Nuido It Yourself: Come to the Knot Side

Latest posts by Madeline Scharpf (see all)

Nuido It Yourself - Japanese Embroidery with Madeline Scharpf

What else can you do with embroidery floss besides poke fabric with a needle? You can tie it up in knots! As a child of the ’80s, I simply wasn’t able to pass up this book when I saw it on the shelf in a Tokyo book store.

Oh! Thread and shiny things!!
Oh! Thread and shiny things!!

Leave it to the modern Japanese to successfully resurrect a bygone fashion statement. These are more than your middle school friendship bracelets, these patterns are downright classy.

Real ladies wear fur with their handcrafts.
Real ladies wear fur with their handcrafts.

Let’s be honest, I can’t credit the Japanese with the art of macrame. In fact, it’s hard to pick just one person or nation who can claim to be the first to use a decorative knotting technique. Sailors used knots for practical uses aboard their ships as well as creating decorative pieces to trade at ports. The Arabians adorned tassels on horses and camels to help keep insects away. Queen Mary II learned macrame from the Spanish and taught it to her ladies in waiting. The Chinese are famous for their knots.

These are Chinese, not Japanese.
These are Chinese, not Japanese. Photo from Wikipedia.

Of course, since I was raised by hippies I’ve always believed that a macrame owl is proper home décor.

One time, my husband had to drag me out of a thrift shop because I wouldn't leave the ugly yarn owl. True story.
One time, my husband had to drag me out of a thrift shop because I wouldn’t leave the ugly yarn owl. True story.

Have you made a knotted bracelet since you were a teenager? I’ve got plenty of embroidery floss, so let’s go! I’ll be travelling for the next couple of days so getting back into the knotting groove will be the perfect airplane/airport pass time.

Easy Peasy Japanesey!
Easy Peasy Japanesey!

As always, Japanese craft books have easy picture tutorials and you shouldn’t need to know the language to make most projects. Here are a few of my favorites:

Tassles?! Yes, please!
Tassles?! Yes, please!

I’ll probably start with the most simple design so I can re-kindle my friendship knot memory.

See. Want. Make. Have.
See. Want. Make. Have.

We’re headed to Hawaii where I might awaken my inner mermaid. This Vintage Shell Belt is just the inspiration I need. Want it? Get it on Etsy or just Nuido-it-Youself, yo!

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Madeline Scharpf

Madeline lives in Honolulu, Hawaii and travels to Japan enough to max out her visitor visa each year. When she’s not pretending to be a mermaid she’s wielding a hook or a needle while drowning in a library of Japanese craft books. Her dream is to learn more Kanji, hold her breath longer and see people wearing the things she makes.

You can keep up with Madeline’s endless fiber projects at and find her blog at

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