I often use yarn instead of ribbon to decorate my gifts, but this year I thought I'd do something slightly different with it and made plaited (braided) ties:
The ties are super-easy to make, and though they do take time you can make lots while watching TV one evening and it's a very relaxing process. They're also a great way to use up leftover yarn from any knitting projects you've been working on during the year, so you can clear out your stash at the same time. If you're not a knitter but really want to give these a try, ask a knitting friend or relative for some of their leftover yarn - if they're anything like me they'll have tons of the stuff in loads of colours.
You can use any colours you fancy, to match your wrapping paper or just some nice colour combinations from the yarn in your stash. I chose festive colours - a red, green and natural brown mix, and a pepperminty red, white and turquoise mix (the white yarn has a slight sparkle to it, which is rather awesome, though it doesn't really show in the photos).
I used three colours per plait, and two strands of double knitting yarn in each colour to make a nice thick plait that's still thin enough to use as a ribbon without any problems.
I found that 100-120cms was about as long as I could cut the yarn before it became unmanagable when plaiting it. Because of this, the ties work best for smaller gifts but you could also use two ties for wrapping a larger present.
Knot the six strands together at one end, plait them until you run out of yarn (not too tight!) and knot them again to secure the plait. Then trim the ends neatly.
I found that my finished plaits were about 20% shorter than the yarn I started with but yours may differ depending how tightly you plait the yarn and how thick it is. It's worth taking a note of this percentage if you can in case you want to make a plait of a certain length and need to calculate how much yarn you'll need.
To use the ties, simply tie them round your gifts like normal ribbons. Knot them simply, or tie the loose ends in a bow.
The plaits also look great when topped with pompoms (click HERE for a guide to using pompoms to decorate your gifts) - make pompoms from the same yarn you use to make the plaits. Just one pompom looks fab, but three looks amazing!
Please feel free to borrow one or two photos if you want to blog about this project, but remember to credit me and link back to the original source, and do not reproduce my entire tutorial on your site. Thanks!
For more crafty goodness, check out my books: Super-Cute Felt and Super-Cute Felt Animals.