How to Make a Knot/Cord Rosary

While growing up, I've tried a variety of craft projects, and one of my favorites has always been making knot Rosaries. I find making knot Rosaries to be very condusive to silent prayer and reflection, and you can do many great things with the Rosaries you make.

Knot Rosaries are very durable (when made properly), they feel great while praying the Rosary, the Divine Mercy Chaplet or other devotional prayers on them, and they look very nice. So far, none of the Rosaries I've made and given away or sold have had any problems falling apart, even after a few years of use! As an additional benefit, they are not very hard to make, and the supplies you will need do not cost very much at all!

Getting Started - The Supplies

Knot Rosary Made by JeffI've always purchased the nylon twine for my knot Rosaries from FNT Industries (which has, unfortunately, gone out of business), as they offered a great selection of colors, sizes and lengths of cord. My favorite cord to purchase is #36 Solid Color Nylon Twine in 500 ft. spools. (If you don't want something pre-dyed, you can purchase white twine and dye it yourself to make interesting color combinations (click here for some discussion with ideas). You can also usually find a few different sizes of this nylon twine in a local hardware store.

Here are some places where you can buy twine:

You don't have to use #36 twine (it's somewhere around 5-7mm diameter), but I find that the beads look best with this size (#21 makes a much smaller rosary, but it might be better for younger, smaller hands).

For the crucifix/cross and the Marian medal, you have many different options. For a simple cord Rosary, you can make both parts completely from the nylon twine. For a more traditional look, with a Miraculous Medal and a metal Crucifix, you can purchase them separately (usually about $1 per rosary) and affix them to the Rosary using special knots. See the section 'More resources' at the bottom of this page for more suppliers for these parts.

PDF Guide for Making Knot Rosaries

For instructions, I will refer to the PDF guide from www.RosaryArmy.com, but I will add some of the tips and tricks I've learned here.

Step 1: Practice Making Knots

It may seem very hard to make a knot at first, but after five or so, you'll get the hang of it, and soon you'll be able to make knots without even looking most of the time! The key here is patience. Keep working until you have made a few knots in a row on a piece of practice cord (about two feet long).

Follow RosaryArmy's instructions for steps 1-5, then for step 6, hold on to the first loop (the one that controls the tightness of the loop) and last loop (the one that controls where the knot is) of cord, and control how you tighten the knot by pulling a little on the first loop, then 'messaging' the last loop and the string, then pulling the first loop again, until you've made the knot almost where it needs to be. Then 'message' the knot to exactly where you want it using your thumb and index finger. This is VERY important for making evenly and tightly spaced Hail Mary knots.

Here's a video demonstrating the process:

Step 2: Making Your Rosary

Note: Many people have been asking me about how, specifically, they can make a knotted cross so the whole Rosary is, truly, a 'knot Rosary.' Here are some simple directions:

For the crucifix, you basically make a bunch of Our Father knots, making sure to space them well. You make one Our Father knot after the last Our Father knot that is on the Rosary (the first one prayed), then you leave about 1/8" of a gap, and make two Our Father knots right up next to each other. Then, cut off the extra string and burn (or superglue) the end.

Take the string you cut off (or use some more string if the sting you cut off isn't long enough), and tie it in a simple knot around the gap you left. This will form the crossbar. Tie one Our Father knot on each side of the small knot you just tied, making sure the Our Father knots are tied very close to the center of the cross. Then cut and burn or superglue the string coming out of these Our Father knots. There you have it!

RosaryArmy's instructions are very good for making a complete rosary, but I'll offer a few extra tips here, and explain a few things in more detail.

  • You can begin your Rosary either eight inches or so from the beginning of the cord or in the middle of the cord (this way is a bit faster). If you start from be beginning of the cord, make 10 Hail Mary's (1st Decade), then an Our Father, then another 10 Hail Mary's (2nd Decade), etc., in order from the 1st Decade to the last. If you start from the middle: make an Our Father, then 10 Hail Mary's (the 3rd Decade), then an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary's (4th Decade), an Our Father, and 10 Hail Mary's (5th Decade). Finally, start again from the middle, working in the other way, to complete the 2nd Decade and the 1st Decade.
  • After you complete the 5 Decades, you can make the bridge (or 'centerpiece') in three different ways:
    • 1. Make a simple 'Centerpiece Knot' following Rosary Army's instructions. You can make this with one, two or three loops of both cords, depending on how large you want the knot to be (I generally make a three loop knot here).
    • 2. Make a 'Centerpiece Knot' with a Miraculous Medal (or other Marian medal). This is pretty easy to do, as you simply place a medal on the cord after your knot.
    • 3. (Trickier) for the first and last Hail Mary's in the rosary, and the 1st Decade's Our Father, make an 'Our Father Knot with a Crucifix' (from the RosaryArmy guide) for each one, substituting a Marian Rosary centerpiece for the Crucifix and tying each end of the cord into it.
  • There are many different ways you can do the crucifix. I usually make a completely knotted cross and Rosary, because this is typically most durable, and it is generally a little cheaper to do it this way. But you can also purchase wooden or metal crosses or crucifixes to finish off your knot Rosary.
  • Instead of burning the cord to take off the excess (either when your finished or when you're cutting the cord to the proper length), you can cut it with a sharp scissors and either use superglue to prevent fraying and separation, or use a cool product called 'Fray Check' that can be found in most fabric/craft stores.
  • I find that I can vary certain aspects of the process (such as the distance between knots and the size of the knots) and make my Rosaries more unique and interesting. Feel free to make small changes here and there to make the best Rosaries you can.
  • Your first rosary will probably take a few hours, if not a few days, to complete, but don't be discouraged! I can usually finish one (and pray on it) in about 20-25 minutes now. You'll quickly get much better at making these Rosaries!

Praying On the Knot Rosary

After making a hundred or so of these knot Rosaries, I've gotten into the habit of trying to pray the decades of the Rosary as I make them. If I am making the Rosaries for a certain purpose, I will pray with the intention of that purpose in mind, and perhaps reflect on certain aspects of that mystery that have to do with the intention. You need not say the Rosary while you make it, though—sometimes, I simply listen to music or talk with some friends while making a Rosary!

Check out New Advent's guide (with Biblical verses for reflection) for praying the Rosary. There are hundreds of great explanations and guides for praying the Rosary, as well as many different books, booklets and pamphlets with meditations and reflections on the 20 mysteries. Search Google or look through a local Catholic retailer to see some!

What to Do with Completed Knot Rosaries

There are many things you can do with your completed knot Rosaries. You can give them to friends and family members as gifts, you can donate them to many different Catholic organizations (such as a local parish) for distribution to those who don't have Rosaries, you can donate them to www.RosaryArmy.com, you can give them to soldiers in the military, you can sell them for fundraising, you can use them to help evangelize...

The sky's the limit! The Rosary is a great tool for prayer and meditation, and it's an easy sacramental to make. Start making some today, and perhaps your love for Mary, the Mother of God will deepen as mine has!

More Resources

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