***On Edit- I have adopted the hand-knotting technique described below as the only method I use now as it is far superior to any other knotting method***
I am probably the only person who might be excited about this but I figured I’d share it anyway!
Recently I’ve been dwelling on an idea I’ve had for a new way of hand-knotting Malas. The usual way of knotting involves some variation of basically tying a single loop knot between each bead and somehow cinching it down tightly using either a tool or your fingers. You can do this with one or more strands of cord depending on how large the bead hole is and how thick the cord is. Unfortunately what tends to happen is that the Mala can get “twisted up” because as you tie each knot the cord exiting the end of the knot can come out at a different angle/tension than any of the previous and subsequent knots. In other words each individual knot can be pulling in a different direction than the others, potentially resulting in twisted snake-like appearance. Another draw-back to this older technique is that sometimes the knot tightens down a half millimeter or so too early so you might end up with one bead that is a little looser than the next. I’ve had to cut up halfway completed knotted Malas because of this and I’ve even seen Malas from other vendors who’ve hidden this flaw with an extra knot.
It occurred to me that I could avoid this un-even tension and looseness by using two cords to form a single snake-knot between each bead. What this creates is a small, very tight knot that is perfectly symmetrical- the two cord ends exit at exact opposite sides of the knot thus creating the same tension on either side. Then a bead is added and then the next knot is formed in the exact same manner as the previous one. The resulting length of knotted beads is without any twisting at all and each knot in-between is identical to the next. Also, by using this single snake knot I am able to cinch each knot down very tightly so that each bead is very snuggly in place and will not loosen over time 9yet still allows the bead to rotate in place).
This new technique is without a doubt far superior to any previous method but it is much more labor intensive. The little 27ct Mala in the photo took me almost 30 minutes to knot using this new method whereas with the older single loop method it would have taken about 10 minutes to complete the knotting step. In fact if you were to want a gemstone Mala knotted in this method I would need to re-drill all of the beads out in order to get the double strand through. Wooden beads might not need to be re-drilled.
What is the benefit? What do you end up with? You end up with a higher-quality, longer lasting and much more elegant Mala.