Quick! How fast
can you tie a clove hitch?
By Doug Thalacker
ILLUSTRATIONS: HEADLINE TYPE: RODNEY A. OKYNE
A hitch for when the clove hitch can't be tied. It is not
as easy to
untie as the clove unless you "slip" it.
The most useful way to make a loop in the
end of a rope. It
is better than the more
common loop knot because it is easy
untie, even when the rope is wet. It also
has a mnemonic
for tying it—the rabbit
(end of the rope) comes out
of the hole
(overhand loop), runs around the tree
rope), and goes back down the
This is one of the best ways to secure two pieces of rope
particularly if they are of different sizes.
Three times a true-loves knot I tie secure Firm be the
knot, firm may his love endure. (Early American lose
Have you ever been driving along and wondered how a sofa
gets on the side of the road? Have you ever reached your
destination only to find that something formerly on the top
of your car or trailer is no longer there, and then
wondered if someone else is driving down the road wondering
how your item got on the side of the road? I
imagine that in the days of covered wagons there
were...well. you get the picture. We have all been a victim
of the Bad Knot Syndrome. It's not that we are careless,
it's just that to most people, multiple bends and twists in
a rope constitute a knot. We don't give much thought to
ropes and knots until we lose something over the side or
off the top. Or we get that something to the other end,
only to find that we have to use Alexander's solution (keep
reading) to get the stuff off—and lose a good rope in
Knots have been with humans as long as ropes have, but,
unlike ropes, they have taken on many uses beyond merely
securing objects. The peoples of the Andes developed the
quipi (Quechua for knot) for doing mathematical
calculations and as an accounting method. The abacus of the
Arabian cultures is thought to have started as knotted
ropes; the Hebrew-Aramaic word abaq means "make a
loop or knot." Polynesian people kept genealogies with
ropes and knots.
Knots were also used for more mystical purposes. In most
cultures, people tied knots to bind up the winds and rain,
bind lovers together (the modern wedding band probably
evolved from betrothal knots), tie up illnesses, secure
fevers, not to mention more malevolent pursuits such as
murder and torture. The most famous knot is possibly the
Gordian knot. The story goes something like this. Apollo
chose Gordius, apparently a farmer, to rule a small
kingdom. As an offering, Gordius tied his plow to the
temple of Apollo with a knot so cunning that the ends of
the rope were hidden. The oracles soon foretold that
whoever untied the knot would he the ruler of Asia. The
knot baffled everyone who attempted to untie it until
Alexander (soon to be the Great) came. He was also stymied,
until in a fit of frustration—or genius—he took
out his sword and cut the knot in one swift stroke. He went
on to role most of the known world.
In today's world—with the invention of such items as
the hook-and-eye (Velcro), the zipper, and various designs
of nylon straps and ratchets—knots have become less
important for securing things. However, working knowledge
of some basic knots is still important for those times when
modern-day securing devices are unavailable or impractical.
What is the best knot? Well, it depends. The best knot for
any situation is one that: (1) holds when it is supposed
to; (2) a relatively easy to untie without a knife and; (3)
does not bend the rope in such a way that the rope itself a
weakened. Fishing is a prime example of the last factor.
When a fish breaks off and you're left with a little
curlicue at the end, it means the knot weakened the line.
Three basic words describe the anatomy of virtually any
knot. They also have the virtue of making you sound
knowledgeable about knots if the subject happens to come up
in cocktail party conversation. They are:
Bight: a bend in a rope.
End: I'll let you guess at this one.
Hitch: a knot used to bind a rope to an