Knotty talk

I’ve gotten into knots lately. Below are the knots I’ve learned so far. (Most videos are from the excellent Animated Knots website.)

Terminology

  • Working (or “bitter”) end: the part active in knot tying. (Fun fact: this is the where the term “to the bitter end” comes from.)
  • Standing end: the part not active in knot tying. Opposite of the working end.
  • Bight: a length of rope that does not cross itself. For example, the first part of a sheet bend. It can also mean the center part of a rope.
  • Loop knot: a knot with a fixed loop size. In other words, the loop is not adjustable. For example, the bowline is a popular loop knot.
  • Hitch: a knot that attaches a rope to another object. For example, the midshipman’s hitch. A hitch is similar to a loop knot, but with an adjustable loop.
  • Lashing: used to secure two or more items together.
  • Stopper knot: a knot that prevents a rope from slipping. The simplest stopper knot is the overhand knot.

Square knot

What it’s for: tying down packages (especially boxes of cakes!) and first aid. I prefer the cakes.

The square knot is also useful for macramé (which my wife excels at); it’s also the first part of tying your shoes (which I don’t excel at).

How to do it:

Bowline (pronounced “bo – lin”)

What it’s for: creating a loop on one end, which can be used to dock a boat or rescue someone.

How to do it:

Sheet bend

What it’s for: tying two equal (or unequal) sized ropes together.

How to do it:

Midshipman’s hitch (aka taut line hitch)

What it’s for: creating an adjustable loop at one end. Great for securing boats.

How to do it:

Overhand knot

What it’s for: tying the end of a rope—which prevents fraying—or as a stopper.

How to do it:

Alpine butterfly loop

What it’s for: tying a loop in the middle of a rope. This can be useful if one side of the rope is damaged or if the ends are currently in use.

How to do it:

Anchor hitch (aka fisherman’s hitch)

What it’s for: securing rope to an anchor, ring, or another line. Great for climbing. This is a very secure knot and is a better alternative to the clove hitch.

How to do it:

Blake’s hitch

What it’s for: securing one line to another, with the first line sliding up and down the other. Great for rock climbers.

How to do it:

Notes:

  • At the beginning, keep your thumb on the rope for the first two loops. This makes it easier to add the hitch at the end.
  • The end should be much longer than what’s shown in the video.
  • For extra security, add a stopper—such as the double overhand knot—to the end.
  • The final threading goes behind the red rope.

Figure-eight

What it’s for: Serves as the beginning of the double figure-eight (see next knot below) to attach yourself to a harness for rock climbing. It can also be used as a stopper knot (but not as secure as a double overhand).

How to do it:

Notes:

  • Start with slightly more than an arm’s length (for attaching yourself to a harness; otherwise, use whatever length is needed).
  • Make a bight.
  • Twist it to the right twice.
  • Run the working end through the front of the loop.

Double figure-eight into a harness

What it’s for: securing a line into your harness; it’s what ties you to end of the rope. A must-know for rock climbers.

How to do it: