Traditional Bead Knotting Method

Bead jewelry
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Knotting Between Beads
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Most pearl necklaces are knotted using a traditional technique. Though it is a little more difficult than the cheater’s way, it will add an extra finished look to just about any beaded necklace or bracelet you make. Once you get the hang of it, you will see how the results can really make a difference when it comes to beaded necklaces. It helps the bead drape better, and if at some point there is a break in the cord, you won't lose all your beads.

As with most jewelry techniques, the more you practice, the better you will become. The most difficult part of traditional knotting is getting the knot snug up against the bead. It is helpful to practice with a mixture of beads and cording that you plan to cut apart when you are done before taking on a specific project.

Materials and Tools Needed

There's an effective way to knot using either a corsage pin or an old stick pin. (A straight pin is not strong enough for this.) However, if you plan to do a lot of knotting, you might want to consider either learning to use an awl and a pair of tweezers, or for a more high-tech approach, take a look at a tool called the tri-cord knotter. These tools will make it easier for you to make consistent and tight knots. Most bead vendors sell tools that are specially made for knotting. Many of them also offer books and even videos on this technique as well.

Match the cord color to your beads for a traditional necklace. For knotting, you'll want to use either silk or nylon cord. You can purchase either of these materials with a pre-attached needle or purchase the needles and thread individually. If you are learning to knot for the first time, choose the pre-attached needle option because it is one less step to deal with and it is fairly inexpensive. Most cost just a few dollars.

Gather these materials and tools:

  • A corsage or stick pin
  • Beads
  • Cord
  • Optional: bead tip

Start Knotting Between Beads

First Bead Knotting Step
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Since you will use either silk or nylon cord, it's best to finish one end of the necklace with a bead tip before starting to knot.

Once the necklace (or bracelet) is started, string on the first bead. Now, tie an overhand knot, but keep it loose.

Insert Pin in Knot

Second Bead Knotting Step
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Now, insert the pin (or end of the awl) through the loose knot.

Push Knot Against Bead

Push Knot Against Bead
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With the pin still inside the knot, use it to push the knot down towards the bead until the knot and pin are flush up against the bead.

Removing the Pin From Knot

Removing the Pin from Knot
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This is the tricky part. Keep the knot up against the bead while you slip the pin out. Then take the pin and hold it on top of the cord and up against the knot. Pull the cord with one hand, and push the knot against the bead using the pin in your other hand.

An alternative method is that instead of pushing with the pin you use your fingers to push the knot further up against the bead.

Either way works. The idea is that you want to knot to be flush up against the bead after you remove the pin or awl. This is where practice will make a big difference because the more you do it the better you will get at this important step in the process.

Continue and Practice Knotting

Knotting Between Beads
Tammy Powley / The Spruce

Continue this process after each bead is strung. One good practice is stringing on about a half-dozen beads or so and then pushing one down and knot, push and other down and knot, and so on. This way, you don't have to stop and string a bead on after each knot.

Once you try this, you might find ways to adjust it that work better for you. You might want to knot from right to left or left to right. Try a few experiments until you find a way that works best for you, and remember to expect some mistakes when you first start learning this.