Travel and Outdoors | 4 August 2016Know Your Knots Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Do you know your knots? When it comes to rope skills—even standard tasks like tying a kayak to the car, suspending a tarp above your campsite, or just joining two ropes together—your chain is only as strong as your weakest link…er, your rope is only as secure as your knot. Thanks to the wisdom-packed, sustainable-living-focused, tried-and-true insights within the Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons, you can easily up your knot game (and learn to splice rope, while you’re at it). Basic Knots Square knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac SQUARE KNOT: The basic tie for joining two ropes, also called a reef knot. Make by forming first a right and then a left overhand knot. Much easier to untie and far superior in holding strength than the granny knot, which it closely resembles. Sheetbend knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac SHEETBEND: The best knot for joining two ropes, especially when they differ in size. Form a blight (loop) in the larger line. Bring the smaller through the blight, around the doubled heavier cord, and back under belt. Bowline knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac BOWLINE: This knot will not slip and is ideal for tying two ropes together, for fastening a rope to a pole, and for rescue operations. Form closed loop in rope, bring end of line up through loop, around standing end of rope, and back down through loop. Pull tight. Clove hitch. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac CLOVE HITCH: Easy to tie and untie. Holds well. This is one of the most useful of all hitches for fastening tent ropes and guys to stakes or poles. Boating Knots Belaying to a pin or cleat. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac BELAYING TO A PIN OR CLEAT: It’s always best to make a first turn to take the strain before making one or two figure eight turns to temporarily hold the load (Fig. 1). For more permanent fastening, finish with a half hitch (Fig. 2). Figure eight knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac FIGURE EIGHT: Useful as a convenient handhold and for preventing ropes from running through a hole or pulley. Form by throwing a loop near the end of a line, bringing the short end completely around the standing part of the rope and back through the loop. Pull tight. Carrick bend knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac CARRICK BEND: A strong joining knot. Cross a blight on one rope and work the end of the second line around it in a regular under-and-over manner. Note that at no time does the line pass through a loop. Outdoor Knots Sheepshank knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac SHEEPSHANK: Downright handy for shortening a line without untying it. Follow the diagrams and you can’t go wrong. The hitch may be fastened permanently by passing the ends of the rope through the loops. Cat’s paw knot. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac CAT’S PAW: A good way to secure a rope to a hook. Throw a double loop in the line, twist both ends twice, and slip them over the hook. Half hitch knot (fig 1) / Timber hitch knot (fig 2). Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac HALF HITCH: For temporarily fastening a line to a pole (Fig. 1). TIMBER HITCH: A half hitch modified to hold more securely (Fig. 2). Combination half hitch and timber hitch. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac COMBINATION HALF AND TIMBER HITCH: Ideal for applying a straight end pull to a pole or pipe. Tie the half hitch first, timber hitch second. Splicing and Whipping Eye splice. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac EYE SPLICE: Useful for putting a permanent loop in the end of a rope and for splicing one line, at right angles, into another. First unlay the rope about five turns and bend it back upon itself to form the desired loop. The two outer strands should straddle and the central strand lie on top of the line. Second, raise a strand in the main line and pass the middle loose strand under it, over the second main line strand, under the third, etc. Weave the two outside loose strands in over the first main line strand, under the second, etc. The finished splice will look like the final drawing above. THE ESSENTIALS OF A GOOD SPLICE: A good splice must be strong and durable, it must carry the same load as any other part of the rope and—when made out in the middle of a line—it must not increase the rope’s diameter enough to bind up in a pulley. Basically, splicing consists of three steps: (1) unlaying the strands of the ends to be joined, (2) fitting the ends together and interlocking their strands, and (3) relaying and weaving the strands into a smooth piece of rope. The splice shown above illustrates all three steps and is an exceptionally handy one to know for making lariats, cinch lines for heavy loads, etc. Image credit: Mother Earth News Almanac WHIPPING: To prevent a rope from unraveling, form a blight in a piece of twine and hold it ¼ inch from the rope’s end. Wrap the other end of the twine around the rope until the length of whipping equals the larger line’s diameter. Place end of twine through the exposed loop, pull the loop under the whipping, and trim loose end. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: Mother Earth News Almanac is back–refreshed and ready for the next generation of self-sufficient makers and DIYers. Mother Earth News Almanac: A Guide Through the Seasons returns! The 1970s classic has been out of print for years. Now, updated for today’s readers and back in print, its information is as useful as ever. It contains instructions and illustrations for everything from harnessing solar energy to cultivating a sustainable garden to learning how to keep bees. Simply put, Mother Earth News Almanac is designed to empower readers to be self-sufficient. Mother Earth News team has updated the essentials, but left the core of the guide intact, with all the charm of the original–from the writing style to the signature line drawings. This is a must-have for any fan of Mother Earth News, as a budget-friendly guide for a new generation of homesteaders. Mother Earth News Almanac is a seasonal guide with subject matter that every passionate DIYer, homesteader, or environmentally aware reader can appreciate. You’ll find recipes, money-saving tips, and homesteading techniques such as illustrated directions for tying a timber hitch, cat’s-paw, sheepshank, and other knots; folk medicine treatments and preventatives; tips on raising chickens and keeping bees; plans for building three kinds of kites; complete instructions for fast and easy compost; and much, much more! The simple life doesn’t have to be hard–not when you have this timeless almanac. Mother Earth News is America’s leading magazine about sustainable and self-reliant living. Founded by John and Jane Shuttleworth in 1970, it is owned today by Ogden Publications of Topeka, Kansas, and boasts a growing circulation of over half a million. Since the magazine’s founding, Mother Earth News has been a pioneer in the promotion of renewable energy, recycling, family farms, sustainable agricultural practices, better eating habits, medical self-care, more meaningful education, and affordable housing. The magazine’s mission is extended by five annual Mother Earth News Fairs and a vibrant website. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.