Learn How to Tie a Sliding Knot

Falling in Love with Beads

I was lying awake in the dark this morning thinking about the first time I really fell in love with beads. Oh, I’d learned how to string macaroni on yarn and fell in love with the beading process pretty early on, but I’m talking about really falling in love with the beads themselves. And, as often happens in the middle light of a groggy dawn, I had the most wonderful memory.

When I was about 8, my brother had a friend, Al, who was just like family. You know, the kind who walks in the front door unannounced, opens the fridge, and asks “What’s for dinner?” Al was like a brother to all of us, and when he took a trip to Peru he brought back gifts for the entire family. I received a leather cord bracelet with large wooden beads. Candie Cooper String and Bead Necklace

Knowing what I know now, the bracelet probably came from a street vendor who had a thousand of them for just céntimos a piece. But at the time I thought this bracelet was magical. The beads were plain: dark brown, wooden, with one simple circle carved into each. They felt very exotic and, in our family of seven kids, there wasn’t a whole lot of exotic to go around the table.

I had a hard time figuring out how to put the thing on, though. It had a sliding knot clasp that I’d never seen, and my exotic deprived family members certainly weren’t any help. It wasn’t until Al came over again to show me how to slide the knots toward each other to loosen it, away from each other to open it, that I could put it on. I loved this bracelet and wore it until it fell apart. It looked great with my purple bell-bottoms and Holly Hobbie sweatshirt.

How to Tie a Sliding Knot

Tying a sliding knot is a little tricky, but is a great technique to add to your bag of tricks; especially if you use leather or satin cording. If you don’t use cording that often, you might want to consider incorporating it into your stash. It adds a different texture to jewelry patterns and is quite inexpensive. Designers such as Candie Cooper, who used it in her Sunny in the Outback necklace for Stringing Summer 2009, make me want to run out and buy a whole host of cord colors. In that same issue, Margaret Sherman shows off a great looking bracelet that incorporates both leather cord and wire, giving me ample ideas for other jewelry making techniques. Why not subscribe to Stringing and be inspired, too?

While you’re waiting for your first issue of Stringing to arrive, pull out some leather cord and try this knot. It can be done in a couple different ways, but here’s how I do it.  After going through the following steps, make sure to practice making a sliding knot on some basic string bead designs!

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 1

1. Measure your desired bracelet or necklace length and double it (or triple it if you want the knots to sit fairly close to one another when the piece is worn). Cut that length of cord. String any wide-holed beads you want to add to the cord. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 2

2. Loop the cord into a circle. Grasp the cord that’s lying on top 5" from its end; make a fold so the cord bends back onto itself (this will be your working cord). You’ll have 3 cords side by side. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 3

3. Loop the working cord around, to the back, and underneath the other cords. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 4

4. Wrap the working cord around the other cords again. Note that you’re moving away from the bend, not toward it. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 5

5. Make at least 2 more wraps as before. Be sure you’re wrapping 2 cords, not just 1. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 6

6. Pass the working cord’s end through the wrapping, exiting from the initial bend. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 7

7. Pull the working cord’s end to tighten the knot. 

Tie a Sliding Knot Step 8 8. Turn the piece over. Repeat Steps 2 to 7 to form a second knot. 
Tie a Sliding Knot Final Step 9. Trim the cord ends close to the knots. Slide the knots along the cord to open and close the piece.  

Pretty cool, eh? Did you already know this knot? If so, what have you used it on? Share your knottiness on the website.  In the meantime, I think I’ll put this bracelet on and see if I can rustle up some cola-flavored Bonnie Bell lip gloss, just for old time’s sake.

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Beading Daily Blog
Michelle M.

About Michelle M.

I was the founding editor of Beading Daily (2007-2009) and my now a freelance designer/writer/editor.  My designs have been published in Stringing, Step by Step Beads, Jewelry Gifts for the Holidays, Creative Jewelry, Beadwork, and other magazines. I enjoy stringing, bead embroidery, wirework, metal work, mixed media, beadweaving—pretty much anything that involves beads or jewelry.  I also enjoy exploring new crafts like pottery and felting.  I write a personal blog if you want to see more of my work. 16+ Free Beading Projects: A list of the free projects I created for Beading Daily. Contact Info If you have a question regarding Beading Daily, please contact customer service at beadingdaily@interweave.com or the current editor, Kristal Wick. If you'd like to contact me, you'll find my info on my website:  www.michellemach.com.  You can also follow me on Twitter at:  http://twitter.com/beadsandbooks Pictured here is a pair of earrings I made for the Spring 2010 issue of Stringing in an attempt to get over my fear of designing with the color orange!

20 thoughts on “Learn How to Tie a Sliding Knot

  1. I love these knots – I only recently found out how to do this fully wrapped one you’ve shown here, that doesn’t look like just a knot.

    I’ve used this on many necklaces since, including multi-strand ones: These gave me a challenge because soon after putting mine on, I realized you need to know which of the 6 strands that end up at the back of your neck, to pull. After a bit of thinking, I realized it would fit the design to add a wrap around the strands that belong together.

  2. Wouldn’t you know it? I spent about a half hour yesterday, trying to remember how I had done a slip knot on satin cord in the past. I think my way is different. I take the left end of the cord and use it to tie a square knot AROUND the right end of the cord, so that the right end is free and slides inside the knot. Remembering my Girl Scout neckscarf tying, “right over left and under; left over right and under” makes the knot look nice and actually square. Then I use the sliding cord’s end (AKA the right end) to tie a square knot around the stationary cord (AKA left end.) Rather than trimming closely, I let the ends extend about 2-3 inches beyond the knots, and I put a tight bead on them (like a crimp cover) to keep them from fraying. Then I can tell the customer to just pull on the knots to move them apart. Alas, I think your knots look nicer in their spiral. Thanks for your training – I always look forward to your email!

  3. I had to figure this one out years ago. I’ve tried to teach to my beading class but it’s nice to now have instructions I can print out. BTW, the class used Sunny in the Outback as a design variation challenge for one class. I used a glass heart and copper beads, making a copper and leather earring set to match. How can I email a picture to you?

  4. Good Morning Jean,

    What a nice story you shared with us, it took me on a trip down memory lane. Not so much about the knots and the bracelets, but about growing up in the 70’s. We also had a friend like Al who showed up at our house almost everyday just like he lived there. His name was Jamie, he was also very nice to me and it was kinda like having two brothers. But what really took me back was the purple bell bottoms and the Holly Hobbie sweatshirt. I had both of them. Infact I was a Holly Hobbie fan, I had the dolls and the little figurines and shirts and don’t forget the Lunch Box! I had to have everything Hollie Hobbie.
    What a wonderful era that was growing up in the 70’s!
    Thanks so much for the trip down Memory Lane!
    By Angela

  5. I too grew up in the 70’s (and some 60’s) and I remember that knot very well. Recently, I made a couple necklaces for guys and put the knots on either end of the clasps, so the size could be adjusted. An ingeneous idea, I thought. I’m glad there’s a diagram to follow since it always took a few tries to get it right. Thanks!! Wendy

  6. good morning everyone. i was happy to see the instructons about knotting. it can be a bit frustrating and takes some practicei take the 2 ends of my cords from my necklace and lay them next to each other approx 12 inches for each end so u will have 12inches from 1 end and 12 from the other end lying next to each other. i then take a loose piece of cord approx 16 inches and put that in the middle of the two12 in. pieces.hold all 3 in your hand and making sure to keep that extra piece in the middle i wrap 2 or 3 times as your instructions did . if you want the knots close then wrap each knot about 4 inches apart. then when im done wrapping i make sure the knotts are tight and look good,then just pull out the extra loose piece and keep to use again for another necklace. i think i use less rope doing it this way.good luck and thx for all the wonderful tips . if this doesnt make sense just ask and ill try and explain better.c-raes-jewlery designs

  7. Good Morning! My son taught me a similar version of this knot. October of 2008 I went to a Youth for Christ (YFC)conference in South Africa. The conference was attended by YFC folks from all over the world! The leadership of YFC wanted something lovely to give to all of the women who attended, so I offered to make bracelets. 250 of them!!! I created them with freshwater pearls, leather cording and silver craft wire (as some folks from developing countries would not be able to polish sterling silver wire). They really turned out lovely and the ladies were thrilled that they were hand crafted.

  8. What a great story! And great directions! My husband and I took a cruise this past spring and I picked up a bracelet with that kind of knot. I have looked and looked at it wondering how it was tied, (not wanting to untie and risk ruining it). Thank you for directions!

  9. I tie these all the time as knotwork is my thing and knotted cord jewelry is a favourite. There’s a couple of examples I can show: The first, http://www.chineseknotting.org/simple/gallery/BeadShowNecklace.jpg, is like your instructions except instead of cutting the cord at the knot, I tie some extra knots in the cord and use them as a tassel/grip/handle feature. The second, http://www.chineseknotting.org/simple/gallery/coiled-snake-necklace.jpg, features the glass artistry of Turtle Beads Studio (http://www.turtlebeads.com/) and incorporates a sliding knot modified for safety.

    On the topic of safety, a relatively short discussion is here http://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=888.msg5842#msg5842, and here’s an excerpt on the topic of safety from a document I’m working on about simple knots http://www.chineseknotting.org/simple/gallery/overhand-safety-excerpt.pdf (6Mb).

  10. As a Girl Guide in England in the 1960’s I learned this, as one of an enormous repertoire of knots.
    I have used it since to tie a turtle pendant, that I bought near Sedona, on to rattail cord.
    Thanks for the reminder.

  11. This is a very useful knot. As a Girl Scout leader and a rock climber, I believe that this knot is also known as a double fisherman’s bend and can be used also for joining fishing lines or climbing ropes, even if they are of dissimilar sizes. It is extremely secure. If you do a Google search for “double fisherman’s bend” you can find some videos on tying it, also. Thanks for these instructions.

  12. To: Michelle Mach:

    I love the free projects and hearing about beading techniques. Can we still be a member of Beading Daily Online if we are no longer a subscriber? I may want to subscribe in the future and have been faithful in subscribing to Interweave publications for the last 3 years. Please allow me to stay with you online?


  13. I am so glad you posted the directions for a sliding knot. I use sliding knots on suede and leather cord with dichroic glass pendants, but my knots are just simple overhand knots. Yours are so much classier that I will change immediately. I had never thought of using them on bracelets, so will try that also.


  14. This is a little different from the one I learned, but when a dear friend from Paris gave me a Lalique burgundy heart on a burgundy cord with a little knot at each end of the cord, I tried tying it ine a small bow in the back in order to get it the length that I wanted, but you needed to be wearing a shirt collar to hide the bow, and it always slipped! Somewhere on the internet someone gave a very simple “sliding” knot (and no, I don’t remember how I did it), but from then on it was easy to adapt the necklace to whatever I was wearing. Now I’ll have to learn this new way!

  15. What a useful knot! I used it when I made a necklace for a friend’s 80th birthday (note – this friend is almost 40 yrs older than me). A little back-story: when my husband and I got married 6 years ago this friend drove up from Texas by himself, despite his age. His wedding gift was the most unique thing I have ever seen: two slices of geode, back-lit in their own shadow box. His gift reflected his training as a geologist, and was specially made just for us. Flash forward a few years – we went to a U-Mich geology department reunion, and I gave him a necklace that had a geode slice with a silvered eagle feather laying in front as the center piece. I had bone tube beads that I’d purchased at a pow-wow riding up the sides. But because I didn’t know our friend’s neck size, and couldn’t politely ask, I used the sliding knots to allow a range of sizes. I didn’t have this guide when I made the necklace, so I asked my husband (who should have been a boy scout, given all the different knots he knows) to help. Our friend wears his necklace all the time!

  16. I like this knot because it looks great. What I do not like is that over time it gets tighter and tighter and pretty soon it so tight that you can not open or close it.

  17. OMG, thank you SO much for this. I just spent almost a hour looking at other tutorials and I just was NOT getting it. Got this right, first try! Thank you, thank you, thank you.