I am Willeke van der Ham,
I did design and make most of the things you see in these pages.
I have been tying knots ever since my mum made the mistake to teach me how to tie my shoelaces.
Seriously, I started with macramé in when I was about 10, in the needle work lessons at school. My mother, who likes to do all kinds of textile crafts as well, picked it up around the same time and so at home I made macramé things too, plant hangers and alike.
When I was still in school, my brothers came home from scouting one day, sporting a woggle. They claimed to have made it themselves but did not remember how, so I looked up books on knots in the library till I found the turks head knot. Learned to make it and, satisfied, went on with other textile crafts. For I have always had some craft lessons in school, and I did like the textile crafts best. But every now and again I would take the knot books home from the library. One of the textile craft my mother and I picker up together was tatting, a kind of lace made with knots.
When I left school I did take the jobs open for me, mainly manual work, but was not satisfied. So I looked for, and took, a course in crafts. This was meant to meet as many crafts as possible and learn to teach them. But it was aimed at students already working with people and while I did enjoy the lessons, I did not start teaching afterwards.
I do give instructions in whatever knot group I happen to be in but I am nearly never the official teacher.
I like to work where practical and decorative meet, like in knot boards, shopping nets and bell ropes, or my decorative work gets a practical purpose, many are made as gift. And I like to work small scale, most string in my possession is no more then 4 mm diameter and much below 2 mm. But most projects can be made with string in any size, you may have to stiffen the resulting structure a bit if you use string which is to soft for its size. I have made a dragonfly in 20 mm abseiling rope, it needed wire in its wings but nothing else.
Many of the projects on my site have been developed while I was on holiday, often when I had few or no tools with me. The braided animals came in existence because, when I was making dragonflies one day on a dance holiday, I was asked to make a maggot. The maggot is not only a small, not very desirable animal, but also an English folk dance, and the teachers of the holiday had made a dance for one of the people and to give him a souvenir I was asked to make a maggot.
It was a holiday in Wales and seeing so many dragons around I started to make one, as I think a dragon should look. Of course, the first was not all that good but I kept working on the design and now they look what I want them to look like. For most people the step from a maggot or a dragonfly to a dragon is rather big, so I filled the gap with a few other animals.
The flowers also started as a gift when travelling, coming from the Dutch tradition to take a bunch of flowers when going to visit someone. But in the middle of a travel I had no flowers available, so I made them. I have refined the design by making many and now I just fiddle with multi strand knots till I like the result. If you start to do the same, your flowers will all be originals as well.
Other projects, now on the site and some still to come, came from working with other people, like the scouts and the people at our netting and knotting group in IJmuiden.
But my knot tying would not have had this level had I not met the members of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. Of which I have been a member since spring 1994.
The guild was started in 1982 to keep the knowledge of knots alive. Many old people knew many knots and they did not pass them one because they could not find young people who where willing to learn. The guild wants people who know their knots, the people who invent or test knots and the people who want to learn knots to meet or at least communicate. To do so there is the magazine, in English, the AGM, in England, (one hour business talk on running an organisation, nearly two days of talking and teaching knots,) and an other meeting in Europe most often in England but it has been in the Netherlands, a multi day meeting in the USA, and one in France each year, (also more than a day,) and many one day meetings in different parts of the world. Wherever enough members are willing and able to come to a meeting there is one, often once every two or three months, sometimes more often and most of these meetings are open to people who are not member but want to learn more about knots. For more information on the IGKT see their site. IGKT
If you want to know more about other, knot related subjects visit the link site Knots on the Web
There are more links there than I can ever find, and he tries to keep up with changes in addresses too.
You can e-mail me at Willeke