ME, MY KNOTS
What's in here --
How it all started
What's behind the knot
Across different cultures
Common types of knots
Why rainbow ropes
Where old meets new
Hi, my name is Ai Geok, a native Singaporean, and mine are the hands behind the knots.
I love knotting. The threads of a knot are like threads of life. As I bring them together in a knot, I add beauty to the world.
How it all started ---
I first came into contact with Chinese knots in my teens, and have been fascinated by the art for the past 30 odd years. Some knots are seemingly simple looking, but may be very complex and difficult to tie, taking many hours. or even months, to complete. From home deco to personal embellishments, good things are meant to be shared, right ?
So what is my purpose, what is my brand? Well, I hope to preserve the traditional methods of making Chinese knots. I want to find innovative ways of presenting them. I want to change the way people view them - very chi-na, boring design, only for CNY, suitable for old aunties, easy to make, cheap.
From making for my own use, to making as gifts, to trying to preserve the traditional art craft, to making to sell, my journey have taken me on a roller-coaster ride of periods of dust accumulated supplies to frenzy knotting. This is at the top of my bucket list, but I'm by no means ticking if off yet.
In our world of factory-mass-produced goods, I savor the looks of admiration for my unique creations and my skills. I hope you'll enjoy them as much as I do.
What's behind the knot ---
Knotting is an ancient technique used in many cultures around the world. It is still used today, just ask any sailor, boy scout, girl guide, or NASA.
Chinese knotting is actually a relatively 'recent' adaptation by the wives of Chinese rulers who wanted to use them to reflect their status, gain power and enhance their wardrobe. Many times, a spiritual aspect is added to those ornamental creations.
From the need to tie the knot correctly to save your life, to the need to showcase your family's wealth and power, the art of tying knots is more than just threading the ends of strings into loops.
You may want to visit some websites to get a better idea of the history of knots :
Knots have influenced our lives in many ways. There is a Lucky knot bridge in China, people have patiently molded knotted trees, the British Royal family has a Lover's knot tiara, and many of us have eaten pastry in braided or knotted designs.
A brooch that's one-of-a-kind,
made as a birthday gift.
for my daughter.
Across different cultures --
The Chinese are not the only ancient civilisation that uses decorative knots. Korean (maedeup), Japanese (mizuhiki), Egyptian, Tibetian, Incan and of course Celtic cultures all have their own knots.
Some knots are very similar, but are given different names according to the culture that they are from. For example, the Chinese Button knot is very similar to the Korean Lotus Bud knot, and the Celtic Diamond knot.
Common types of knots --
1. Brocade knot
The brocade knot represents unity. It is a very versatile knot as the loops can be shaped to look like various flora and fauna. Loops can be added to create bigger knots. My favourite knot.
2. Button knot
The button knot was mainly used on traditional cheong-sum dresses as a button, hence its name. It is very useful as a starting or ending knot as it retains its shape well.
3. Clover knot
The clover knot mimics the common clover leaves, in form and also in the popular belief of bringing good luck. Its compact structure allows it to be formed into Chinese words or English alphabets.
4. Coin knot
The Coin knot is thus named as the resultant knot looks like a pair of interconnected ancient coins. It is a very easy knot to tie without tools, thus especially appropriate for beginners.
5. Lucky knot
The lucky knot is named by the ancient people who created it, though the actual reasoning behind it is not known. Increasing the number of loops will change the basic look of this knot.
6. Weave (Pan-chang) knot
This is probably the most common knot. Many people mistook this to be 'the Chinese knot' because they do not normally see any other types of knots in the market. One of the earliest decorative knot invented based on the theory of cloth weaving, this is also the first knot to be machine-made.
7. Heart knot
The Celtic heart knot can be pulled into a heart-shape, hence its name. It is closely resembles the Coin knot.
8. Combination knot
As the name suggests, you can combine different types of knots, different number of each type, different presentations of each type, and so on. Limited only by your imaginations.
The table below shows the estimated number of intersections and loops for each type of knot.
An intersection is the place where 2 ropes cross each other. For every intersection, you need to know which rope goes on top, which one at the bottom.
A loop is where the rope curls back on itself. For every loop, you need to know where it should enter and where to exit. Every entry would generate one intersection. As the rope enter the body of the knot, more intersections will be generated. Same for exits.
Obviously, the more intersections there are, the more complex the knotting process, the more chance of a mistake. Not so obvious is that the complexity increases exponentially, not linearly.
Tying the knot is just half the job, time taken depends on the number of intersections. The other task is to tighten and shape the knot, to make sure that all loops are the size you require. You need to understand the flow of the rope because changing the size of one loop affects the size of its corresponding sibling. Time taken depends on the number of loops. If one is not familiar with the knot, it is easy to make a mistake and have to re-trace your steps, or even re-do the knot.
Why rainbow ropes ---
I like to use rainbow coloured ropes in many of my designs, because:
I wish to be the Rainbow in your cloud !
it bring colours and joy to people
the colour setting of the end product usually surprises me
the product can match with many wardrobe choices
ropes are not easily available in the market
I can customise my designs, tailored to your preferences. Spare a bit more time and attention, and you'll be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind accessory.
Where old meets new ---
Decorative knotting used to be very popular in China, especially within the walls of the Imperial Palaces of various Emperors in ancient times. Nowadays, only a small handful of people around the world make the more intricate designs, mostly as a hobby.
My designs are mostly one-of-a-kind, or similar. Just considering the knot itself; a tweak in tightness, loop length, loop size, or a combination of those will result in different presentations. Add in type, colour, multiples and embellishment, the permutations are staggering ! Not exactly the run-of-the-mill mass-produced machine-made 3 for $10 kinds that you can find at Chinatown.
I hope to revive interest in this traditional art-craft, before it disappears like many of our other traditions and culture.
1. create awareness
a. media publicity
b. showcase at art-shows or art bazzars
2. generate interest
a. modernise and simplify designs
b. explore alternative materials
c. extend applications
3. build up pool of talent
a. conduct workshops
b. create interest groups
4. source of funds
a. purchase of products
b. grants and donations
If you are in a position to help with any of the above, or have comments and new ideas, do drop me an email or contact me here. Thank you in advance.