Page 1


Go on, Jump Right In! 1

Left over right,

right over left,



and around. and around.




Pull simultaneously both sides, tightly.

Voila! You just tied a

Square Knot.

Jump Right In!



The standing part or bight* is the part of the rope often not directly involved in the forming of the knot.

*Bight has two meanings: 1) Any central part of the rope 2) A curve in a rope, no narrower than a semicircle

The RUNNING PART is used for or around a knot.

An eye

A spool A coil

Flemishing a line

A strand

Bight Open loop (narrower than a bight) Closed loop (legs touching but not crossing)

A crossed loop forms a single turn.

Faking a line

A splice

A loop around an object forms a half turn. Live end over running part = over hand loop Whipping or=


Live end under running part = under hand loop Also known as a crossing turn

One round turn

Two round turns


The working end, Live end, or tag end is the end of the rope used to start a knot.

The STANDING END, dead end, or bitter end is the unused end of a rope.

11 The Rigger’s Sandwich


“line arrangement”—they serve different functions, they get different names.

Single Hitch

Half Hitch

Overhand Knot

A Single Hitch is a snug hitch to an object, with the end secured under the turn.

A Half Hitch is a Single Hitch tied around its own running part. A series of Single Hitches creates an attractive French Whipping (page xx).

A Overhand Knot is a Half Hitch not tied around to an object, but with the end around its own running part. Aka: Single Knot, Thumb Knot, Simple Twist, Over-and-under The easiest, simplest, smallest, most well known and probably oldest knot. In my opinion, the O.K. is not okay at all: it jams easily, is hard to untie, is too small as a stopper and reduces the strength of the line by more than 50%!—it should not be used.

Start the spooling of your tennis net!

Set the twine on your fishing net weaving tool!

Practical uses: To tie mostly in small stuff (thread, twine, cord) a rudimentary Stopper Knot (see page x) or a rudimentary “frayingpreventer”. Note that a fine Stopper is the Figure of Eight (page x)and a fine way to prevent fraying is the Uncommon Whipping (page x).

Half Knot A Half Knot is tied with two ends around an object; it is a Binding Knot (see page xx).

tale In our futuristic century, I find it reassuring to continue to see one of the oldest knots tied with one of the oldest plants: at parties, I’m so glad caterers continue to adorn tiny canapés with the Half Knot fashioned out of leek or onion strips. I invariably smile at it before I place it in my mouth!

Simple Beginnings

Simple Beginnings



DOUBLE SHEET BEND WITH SINGLE TURN ADDED Receiving his name in 1794, the Sheet Bend has known many variations. One found in a Japanese rigging book uses a single turn which combined with the reeving of the working end two turns instead of one, is perhaps the most secure.

Bends are knots used to lengthen a rope by adding another of the same (or different) diameter or construction with the intention of pulling, not of binding. Occasionally, bends join the two ends of the same line or tie— “bend”— a rope to an anchor, a spar, a ring or other objects. In the wire walker’s and sailor’s world, a bend is a small cord used as seizing to clinch a fiber cable or a wire rope. The ideal bend unties easily for quick retrieving of the two ropes. Bends that are nearly impossible to untie should be used only with thin twines or fishing lines, which are usually cut rather than untied. The strongest way to lengthen a rope is to make a splice.


“Sex at age 90 is like trying to shoot pool with a rope.” – George Burns.

I used the One Way Sheet Bend to drag a “cordina� over the pulley-drums of six cranes, prior to pull aerially my 1000 ft steel cable from the Palais de Chaillot over the Seine to the second story of the Eiffel Tower (for a walk celebrating the Bicentennial of the French Revolution). I specifically chose this knot because its ingenious design insures it will not get stopped by any encountered obstacle. The birds of rearly dawn seemed quite curious about the process and not too happy I was invading their territory.


For the clarity of the sketches, the two sides of the same cord are shown here in different colors.


Left (red) over right…

…and around twice (this “move” requires a bit of practice. Try passing the long loop (red) twice around without twisting it). Pull both loops simultaneously.







ere … …to s hor ten

end this en or t

thi s


If the ends need to be evened out or shortened, now is the time to do it by pulling on one side of each loop.

Then pull both loops tightly,

3 2


…and around twice.

Pull both ends simultaneously, very tightly.

and finally, “lock the knot” by left (red) loop over right and around (make sure the lines leading to the ends of the cord are not “caught” inside the center hole).


Form two loops (make the right one longer).

Pull both loops simultaneously, very tightly.

10 5

Right (red) loop over left…

For the shoelace nuts out there: visit IAN’S SHOELACE SITE (; it lists countless variations on the theme—and tells you what the correct term is for the rolled, hard-sleeve endings of a shoelace: Aglets.


Open the “lock” step 9 ) by pulling out the overlapped loops. You’re now back at step 8 ). Pull the ends of the cord as you would for a regular shoelace Bow Knot.

Super Stubborn Shoelace Knot

How to keep your shoelaces from untying ever again! Since running around all day generates minuscule vibrations which loosen any standard shoelace knot—even those pulled very tight, why not adopt one of the several ways that renders that binding knot more secure? Isn’t it time to adopt my foolproof version?

Pu ll h

… ere

Technical description: SURGEON KNOT & DOUBLE BOW KNOT combined, with a lock {page xx} (interestingly, not listed in ABOK).


ll h Pu

Super Stubborn Shoelace Knot


It’s time to cover your steering wheel, the handle of your trunk, or the long neck of that fabulous but alas now empty Chianti bottle, with a decorative and nice-to-the-touch cord arrangement. The live end goes around the pipe and under the running part. Make the second Single Hitch above the first one (creating a Clove Hitch) and continue hitching around, making sure each Single Hitch is pushed down neatly in contact with the previous one, before you pull the live end back and forth to take up any slack, which locks the hitches snugly together. Start and finish with a Constrictor Knot (see page xx); cut each end flush and add a bit of clear-drying glue.

French Whipping

Aka: Half Hitch Whipping, French Spiral Hitching, +? Purists should call it the Single Hitch Whipping (see SIMPLE BEGINNINGS page xx). Practical uses: Besides its ornamental value, the French Whipping adds a anti-sliding feature to the object it covers (great for the helm of a yacht) and also protects it and lends it firmness and strength.

If you’re dealing with a very long cord because you need to cover an important surface, passing the cord through at each hitch can prove very time consuming. I hope for you that the item you’re covering has an open-end—like my bottle of Chianti. You can then “drop” a series of Clove Hitches over the glass neck (as described in Clove Hitch in the Bight, page xx) and slide them down and place, arrange and tighten them correctly, in the time it takes to find the right adjectives to describe a great Italian wine!



h W i p h p c ing n e c r F



Why Knot? by Philippe Petit - Abrams Image  

The universal poet laureate of the high wire, Philippe Petit reveals his favourite knots and personal methods of tying more than 60 essentia...

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