Author Topic: "Best of breed" knots?  (Read 72377 times)

roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #15 on: January 03, 2005, 09:13:49 PM »
Quote

Hmmm...What's the consensus on the jamming issues with the Alpine Butterfly?  It used to be my "family of choice," except for that pesky Overhand Knot which needs to be tied when using the Alpine Butterfly as a hitch.  There are obviously other good hitches which that "average person" might learn, but sticking with a family of knots would seem to help with the issue of remembering how to tie useful knots in the various categories.  I only found one post in this forum concerning the Alpine Butterfly jamming (http://www.igkt.net/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?board=news;action=display;num=1084141552;start=0), but the post points out that it was a single test using one type of rope.


Anyone have any test data or thoughts on the Sliding Sheet Bend (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/explode.htm#4) as a slide-and-grip knot?  The locking and "exploding" features are nice, but I sometimes find it awkward when trying to unlock the knot, then slide it up or down the rope, then re-lock it.


Although the Butterfly Loop can jam, it's hard enough to accomplish this jamming that it's usually tolerated because of the Butterfly's simplicity.  The Butterfly won't jam if the loop is unloaded or if it is used in a bend form.  I wouldn't call it a jam-prone knot in other words.  If you do come across a jammed Butterfly Loop, you can make it easier to untie by pulling hard on the parent line while leaving the loop unloaded.

The Butterfly Loop is not a hitch.  Look through the Ashley Book of Knots to see examples of where the line is drawn on the "hitch" label.  Hitches usually collapse to the size of an object or at least have the potential to collapse to the size of the object to which they're attached.

I'm not overly impressed with the exploding knots.  The one you specifically mentioned can capsize after it slides to the object and therefore become difficult or impossible to release by pulling its "ripcord".
« Last Edit: January 04, 2005, 12:48:38 AM by roo »
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roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #16 on: January 03, 2005, 09:41:08 PM »
Quote

When does jamming [...] become a significant issue in which knot (bend, loop, hitch etc.) you select for a job? Is there a threshold for the load/breaking strength ratio? I have no idea. Would like to know though.

Brian.


Jamming seems to a function of a few different variables.  Here are some in no particular order:

1.  Strain applied.

2.  Material elasticity and probably its Poisson's Ratio which describes how much a materal shrinks laterally when pulled longitudinally.

3.  Friction, including if the rope is wet, since water is a lubricant.

4.  Knot geometry, of course.

Anything that allows a knot to store up spring energy inside itself will make a knot harder to untie.  If a lot of spring energy is stored up within it, there may be a lot of internal forces left in the knot even if you are able to force a few millimeters of rope into the jam.

« Last Edit: January 04, 2005, 12:45:49 AM by roo »
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Brian Grimley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #17 on: January 03, 2005, 10:40:26 PM »
Roo -
Re: different variables for jamming

Good points!  I am going to have to look up this Poisson's ratio. Thanks.

I can not help wondering if a knot can be labeled jamming independant of the rope, or the type of rope, in which it is tied.  Perhaps, a particular knot in a unsheathed spectra will not jam, while that knot will jam, with a vengence, in manila.

Just a thought, cheers - Brian.  


roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #18 on: January 03, 2005, 11:46:32 PM »
Quote


The Double Dragon is unsuitable as a bend or a midline loop in rope if you wish to untie the rope after a heavy strain.  As I pointed out to Paul Kruse when he first asked about the Double Dragon Loop, it doesn't seem to jam as long as you don't pull on what is ordinarily the free end.  A midline loop pulls on this free end, as does what you show as a Double Dragon Bend.  The Fisherman's also has jamming issues.

As I mentioned in another thread, the Double Dragon Loop loses its moderate ease of tying (memorability) when tied around something before completing the knot.  

For better or worse, knots that end up being used by the general public must be fairly simple to remember for the average joe or they will be ignored.



I'm going to retract one aspect of my statement about the Double Dragon Loop Midline variant being jam prone.  While it is jam prone as a midline loop when the parent line is under tension, or when tied as a bend as Dave Root has depicted on his site, the Double Dragon Midline Loop variant doesn't seem to be jam prone when the loop is loaded and either the standing part is pulled by itself or when the loop is loaded and what is usually the free end is pulled by itself.  

In other words, the midline variant is OK when pulled on from one side only.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2005, 12:07:52 AM by roo »
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mchalkley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2005, 03:18:48 AM »
Quote

Mark, what's the Boom Hitch and the Ichabod's sliding loop?  And what's your simple method for tying the Hunter's Bend?



Dave, the Boom Hitch is in most of Budworth's books.  It fact, it's on the cover of his "A Handbook of Knots and Knot Tying".

As for the "Ichabod" knot, there must be another name for it, because of its simplicity.  I got the name from John Shaw's "The Directory of Knots".  I'll look to see if I can find it under another name somewhere.  If you want to send me a private message with a fax number in it, I can fax you a diagram of each.

With regard to the alternate method of tying "Hunter's bend", I haven't seen this method in a book (as far as I can remember), but it's very simple:  (And please bear with my verbal instructions...)  1)  Make a clockwise overhand loop with the end in your left hand.  Now, assuming we call the side of the loop closest you, if you hold it vertically, the "front" of the loop  2)  Feed the end in your right hand through the loop from step one, starting from the front side  3)  Make a counter-clockwise underhand loop with the right hand end.  4)  Feed the right hand end through both loops from front to back.  5)  Feed the left hand end through both loops from back to front.  6)  Draw tight by pulling on all four parts.  Can you tie it using this description, or should I try again?

Mark

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2005, 03:20:33 AM »
Okay, if the Alpine Butterfly is reasonably resistant to jamming, then here's a second pass:

Mid-line loop: Alpine Butterfly.

End-of-line loop: Alpine Butterfly.
End-of-line loop: Bowline.  Almost seems like a crime not to teach our neighbor the "King of Knots"!  ;D

Double and triple loops: Alpine Butterfly variations.

Bend: Alpine Butterfly Bend (looks like an Alpine Butterfly, but with the loop cut).  Is this the "straight bend" that Roy described on page 1 of this thread?  Edit: In "The Complete Book of Knots," Geoffrey Budworth mentioned that the damaged area of a rope can be isolated by tying an Alpine Butterfly around it (p.86).  This would seem to be another confirmation of the strength of the Alpine Butterfly Bend, considering that a length of rope can't get much more damaged than being cut through.

Hitch: Adjustable Grip Hitch or Tautline Hitch.  They can be snugged up to the object like a proper hitch, plus they have the advantages that slide-and-grip knots provide.

« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 12:38:05 AM by DaveRoot »

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2005, 04:49:12 AM »
Quote
With regard to the alternate method of tying "Hunter's bend", I haven't seen this method in a book (as far as I can remember), but it's very simple:  (And please bear with my verbal instructions...)  1)  Make a clockwise overhand loop with the end in your left hand.  Now, assuming we call the side of the loop closest you, if you hold it vertically, the "front" of the loop  2)  Feed the end in your right hand through the loop from step one, starting from the front side  3)  Make a counter-clockwise underhand loop with the right hand end.  4)  Feed the right hand end through both loops from front to back.  5)  Feed the left hand end through both loops from back to front.  6)  Draw tight by pulling on all four parts.  Can you tie it using this description, or should I try again?


Thanks Mark, that sounds essentially like this, right?
http://www.layhands.com/knots/Knots_Bends.htm#HuntersBend.  

mchalkley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2005, 05:02:31 AM »
Quote


Thanks Mark, that sounds essentially like this, right?
http://www.layhands.com/knots/Knots_Bends.htm#HuntersBend.  



Yes, exactly like that, except that I described it with the under- and over-hand loops on the opposite sides...  Obviously, you already thought that was an easier way to tie it.  ;D

Mark

Dan Lehman

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2005, 01:17:14 AM »
Way back, I submitted the following article on this topic for publication
in KM; that hasn't happened, obviously.
I'd post it here, but for the (&^%^#$) mystical msg. limit that keeps
posts to soundbite size; grrrrr!  So, let's see what bits can  be given
separately, w/o great loss of thought.

---------------------------------------------------------------------

                  Setting About Knotting

This article addresses the issue of a "basic knots set", which has
been raised by several prior articles to some degree.  To my mind, it
is an ideal task for the IGKT to draw upon the collective expertise
of its membership and by consensus build some knot sets to be promoted
to the appropriate users.  This issue was most recently raised by
Howard Denyer's & Colin's requests for comments (KMs 68:45, 69:04) on
the "Surrey Six" (km65:06ff), which I hope garner many contributions.
A similar issue was raised earlier by Peter Goldstone's challenge of
the six "Tenderfoot" knots at the 1996 Gilwell Park AGM (km53:32).
Two replies to Peter were published, and both he and Tony Doran offered
to receive further comments and to publish results (km57:62); but
nothing more was published.  This current focus on the scouts-knots
issue is good (overdue!).  It's especially good to address the knots
taught to scouts, as thus the IGKT can build its reputation with large
organizations who reach the youth--our future--; this should become an
*official* IGKT task, with healthy deliberation and peer review.

I suggest that we also extend our deliberations to cover other
various users' needs, beyond consideration of "6 scouts knots";
i.e., let's focus on the scouts issue and come to consensus, but
continue the deliberations to try to build some other basic sets
--e.g., for sailing, climbing, and Search & Rescue (SAR).  To the
objection that each field has its own experts and can better determine
its own needs, I simply point to extant sets and ask Can they be
improved?  I believe that they can.  And, re the scouts, we might
want to also suggest something beyond a required or "basic" set,
for those with an interest to pursue knotting beyond the minumal set
(there is presently such a request by an American scout master--cf
www.folsoms.net/knots).

Finally, of my introductory thoughts, I suggest that we try to
define not merely a set of *knots* but rather a set of "solutions to
rope problems" (to borrow Peiter van de Griend terms).  Let us give
particular applications to the knots presented, which will help
novices understand the knot; let us describe some rigging paradigms.
And also, let's increase the comprehension of knots with an explanation
of their constituent parts--such as the effect of a round turn (on an
object or within a knot, e.g. double sheet bend)--and how to UNtie them.
Like teaching fishing instead of merely providing fish, let's teach
knotting in explaining the knots in our knot sets;  let's seize a good
opportunity for the IGKT to gain recognition as "an authority on knots."

   ---------------------------------------------------------

Dan Lehman

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #24 on: January 05, 2005, 01:22:06 AM »
[Well, that was rather more than a mere "sound bite"; but there's more.  :-]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

                  Setting About Knotting
   ---------------------------------------------------------

The immediate issue is the challenge--express or implicit--to the (an?)
old, six "Tenderfoot Knots" (the reef bend, clove hitch, sheepshank,
bowline, round-turn & 2 half-hitches (RT&2HH), and sheet bend).  As
these knots are parts of other knot sets, one can see the challenge
applying more broadly as well.  Peter's concerns re these knots were
only summarily reported, but include a recognition that they don't
behave well in synthetic ropes.  Howard states that the S6 resulted
from similar concerns, and were chosen after deliberation by interested
& experienced members of the IGKT Surrey branch.  It would be good to
learn of their specific rationales, as Tony asks (km66:46).

What do we know of the Tenderfoot knots?  We might call part of them
the Fundamental Four (bowline, clove hitch, reef knot, & RT&2HH), as
these knots appear in a great many knot sets.  The S6 departs from
tradition in omitting the clove & reef, retaining only the RT&2HH
and bowline.  The Tenderfoot set also includes the sheepshank & sheet
bend; the S6 retains the latter.  (Among some sets used by the Boy
Scouts of America (cf km50:30), the timber and tautline/rolling hitches
are used.  But I see NO required set in the BSA Guide 10th edition!?)

In defense of the Tenderfoot knots, Mike Lucas observed (km55:07)
that the bowline is one of the best known and most used knots aboard
boats, quite the opposite of the fig.8 loop.  His criticism of the
latter as needing a back-up knot for security is wrong--it needs it
arguably less than the bowline.  But he should have remarked
about untying the knots after a load:  the fig.8 can jam.  And then
there are my own observations at km66:11 about the "slop" in how
the fig.8 knots are tied (the S6 presents them ambiguously, as do
most sources).  Mike cited uses for the clove hitch.  Still, it has
shortcomings, liable to slip under load or sometimes--depending on
the nature of the rope & object--jam.  Will a constrictor adequately
meet those applications?  I think that it does meet some, though it
might seem an awkward alternative.  The RT&2HH, faulted by Peter for
slipping, but retained in the S6, can be simply secured by an extra
"HH" (suggested by Mike & R.C. Taylor's book, "Knowing the Ropes"--but
questioned by Budworth's review (km45:24)).  What other way to secure
a line under tension--a rolling hitch?  The sheet bend is retained,
and the S6 wisely includes the "double" version; there are other
versions of this, such as ABOK#488.  For the sheepshank, there is
little support other than tradition.  (I've read of a scout master's
thinking it a good decorative lesson.)  And for the reef knot, Mike
cites its maritime use in reefing sails.  In an unrelated letter
(km58:21), Paul Evans cited the British Merchant Marine's REQUIREMENT
that ropes of equal size be joined with a reef bend!  We've all seen
the parroted admonitions against this, yet there remains much
documentation to promote this use:  well, where then are all of the
alleged catastrophies from its use?!  Scouts use it in tying bandages.
But it tests poorly for strength, can jam hard in some ropes or fail
to hold in others, and can snag (if not also capsize upon snagging).
The fact is that the reef knot is often presented as a bend and so
learned (though I note that the BSA guide warns against this).  The
general population uses it on shoes; sailors use it to reef sails;
should scouts learn it as a basic knot?

[...]

Dan Lehman

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #25 on: January 05, 2005, 01:28:45 AM »
[Well, down in three, methinks!]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

                  Setting About Knotting
[...]
This last point raises a question:  what should we assume about
the knot-knowledge of the intended audience for a knot set?  E.g.,
should we presume that such things as tying off a plastic trash or
produce bag with a reef or overhand knot is common knowledge?  It's
something I do without thinking--usually with a slipped overhand.
Yet neither the S6 nor the Tenderfoot knots includes the overhand
knot.  Maybe such applications are deemed less important.  But
maybe we're silently assuming such knowledge; let's expose
assumptions.

The fundamental consideration in building a knot set is  p u r p o s e:
what expected needs must the knots meet?  One must know the intended
applications:  under what circumstances and in what materials will the
knots be tied, and what are the conditions of use?  Is the set to give
sufficient capability--or a fundamental building blocks to a larger set?
Is there a need for a knot from each class?  Is the set perhaps to be a
small, easily learned intro to knots?  If there isn't so much a focus
on particular uses, but exposure to knots in general that's desired,
then the lack of a *pull-together* knot such as the fisherman's bend
(and I mean "bend", not a hitch!) misses one interesting knot mechanism.

Among the possible (but not always necessary) qualities wanted in a
knot might be:  ease of tying, integrity when slack, security under
load, strength, and ease of untying.  (Charles Warner lists some
qualities in km41:22.)  NB: It is NOT the case that such qualities are
always good--e.g., anglers don't want ease of untying usually, and will
sacrifice ease of tying for great strength & security; for other
applications ease of tying or ease of untying are critical.  A knot set
might try to provide most of these qualities, with various knots; or it
might contain knots that all have a few of the same qualities.

Knots can behave remarkably differently in different media:  a rope's
size, flexibility, and surface qualities (including structure--laid
or braided) determine a knot's effect; tape, with its flat cross
section, is quite structurally different than round rope.  Rope can be
silky, slippery soft, or agedly frictive and stiff; it can be steel-like
inelastic or stretchy.  And even with the same qualities, in proportion
to diameter, relative to manual strength large and very small dia.s can
make differences (e.g., it won't be a man who realizes the elasticity of
a mooring hawser!).

In the particular S6 case, we should also ask "Why 'Six'?", as this
is a small number for covering the potential uses of rope & other
knottable media!  There are as many different classes and even more
functions of knots:  hitches, bends, loops, stoppers, binders, &
network (e.g., net knots); and then there are ring, spar, pile, sliding
hitches, and bends for same or unequal ropes; there are single and
multiple-loop loop knots.  (Tony enumerates nine potential general
functions at km57:63.)

So, why "Six"?  Howard states that this number was based on a survey
of how many of 15 scouts knots a large gathering of scouts recognized
--"on average, they could recognise 6 knots" (km68:45).  But note that
the S6 is actually comprises 9 knots: for the "fig.8" comprises a
stopper, loop, bend, and "hitch"[*nb*]; and both the single & double sheet
bends are given.  So, even the S6 exceeds "six"; let it grow.
(*nb* The S6's fig.8 "hitch" is a loop + RT; but it could show the real
fig.8 hitch--i.e. ABOK #1666, a minimal timber hitch.)

[...]

Dan Lehman

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #26 on: January 05, 2005, 01:33:13 AM »
[okay, four]

---------------------------------------------------------------------

                  Setting About Knotting  (part 4 of 4)
[...]
It might be that indeed one reasonable approach is to introduce
the fig.8 structure in its full glory--as it can be:  a quick hitch,
a slip loop, a (strong) loop, a double loop (in a few variations),
a bend (in a few variations, too!), a stopper, a middle loop (which
implies one of the bend variations), a bag closure, and even a binder
(yes! --at least in frictive rope).  Not only that, but it works
fairly well in tape, a flat medium, in some of the above uses.
But we mustn't confuse having one topological form with simplicity:
manifesting the fig.8 into the various forms above will sometimes be
as challenging as learning a different knot.  However, some of these
forms DO exhibit an efficiency in knot knowledge:  the Fig.8 bend,
loops, & stopper are similar structures.

In this discussion and esp. on the point of "Why Six?", consider
km38:18, where Bill Marshall enumerates the knotting requirements for
Girl Guide Knotter badge--lest we put our male scouts in a state of
inferiority.  This Girl Guide set is in four "levels", starting with
9, adding 10, and ultimately numbering around thirty; they also
specify various tying methods and uses.  The IGKT should be able
to design this sort of progressive learning (esp. those who favored
some sort of IGKT competence/badge program!).  And while I don't wish
to further gender sterotyping, it occurs to me that girls might be more
inclined to (also) engage in decorative knot work--to craft bracelets,
mats, etc. (which recognizes the breadth of knotting).

Let me argue for at least one particular knot.  Most knot sets with
which I'm familiar lack a fully decent bend; often, it is only the
reef and sheet bends that are given, and they aren't always so strong,
secure, and easy to untie as desired.  Some sets include the Carrick
bend, but the collapsed carrick can be insecure absent tension.
There are some interlocked overhand bends that are derivable from it
that are quite good:  the bend that Harry Asher named "shakehands"
(its structure evident in ABOK#1048), and the "Ashley bend", #1452.
This latter knot can be tied with its collars* a bit loose such that
they ride up around and bind against the knot body, enhancing security;
or they can be drawn tighter, for a more easily untied knot.  Either
form appears to be strong, though I know of no test data for it.
Sadly, C.L.Day published an awkward tying method for it (like that
done for SmitHunter's bend (#1425a)), which has been propagated by
others.  Alas, it's really a simple knot to tie by first tying one
rope into an overhand and then reeving the other end in appropriately
--which is also a way to ensure proper orientation of the ends!

Charles Warner privately took strong exception to my recommendation,
on the grounds that #1452 is unknown.  Why keep it so?  And to what
benefit is it to use known but grossly inferior knots?  And how well
does the general public--and even some in the specialied fields
cited above--know ANY knot?  There is evidence to suggest that
prior knowledge shouldn't be a big concern.

   --------------------------------------------------------

I hope that I've stirred IGKT members' minds with my discussion.
Knots sets are developed by various users over time, with varying
degrees of deliberation.  The changes in knottable media has led to
changes in many of these sets.  A group of people with keen
interests in knots, such as the IGKT, should be helpful in devising
sets of knots appropriate to modern needs & materials.  Let us be so!

======================================================================

Brian Grimley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #27 on: January 05, 2005, 06:37:27 PM »
Dan,  

What an excellent article! You have certainly stirred my mind! The issues you raise require some serious and careful thought. Your thoughts on applications struck a chord (or is it cord? :)) with me.  

Below, I am trying to help us define the "boundaries" or limits within which our advice is valid. These boundaries exist whether we recognize them or not.

How can one suggest one knot over others without an idea of the knot's application?  I would suggest, simply classifying a knot as a binding knot or as a bend is not sufficient. Examples of the present or past use of a knot would help define the strength, security and stability requirements of that knot and of its application. This may be a basis for suggested change. Otherwise, choose the knot you prefer.

How can one suggest one knot over others without understanding the user's intangible criteria for that knot? Some choose knots as a basic for developing knotting skills, some for appearance, some for speed of tying, some for tradition, and some for a combination of the above.  I would suggest these might help define some knot sets. (If you are correct that Girl Guides are attracted to decorative knots, one might be remiss not to give Boy Scouts skills in decorative knotting. Naturally, the opposite also holds true.  :))

It seems that many calls for changing knots cite the different properties of modern ropes. How can one validly suggest one knot over others without explicitly addressing the material used in the application? This may define knot sets.

It seems to me, if one is using descriptive terms for knots, for example, security, stability, strength and jamming, it is then necessary to define these terms. Best would be a quantitative definition. If that is not possible, there needs to be an agreed qualitative definition.  And, a glossary needs to be available to the reader of the advice.

Many modern ropes have a defined maximum working load. Loads (static plus dynamic) over this load increase the possibility that the rope will permanently change both structurally and chemically. Are we suggesting knots with characteristics within this maximum working load? Alternatively, are we suggesting knots with characteristics to the breaking strength of the rope? At the extremes, loads can be static or dynamic. Are we including this in our knot preferences?

One may ask many more questions. Most questions arise by looking at the knot's applications. These questions are not asked in an attempt to invalidate a knot's preference; but, to help us identify the boundaries within which our preference or advice is valid. Otherwise, one can always say, "Yes, but what if ...!"

I support Dan's suggestion of choosing a defined set of knots, for example, knots in scouting, and use it to develop an understanding of how preferred knots will be chosen. I might suggest the first step would be building a list of all present and historical uses of the each knot in scouting knots. Further, the Burden of Proof is on those advocating change to show that the change is not change for fashion or change sake.

I look forward to comments,
Brian.

Breton

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #28 on: January 06, 2005, 08:38:19 PM »
My first posting - Hi, everybody ...

Based on experiences with soldiers, farmers and garage owners, most of whom wish to tie awkward lumps of metal onto trailers or such, my vote would go to:

1) a Bowline to secure one end to the trailer (perhaps as a running bowline),
2) a Clove Hitch (in the bight) around at least one part of the item to be secured, and
3) a Rolling (tautline) hitch to secure the other end and haul everything down tight.

This generally leaves us with 50 feet of oily, muddy cordage to stow securely.  A coil with a Strangle knot all round it can be weaved through when forming the tautline hitch and slipped over some convenient handle, thermostat housing etc.  Not elegant, but a useful combination.

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #29 on: January 06, 2005, 08:54:07 PM »
Quote
I hope that I've stirred IGKT members' minds with my discussion.
Knots sets are developed by various users over time, with varying
degrees of deliberation.  The changes in knottable media has led to
changes in many of these sets.  A group of people with keen
interests in knots, such as the IGKT, should be helpful in devising
sets of knots appropriate to modern needs & materials.  Let us be so!

Wonderful article, it will be fascinating to watch the progress as knot sets are defined and refined!


Quote
How can one suggest one knot over others without an idea of the knot's application?  I would suggest, simply classifying a knot as a binding knot or as a bend is not sufficient. Examples of the present or past use of a knot would help define the strength, security and stability requirements of that knot and of its application. ...

Many modern ropes have a defined maximum working load. Loads (static plus dynamic) over this load increase the possibility that the rope will permanently change both structurally and chemically. Are we suggesting knots with characteristics within this maximum working load? Alternatively, are we suggesting knots with characteristics to the breaking strength of the rope? At the extremes, loads can be static or dynamic. Are we including this in our knot preferences?

One may ask many more questions.

I can foresee some type of "user interface" (such as a Web application) in which a person would be able to select from various lists of criteria such as type of rope, type of use (hitch, bend, etc.), categories of applications (climbing, sailing, farming, etc.), with further refinement within categories, and so on.  The result of these choices would be suggestions of knots which are likely to be appropriate based on the given criteria.  Ideally (in my opinion), such an interface would provide some descriptive rationale as to why the suggested knots might be appropriate, along with the pros and cons of using each knot.  This interface would potentially be quite helpful to a large group of people not addressed in Dan's article: All of the "average, everyday people" out there who are hoisting, tying, towing, hitching, and binding with a limited understanding of the issues and dangers involved.

This would be quite an enjoyable, though perhaps unrealistic, project to do, and I have thought of working on a rudimentary prototype.  But as they say...so many knots, so little time!