Author Topic: "Best of breed" knots?  (Read 73901 times)

DaveRoot

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"Best of breed" knots?
« on: January 02, 2005, 03:40:35 AM »
Imagine that a neighbor learns that you know a lot about knots, and he says, "The other day I grabbed a length of rope in my garage in order to tie up something in my back yard, but I didn't really know what knot to tie.  Can you show me the best knot that I should learn?"

Now, we know that there is not one knot which is "the" best knot, because there are a number of variables which will determine the knot that is best for a particular application.  However, your neighbor says that he has neither the time nor the interest to learn dozens of knots and their strengths/weaknesses (I know, I know, it's difficult to imagine someone not having any interest in knots! ;D).

You give his request some thought, and you show him one or two knots in several categories (bends, hitches, mid-line loops, end-of-line loops, etc.) which you consider to be the "best of breed" in those categories, taking into account the ease of tying/untying the knots, the strength and security of the knots, and so on.  Granted there are a number of important issues such as the type of rope, the type of conditions in which the rope will be used, etc., but you recognize that your neighbor is only looking for some useful, general-purpose, around-the-house-and-yard information about knots.  In other words, he is an "average person" who uses knots infrequently, rather than a climber, sailor, fisherman, arborist, weaver, etc., who has specialized needs for knots.

With this scenario in mind, what are the few knots that you would teach your neighbor, and why?

roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2005, 10:03:50 AM »
Quote
Imagine that a neighbor learns that you know a lot about knots, and he says, "The other day I grabbed a length of rope in my garage in order to tie up something in my back yard, but I didn't really know what knot to tie.  Can you show me the best knot that I should learn?"

Now, we know that there is not one knot which is "the" best knot, because there are a number of variables which will determine the knot that is best for a particular application.  However, your neighbor says that he has neither the time nor the interest to learn dozens of knots and their strengths/weaknesses (I know, I know, it's difficult to imagine someone not having any interest in knots! ;D).

You give his request some thought, and you show him one or two knots in several categories (bends, hitches, mid-line loops, end-of-line loops, etc.) which you consider to be the "best of breed" in those categories, taking into account the ease of tying/untying the knots, the strength and security of the knots, and so on.  Granted there are a number of important issues such as the type of rope, the type of conditions in which the rope will be used, etc., but you recognize that your neighbor is only looking for some useful, general-purpose, around-the-house-and-yard information about knots.  In other words, he is an "average person" who uses knots infrequently, rather than a climber, sailor, fisherman, arborist, weaver, etc., who has specialized needs for knots.

With this scenario in mind, what are the few knots that you would teach your neighbor, and why?


You've probably heard the saying, "When all a man has is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail."

When you show your aforementioned type of person a "best" or "favorite" knot, assume that they might use it for something important someday.  So, it's probably best to choose secure knots even if that security won't be put to the test with their average use.  Besides, your friend might have some slick, springy rope.

Bend:  Zeppelin Bend (Rosendahl Bend)

Loop on the bight: Butterfly Loop

End Loop:  I'm firmly undecided on this one.  It might be best to show a bowline with its augmented cousins such a the Double Bowline or a Water Bowline.  Or you might just teach a Zeppelin Loop (Rosendahl Loop) to keep it to one knot.

Hitch:  A Slipped Buntline is fine, but so is a good Timber Hitch, but the Timber Hitch's simplicity might tip the balance.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2005, 10:13:26 AM by roo »
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drjbrennan

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2005, 05:19:38 PM »
Simple answer. Constrictor knot. Because I think it is of most use to most people to know a good binding knot, that is simple to tie.
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Fairlead

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2005, 07:33:53 PM »
You only need teach him ONE knot.....The Figure of Eight.
When he has mastered that as a Stopper Knot, show him how to use it to make a Bend, a Single Loop, a Double Loop, a Slipped Loop and a Hitch.  Polish it off with a Packer's (or butcher's) knot and I think you will find he has enough to cope with almost any 'back yard' situation.

Gordon

roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2005, 08:33:21 PM »
Quote
You only need teach him ONE knot.....The Figure of Eight.
When he has mastered that as a Stopper Knot, show him how to use it to make a Bend, a Single Loop, a Double Loop, a Slipped Loop and a Hitch.  Polish it off with a Packer's (or butcher's) knot and I think you will find he has enough to cope with almost any 'back yard' situation.

Gordon


Even in (perhaps especially in) backyard situtations rope can be highly strained.  Your neighbor might develop a dim opinion of knots if he keeps having to get out a knife to cut apart his brand new rope because he can't untie a figure eight used as a loop or bend.
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Brian Grimley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2005, 09:43:05 PM »
I thought Fairlead's approach to teach one basic knot (figure-of-eight), and from this knot generate the others, is super. As I read Fairlead's post, the overhand knot crossed my mind. Below, I did a Delete and Insert to Fairlead's post. :) However, I could argue Fairlead's figure-of-eight is a better choice.  

You only need REMIND him of ONE knot.....The OVERHAND knot.
When he has mastered that as a Stopper Knot, show him how to use it to make a Bend, a Single Loop, a Double Loop, a Slipped Loop and a Hitch.  Polish it off with a TAUTLINE HITCH and a CONSTRICTOR and I think you will find he has enough to cope with almost any "around-the-house-and-yard" situation.  :)

Brian.

Brian Grimley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2005, 11:04:14 PM »
Roo wrote:
"Even in (perhaps especially in) backyard situtations rope can be highly strained.  Your neighbor might develop a dim opinion of knots if he keeps having to get out a knife to cut apart his brand new rope because he can't untie a figure eight used as a loop or bend."

It seems to me that jamming and security for knots, in a particular type of rope, is a function of the load as a percent of the breaking strength of that rope. Different types of rope would have different points at which jamming and security becomes an issue.

I was concerned about jamming and security when I was using an 1/4 inch synthetic rope in the garden. So, I used different knots, in the same application, to see which knot was best. When the season (six months) was over, I checked the knots. No knots slipped, no knots jammed. I wondered why. Then, it occured to me that a modern rope is so strong that the weights I was suspending was never greater than 10% (perhaps, more accurately, 5%) of the rope's breaking strength.  Therefore, I concluded that the jamming and security of a particular knot was simply not an issue in this particular case.

I guess one might ask if "general-purpose, around-the-house-and-yard" applications generate enough force for jamming to be an issue. If twine is used, then jamming is an issue, but who cares?

When does jamming and security 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.

KnotNow!

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2005, 11:42:06 PM »
A great question and excelent answers.  Not long ago a friend flew from US to England, bought a senior BMW motorcycle, worked his way South to Gebralter and crossed to North Africa, with the goal of parking at the Great Pyramids, thence North through the Holy Land and finally back to GB.  The mess in NYC on 911 came in the midst of his planning but he went anyway.  He didn't finish the loop but had a great trek and a safe return home.  He brought me a bit of sand.  Before he left he asked for knots and here is what he took:  Bowline, Sheet Bend, Constrictor (as binding, midloop and end loop), Alpine Butterfly and the related bend published by Brion Toss and called Strait Bend.   Since Brian's publication I had started tying it by the method which most use to tye the butterfly and published that method in our "Knot News", calling it a "Straight Bend".  I chose these because: the Bowline and Sheet bend are the same hand moves so you get two for one.  I teach the constrictor as a one hand knot but taught him the standard way as well.  Three knots for one (O.K... two) hand moves.  Finally the Alpine butterfly and the Straight Bend gave him an extra mid span loop and a good bend with only one set of hand moves (two for one again).  As a last shot I showed him how to use a loop in the bight to form the Truckers Hitch, for which he needed a Slipped Half Hitch.  With various bits of 550 cord he managed to get along without bungee cord or a cargo net.  His budget did not allow the traditional aluminium paniers and fancy luggage.  ::)
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mchalkley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2005, 04:18:03 AM »
This is a very interesting and informative thread to me, albeit in a somewhat humorous way, in addition to the expected one.  I've learned that not all knot-tyers are "obsessive compulsive".  Now, I say that somewhat "tongue in cheek", but not completely - it's just that I find the notion of a person who sits around playing with new ways to connect rope to something (if only itself) - and isn't[/i] at least the "obsessive" part - a bit self-contradicting... ;D  As an admitted obsessive, I'd have to show him, at the very least:

Hunter's (bend) - And no, not using the method most books I've seen show that's much, much harder to tie.  I'd show him using the interlocking overhand and underhand loops method.  Very simple and almost foolproof - no deliberate capsizing necessary.

Alpine butterfly (loop in the bight) - Hard to get much simpler and more secure than this one.

Boom (hitch) - Hey, it's not that much harder than the others,  but look at the advantages...

Double dragon (end loop) - Hey, it's not that much harder than the others, but look at the advantages...  ;)

Midshipman's (sliding adjustable loop)

Ichabod's (sliding loop)

And, I don't know, while I was at it, I think I'd have to show him the Versatackle, since he already knows the butterfly and double dragon loops to make it with.

All that having been said, I like the idea of just showing him the figure-of-eight knots.  But no obsessive compulsive person could sleep at night, having shown him so little... :)

Mark

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2005, 04:55:20 AM »
I like the idea of sticking with a "family" of knots, but for me it's the Double Dragon family (Edit: This list was revised in a later post.):

End-of-line Loop: Double Dragon.

Mid-line Loop: Double Dragon.

Double Loop, Triple Loop: Double Double Dragon, Triple Double Dragon.


Hitch: Slipped Double Dragon.  When used as a hitch, the Double Dragon does not require tying an initial knot such as an Overhand Knot (e.g. the Alpine Butterfly) or a Figure-Eight Knot (e.g. the Rethreaded Figure-Eight Loop).

Hitch: Slide-and-grip knots are also useful as hitches, and I tend to prefer the Adjustable Grip Hitch over the Tautline (Midshipman's) or the Tarbuck.  The Sliding Sheet Bend (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/explode.htm#4) is a nice slide-and-grip knot as well, because it is easy to tie, it can lock in place, and it "explodes" when the free end is pulled.  Haven't quite decided whether I prefer the Adjustable Grip Hitch or the Sliding Sheet Bend.


Bend: Double Dragon (imagine tying a small Double Dragon loop, then snipping the loop.  That's what the bend looks like).  In the same way, the Double Dragon can also be used to isolate a damaged section of rope.

Bend: I tend to prefer the Fisherman's Knot when security is not critical because it is simple to remember, simple to tie, and it results in a compact, nice-looking knot.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2005, 02:49:08 AM by DaveRoot »

roo

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2005, 08:24:08 AM »
Quote
I like the idea of sticking with a "family" of knots, but for me it's the Double Dragon family:

End-of-line Loop: Double Dragon.

Mid-line Loop: Double Dragon.

Double Loop, Triple Loop: Double Double Dragon, Triple Double Dragon.


Hitch: Slipped Double Dragon.  When used as a hitch, the Double Dragon does not require tying an initial knot such as an Overhand Knot (e.g. the Alpine Butterfly) or a Figure-Eight Knot (e.g. the Rethreaded Figure-Eight Loop).

Hitch: Slide-and-grip knots are also useful as hitches, and I tend to prefer the Adjustable Grip Hitch over the Tautline (Midshipman's) or the Tarbuck.  The Sliding Sheet Bend (http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/writing/explode.htm#4) is a nice slide-and-grip knot as well, because it is easy to tie, it can lock in place, and it "explodes" when the free end is pulled.  Haven't quite decided whether I prefer the Adjustable Grip Hitch or the Sliding Sheet Bend.


Bend: Double Dragon (imagine tying a small Double Dragon loop, then snipping the loop.  That's what the bend looks like).  In the same way, the Double Dragon can also be used to isolate a damaged section of rope.

Bend: I tend to prefer the Fisherman's Knot when security is not critical because it is simple to remember, simple to tie, and it results in a compact, nice-looking knot.


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.

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Brian Grimley

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2005, 04:24:20 PM »
mchalkley -

I share your good natured humor about this thread.  I loved and had a great laugh at Clyde Soles' description of the two extremes of knot tyers in his "The Outdoor Knots Book". One extreme with their "thingamajig" knot and the other extreme, "the knot obsessed", who might belong to the IGKT, with their arcane knots. I think that Clyde Soles effectively expresses the frustration of the middle group, who simply ask, "What knot should I use?".  Clyde Soles then answers that question with "practical knots" and the advantages and disadvantages of his selection.

I think that few of us can remember what it was like when we first tried to sort out the reef knot.  For me, it is like sorting out the construction and materials of the modern ropes that Clyde Soles covers so well in his book.  Sometimes, it is great to be reminded of how little we really know. Or, perhaps, to be reminded about how much there is left for us to learn!  ;D  I think it gives us a little empathy for the "middle group of knotters", who simply ask, "What knot should I use?"

Brian.  :)

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2005, 07:01:56 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.

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.

DaveRoot

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2005, 07:04:52 PM »
Quote

Hunter's (bend) - And no, not using the method most books I've seen show that's much, much harder to tie.  I'd show him using the interlocking overhand and underhand loops method.  Very simple and almost foolproof - no deliberate capsizing necessary.

Boom (hitch) - Hey, it's not that much harder than the others,  but look at the advantages...

Ichabod's (sliding loop)

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

PatDucey

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Re: "Best of breed" knots?
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2005, 07:31:20 PM »
I have often felt that the eight "Boy Scout Knots" are perhaps the most usefull all-around knots.  There are many websites that have excellent teaching proceedures.  The trick is knowing when to use which knot for the job at hand.

Patrick