About knots

I enjoy finding ways to make teaching simple and effective. Particularly, every topic (that is worth talking about) needs words adequate to the subject.

Tying knots and lashings quickly makes for good competition, but describing knots effectively while tying makes a good learning experience. Talking about knots, if done properly, helps us remember and share our learning intelligibly.


Learning definitions may seem boring, but can simplify memorization of knot-tying into bight-sized portions.

Know your parts

parts of a loop of rope

The key to describing how to tie a knot is to believe that a rope has parts. For the longest time I could not get myself passed the fact that the rope is just a continuum of braided fabric. The precision manufacturing has caused my gaze at any particular segment to be indistinguishable from another portion of itself, so I thought surely a rope does not have parts. This flaw did not stop my learning of knots, but it did stop my talking sensibly about them. The parts are there, but only if I choose to see them. The parts come by vision, imagination and choice. If I may impart this vision, and you accept it well, then you may know what I mean. parts of a bight of rope

Running end
End of the rope being tied into a knot
Standing part
Opposite the running end
The space in the bight or loop
Where the rope meets itself on the bight or loop
Where the rope meets itself
Uniform unbending stick
Anything you like, as long as you really like it

I give directions, but without establishing a consistent shared reference I or those who receive my message may transpose instructions arbitrarily. So, by far the most important concept in receiving this communication is that of telling the standing part from the running end. This literally allows us to find agreement on which end is up, down, over, under, left, right, fore or back. Let us always agree that the direction is towards the running end, so when you say the rope runs up, I know that if I run up, I run to the running end. If I say overhand, you know that my hand is holding the running end, and the part closer to the standing part stands under. Understand?

Do a good turn daily

A turn of rope onto a spar

I once thought a loop, a turn, a twist and a wrap were a collection of indistinguishable synonyms. However, now I believe ropes have parts, so also I believe these words have as much distinction as I choose to make of it. Particularly, a turn is a type of loop that holds an object while a twist is a type of loop that holds another rope.

For those who hope to understand me, I hope you put a few turns of your mind onto each definition, until they are neatly wrapped in your head. A figure-eight wrap of rope on 2 parallel spars

The rope crosses into a circle
U turn in rope without overlap
A loop around a spar or grommet, or the circumference
A loop around another rope
A repeated series of half turns placed above and below spars
A turn across wraps of rope between spars
1.5 turns around a spar
A twist of rope onto another rope

A loop is a circle. A turn encircles. A twist circles as it is circled. A frap going around wraps of rope on 2 crossing spars

Wraps join neighbors by repeated turning. Fraps join wraps likewise.

Knot to be, named

Even before I learned what's in a knot, or the words straight to get my -wards to tell turns properly, I learned the names of basic knots. I also learned what those basic knots do which is enough to make any witless savant like me feel believably smart which is the second most important part of being smart anyways! I forgot the first part. I mean for the most part.

Better still, if I were to make up my own knot, here are some choice words I may include into the knot names.

A knot tied to a fixed object or grommet
A knot tied to secure a loop in the rope
Slip knot
A knot that moves along the standing part to form an adjustable loop
A knot used to join 2 ropes
Joining spars with rope

Are you confused yet! I hope you gather these ideas well if your mind is set to that goal. So you can answer confidently to any fool who asks you Is it a knot or is it not?