These two little guys are one of my treasures. Several years ago, one of our staff members was visiting from Taiwan for meetings. He had brought his wife, and she spent her days in the lunch-room doing something with her hands. I went to talk to her, and she was making these little green and red turtles out of satin cord. I was so excited to see these, and she was very happy to show me what she was doing. You start at the head, adding in the hardware for the key chain right away. The top and the bottom are the same pattern, but the top has an additional cord which turns it into a tiny cup shape. The legs and the tail are loops of the cord, and the ends all get tucked inside and glued.
This is a picture of the bottom of the turtles; without the extra cord the knots turn out perfectly flat. The little bell is attached to the tail. I didn't put the little plastic googly eyes on mine.
The two of us had a wonderful time together, even though she spoke little English and I spoke no Chinese. I would love to have asked how long she had been making these and if she knew any other patterns, who she learned it from, and who else she has taught. It was like a glimpse through a door into another world of textile arts that I couldn't get into.
I drew out the knot on a scrap of paper, and I run across it occasionally, but I don't know if I could remember how to make them. I have a book of Chinese knots, but most of them are traditional and abstract. No turtles!