Author Topic: Square knot rant  (Read 6811 times)

Rich Shewmaker

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Square knot rant
« on: July 06, 2012, 06:01:18 PM »
Every list of "Knots Everyone Should Know" includes the square knot near the top of the list. The best reason for "everyone" to know the square knot is to know not to use it. It is useful for its other named purpose as the reef knot, but has little utility for the non-sailor. For that matter, modern sailboats seldom have sails that are reefed to the boom in the traditional manner, rendering the knot even less useful. It's true that most people tie their shoes with the bow-knot variant of the square knot, but half of them tie it granny and walk around with untied laces. Anybody who would be reading this forum would know one or more better knots for tying shoe laces. So let's demote the square knot to a footnote with a warning and stop listing it as an important player in the knot world.

roo

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2012, 06:25:08 PM »
It's true that most people tie their shoes with the bow-knot variant of the square knot, but half of them tie it granny and walk around with untied laces. Anybody who would be reading this forum would know one or more better knots for tying shoe laces. So let's demote the square knot to a footnote with a warning and stop listing it as an important player in the knot world.
How do you tie your shoes?  What's wrong with bundling/binding stuff up with a reef knot?  Maybe the same qualities that make it nice for shoes translates to other items.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 06:30:39 PM by roo »
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Rich Shewmaker

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2012, 06:43:28 PM »
I tie my shoes with a surgeon's shoelace tie. (http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/surgeonknot.htm) It takes about two seconds more to tie than a bow knot, unties just as easily, and NEVER accidentally comes untied. It's true that like a square bow it can be tied granny and be less secure, but that's just a matter of learning to tie it correctly...important for any knot.

roo

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2012, 06:52:31 PM »
I tie my shoes with a surgeon's shoelace tie. (http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/surgeonknot.htm) It takes about two seconds more to tie than a bow knot,
For many people, an adequate knot that saves them a couple seconds every day is going to be more attractive.

Even if I wanted a more secure shoelace knot, just tucking the final bows of the standard knot as if starting another reef knot would be easier to execute for me.
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Rich Shewmaker

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2012, 07:22:20 PM »
Another advantage to the surgeon's knot is that the extra turn in the first stage of the knot provides enough friction that the laces stay tight while you are tying the rest of the knot. Come to think of it, that is precisely why surgeons use it.

Sweeney

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2012, 07:35:25 PM »
As well as shoelaces the reef knot is useful for tying a bandage - as well as being easy to tie and binding well it lies flat when tied and as a result it is comfortable for the patient. It's name may be from reefing sails but in fact the ancient Greeks used it as a bandage knot if I remember correctly from a book I read a long time ago.  As a simple binder for a bundle it has a lot going for it. So by all means advise against its use as a bend but I think it has a rightful place as a binder.

Barry

Rich Shewmaker

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2012, 09:34:16 PM »
I'm a retired emergency department nurse, so I am familiar with the use of a reef knot for holding a would dressing, but again, that application is obsolete. At one time there was a whole system of first aid based on the "triangular bandage," a piece of muslin that was integral to every WWII first aid kit. In modern times tapes and elastic bandage fill those roles. Of particular importance is a product called "Coban?" which has the advantage that it will adhere to itself, but not to skin. http://www.3m.com/product/information/coban-self-adherent-wrap.html

TMCD

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2012, 11:20:01 PM »
I agree with Rich for the most part and would certainly never include the Square Knot in any "most useful list of knots". I use knots almost every day in my line of work and they include the Trucker's Hitch, Rolling Hitch, Clove Hitch, Two HH, Bowline, and Slipped Buntline. Those six knots should be on ANY most useful knots list IMO. I also like a beefed up Clove Hitch called the Teamster's Hitch, with the WE half hitched around the SE. But yes, the Square Knot just doesn't shine at least for me.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #8 on: July 07, 2012, 12:45:27 AM »
Another advantage to the surgeon's knot is that the extra turn in the first stage of the knot provides enough friction that the laces stay tight while you are tying the rest of the knot. Come to think of it, that is precisely why surgeons use it.

Do you really know any surgeons who use that knot?
(I know a doctor who insists just the opposite!  But
SS369 responded w/some evidence contrary to that.)

Sounds to me as though you are too quick to rant,
and confusing about what you actually DO tie --to wit:
Quote
I tie my shoes with a surgeon's shoelace tie. (http://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/surgeonknot.htm)
contradicts the underscored assertion quoted above
--for there is no extra initial tuck/wrap in Feigan's knot
named after one in which there IS.  (One might note some
differences arising with the actual construction of that
shoe-lace variant --i.p., whether the tails are equally
surrounded by the wraps or not (F.'s in-tying image shows
the yellow tail free of the wrapping, but in his final image
it has been encompassed by them).)

Frankly, I should expect the extra-turn/tuck-in-first-part
"surgeon's knot" to yield a LESSecure knot, as the finishing
tucks are stretched over this extra-tuck longer span and so
will not bind as well.

I've used the Feigan version (in one or another forms),
but find it sometimes seems to torque the laces more than
I like.  YMMV.  Yes, it's a simple solution to tying shoes,
among others.

As for the granny bow knot being insecure, that might be
because it isn't tied as well as it can be --i.p., that the bows
should swing 180deg. to the opposite sides, which is not
the natural movement.  It can be done and set tightly.
(In the natural way, the bows tend to lie parallel with the
foot/leg, perpendicular to the lacing.)

As for value of the squaREef knot, it can be handy in some
number of places for tying off something.  Some forms of
seizing or whipping use it.  (And its general movements are
often used to put in a sort of two half-hitches attachment,
often w/3 wraps one of which is cast into a nipping loop while
the other two make for HH.s.  (And I'm curious as to how much
user control & decision is made here, vs. vagaries of tying and
cordage contortions!?))


--dl*
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knot4u

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #9 on: July 07, 2012, 04:35:27 AM »
Hello Rich and welcome. I have to say that as I learn more about knots, I appreciate the Square more. Here are some reasons why I respectfully disagree with your rant:

  • It's important to know how to tie a Square instead of a Granny. As one of many examples, a marathon runner or track runner could lose a race simply because they made the mistake of tying Granny Knots. (Before you remind of the Surgeon's Knot, please see other points below.) I was about 32 years old when I learned the difference between a Granny and a Square. Since then, my laces come undone on their own only if I mistakenly tie a Granny. If you have known the Square since you were an infant, then I can understand how you don't appreciate it to the extent I do.

  • The Surgeon (which ironically the original poster values highly) is a descendant of the Square. If you know a Granny and don't know what a Square is, then you'll tie a Surgeon wrongly. Or you'll tie a Surgeon correctly if the stars happen to be lined up correctly that day for you. Let's call a wrongly tied Surgeon a "Great Granny". Avoid tying a Great Granny. Learn the Square backward and forward.

  • It's not always feasible to tie laces with a Surgeon. For many of my laces, it's just too fiddly for what it's worth.

  • A Square does not jam (or is difficult to jam), even without slips. If you have laces that are too short for a slip, you can tie a Square without slips for a secure knot that won't jam. Loosen the Square by pulling the diagonals, or pull one of the working ends away from the standing end closest to it. These methods are more difficult to perform with a Surgeon.

  • A Square is an adequate bend for non-critical applications. Many people enjoy parroting the idea that a Square is not a good bend, but I am hard-pressed to find a bend that is smaller than a Square (without the slips), easier to tie, holds securely, and doesn't jam. I do recognizes a Square Bend is not perfect. So, see the next point...

  • If you go further and secure the working ends with Strangles or Overhands, then a Square suddenly becomes a fantastic bend for many applications.

  • A Square is easy to learn, understand, and teach.

  • It's highly unlikely that the Square is suddenly an unfavorable knot after centuries of use and appreciation. What's much more likely is history got it right and you're not thinking hard enough.


Regards,
Knot4u
« Last Edit: July 07, 2012, 11:09:35 PM by knot4u »

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #10 on: July 07, 2012, 07:41:41 AM »
  • As one of many examples, a marathon runner or track runner could lose a race simply because they made the mistake of tying Granny Knots.
!!!
This has implications of some considerable usage --all the
runs for training, etc.-- during which either this conjectured
failure was nevertheless tolerated w/o sure redress, or it
just pops up seldom but at the wrong moment.
(I find my laces coming untied, and I know a thing or few
about knots --tucking the ends & bows beneath lacing
is one trick I've used, borrowed from commercial fisher's
tucking laid ends through the lay : it denies a chance for
some rubbing/snagging to undo one's tying.)


Quote
The Surgeon (which ironically the original poster values highly) is a decedent of the Square...
;D
This brings up hints of a lethal use of Occam's Razor
--to quite the opposite of the OP's desire!

Quote
It's not always feasible to tie laces with a Surgeon. For many of my laces, it's just too fiddly for what it's worth.

You might find some *sorta-surgeon'd* tying that works,
by which I mean just putting in a wrap --just not necessarily
the full bight-&-bight twisting.  (And, in all this, I mean NOT
like the surgeon's as traditionally presented but as the
Feigan knot which would be a "reverse surgeon's"
(the added twist on the 2nd "throw", not the first
).)

Quote
A Square is an adequate bend for non-critical applications. Many people enjoy parroting the idea that a Square is not a good bend, but I am hard-pressed to find a bend that is smaller than a Square (without the slips), easier to tie, holds securely, and doesn't jam.

Indeed : found joint in some sort of long-line in which
the squaREef end-2-end knot had its tails tucked through
the ropes' lay; some running through a pot hauler (my surmise)
had squeezed the knot to the point it barely showed as any
knob in the span of twin lines (the SParts & tucked tails)!!
Each end makes (just) a 180deg "U-turn", and that's it :
how can one get a knot with less?


Quote
If you go further and secure the working ends with Strangles or Overhands, then a Square suddenly becomes a fantastic bend for many applications.

Here I'll anticipate (and concur in (!)) the OP's (et al.) response that,
if one goes to such tying extent, it would be better to put
that tying into some other, single end-2-end knot.  Hmmm,
and you might challenge re long-term, untensioned & *jostled*
security, perhaps (yet with ability to untie after loading)?!
Well, still, esp. mere overhands leave me uninterested,
and I think even strangles will find competing knots
adequate to most tasks.

Quote
It's highly unlikely that the Square is suddenly an unfavorable knot after centuries of use and appreciation. What's much more likely is history got it right and you're not thinking hard enough.

An appropriate consideration, but one can find supposed
historical knots that beg the question Why...? --such
as the sheepshank which I still don't really understand
(and esp. those shown w/seized bights-to-SParts, vs. using
a secure other structure there).  And then there are the
really comical inventions & corruptions ... .  But, yes, the
squaREef is simple enough to have been recognized
w/o error, so ... .
(But I recall one merchant mariner reporting that,
although the knot was on a required list for the
passing of some competence testing
, it was not
otherwise much used in practice (in ropes)!)


.:.  Knotting, a fascinating world to explore!   ;)


--dl*
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« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 04:01:58 PM by Dan_Lehman »

knot4u

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2012, 04:25:48 AM »
Usain Bolt won Gold in the 100m in the 2008 Olympics with his shoelaces untied.

http://blog.oregonlive.com/playbooksandprofits/2008/08/nikes_exposure_suffering_in_th.html

I'll bet he tied a Granny Knot. If a top Olympic athlete trips over an untied shoelace, then the Square Knot will suddenly become the single most important knot to learn.  8)

By the way, has anyone else noticed that "LOL" is not one of the smiley face options? LOL
« Last Edit: August 05, 2012, 04:35:51 AM by knot4u »

Hrungnir

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Re: Square knot rant
« Reply #12 on: August 06, 2012, 04:46:39 PM »
I'm a retired emergency department nurse, so I am familiar with the use of a reef knot for holding a would dressing, but again, that ......In modern times tapes and elastic bandage fill those roles.
As an emergency nurse you should also know that average joe doesn't have bandages and tapes in his pocket. If he comes over an emergency situation, he would most likely have to use a piece of clothing or whatever else is at hand.

A good feature of the reef knot, is that it's easy to untie by pulling one of the working ends.

The reef knot is good for closing plastic bags and other awkward materials. It's ok for finishing off whippings. It's also very simple, memorable, easy and quick to tie
« Last Edit: August 06, 2012, 06:16:22 PM by Hrungnir »