We now carry a complete selection of heavy-duty cord for making your your knotted cord rosaries. Click here for a listing.
Quite possibly the toughest and longest lasting rosary, the knotted cord rosary is a simple and inexpensive way to make rosaries. Especially good for childrens' and missions' rosaries, all one needs is cord and a simple knotting tool (your finger will do just fine in a pinch).
One style of rosary uses #36 twine or, better yet, parachute cord. Slide on pony beads for the Hail Mary prayers, and use knots (or knots and additional beads) for the Our Father prayers. The cross can be an actual crucifix, or a cross made from the cord, itself.
The other common style doesn't use beads, but knots in the cord act as the reminder to pray the Hail Mary and Our Father prayers.
Either way, this is the most durable rosary we know of, and with the variety of colors available in cord or pony beads, can also be customized to suit almost anyone's tastes.
Following are complete directions on making knotted rosaries. (Special thanks to Mike Kudla for providing this information and samples.)
IMPORTANT: Simply cutting the cord leads to fraying. Use a match or cigarette lighter to carefully burn the cord instead of cutting it. Another way to get a really clean end is to wrap the cord tightly with masking tape, cut through the middle of the tape (and the cord), and sear/melt the end with a flame. When you remove the tape you'll have a nice, clean end. If you are going to make a lot of these, there are special attachments for electric soldering irons designed just for heat-cutting synthetic cords.
Select the twine you wish to use. #36 and #48 are popular sizes. For one rosary, cut it to length as follows. (These measurements will vary according to the tightness of the knot -- the stretch of the cord -- and are for undyed cord. Allow 15% for shrinkage if you choose to dye the cord before making the rosary. If you use beads -- like pony beads -- for the Hail Mary prayers, you'll only need about 1/3rd as much cord. It is better to have a few extra feet than to run short.
#36 twine - 6 yards
#48 twine or parachute cord - 7 yards
#60 twine - 9 yards
#72 twine - 10 yards
#96 twine - 12 yards
The Rosary "Body". Begin about 6 inches from the end of cord (more for thick cord). With cord held in left hand wrap cord clockwise 3 times over cord and first finger (2 times for thicker cord or parachute cord). Pull entire length of the cord through - tighten. This is the first Hail Mary.
Repeat the previous step, placing the second knot close or against the first knot - tighten. Then maneuver the second knot for spacing. The more space you place between the knots and the more wraps you do per knot, the more cord you will need.
Repeat for the next 8 Hail Mary's. This completes the 1st decade.
The Our Father. Wrap cord 4 times (4 loops instead of 3) to make a larger knot. REMEMBER to space before and after the Our Father.
Repeat the above steps for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th decades.
After the 5 decades are completed, it is time for the joining. Taking both the 1st Hail Mary and the last Hail Mary in your left hand, wrap both cords around finger twice, pull both ends through, lighten - pulling short cord first.
With the long cord knot 1 Our Father - space - 3 Hail Mary's - space - 1 Our Father.
The Cross. You can tie on a cross or crucifix, or make one from the remaining cord. A short distance from the last completed Our Father make another Our Father, then leaving a small space, make 2 more Our Fathers very close (touching) together. The cord that is remaining at the joining knot should be burnt off and used for the cross bar of the cross.
Cross Bar. Lay the piece you just burnt off flat on the table, place the rosary over it between the last Our Father and the last 2 Our Fathers. Hold the ends with each hand, cross them, bring over rosary and tighten. With each end of cord make an Our Father on either side to form the cross bar of the cross. Make these knots very tight - this is very important.
For added prevention of fraying, you can add a drop or two of super glue to the points where cut cord is exposed (the center and cross).