International Guild of Knot Tyers

The Turks Head Cookbook - Vol. One, 2. The Turks Head Cookbook – Vol. Two, 3. The Globe Knot Cookbook, by Don Burrhus

1.    The Turks Head Cookbook Volume 1
2.    The Turks Head Cookbook Volume 2
3.    The Globe Knot Cookbook by Don Burrhus

This trio of self-published knot manuals of 109, 337 and 205 A4-size pages respectively are spiral bound within acetate (front) and card (back) covers to lie flat for easy reference while one’s hands are occupied tying knots.  Succinct introductory texts are followed by instructive diagrams created with software specifically designed using Sun Mi-crosystems’ Java programming language to portray each knot’s surface texture in Mercator (flat-earth) projection, alongside zigzag O-U-O tying recipes or algorithms that enable the user to dip-&-pick between elementary, intermediate and advanced knots.

1. The THC-1 …
requires a tool in the form of a thick rectangular plaque equipped with Allen screws™ that can be raised or retracted, using the Allen key™ or hex wrench supplied, to provide the varied pin set-ups for its knots. Appendix D summarizes all of these pin-settings.
[Go to to view this device and other excellent tools.]

An innovative square grid – inspired by A#1314 – summarizes not only the THs that can, or cannot, be tied with a single strand, but whether that knot is narrow, square or wide, and in doing so reveals a tidy topo-graphical layout.  It also shows that odd (notably prime) numbers of leads or bights yield almost twice as many possible knots.  All of the TH knots featured can be achieved with a single-strand.  I counted 209 with a regular basket-weave (over-one-under-one) surface texture, including square (36), wide (90) and narrow (83) knots with dimensions up to 20 leads and/or 20 bights.

A further 53 had herringbone or twill weaves.  Appendix C to this guide is a neat page finder in the form of a crossword square; simply run a finger across for the required number of leads, and down for bights, to locate the page on which the knot occurs.

2.    The THC-2 …
reprints Chapter 1 of the THC – namely, ‘The Turk’s Head Tool and its Use’ – but then, using the earlier format, goes on to herringbone or twill weave THs from 2 to 20 bights, all of which are tied with a single strand around the THC tool.  This time I counted 767 knots, subdivided into those with 2-9 facets (339) and 10-20 bights (428).  One or two helpful icons appear beside certain knots: an explanation mark, in a road sign triangle, warns of a knot’s tendency to collapse or capsize unless tight-ened very carefully, while a lightning flash shows when a knot with more overpasses than underpasses may be quicker to tie.  Appendix G features a pin settings chart.

3.    The GKC …
unlike the previous two manuals, has three coloured plates of more than 70 completed knots.  Print quality and layout, too, are better.  The knots here need different cylindrical tools with alpha-numerically labelled Allen screws.
[Go to to view this device and other excellent tools.]

The familiar, but slightly modified, computer-generated line drawings and tying algorithms or recipes enable the user to tackle spherical, cylin-drical, cuboid and dumbbell-shaped covering knots, of which I counted 153 including 27 (with 9-25 facets), 45 (26-50 facets), 27 (51-75facets), 22 (76-100 facets) and 13 (more than 100 facets), plus 6 (dumbbell shaped, or ‘knobs & necks’) and 7 (kettlebell shaped, or ‘something stuck in the middle’).  An optional extra few pages from Ken Burrhus, for those who like algebra, provides two simple formulae – using only powers of 2, square roots, and the value of pi – which enable the user to (a) calculate the size of the core for a chosen knot, and (b) estimate the length of cord needed.

Conclusions …
IGKT member Don Burrhus has come up with an easy yet compre-hensive series of guides to tackling THs.  They and the tools are value for money … although I was required by the UK Border Agency, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, to pay Import VAT (Value Added Tax) and a Clearance Fee that added an unwelcome extra 30% to my original outlay.  Never mind.  Knotting – I believe – is caught and taught, done with the heart as much as the head and hands.  Aspir-ing knot mavens should forever be not only students but also disciples.  So, having just recently discovered this magnum opus, I have belatedly added its author to my pantheon of knot gods and gurus.

Geoffrey Budworth