Making magic with string: Knots and Knitting

PBP week 22: K II is for Knotwork and Knitting. They are pretty similar.  I’ve talked about the meditative aspects and importance of creation before on this blog but knitting plays a huge role in my life, while this is the Pagan blog project, like everything else, I can make knitting pagan.  Knotwork is another matter.  Knotwork is in my mind more about a magical practice, which is not necessarily “pagan” per-say because not all pagans practice magic and knotwork can be used by Muslims, Christians, and any faith – even atheists.  Other PBP knitters have talked about their knitting over at The Nest, Sacred Hearth and Spirit Stitch has a PBP KAL. (Which I would love to take part in but have a bunch of projects for summer birthdays on the needles now.)  If you are a knitter, and you’re on Raverly please friend me: PixiewithSticks!  If you’re a knitter and you’re not on Raverly – get on it. Raverly is an awesome resource for knitting advice, patterns, and amazing people.

Knotwork is a traditional form of witchcraft and proof has been found of its use in magical grimoires and books for centuries in Western traditions.  The knots and cord are essentially a fetish. (In the magical sense not sex-sense.)  Knotwork in essence involves tying knots with an intent and “locking in” your energy with the knots.  So basically, you visualize and infuse your knots with your intent and the knot is “trapping” that energy to manifest in your life.  Now, the downside of knotwork is that in the event the knot becomes undone – your energy is released.  So say you use this for a love spell (now this is just an imaginative example, I’m not saying you can or should try this):  You tie the knot, lock in the spell, BAM! dude is in love with you.  Then, say your little sister comes along… she has a major crush on this guy or is just mischievous, whatever, knots are untied.  BAM! Spell broken: dude doesn’t know you exist and can’t believe the silliness he’s been up to for the past few months.  Basically your spell can unintentionally be undone by someone other than yourself.  However, this is also a good way to use knotwork: say you want to keep something OUT of your life… like I don’t know, maybe a pregnancy.  You want to stay pregnancy free so you use knotwork: knot your cord to “knot up” the fallopian tubes and therefore, will not get pregnant.  Then, say you meet Mr. Right, get married, ride off into the sunset and live in happily ever-after land: now you want a baby.  Untie the knot, visualize your tubes and fertility flooding your womb: spell undone – time for babies.  Again, this is total hyperbole you should NEVER rely on magic for birth-control but there are I’m sure other situations where you would want to stop a certain kind of energy from playing out in your life that would be beneficial at other times.  Like for me, I do these kind of spells to keep depression at bay – which I am of course hoping those knots do not get undone and release that into my life.  That wasn’t as clear of an example in my mind as the baby thing though – and of course if you are suffering with infertility I would definitely say some magic never hurts.

The infamous witches ladder spells are one popular form of knotwork.  To make a witches ladder you take a cord, and make a specified number of knots or string beads onto the cord.  While you are tying/stringing, infuse the object with your goal. There are plenty of examples of chants to use while making witches ladders on the internet and in books. Witches ladders may also include other items that help you to “visualize” or symbolize your goal.  The spell is done with the tying of the final knot. Witches ladders can be used in this way and hung up or as a mediation aid similar to malas and rosary beads. Witches ladders have traditionally been notorious for their use in death or attack magic and bindings.  Other uses for witches ladders are healing, wish magic, and protection.

I often use witches ladders for wish magic.  So let’s say I’m in the market to buy a house.  I’ve looked at papers and houses and I am doing everything in the mundane world possible to get this house, but I want to speed things up or I want my dream house to manifest (within reason this should work).  I would decide to make a witches ladder spell to help manifest my dream home in my life.  First: choose a cord in a corresponding color – so I’m going to say for this spell I would use a green cord.  Green because in my personal correspondences green symbolizes wealth and money would defiantly be a big factor here: I want a home in my price range.  I might start by combining other colors like white for purity or a color to symbolize myself and braiding the cords together before I tied the knots.  Then, I would pick a number of knots.  You might pick 9 (traditional power number), 7 (again traditional), 3, or a number that is symbolic to you – say 6 if you want to be moved into said house in 6 months.  Then, I would gather 6 objects to symbolize the things I need in the house and my dream home.  So: I would use a copper coin (money, wealth), perhaps a crystal, a key, etc. Get creative with your items, I don’t believe there are any real “rules” here.  Then, as you tie the knots, string your items on the ladder or hide them in the knots (your preference).  I always hide herbs, some things I might leave visible.  When you are finished and the spell is done, you can hang the ladder somewhere or bury it.

Knitting can be infused in the same way, I would recommend however that knitted gifts only be infused with protection or healing etc.  You certainly could use knitting for a love spell or something like that but I would not recommend it.  Additionally, you can knit items for your magical and spiritual needs.  Here are a few pagan-themed knitting projects I’ve found:
Knitted Tarot Case by Mary K. Greer
Goddess Shawl by Dawn Ridden published by AntiCraft. (Note: I just finished this and there seem to be some mistakes I followed one Raverly user’s corrections and still totally screwed up the arms area so if you figure it out, let me know. I’m still undecided if I want to frog it since I didn’t notice the mistake until I was blocking the shawl.)
Magickal Symbol Afghan Squares by Erisse Knits – also you could do these for ritual bags, etc. the charts are great
Venus de Merino goddess doll by Dark Twist 

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About Pixie

I'm just your average 20-something trying to figure it out. I am also a theologian, yogi, witch, pagan, dirty hippie, activist (progressive politics), feminist, knitter, environmentalist, and friend. I've also been accused of being a hipster - I am not sure about that. I am sometimes happy to be Gen Y (go Harry Potter) and most of the time confused (seriously guys... ) by everyone else. My hobbies including knitting (and maybe crochet), quilting, recycling, cooking, writing, reading, and biking. I'm finishing up a masters in public policy and when I worked worked in political nonprofits as an activist.
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2 Responses to Making magic with string: Knots and Knitting

  1. I’m curious about knitting a protection like spell into baby garments. Is this something you think could be done?

    • Pixie says:

      Yes I am sure this could be done. The easiest way in my opinion would be to focus on protection as you knit, perhaps making a little incantation to chant as knitting. Of course you don’t have to chant the whole time, I usually set aside a “working” time to use the incantation and then work as normal on the object for the rest of the time. Maybe 10 minutes of meditative knitting/spellwork a day or whatever and the rest just “normal” knitting.

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