International Guild of Knot Tyers

The Knots Puzzle Book by Heather McLeay

The Knots Puzzle Book by Heather McLeay

Tarquin Publications 1994 ISBN 9780906212967

Key Curriculum Press, 2000 ISBN 9781559530002

At last. Here is a gentle look at knot theory, suitable for all ages, without a single mathematical formula. Basic knot drawings and text introduce beginners to: crossing numbers - mirror images - prime & composite knots - three colour testing - Reidemeister moves - and knot classification.

Section 2 touches upon practical and artistic knots, where Heather McLeay's deft touch slips just a bit. As ends play no part in topological knots, her reef knots could equally be thief knots. And a sheet bend would NOT effectively join ropes as dissimilar as she portrays. Having made the usual statement (which some might question) that a left-hand sheetbend is less secure, she wrongly shows this as one with the short ends on the .same side. Back on safe ground in Sections 3 & 4, more advanced ideas on knot families, links, colourability and classification are previewed.

This is a welcome addition to the genre, thanks due in part to Guild member Prof. Ronnie Brown (who, Heather acknowledges, first interested her in knots). Important concepts are easily absorbed by working through the graded activities which compel you to trace or draw and tie knots. Their impact is boosted by 36 puzzles (answers supplied), which made me think - no easy thing. At the end of the book is a recommended list of further reading.

This soft cover manual, 210 cm x 200 cm, has 48 pages in a well-designed layout by Paul Chilvers. It would make a pleasing gift for any child or adult keen to look at knots in a different way. I found it fun, so I recommend it.

G.B.