Chinese Knot Art can be enhanced with the use of handspun yarns or converted commercial yarns. With careful choice of projects, all spinable fibers can be spun into knotting cords. Chinese Knot Art is integrated into other fiber arts with careful planning and execution.
The polwarth sweater successfully demonstrates how knotting can be integrated completely with a woven garment. The soft polwarth fleece is effectively spun as a knotting cord, warp yarn, weft yarn and elastic core yarn. These knots are soft and wearable; all the elements wholly coordinate.
The yak and karakul rug offers the extreme in knotting and handspinning. Heavy handspun, heavy fibers and a gross knot merge into a startling yet durable centerpiece for a remote spot on the floor.
The linen belt is enduring, timeless and simple in theory. Chinese Knot Art and spinning become functional.
The silk butterflies transcend Chinese Knot Art and spinning into another dimension of fiber art. Spun from a commercial fabric, placed on a commercial fabric that is sewn into a conventional jacket, these butterflies are a glimpse of the arts potential.
"Straw into Gold" is an old cliche' that has its roots in history and fairy tales. But here "straw" and gold are spun together. The fine tussah cord is knotted into a necklace worthy of the talisman it holds. Delicate, fragile and very difficult to work with, the gold cord is knotted then dipped in plastic and preserved. It is handspun, knotted and it "works".
Handspun From Scratch
Virtually any fiber of any preparation can be spun into a knotting yarn or cord. But the fibers will limit the uses of the knotting yarn. The cords used for jewelry, accessories of ornaments need to be very dense.
As with all yarns, the fiber preparation will dictate many aspects of the knotting yarn or cord. Woolens will need more twist than worsteds to stifle the undesirable elasticity. Worsted preparations will yield smoother, more desirable cord than a woolen preparation. Combed fibers give the ultimate results.
Variegated and space died cords are difficult to knot. It is better to use two dissimilar colored cords side by side. But if the knot is very open, loosely tied and on a smooth solid background, a variegated cord can yield an effervescent display.
Handspinning of the knotting yarns from a natural source allows us to completely integrate and coordinate Chinese Knot Art into completed projects. Weft yarns, ribbing yarns, knotting cords and warp yarns can be from the same fiber.
Be aware of the final intent for the yarn: diameter, number of plies, use. The intended use will dictate the desired density of the final cord. Spin the singles as tightly as possible with twist approaching 45 degrees. Ply extremely carefully. The number of plies in the cord is directly proportional to: how much it will abrade while knotting, how it will wear, how defined the knots will be, how much it will stretch out of shape, how difficult it is to spin. Generally, the more plies the better the knotting cord.
Make sure the yarns are balanced or set the twist. Excess energy will be released in the finished knot and it will twist out of shape if the yarn is not balanced.
Most commercial yarns can be converted to knotting yarns. They can be used for embellishment or accessories, functional and ornamental. Some of the commercial yarns will need to be altered for optimum results.
Finished knotting cords for knitted or crocheted garments should be softer and more flexible. The knotting cord should be large enough not to disappear in the texture pattern of the garment.
Some of the most important aspects to remember while spinning knotting cords from commercial yarns are:
1) Add as much twist as possible on all but the last plies to achieve as hard a cord as possible.
2) Always check the direction of the twist of the initial yarn and twist first in that direction.
3) Plan as round a yarn as possible for well defined knots.
4) The yarn needs to be balanced when finished.
5) A fuzzy or textured yarn will not show the knots off well but in some cases is suitable for a particular project.
6) Variegated colored yarns do not show off most knots well and are difficult to tie.
7) Necessary strength is dependent on the intended use. A cord may be weak if there will be no tension will be on the final knots.
8) Generally speaking, elasticity is not desirable.