How to Make a Hemp Necklace

Or bracelet, or cell-phone charm, or belt, or whatever else you feel like making from hemp cord. This guide explains the basic concepts behind creating hemp jewelry, and the knots used. Also known as macrame, making a hemp necklace consists of tying certain knots over and over again to create certain designs. Luckily, most hemp necklaces are based on one knot. This guide for beginners covers preparation, that knot, and finishing the necklace.

Shopping List

  • Hemp jewelry twine. Knots use up an amazing amount of it, so count on buying a 10 yard packet per necklace you make.
  • Tape can be useful, though isn't necessary.

Measuring and Prepping

The first task is estimating the length of the finished necklace. Measuring is always a better idea if that's an option, but 19" is a good size to try if you consider your neck "medium" sized. Larger necks might like 21".

Next comes some math. You need to cut one string which is your desired length times two plus 8 inches (2(final length) + 8). The next string is desired length times 11 (11(final length). 11 times the final length is huge, but for a necklace consisting mostly of knots, it'll be used up.

Fold both lengths in half and hold them together. Tie the four strands together with a simple overhand knot a couple inches from the loop. How far down to tie them depends on what method you will use to fasten the necklace, but tying them 3 inches down works fine for now.

Fasten the necklace to a surface so it won't be flopping around too much. You can tape it to a table, safety pin it to the knee of your jeans, or hook the loop around your big toe. I also secure the longer threads in some way, to make it easier to work with them. This can mean wrapping them around a spool, or tying or taping them into a little bundle.

Hemp twine in a bundle to be easy to work with

This is an example of long twine folded and tied into a bundle, to make it easier to pass through the loop each knot.

Hemp Knotting

The two short lengths of hemp go in the center, and are referred to as the base. They mostly just lie there, while knots are tied around them. One of the longer lengths should lay to the left of the base, and one to the right. I refer to one of the longer twine strings as the leader and one of them as the partner, though that's not a technical term. The leader does most of the movement in the knot, and the partner very little.

The same hemp knot is used to make a flat or spiral necklace. To form a flat necklace, the leader is always the same cord, though it switches back and forth from the left to the right sides. When working on a flat necklace, I usually mark the end of one string with a sharpie so I can easily find the leader even if I stand up and wander off. For a spiral necklace, the leader is always on the same side, and is a different string each time. When working on a spiral, I just always use the string on the left as the leader.

I remember the repetitive knot with a simple rhyme:

  • Partner over base
  • Leader over partner
  • Leader under base
  • Leader through the loop

Hemp Knot Steps by Picture

Hemp twine taped to a table

The hemp is tied together and taped to the table, waiting to be started. The first knot always looks weird, but it'll look better by the third or fourth knot.

Hemp necklace partially done

I knotted down a bit and the necklace lays ready for another knot to be added. The leader is on the right, and the partner on the left.

Hemp knot for flat necklace

Partner over base: Draw the partner string over the two center base strings to form a loop or "4" shape.

Hemp knotting steps

Leader over partner: Lay the leader down over the partner, so the leader is parallel to the base.

Hemp knot in a necklace

Leader under base: Pull the leader string under the base.

Nearly finished hemp knot

Leader through the loop: Pull the leader up through the loop between the partner and the base.

Hemp knot instructions

The knot is formed. Now pull evenly on both the leader and the partner to tighten the knot and slide it up the base. Pay attention to how tight you pull it and try to maintain an even tension in the necklace.

Finishing

When finishing, make sure that you stop before you're completely out of base. For a simple ending, just cut any excess cord down and tie the extra cord at the ends of the necklace together. Of course, a solid knot means its on your neck for good, but they hold up to daily activities like showering pretty well.

And that's the basics of how to make a hemp necklace. Of course, to make an interesting necklace, it takes a little more than just a knot. Learn how to add beads to the necklace or add fancier tie offs with some of the other tutorials I have coming soon. I'll also put a few necklace designs online to try until you get comfortable creating your own, as well as some more interesting knots.