tutorial: pan chang chinese knot

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is being re-posted here for my own sake.]

In a previous post from a few years back, I made some Chinese knots for Chinese New Year 2010. Well, January 23, 2012, is the date for this year, and it’s fast approaching! I still had some of the same red cord from that previous project, so I decided to try and learn a new knot. And I picked a doozy of one called the Pan Chang knot.

120115 01 all knot

It took me a few times, but I finally got it. I had to get some cardboard and stick some pins in it to keep the cord where I wanted it, but in the end it turned out kind of cool. I had take more photos, but when you work at night and your room has incandescent lights and therefore a dim yellowish hue … it’s just too much work trying to make them presentable. Anyhow, I missed using Adobe Illustrator so much I decided to use the program to make a little guide. Yay.

120115 02a board

1. Get some cardboard stack it up (two or three layers so the pins stay in). Then following the guide, put pins where there are pink dots.

2. Get some cord/string that’s got some thickness (red is a lucky color). You’ll need about a yard … maybe more. In the middle, create a loop tied off with a knot. With one end, string the cord around the pins following the guide – stringing it vertically and then horizontally. Make sure to note when it goes over/under the already-laid cord.

3. With the other end of the cord, you’ll weave it through vertically and then horizontally. Again, make sure you take note when the cord is supposed to go over/under another one.

120115 02f pull

4. And that should be that. Carefully pull the cord up from around the pins and carefully pull on the outer loops. After you get the center roughly squared away, then you can begin adjusting the length of the loops by slowly working the cord through the piece, tightening along the way. The original knotted loop should be tight to the center square, and the two side loops should be bigger than the four other ones.

120115 03 knot

5. Voila! After all the tightening you’ll have to trim the ends of your cord. And then you can either leave the ends hanging or finish them off with some button knots.

120115 04 ends

Whew. Wasn’t that fun? I don’t have enough cord to make another knot, so that’s it. It’s kind of a small thing to show for all the time and effort I put into making it. It was fun though. Once you make one successfully you can sort of understand how the knot is constructed. The one I made here has four rows, but you can easily expand the knot to have six or eight rows just by increasing the number of vertical and horizontal moves you make. Good luck! Wishing everyone a happy new year!

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