When I was a kid, my mom took a macrame class (yes this was back in the early 80’s). She then taught me everything she’d learned and together we made everything from plant hangers to Christmas ornaments that year. I still have several of the ornaments and decorations that we made, and one of my very favorites has always been the macrame candy canes that I still hang on our tree every year. This year, I decided it was time to re-learn how to make them – 21st century style, as paracord candy canes. 🙂
Macrame cord isn’t exactly available at most local craft shops anymore, unless you’re looking to make curtain tiebacks. But what is all the rage nowadays and is extremely similar – is parachute cord, or paracord. I picked up some red and white paracord and a few other supplies, researched how to make a lanyard knot online, and was surprised at just how quick and easy paracord candy canes are. My girls and I have been having a blast making them as gifts this year so I thought I would share a quick how-to.
- Red and White paracord (I like #350 for this but you could use a thinner or thicker cord if you prefer)
- Wire (16-gauge works very well)
- Wire Cutters
- T-pins or other type of sturdy pins
- Cork or foam mat
- Measuring tape
- Lighter (with an adult to use it)
- Measure out a length of each color of paracord. I find that approximately 65-70 inches works well and makes a nice sized candy cane.
- Measure out and cut a 9” length of wire (can be longer or shorter if desired, depending how long your want your candy cane to be).
- Find the center of each cord and push a pin through both pieces of cord at their centers.
- Push the pin into the cork or foam mat and arrange the cord in a ‘plus’ sign shape with one cord lying up-and-down and the other lying across side-to-side, like this:
- Make a single lanyard knot. I found this tutorial to be very helpful with learning how to tie a lanyard knot – make sure you are doing the ‘single’ knot. In essence, you want the cords to be arranged like this:
- Then pull the four ends tight (evenly) and your knot should look like this:
- Make additional single lanyard knots the same way, making sure that you are continuing to always move the cords to the right, to ensure that you will have a spiral design as your paracord candy cane grows in size. Make sure each knot is tightened evenly before beginning the next.
- After the second or third knot, insert the end of your 9” piece of wire in the middle of your knot, next to the pin. It may not stand upright at first but tighten the most recent knot around it and hold it in place for another knot or two until it will stand upright by itself in the center of your knot. You will continue to work up along the length of wire as you make additional knots.
- Once you reach the top of your pin, remove the pin and the paracord candy cane from your cork or foam base. At this point it should be long enough to hold it either in your hands or (preferably) between your knees as you work.
- Continue to work up the wire until you run out of cord. If necessary, trim any excess wire off the bottom of your paracord candy cane. Make sure that your final knot is nice and tight and then trim the excess cord on all four sides as close to the knot as possible. Don’t worry, it won’t unravel!
- Have an adult use the lighter and hold each of the four cut ends of cord in the flame for a second or two in order to melt the nylon of the cord and seal the ends. You may also hold the flame over the very bottom of the candy cane, where the four cords cross in the final knot, to melt them together for an extra seal. Please use care when handling the lighter – the cord won’t burn easily but it may singe if you’re not careful. Only a second or two is necessary to melt the cord enough.
- Bend the top (beginning) end of your paracord candy cane into a cane shape – the wire inside will ensure that it stays bent. Hang on your tree or elsewhere for a fun holiday decoration!
You can make paracord candy canes in a variety of sizes – smaller ones make a great gift decoration. Back in our macrame days, my mom and I each made a large one using thicker cord held doubled and ours still hangs on our front door every holiday season. This year the girls and I are sticking to somewhere around typical candy cane sized ones, although we do have a slight variety in sizes.
The thickness of the candy cane is determined by how loose or tight you pull your knots. I pull mine as tight as I can get them, while my 8-year-old daughter’s are fairly loose knots. Her candy canes still look great though – just a bit looser and thicker. It’s all in what you prefer. 🙂
Have fun with your paracord candy canes and happy crafting!