Blogging on work nights is a bit of a challenge – but here’s what I’ve been up to the past few days, in bits and pieces, finished off during my lunch break today – some really pretty, simple, twig and twine Christmas star decorations (I wrongly described these as Star of David decorations – they’re not of course, but you could easily make those if you prefer them!).
Mine use some thin hazel ‘whips’ we pruned from our hedge a few weeks ago, but anything would do – willow or ash would be particularly suitable as they tend to grow nice and straight, but a quick scavenge around the garden, park or woods should yield something you can use. The only other things you need are some string (I used jute twine because I think it’s pretty, but raffia or plain cotton or linen string will do just fine), and some fabric glue (I’ll get to this later).
Cut your twigs into even lengths using garden cutters – I wanted different sized stars, so I cut the thicker ends of the twigs into longer pieces than thinner bits.
Now, I’m going to pause the how-to quickly to teach you a little trick you really need to know, and it’s a knot known (to me anyway) as a ‘packer’s hitch’ – I’m informed by my sister, who knows better, that it’s properly called a clove hitch! It’s a self-tightening double loop, so is ideal for this sort of job – or any other situation when you’d otherwise be calling out for someone’s finger to hold the knot for you! I’ve illustrated it below, but basically you form two loops in the same direction, then take the second and pass it behind the first. Anything you pass through the centre of the two loops is caught in your noose, pulling the ends tightens it but because the way the knot is constructed, it’s very unlikely to loosen itself again. Tying a second throw over the top, as in a reef knot, secures the hitch permanently.
Form a packers hitch, and use it to tie the tips of two of the twigs together. Don’t complete the knot with a second throw at this point, you’re just loosely securing the ends. Work your way around all five points of your star.
Now, have a bit of a play with your twigs to make sure you’re happy with the shape, the more even the better, but twigs are an organic thing, so the aren’t always straight or completely even! That’s part of the beauty of these little decorations.
Once you’re happy with the shape, start tying the twigs together where they cross over in the centre. I use a knot which crosses over to stabilise the joint. Make sure you arrange these so that the knots are on the same side as those from the packer’s hitches! Just like these hitches, don’t complete the knots, just tie the first throw.
This is the time to decide which point of your star is the top, if you’re planning to hang it. If so, replace the packers hitch on the top point with one made with a much longer piece of twine, so there’ll be plenty of length to work with. If you want a string of stars, do the same thing with the centre point at the bottom, letting a long tail hang down.
Now, go around all of these knots and put a blob of glue on the knot – I used fabric glue, because it was what I had to hand, but anything which goes on or dries to clear should be fine. Now tie your knots nice and tight, and add an extra throw, if you like. The glue is to stop the knots unravelling when you cut the tails off really short, which is what you’re going to do next. Now do the same with the packers hitches at the points, making sure that you tie everything as tight as possible before securing the knots down with a blob of glue.
Incidentally, I apologise for the classy ‘Costcutter’ bag, it was protecting my table at work from the consequences of my lunchtime activities!
That’s it, you’re done, if you want to be. I think they look great ‘au naturel’, but I’m planning to get out my gold spray paint and just add a slight ‘burnish’ which I think will really add that final detail to the finish. You could spray them any colour (or combination of colours!) to suit your decor. Also consider adding glitter, beads… whatever takes your fancy!
This would make a really good kid’s Christmas craft, I think – no dangerous parts (assuming a grown up cuts the twigs up!), fiddly enough to be challenging without being overwhelming, with a pretty end product, and knot-tying skills to boot! Perhaps one to try with a group of children at a Christmas party, club or youth group?
I’m trying to write a post a day during Advent, so, please come along with me while I try to Blog Advent – the Country Skills Way – and forgive me if I don’t quite manage it!
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A pedant writes:
Stars of David (hexagrams) have six points: ✡; with five points they’re pentagrams: ⛥
You’re right, of course. I can only blame late-on-a-schoolnight for the mistake!
I didn’t notice they still look damn fine!
Thank you, I’m pleased you like them!
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The same process works to make a pentagram/star of David. If fact as you make two triangles, then tie them together it is slightly less fiddly.
We made these with our Girl Guide unit as a fundraising activity. We were able to sell them for £0.50 each, I think if we had used some metallic spray paint we could have asked more. We received a special request for a pentagram from a lady who wanted to put it on her husband’s grave. The Guides had a great time using knots to make something they may want to keep, and other people were willing to pay for, instead of the usual camp gadgets.
Thank you – it’s great to hear when ideas from the blog get used more widely, and I can see how these would make great little objects for craft fairs and fundraisers, and made mostly from recycled / scavenged materials, too!