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Sailor's-Knot Wreath

A sailor's knot wreath is just about as authentic as you can get when decorating in the nautical theme, and looks great outdoors as well as indoors. For the Fourth of July, a simple ribbon brings together the theme for the holiday and can be removed for the rest of the summer.

sailor's knot wreath

Photography: Ashley Poskin

Source: Martha Stewart


This idea comes from our friend Ashley Poskin. The Turk's head knot—or sailor's knot—is a decorative knot made from one continuous length of rope, intertwined to make a closed loop. The knot can be tied in a cylinder, or formed into a flat mat like we've done, making it a perfect door wreath. The knots are classified by the number of "leads" and "bights," ours is a three-lead, five-bight Turk's head knot. "Leads" refer to the number of crossings, while "bights" are the points in the center of the wreath.


Choose any type of rope, but for our project we chose a cotton rope. If you use manila rope, be sure to wear gloves when tying your knots to protect your hands from splinters. Another helpful tidbit is to work on a somewhat scratchy surface if possible. This process was photographed on the back side of masonite board, which grabbed at the rope, helping it to stay in place while it was being tugged around.


  • 30 feet of 5⁄8" cotton blend rope

  • Craft needle (Pictured: Dritz 158 Hand Needle Compact & Needle Threader, $4.40,

  • Thin cotton cord or wire

  • Tape

  • Scissors


  1. Form a pretzel-like shape, stretching the rope out so that it measures close to 16 inches in diameter. (Note: You'll be able to adjust the size a bit once the wreath comes together, but you need to start somewhere close to 16 inches.)

    sailor's knot wreath
  2. Bring the working end up, working in a clockwise direction, and weaving the rope over and under.

    sailor's knot wreath
  3. Continue weaving the working end under, holding the form in place with one hand while pulling the excess rope through (the wreath should now has 3 bights).

    sailor's knot wreath
  4. Repeat the process, weaving the working end under the bottom right bight.

    sailor's knot wreath
  5. Bring the working end over, under, and over the first bight.

    sailor's knot wreath
  6. To form the fifth bight, bring the rope around clockwise to the first turn, and continue to follow the path all the way around until you've reached three turns.

    sailor's knot wreath
  7. In weaving the rope, be careful not to lose the shape of the knot; you may have to stop and carefully move the bights back into place. (Note: The wreath may look as shown until you're almost completely finished.)

    sailor's knot wreath
  8. After completing three turns, start to work the rope around so that they all fit snug next to one another. If more slack is needed, start at the ends and work the rope back around. At this step, you should end up with just enough excess rope so that you can easily hide the ends behind a bight. (Note: If you need to trim the rope, be sure to wrap it with tape first to keep the ends from fraying.)

    sailor's knot wreath
  9. After tucking the ends in place, sew them together using a craft needle and a thin cotton twine or rope. For a sturdier wreath, repeat this process at various points around the wreath. Using cotton twine, add a hanger loop on the back of the wreath. For the finishing touch, add a small red, white, and blue ribbon for patriotic flair.

    sailor's knot wreath

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