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 Chinese Butterfly

Chinese Butterfly

Description:   The Chinese Butterfly is a combination knot made with both the Mystic Knot (Pan Chang) and the Josephine knot (Double Coin). 

You must know how to tie both knots easily, or this Macrame pattern will be difficult for you to complete.

This Chinese knot can be used as a pendant, since the loop at the top could be an attachment point for a necklace cord.

You can also use it as a decoration for handbags, belts, plant hangers and more. 

This Butterfly shaped knot looks great when made with Satin cord material, as in the image above.  When tightened firmly, it will result in a wingspan of approximately 3 inches. 

I used Paracord in the images below to make these instructions easier to see.  This design looks best when made with 2mm cord material, but you can use other sizes, too. 

Important:  Please be sure to lean the pins or use the cross-pin technique to secure the loops and bights, if using Satin, Leather or Silk.

Supplies Needed: 
  • 2mm cord material (2.5 yards or more)
  • Project board and pins or tape
  • Fabric glue (optional)

Preparation:  Cut one cord, at least 2.5 yards long.  

When making the Chinese Butterfly, you will create a series of bights in vertical and horizontal directions.  Try to make these bights around 3 inches long, so you have room to work. 

That's why you need so much material; this way you can make the design large the first time you try it.

For the first 3 steps of the design, you will be using the right half of the cord.  Secure the left half for now.

Bight 1

Step 1:  Secure the center of the cord on your left, at the back of your board.

Form bight 1 with the right half of the cord.  It should be long and narrow.

Place a pin on the right half, directly across from the center (see next image).  This is to mark the area for step 2.

Loop 1

To make the first Josephine Knot for the right wing of the Chinese Butterfly, make a counter-clockwise loop with the right half.

As you bring it forward and to the right of bight 1, pass under to make the crossing point for the loop. 

Bight 2

Bring the right half forward more, then fold it to form bight 2. The folds of both bights should line up.

Move it backward again, then pass it under loop 1.

Step 2:  Begin the second loop for the Josephine Knot by moving the right half over the segment you marked with the pin, which is to the left of loop 1.

Josephine Knot

Pass it under the left side of bight 2, then through the loop over - under - over.

Tighten the Josephine Knot slightly and balance the three loops. 

Bight 3

Step 3:  Create bight 3 by weaving the right half through bights 1 and 2, under - over - under - over.

Weave right to left, fold the cord, then bring it back to the right.  The path is the same both directions.

Bight 4

Create bight 4 by repeating the previous step.  Place the bight close to the fold of bights 1 and 2, then secure the right half of the cord.

The area between bights 3 and 4 should be wide as shown in the image. 

You will use the left half to complete the remaining bights and weaving for the Chinese Butterfly. 

Step 4 takes place between bight 3 and the Josephine knot on the right.

Left Loop

Step 4:  Make a counter-clockwise loop with the left half of the cord.

Move it towards the right horizontally, passing over all of the vertical segments (bights 1 and 2).

Bight 5

Fold the left half around the right side of bight 2 to make bight 5

Bring it back to the left, passing it under the vertical segments of bights 1 and 2.

Important:  Make sure you do not fold it around the segment furthest to the right, which comes from the right Josephine knot.

Pass the cord around bights 1 and 2 only or the Chinese Butterfly won't work out.


Step 5:  Bring the left half forward to the wide area between bights 3 and 4. 

Make a clockwise loop, passing under to form the crossing point.  This loop is for the left Josephine knot.

Continue moving it to the right, passing over the four vertical segments of bights 1 and 2.

Bight 6

Fold the cord around the right side of bight 2 to form bight 6. 

This is the same as step 4 (bight 5).

Bring it under all the vertical segments, moving right to left.  Pass it under the new loop.

Josephine Knot

Rotate the left half in a counter-clockwise direction.  Pass it over the segment close to bight 3.

Pass it under the segment of bight 6, near the crossing point of the first loop.

Weave it over - under - over the loop. Tighten and balance the Josephine knot.

Important: Before moving on to step 6, make the six bights as narrow as possible.
Spread things out so you can see all areas of the Chinese Butterfly.


The vertical weaving for step 6 takes place to the left of bight 1, close to the folded areas of bights 3 and 4.

In step 7, the second area of weaving takes place between bights 1 and 2. 

The focus of the weaving for the Chinese Butterfly will be bights 3 and 4.  You will pass the left half of the cord through them. 

These cords have black symbols in the images below.

Follow these instructions carefully:

Bottom to Top

Step 6:  Bring the left half through bight 4 heading backward, which is under - over

Pass it over the next two segments. 

Move it through bight 3 under - over.  Pass it over the next two segments, ending at the lower part of the loop on the left.

Top to Bottom

Bring the left half forward, passing it under two segments, and then over - under bight 3.

Pass under the next two segments, and over - under bight 4.

Repeat step 6

Step 7:  Move the left half around bight 1, then to the space between it and bight 2.

Repeat step 6, weaving the cord vertically backward then forward again.

The over - under pattern is exactly the same.

Tightening Process

Step 8:  There are five areas that will be arranged along the outside of the Mystic Knot:

Five Areas

The loop on the upper left is the "head" of the Chinese Butterfly.  The wings are the areas with the Josephine knot.

The areas marked with an X are the loops at the bottom.   Keep these 5 areas secured until the design is completely tightened.

Pull 5 Areas

Pull on the five areas, after turning the design so the loop for the head is heading toward the back of your board.  The center of the Mystic knot will begin to tighten.

Reduce the size of each area, moving the pins as needed. 


The Josephine knots for the wings need to be horizontal as you tighten the Chinese Butterfly.  

Make the areas between the head and the Josephine knots wider, forming the curved details at the top of the wings.  The head and lower wings can be any size.  

To finish the design, you can move the tips to the back and slide them under a portion of the Mystic knot. 

You could also let them dangle, adding beads and/or finishing knots.

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Have any comments about the Chinese Butterfly? Contact Me.