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Grandfather Owl

Grandfather Owl

Description:  Grandfather Owl is a Macrame wall decoration featuring a small gray owl in the center of a panel that resembles a window.

The most unique aspect is the fringe, which is made by creating five Reef Knot feathers.

Special thanks goes to Erika Armistead for inspiring me to create this design.

Finished Size = 27 x 15 inches

For Sale

Supplies Needed: 
  • 4mm gray cord material for Owl (20 yards)
  • 4mm cord material for panel (40 yards)
  • Two 20mm round black beads (eyes)
  • Four 12mm beads
  • Two 15-inch dowels
  • One 1.5-inch ring
  • Fabric glue
  • Project Board and pins

Knots Used:



Preparation:  Cut 2 cords (one color) 72 inches long.   Prepare the tips to prevent unraveling.

These will be used to make the hanger to suspend Grandfather Owl on a wall.


Step 1: Mount both cords to the ring with Larks Head knots.

Mentally label each half of the cords right versus left.  Start with the cord on the left.

Use the right half to tie a clockwise Half Hitch onto the left half.  Tighten firmly.


Tie a counter-clockwise Half Hitch with the left half of the cord onto the right.

Tighten firmly.


Step 2: Repeat step 1 several times to make the rest of the hanger.

Stop when you have tied a total of 30 Half Hitches.

Make an alternating Half Hitch sennit with the cord on the right.  Start with the LEFT half of the cord.



 Mounting the Cords

Put the hanger aside for now, while you mount the cords for the Grandfather Owl to the first dowel.

Please note that any type of dowel can be used.  Bamboo was used in the example, which is why the cords are mounted in sections.

Preparation:  Cut 6 gray cords (for the Owl), each 2.5 yards long.

Cut 12 cords for the panel, each 2-yards long (gold cords in images).

Reverse LH
  Step 3: Mount each cord to the dowel with a REVERSE Larks Head knot.

You fold the cord and place it on top of the dowel with the fold forward.  Bring the ends under the dowel and over the folded area, pulling them toward you.


  The gray cords for Grandfather Owl should be mounted near the center of the dowel.

On either side of them should be 6 background cords.


Step 4: Place the right hanger sennit under the dowel to the right of the mounted cords.

Tie the first Half Hitch by moving one half of the cord over - under the dowel and over the cord, pulling it toward the left.

Tighten the knot as much as possible.



Tie another Half Hitch to the right of the first, making it a DOUBLE Half Hitch (DHH). 

Tighten the knot as much as possible.


Step 5:  Repeat step 4 to attach both halves of the left hanger sennit to the left of the mounted cords.

You can make the Half Hitches right to left if you wish.  

Top Section of Panel

Now it's time to make the rectangular panel for the Grandfather Owl.  You will start by making the top section, which is just below the dowel. 

Mentally number all the cords 1 - 36.  Do not include the hanger cords.

First Row

Step 6: Tie a row of Square knots with the following groups of four cords:

Left SK: 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 12, 13 - 16, 17 - 20

Right SK: 21 - 24, 25 - 28, 29 - 32, 33 - 36

Designer's Tip:  Tighten all the Square knots firmly, pulling the fillers so that each row is close together. 

The first row should rest as close to the dowel as possible. 

Row 2

To make row 2, use the following cords so they alternate:

Left SK: 3 - 6, 7 - 10, 11 - 14, 15 - 18.

Right SK: 19 - 22, 23 - 26, 27 - 30, 31 - 34


Step 7: Repeat step 6 to make rows 3 and 4.

Separate all the gray cords, since they will be used to make Grandfather Owl later on.

The side panels will be made with the other color.

Side Sections of Panel

Left Side

Step 8:  Make the left side section by tying 10 rows of Alternating Square Knots (ASK).  Make sure you tie LEFT Square Knots.

Rows 1, 3, 5, 7, 9:  Use cords 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 12

Rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: Use cords 3 - 6, 7 - 10

Step 8, continued:  Make the right side panel by tying 10 rows of ASK, using RIGHT Square Knots.

Rows 1, 3, 5, 7, 9:  Use cords 25 - 28, 29 - 32, 33 - 36

Rows 2, 4, 6, 8, 10:  Use cords 27 - 30, 31 - 34

Grandfather Owl - Head

Now it's time to make Grandfather Owl using only the gray cords. Mentally re-number them 1 - 12.  

HC = Holding cord

HC 1

Step 9: Move cord 1 to the right diagonally, resting on top of cords 2 - 6. 

It will be used as the holding cord for the first row of Double Half Hitches (DHH).

Designer's Tip: All the DHH in Grandfather Owl should be as neat as possible.

This is easy to accomplish if you control the holding cord in one hand while tightening the knot with the other hand.

Half Hitch

Use cord 2 to tie a DHH onto holding cord 1, rotating counter-clockwise. 

Tighten the knot firmly.

This image shows a single Half Hitch. Be sure to make a second Half Hitch to the right of the first. 

Step 9, continued:  Tie DHH with working cords 3 - 6 onto the holding cord.

Make sure each knot is tight so the row is neat.

HC 2

Step 10:  Move cord 2 to the right, and use it as the next holding cord.

Use working cords 3 - 6 + cord 1 to tie DHH onto  holding cord 2.

Tighten the knots firmly so the row is neat, and make sure the two rows are close together (more information below).

Designer's Tip:  To make sure the rows are close together with no gaps, move the holding cord toward the first row while you tighten the first Half Hitch. 

Allow the knot to relax into place next to the first row, then repeat when you tie the second Half Hitch (same cord).   

HC 12

Step 11:  Move cord 12 to the left diagonally, resting on top of cords 7 - 11. 

It should be on the same angle as the rows of DHH on the left.


Use cord 11 to tie a DHH onto the holding cord, rotating clockwise.

Repeat with cords 10 - 7 (in that order).

HC 11

Step 12:  Move cord 11 to the left, using it as the next holding cord.

Use cords 10 - 7 + cord 12 to tie the DHH onto the holding cord.

Holding Cords

Step 13:  Locate the four holding cords used to make the DHH in the previous steps.

Grandfather Owl has a beak made with these four cords.  Tighten the following knots more than usual so it's as narrow as possible.


Tie one SK with the four cords.  Then tie another SK 1/4-inch from the first, so there are two spaces.

Tie 4 more SK close together.

Thru Spaces

Move the cords backward, then pass two through each space in the area between the first and second SK.


Pull the four cords toward you, rolling the Square knots into a button.

Re-arrange the cords so you use the longest ones to tie a Square knot around the short cords. 

Tighten the knot firmly, so it rests under the beak for Grandfather Owl.


Step 14:  Mentally number the cords where they are resting now.  Cords 5 - 8 were used in step 13.

Slide a bead onto cords 3 - 4 and 9 - 10 (eyes).

Move cords 5 and 8 to the left and right diagonally, resting on top of the other cords.  Separate cords 6 and 7 so you do not use them for the next step.


Tie DHH with cords 4 - 1 onto holding cord 5, rotating clockwise (in that order).  Curve cords 1 and 2.

Tie DHH with cords 9 - 12 onto holding cord 8, rotating counter clockwiseCurve cords 11 and 12.

Do not attach cords 6 and 7.

Grandfather Owl - Body

The body for Grandfather Owl is made by tying rows of DHH to represent the wings.  The holding cords for each row are the ones closest to the center.

All the DHH on the left should be made clockwise. The DHH on the right should be made counter-clockwise.

Step 15:  Move cords 6 and 7 diagonally to the right and left.  They will be the holding cords for the next row of DHH.

As you tighten the following knots, leave a small gap between this row of DHH and the one made in the previous step. 

Row 1

Tie DHH with cords 4, 3, 2, 1, 5 onto holding cord 6.

Tie the DHH with cords 9, 10, 11, 12, 8 onto holding cord 7.

Row 2

Step 16: Move cords 4 and 9 diagonally, leaving a gap between rows.

Tie DHH with cords 3, 2, 1, 5, 6 onto holding cord 4.

Tie the DHH with cords 10, 11, 12, 8, 7 onto holding cord 9.

Row 3

Step 17:  Move cords 3 and 10 diagonally.

Tie DHH with cords 2, 1, 5, 6, 4 onto holding cord 3.

Tie the DHH with cords 11, 12, 8, 7, 9 onto holding cord 10.


Step 18:  Locate cords 2 and 11, which should be at the center of the group.

Cross them left over right (2 over 11), then pass them under the body diagonally (see next image). 

Do the same with these pairs: 1 + 12,  5 + 8,  6 + 7


Step 19: Mentally re-number all the cords as follows:
  • Left side of panel = cords 1 - 12
  • Owl = cords 13 - 24
  • Right side of panel = cords 25 - 36
Tie a Square Knot with cords 17 - 20.  These were the cords you did not cross in step 18.

Bottom Section of Panel

Now it's time to make the bottom section of the panel, where you add in the cords used to make Grandfather Owl.  

Step 20: Tie 2 more rows of ASK in the side panels.  The second row of knots should line up with the third row of DHH in Grandfather Owl.  

You can tie 2 more rows of ASK if needed, but try stretching the panel first.


Separate cords 17 - 20, moving them out of the way for now.

Arrange cords 11 - 12 from the left panel next to gray cords 13 and 14.

Arrange gray cords 23 - 24 next to cords 25 -26 from the right side panel.


Step 21:  Tie a left SK with cords 11 - 14.

Tie a right SK with cords 23 - 26.

Tighten these knots gradually, keeping the side panels straight (vertical).  The knots should be horizontal without tilting.

Next Row

Step 21:  Tie the next row of ASK with the following groups of cords:

Left SK: Cords 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 12, 13 - 16

Right SK: Cords 21 - 24, 25 - 28, 29 - 32, 33-36

Do not use cords 17 - 21.

Center Knot

Step 22:  Move the SK tied with cords 17 - 20 into position between the SK tied with cords 13 - 16 and
21 - 24.

The knots in this area of Grandfather Owl should all line up. Make adjustments if they don't.

Step 22, continued:  Tie four rows of ASK as follows:

Rows 1 and 3:
  • Left SK with cords 3 - 6, 7 - 10, 11 - 14, 15 - 18
  • Right SK with cords 19 - 22, 23 - 26, 27 - 30, 31 - 34

Rows 2 and 4:

  • Left SK with cords 1 - 4, 5 - 8, 9 - 12, 13 - 16, 17 - 20
  • Right SK with cords 21 - 24, 25 - 28, 29 - 32, 33 - 36

Working Cords

Step 23:  Go to each knot made in the last row of ASK and locate the following working cords:

1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 16, 17, 20, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 36.

Push the others (fillers) under the panel to get them out of the way.


Place the dowel on top of the cords horizontally. 

Attach all the working cords to it with Double Half Hitches.

Pull the cords firmly when tightening, so there are no gaps between the SK and the dowel.

Step 24:  Turn Grandfather Owl upside down so you are working in the back.

Straighten the fillers and place them between the working cords, passing directly over the back of the DHH.  Make sure the cords are in the same groups of four as the last row of ASK.

Back of Design

Tie tight SK with each group of four cords.  Double check to make sure the working cords you use are coming from the DHH on the dowel.

Apply glue to the fillers before tightening, so it's inside the knot. 

Before it dries, read the following information:


Make sure the knots you just tied are close to the ones in the last row of ASK (panel). 

This will ensure the knots are well hidden behind the dowel.

Adjust the knots if necessary.

Step 25:  Cut off the excess material from the working cords.  Melt and fuse the stubs if you are using material that can be finished in this manner.

Save the scraps to make the feathers.

Keep the following fillers to be used for the fringe, and finish off the rest:

  • Cords 2 - 3 (1st SK)
  • Cords 10 - 11 (3rd SK)
  • Gray cords 14 - 15 (4th SK)
  • Gray cords 22 - 23 (6th SK)
  • Cords 26 - 27 (7th SK)
  • Cords 34 - 35 (9th SK)

Designer's Tip:  You can change the fringe design for Grandfather Owl by selecting cords in a different arrangement, or by changing the number of feathers than what is shown in the example. 

Tie Off

Tie off the hanger cords behind the first dowel. 

Decorate the ends of the cords with the small beads followed by Overhand knots (optional). 



Feather Fringe

The fringe for Grandfather Owl is made with five Reef Knot Feathers.  Four will be the color of the panel and one will be gray.  

The instructions below are for the arrangement you see in the image at the top of the page. 

Step 26:  Cut 21 pieces of material 5 inches long for the first feather, which will be made with the panel color. 

The filler cords you saved in step 25 will now be called holding cords.

Two cords

Fold cord 1 in half and place it under the first pair of holding cords on the left (cords 2 - 3).  They should be arranged horizontally with the fold heading left.

Fold cord 2, then place it under the fold of cord 1 and over the filler cords, heading right.


Pass the ENDS of cord 1 through cord 2 and over the fold.

Hold the ends of one cord in each hand, then tighten the Reef Knot firmly.

Slide the knot closer to the dowel.


Step 26:  Repeat the same process with the other cords, until you have tied 10 Reef Knots.

Trim the feather so both sides are even, and the feather is approximately 2.5 inches wide. 

Cut cords 1 - 6 vertically, and 7 - 10 diagonally.


Step 27:  Tie the holding cords together loosely. 

Pass the remaining cord through the knot under - over (from below), arranged diagonally.


Tighten the knot as much as possible.  You can add glue if you wish.

Trim and unravel all the cords to finish the feather.


Step 28:  Repeat step 26 and 27, creating the other three feathers in the panel color.  You need 21 pieces of material for each one. 

Two feathers should be positioned lower than the other two, so they don't overlap.

Step 28, continued:  For the gray feather, combine all four holding cords and attach the short pieces onto the group. 

Cut 26 cords and tie 12 Reef Knots.  The last two cords are passed through the knot tied with the holding cord (step 27).

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