Origins of knots
Due to the perishable nature of the media (plant fibres, animal hide strips, and yarns), the history of knots is very poorly documented and mostly lost to antiquity. They were first used as a form of communication and a method of record keeping. Then came baskets for carrying, ropes for snares, and lacing for garments, all crucial to the development of human civilization.
Chinese knotting is a decorative handicraft art that began as a form of Chinese folk art in the Tang and Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) in China.
The Chinese are not the only ancient civilisation that uses decorative knots. Korean (maedeup), Japanese (mizuhiki), Egyptian, Tibetian, Inca and of course Celtic cultures all have their own knots. Some knots look very similar, but are given different names according to the culture that they are from.
I use the Clover knot to create a knotted version of my business logo as well as various Chinese surnames. The Clover knot has 4 sides and can be adapted to turn in any of the 4 directions, allowing depictions of monogram drawings, English alphabet, Chinese characters, and more. Theoretically, it can be used to create knotted words of any written language.
The traditional Chinese Cheongsam fasteners are made with leftover fabric. Each set can be a simple fabric ball knot paired with a fabric loop, or complicated works of fabric art. Frog buttons made by Hong Kong and Shanghai masters have a Button knot as the ball and quilled decorative element.
I generally use knotting techniques to create the decorative part of my fasteners.
Morse code is the WWI telecommunication character encoding scheme where text characters are represented by a sequences of dots and dashes. I use the Celtic Button knot to depict the dots, and the curly Twirl knot to depict the dashes, in order to spelled out the secret alphabets.
Combinations and designs
Individual knots can be combined to form different designs. You can choose to create your own designs, where the end-result is a truly unique handicraft. You can also base your creations on designs that you saw in print or online. However, those probably do not have attached instructions so figuring out the steps will not be easy.
Stamps of knots
I was ecstatic when I received a set of stamps picturing Chinese knots, and set about challenging myself to recreate the 10 designs. Without instructions, I could only analyse the pictures of the finished products and work in reverse. Took me one and a half years, and it is truly a labour of love.