, doubled, is worked into the short section between the 2 Turk’s Heads.

The head of the tassel is dressed with a Turk’s Head of 6 Leads X 5 Bights, doubled in black paracord.

The fringe on the tassel was made by extracting the center of a kern-mantel cord I had lying around. The core on this line was a bundle of straight fibers, not laid cords as is usual in paracord. I tied a single strand Sailor’s Knife Lanyard knot and laid the fibers across the center before working it down tight. This method makes for an easily tied, yet very secure and robust tassel core. After teasing the fibers out, I trimmed them off square.

Like many of the knots you see on my site, this fob has been in service for years. It is starting to show its age and is on the list of things to do on some future make and mend day.

It is amazing how much a fob on something like scissors helps. I generally know about where the things I am looking for are. They still manage to hide from me. With the fob on, it is much easier to find the things I want — a grab of the tassel and it is in hand. As near as I can tell scissors and such are not smart enough to know they need to hide their tails. When they have their heads hidden, that thought eludes them. Of course I have known people who were the same way, so I can’t belittle too much for that behavior. You should never confuse concealment with cover; the costs could be higher than you want to pay.

Thank you for dropping by my site. If you know of any way I could improve either my site, or my knots, please sing out. I would greatly appreciate hearing your ideas:

A Simple Key Fob For Simple Requirements, Made From Chinese Button Knots

Chines Button knots turn a length of paracord into a nice key fob.

Chines Button knots turn a length of paracord into a nice key fob.

After the unscheduled knotting study of yesterday, I thought I would put up one of my simpler projects. Mind you, it fills a practical need every day as opposed to one-use hats. So in a way it is of greater import to the world … or at least my world.

Today’s project is a key fob that is used only to hang an extra key from a hidden ring in our cabinetry. It only holds one key because we don’t want to have to go digging for the one key that rules them all in an emergency. Just take the one ring you need and no extras. This makes it easier / safer to grab it at a time that might be trying. Say little Jenny’s gotten caught in the hay baler and is going up the shoot. You need the one key … you need the only key … you don’t need the wrong key … you don’t need 13 extra keys, that you must try one after the other …only to find out you have the wrong batch of keys. The one key that doesn’t rule them all, but will kill the hay baler. So for this, a small one-key fob, that is easy to hang the key on its ring, a fob that easily buttons onto and off of the ring. Now it may not be the flashiest key fob in the world … but in my world function always aces form. If I can have both, I take both … but if I can have only one, I’ll take function every time. This is a simple key fob that works. I took a length of paracord and doubled it. Having left a short length to form a loop, I tied a Chinese button knot, single. I then left a short length of 2 strands to form the part which held the key and the wall ring. I tied a 2 strand Matthew Walker knot, doubled, leaving a short space for the loop to fit into. The last knot was another Chinese Button knot, doubled. I left the long tails on the last button knot so you could use them to help get the button through the loop. This is a great help, because when the button knot is in the loop there is no slack, it just fits with friction on all sides.If this were carried in your pocket / purse it wouldn’t do. Eventually the key would work its way out. Hanging on a ring inside a cabinet door, it is fine.

As always I await your comments. All thoughtful ideas to make better knots, or a better knot site are appreciated. See you next time at the parade:

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 1:12 AM  Comments (2)  
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A Hot Sauce Bottle With A Dramatic Flame Graphic In The Turk’s Head Knots



The flow of hot sauce bottles meanders on. This is the next logical step after the new-to-me knot on this bottle.
At any rate, on with the show! The knots used on this bottle were:

On the cap is a 5 Lead X 9 Bight Turk’s Head knot in the now traditional black paracord.

The neck of the bottle has a mouse made of some sort of Turk’s Head. The knot you can see is a Herringbone knot worked on a base Turk’s Head knot of 9 Leads X 8 Bights.

The shoulders of the bottle are covered by a Gaucho knot of 2 passes.

The next knot is a twisted and laid up 3 strand grommet. This carries 1″ length of Solomon’s Bar Square Knot Sinnet. The sinnet is capped by a Chinese Button Knot / Sailors Knife Lanyard Knot – your choice of names – doubled. All the ends from the sinnet and the button are led up through the center of the button and trimmed to make a tassel.

The body of the bottle is covered by three 7 Lead X 6 Bight Turk’s Head knots, doubled. They are made of alternating colors of black and white paracord. The edges of each are interlaced in a wave-like pattern that, when done on each side of the center knot, reminds me of the fingerweaving pattern called “Flame”.

After the hundreds of thousands of years that millions of people have played with string, you have to be careful about claiming novelty. This is new to me, but maybe I just don’t get out enough. Perhaps it is the latest thing in blue jeans and I missed it. I do have to admit that the concept of calling this a flame pattern is from the Native American Indian fingerweaving – on their sashes they call a pattern much like this a “flame”.

I would like to know what you think of this bottle. Is this edge interlacing new, or just new to me? Thank you for coming by and staying long enough to get through this:

A White Gaucho Knot Of 2 Passes Tied Over A Wooden Ball To Make A Fob for a Key Chain

A key chain fob made from a Gaucho knot over a wooden ball.

A key chain fob made from a Gaucho knot over a wooden ball.

One of the puzzles I must solve is what else to tie knots on? My frugality balks at not saving some of the better knots, particularly when I have used the same line to tie so many practice knots that it is fuzzy. I could tie several more knots with the same line and eventually have to throw that piece away. Or I could try to tie a single, really good one and put it on something that would benefit from the addition.

The problem is an eventual lack of things about the right size that don’t already have knots of their own. Some end up having multiple layers of knots – if the latest one is sufficiently better than the last …. over it goes. The lesser knots have been sacrificed to the gods of decorative knots and cords and, though forgotten and unseen, are not gone but live on through their utility.

The Lady Rose is generally understanding of this process, and occasionally takes advantage of it. Her latest request was for a new fob for her key chain. It had several requirements which, once met, left enough room for artistic effort to satisfy my urge to tie.

The requirements were:

To be done in white paracord to make it easy to see.

To be have a distinctive feel and be large enough to find easily by touch in a purse.

The knot should be tied with an open weave, over an attractive core, because she likes that look.

It should be one of my tight knots so that it won’t come undone.

This is the knot that came about. A Gaucho knot of 2 passes. This ends up by count as a knot of 12 Leads X 11 Bights and over 2 under 2 weave done over a 1″ wooden bead. By habit I don’t count or specify the Leads or Bights of a Gaucho knot … should I? This is just a habit I fell into because they are hard to count, and before the birth of the It’s Knot Art Blog only I needed to know. There was no one else interested, so it wasn’t worth the effort. Do you want to know? If so leave a comment and I shall start posting the count.

The Gaucho knot was cranked down so hard that it is difficult for some to believe it is not a wood carving done as a gimmick poser.The ends were led out and tied in a 1″ long Solomon’s Bar sinnet. The purpose of this was to allow her to hold the ball in her hand and let the keys dangle between her fingers. This makes a secure hold, but still allows the use of the hand to carry something else also. The reason for the Solomon’s Bar instead of a two strand loop is that the structure of the sinnet improves both the security and comfort of the grip. A two strand loop having no structure is harder to have fall in the right position without having to juggle & jingle it.

There is a very small loop to allow the split ring on the key chain to be attached. This is followed by a Sailor’s Knife Lanyard Knot ABOK #788 doubled. Some call this the Chinese Button doubled knot ABOK #601, but structurally they are the same knot. The ends are left long and trimmed to give a casual two strand tassel.

She is happy … so I am happy. But a Question lurks, hiding until I’m ill prepared and then creeping up on me in the dog watches, and asking in weaselly, whiny voice: “Well that was OK, but was that really the best you can do? All the knots, braids, plaits and sinnets you know or could look up and you use that one!” I would like to better my skills. To do that I need input, advice and guidance. No matter what you use or who has inspired or guided you, you could be a someone who ties knots or someone willing to voice your opinion about how they look. Either is equally valuable to me. Either is equally welcomed by me. I await your pleasure … and your comments.

Thank you for spending the time and effort it takes to visit my site. I also appreciate that; after all that is also input.  Come again: