International Guild of Knot Tyers

The Alternative Knot Book by Harry Asher, M.A., Ph.D.

The Alternative Knot Book by Harry Asher, M.A., Ph.D.

Nautical Books 1989 ISBN 9780713659504

Beginner or competent knot tyer, this is a useful book. A glossy soft cover encloses 93 pages of print I could decipher without my glasses and 146 easy-to-follow diagrams (principally by Phil Vernon). The author is a retired research scientist, once a school teacher, and an inventor. His incisive and often quirkish thoughts, modified by a very practical outlook, are here concentrated on about 75 old, modified and new knots. The heart of the book is a distillation of his earlier New System of Knotting (pub. I.G.K.T. 1986), an ordered way to discover bends. No previous know-how is assumed, so a brief introduction of rope (especially synthetic), its structure and breaking strains, with some technical terms, precedes a good selection of working bends and hitches. The logic in coiling rope and the “sense” (or handedness) of cordage are discussed. Some addresses are given where tools and line may be bought. I must declare an interest. This book is dedicated to me. Nonetheless it is the author’s fresh insights and simple explanations that make it a valuable addition to the treasure chest of knot lore. Some neglected knots (e.g. the Angler’s Loop and the Pile Hitch) are rehabilitated; variations of traditional knots (an Enhanced Bowline, a Pedigree Cow Hitch) are suggested to improve performance; while many innovative knot names (Breakwell Tart, Sleeping Beauty, Belt-&-Braces) are fun. There are even 2 cautionary stanzas in the style of Sir Alan Herbert’s poem The Bowline. I think this is a super little work that should promote the Guild’s aims and objects. Indeed, Dr. Asher acknowledges the help of several I.G.K.T. members.

G.B. Aug 89