Author Topic: The Cow family  (Read 3139 times)

Jugggler

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The Cow family
« on: April 18, 2010, 05:23:00 PM »
I have always been fascinated with the Cow Hitch. Whenever I pick up a piece of rope, my fingers idly form one. It?s not much of a knot it its basic form, but I figured that something that was so easy and fun to tie and untie must have possibilities. Over the years, I've come up with a family of knots based on this lowly hitch. With apologies to the bowline purists, perhaps the cow hitch is the only knot you'll ever need.    ;)

Running Cow
Form a cow hitch near the end of a rope by making a bight, folding it over upon itself, and pulling together the two resulting loops. Form a bight in the standing part and insert it through the two loops. Pull the working end alternately with the non-running part of the loop to tighten. The result is a remarkably useful and stable knot I call the Running Cow.

Staked Cow
Form a Running Cow and wrap the loop around a post. Take the standing part and run it all the way through the loop. The result is a stable hitch I call the Staked Cow.

Exploding Cow (my favorite)
Tie a Running Cow in the end of two ropes that are to be joined, taking care to leave a longer working end (six inches or so) on one of them. Take the tip of the loop of the rope that has the longer working end and insert it into the other loop. Pull the standing part of the second rope to trap the loop. Now take the long working end and form a bight. Insert the bight into the remaining loop and pull the standing part to tighten and trap the bight. Pull on the two standing parts to tighten. The result is a bend that joins the two ropes securely. The harder you pull, the tighter it gets. I call it the Exploding Cow bend because when you're ready to untie the bend, you pull the end of the trapped bight and the two ropes easily disengage. As a finishing touch, pull on the standing part and working end of each rope and all the knots disappear, leaving you with two ropes in their original state.

SpitfireTriple

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Re: The Cow family
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2010, 10:20:47 AM »
Interesting creations.  Do we know if they are new?  (I still haven't bought ABOK)  Any chance of a photo or two?
« Last Edit: April 19, 2010, 10:21:27 AM by SpitfireTriple »

Jugggler

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Re: The Cow family
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2010, 03:04:08 PM »
Attached are images of the Running Cow and the Exploding Cow bend.

Jonathan

SpitfireTriple

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Re: The Cow family
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2010, 02:32:19 PM »
Running Cow: I find this a very free-flowing sliding loop, handy for those times you want a .... very free-flowing sliding loop.  But I found the knot difficult and time-consuming to dress.   This in itself might put me off the knot.   It does though (as you later point out) have the quality (not that I can think of an immediate use for it off the top of my head) that if you remove the item the loop is tied around, the knot pulls away to nothing.  I note that the Running Cow can distort/ be manipulated into a pair of overhand knots of opposite handedness, with the working end running back through their two "holes".  Just because it's topographically equivalent though doesn't make it the same knot.  Edit: Further play reveals that, without the distortion/manipulation, it could be described as an Overhand knot loop with a half-hitch (?!).  But just because an alternative name can be suggested for it, by breaking it down into what are arguably its constituent parts, does not in itself mean that it is not a valid new knot.

Staked Cow: When I tried to follow the instructions as I understood them, I got a bulky loop knot which, as soon as I applied load to the standing part, flipped into a simple Running Cow.  Am I doing something wrong?  Edit: Yes I am/was:  I was (doh!) putting the loop over the stake rather than wrapping it around the stake.  Now that I see that, I can make the Staked Cow in two forms:   One with the original Running Cow knot "above" the point where the loop wraps around itself (hmm, Cow within a Staked Cow?), one with it "below".  Not sure of the relative merits of these forms, not sure whether one could collapse into the other.

Exploding Cow:  Well....it's not very pretty.  But then I don't suppose an exploding cow would ever be pretty!  I put quite a bit of tension into the two ropes I joined with the Exploding Cow.  Once I had done this, the "Long Working End" needed even more load before it would explode the knot.  I fear the knot might jam if too much tension was applied.  Furthermore, without extensive further testing I would be loathe to trust my life to this knot.  It just looks too ....ugly.  That might sound like a poor justification, but I suspect most people here will know what I mean.

But whether or not my fears are justified, you have shown what can be achieved by mucking around with a well-known (but unrespected) knot.  It's good to experiment, it has to be one of the best ways to come up with new knots.

« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 03:18:57 PM by SpitfireTriple »

Jugggler

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Re: The Cow family
« Reply #4 on: April 20, 2010, 07:45:38 PM »
Running Cow: I find this a very free-flowing sliding loop, handy for those times you want a .... very free-flowing sliding loop.  But I found the knot difficult and time-consuming to dress.   This in itself might put me off the knot.   It does though (as you later point out) have the quality (not that I can think of an immediate use for it off the top of my head) that if you remove the item the loop is tied around, the knot pulls away to nothing.  I note that the Running Cow can distort/ be manipulated into a pair of overhand knots of opposite handedness, with the working end running back through their two "holes".  Just because it's topographically equivalent though doesn't make it the same knot.  Edit: Further play reveals that, without the distortion/manipulation, it could be described as an Overhand knot loop with a half-hitch (?!).  But just because an alternative name can be suggested for it, by breaking it down into what are arguably its constituent parts, does not in itself mean that it is not a valid new knot.

Staked Cow: When I tried to follow the instructions as I understood them, I got a bulky loop knot which, as soon as I applied load to the standing part, flipped into a simple Running Cow.  Am I doing something wrong?  Edit: Yes I am/was:  I was (doh!) putting the loop over the stake rather than wrapping it around the stake.  Now that I see that, I can make the Staked Cow in two forms:   One with the original Running Cow knot "above" the point where the loop wraps around itself (hmm, Cow within a Staked Cow?), one with it "below".  Not sure of the relative merits of these forms, not sure whether one could collapse into the other.

Exploding Cow:  Well....it's not very pretty.  But then I don't suppose an exploding cow would ever be pretty!  I put quite a bit of tension into the two ropes I joined with the Exploding Cow.  Once I had done this, the "Long Working End" needed even more load before it would explode the knot.  I fear the knot might jam if too much tension was applied.  Furthermore, without extensive further testing I would be loathe to trust my life to this knot.  It just looks too ....ugly.  That might sound like a poor justification, but I suspect most people here will know what I mean.

But whether or not my fears are justified, you have shown what can be achieved by mucking around with a well-known (but unrespected) knot.  It's good to experiment, it has to be one of the best ways to come up with new knots.



Looks like you gave each knot a good going over. Thanks for the feedback. You're right, of course, about the Exploding Cow. It's just plain ugly! And under extreme tension, it is harder to explode. I wouldn't use it to winch something really heavy--there are too many other good bends that would work better. But for less extreme uses, there aren't too many bends that come apart more easily. My seven year old daughter is a proud tier of the Exploding Cow bend.

As for the dressing of the Running Cow, the trick is to alternate pulling on the working end and the non-running part of the loop. With a little practice, it comes together quickly and easily. If the original cow hitch is small and tight, it is easier to do. My idle fingers have upgraded from forming the cow hitch to forming the Running Cow. Moo!