Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Knot tying progress and updates

The Ashley Book of Knots is the authoritative encyclopedia of knots, at Google books.

International Guild of Knot Tyers and their forum.

A nice video tutorial. Another camp knots tutorial.

International Society of Arboriculture's rigging, rope, and knot instructional videos.

A serious knot hobbyist's blog with a long links list. He works a lot with 'Type I' 1.5mm (1/16") kernmantle accessory cord which has a tensile strength of 100 pounds. I have a spool of silvery black 1.5mm kernmantle accessory cord that stretches and sags under weight more than I like, though it seems strong enough.

Here is an instructional knots site that has a lot of content yet is low frills with a simple design, which I like. This one is good and simple, too.

A fusion knot artist's site.

Ian's Shoelace Site. It's thorough and intuitive.

Scouting Resources UK's knots page.

Scout Pioneering search results for "knots". It includes scout-based applications. (h/t)

junglecraft's knots-related posts and youtube video of alternative methods to tie basic knots.

Andy's most useful knots: index.

Vocab. Standing line/end, working line/end (loose end that you manipulate), bight (pinched but not crossed over loop made in the rope), gathering. Pinch, collapse (knot coming undone internally), capsize (knot shifting or sliding rather than gripping in place), spill, seize, load, slack, direction of pull, mechanical advantage. Knot, hitch, bend (joining 2 lengths of rope), (crossed over) loop, round turn, slip knot, half hitch, stopper knot, lashing, racking turn, frapping turn, sinnet, lanyard, braid, toggle, hank, coil, winch.

The dictionary definitions of 'hitch' are [noun] any of various knots used to form a temporary noose in a line or to secure a line temporarily to an object, and [verb] to catch or fasten by or as if by a hook or knot (eg, hitched his horse to the fence post).

Going over or under, and left or right, makes all the difference in the knot. Those are the details I couldn't keep straight when I learned knots as a frustrated soldier whose knots kept falling apart. Knowing the principles of knots, which I'm beginning to understand, helps to keep the steps straight. Still, it's easy to forget a direction even in knots I take for granted I know.

The most useful knots so far - meaning I can link them in my mind with real-life uses - are the trucker's hitch, to cinch down a tarp or load, and the taut-line hitch, to tighten or release tension on a rope by sliding the knot without the need to undo and retie the knot. Both require anchor points, like a tie-down hook on a truck or a staked tent peg.

It's obvious how the trucker's hitch works. 1st, the standing line is anchored, eg, with a lariat-style loop or a clove hitch secured with a half-hitch. 2nd, make a fixed loop with a slip knot in the standing line (make sure the bight is from below the initial loop, toward the working end, or else the fixed loop will pull closed). 3rd, run the working end through/around the anchor on the other side. 4th, run the working end through the fixed loop in the standing line. 5th, pull down the working end so that the rope is tensioned by pulling simultaneously on the fixed loop and the anchor. (The cinching action is a 'mechanical advantage'.) 6th, when the line is taut, secure with half-hitch or slip knot below the fixed loop. The tension is held in the loop, not the securing knot, which is only locking the working line below the fixed loop. The trick is tying off the working line at the finish while holding the tension, which is accomplished by pinching the working line in the loop.

Trucker's hitch tips: With a Marlinespike hitch, add a toggle to the working end for a handle to pull the working line extra tight through the fixed loop. Then use a vise grip, such as Leatherman pliers, to pinch the working line in the loop in order to hold the extra tension while tying it off with a half-hitch or slip knot. When untying the trucker's hitch, the fixed loop may be difficult to break open due to the high tension. An alternative that falls apart easily when untied is the truckies hitch.

The 'slide and grip' adjustable taut-line hitch, on the other hand, still seems like magic to me. I first learned the taut-line hitch from my battle-buddy in Beast in order to set up our two-man tent tight rather than saggy. Boy, did I struggle learning then retaining the knot. It was humiliating. The trick is to remember that the working line goes under the standing line to start the 1st loop as well as start the final D loop, 2 loops toward the anchor, then a D loop back up and around the 1st 2 loops, working end goes under the standing line and through the D loop, which forms a half hitch, cinch the D loop and done. I still don't understand how the taut-line hitch knot, which is attached to the working line, can both slide down to loosen and slide up to tighten the standing line. It tightens the rope by pulling the standing line down through the knot toward the anchor, which results in shortening the standing line above the knot, feeding the line to the working line loop, thus shortening the over-all length of the rope, and the knot grips the standing line. Conceptually, I can't distinguish it from a lasso knot where the working line is also looped around the standing line, but can only close the loop and loosen the standing line. Contrast to the obvious mechanics of the trucker's hitch where the two lines pull against each other. The key mechanism of the taut-line hitch is the D-loop/half-hitch on the top side of the working line which grips the standing line and stops the knot from sliding back down toward the anchor. Don't ask me how it works, though. Sometimes, it doesn't work even though it's tied correctly, then after a little pulling, poking, and prodding, it starts to work. It's a mystery to me.

A 'slide and grip' adjustable knot friction hitch that's easier to tie and more reliable than the taut-line hitch: the Cawley hitch. So far, the Cawley hitch has worked 1st time every time, unlike the taut-line hitch. Add the Dave Canterbury and Ray Mears versions of the taut-line hitch. (Here is an illustration of Mears's adjustable knot.) The Farrimond friction hitch builds in a Prusik knot but is a bit more complicated to tie and bulkier. The key step for a 'slide and grip' adjustable knot is dressing the knot by pushing the turns around the standing line together tight.

The Prusik and Klemheist knots are used to tie a line onto a larger rope in order to add adjustable attachments to the larger rope, such as for a (vertical) climbing rope or a tarp on a (horizontal) ridge line. They apply the same coil principle as the taut-line hitch to grip the rope when pulled. Any stopper knot or bend can be used to tie the ends into a loop. Note that while the ends normally are tied together to make an attachment loop, the loop isn't part of the knot. The Prusik and Klemheist knots grip equally well on the larger rope when the ends remain separate.

The bowline hitch is useful for making a fixed loop that won't close (squeeze) or open (loosen) once the knot is tightened, unlike a sliding lasso knot or adjustable taut-line hitch. The descriptions say bowline hitches are widely used, but I haven't linked it yet in my mind to a real-life use other than pulling someone out of a hole or up a cliff. The mnemonic for the bowline hitch is the rabbit hole and tree (standing line or tree is behind the hole, not inside it) - rabbit (working line) runs up and out from the hole, around the tree, and back down the hole. It's important to remember, one, the 'rabbit hole' loop needs to face the working end (ie, tree behind and to the left, loop is to the right, rabbit comes up the right side of the hole, then runs counterclockwise around the tree and down the left side of the hole) and, two, after the rabbit is back down the hole, adjust the size of the fixed loop using the working line before tightening the knot by pulling up/out on the standing line. Once the knot is pulled tight, the size of the fixed loop can't be adjusted without loosening the knot. Add: A good use of a fixed loop is an easily slipped tie-down by running the working end of the rope through the loop and around something, eg, the same way the shoulder straps attach to the bottom of the ALICE frame. Add: An easier alternate method for tying a bowline hitch is to tie a slip knot on the standing line, insert the working end through the slip knot, pull the slip knot tight until it collapses, and presto, a bowline hitch is formed.

The key to the bowline on a bight is maintaining the integrity of the initial 'rabbit hole' loop when closing the bight to secure the knot, which locks in the initial loop. This is done by only pulling on the side that tightens the bight; pulling the other side tugs open the initial loop. If the initial loop opens or rolls over, the knot turns into a sliding hitch.

For every reason I've used the lasso knot, the proper knot is the two half hitches. From what I can tell, they work the same way: the two half hitches form a knot on the working line that slides on the standing line when pulled to tighten the end loop. The two half hitches knot is supposed to be secure for larger loads, though, which the lasso knot may not be. You can wind (or turn) the rope around the post more than 1 time and tie more than 2 half hitches for a stronger grip.

Vindication! What I called the "lasso knot" is the basic noose knot that's formed by an overhand knot tied around the standing line. The quick-release hitching tie is a noose knot tied with a slip knot. The same slip knot is used for the quick-release Siberian hitch (aka evenk hitch, aka Ray Mears knot); the same slip knot can also be used to make the fixed loop on the trucker's hitch.

The traditional knot that cowboys use to tie lassos or lariats is the Honda knot. But any fixed loop, such as a bowline or alpine butterfly, should work just as well. A lasso, usually made from thick braided rope, needs the loop to slide shut and open freely, hence the wide-mouthed fixed loop. A close-mouthed sliding hitch, such as a noose knot, has too much friction for a lasso. A lariat-style loop is often used to anchor the standing line of a trucker's hitch.

A sheet bend, normally used to tie together one end each of two ropes, can also be used to tie an unreliable fixed loop by tying a sheet bend with a bight on the standing line and a locking loop on the working end. It looks similar to a bowline hitch. However, on a bowline hitch, the locking loop is formed on the standing line and the bight is formed on the working end. The locking loop on the bowline's standing line takes the load in both directions while the bight on the working end is pulled in only one direction. In contrast, on a sheet-bend fixed loop, the load pulls on both directions of the bight on the standing line and pulls in only one direction on the locking loop on the working end. Under enough load and/or a sloppy dressing, the working end's looped grip on the bight on the standing line may slacken enough to allow the knot to slide on the standing line, turning the fixed loop into a sliding loop similar to a buntline hitch. A sheet bend is more reliable for its designed purpose. As a bend, the load on the bight on the standing line pulls in only one direction against the knot, like the load on the bight on the working end of a bowline hitch, rather than in both directions. A sheet bend is reliable but not considered to be the most secure bend due to a sheet bend is based on one loop gripping a bight with the possibility of the bight sliding out of the knot, rather than interlocking loops which are secure. Similarly, a bowline hitch is reliable, but a half hitch (ie, a loop) or two on the working end is necessary to secure the bight on the working end from sliding out the knot. A loop-and-bight combination is generally easier to untie than an overhand knot, which is essentially interlocking loops. However, there are interlocking loops-based bends and fixed loops that break open more easily than an overhand knot.

This Ray Mears instructional video on camp knots is a useful reminder that a ring attachment, such as a spring-clip carabiner or a sewn-in metal ring, functions the same as a fixed loop. In the video, Mears uses a carabiner like the wide-mouthed fixed loop on a lariat and then a sewn-in metal ring on the hanging strap of his hammock like the fixed loop on a trucker's hitch.

Quick-release hitching tie, halter hitch, Siberian (evenk) hitch. The main difference between the similar-looking quick-release hitching tie, halter hitch, and Siberian hitch is the standing line is inside the slip knot on the hitching tie, whereas the standing line is outside the slip knot on the halter hitch and Siberian hitch. In the hitching tie, the cinching loop on the working line (for the slip knot) is formed with the standing line inside of it. In the halter hitch and Siberian hitch, the cinching loop on the working line is formed outside the standing line, then the bighted working line is wrapped around the standing line, effectively forming a loop around the standing line when the bight is inserted into the cinching loop.

The difference between the halter hitch and Siberian (evenk) hitch is the Siberian hitch adds an extra twist in the cinching loop to form an elbow before inserting the bight so that the knot effectively forms a figure eight around the standing line. When Ray Mears rotates his hand with the working line loop around the standing line when he's tying a Siberian hitch, he's adding the extra twist to the cinching loop.

Ray Mears, in several episodes, shows each step of the evenk hitch which he uses to secure the 1st end of his ridge line, but only partially explains the knot he uses on the opposite end. In Bushcraft season 1 episode 3 (The Pemon), Mears includes a sequence in the episode showing how he sets up his tarp. He says 3 knots are used to set up his camp. He starts his ridge line with the evenk hitch. For the guy lines, he uses a 'slide and grip' adjustable knot variant (he makes 2 turns on the standing line started over the standing line, then cinches the knot with a slipped half hitch around the standing and working lines). The 3rd knot is the mysterious knot at the opposite end of the ridge line. In the truncated version on Mears's website, the description says "tarp taut hitch". The knots in this and this tutorial look like Mears's 3rd knot that "provides tension". I don’t understand how it provides tension. It’s not a 'slide and grip' adjustable knot. It looks like a slipped half hitch that he locks with a bight. When I try the 2nd knot, my ridge line slackens when the turn around the 2nd post shifts as weight is added to the ridge line. The tarp taut hitch looks like the backhand hitch with the only difference being whether the bighted round turn goes around the standing line or working line. Both versions are finished with half hitches on the standing line. Indeed, the Ashley Book of Knots includes both versions of the backhand or backhanded hitch - with the bighted round turn around the standing line (#1852) and working line (#1725).

Bushcraft youtuber Joe Robinet displays 3 knots he "uses all the time in the woods", the standard taut-line hitch, the "Joe-line" fixed loop, and the Canadian jam (or arbor) knot. I like the Joe-line. It's simple to tie as a fixed loop and around a post, and it unties basically the same way as a bowline knot by breaking the knot. A Joe-line is more secure than the bowline because a Joe-line locks together with 2 loops, a loop on the working end interlocking with a loop on the standing line. Whereas a bowline uses only 1 loop on the standing line to lock a bight on the working end. A bowline is reliable, but to secure the bight against possibly sliding out of the loop requires a half hitch (ie, a loop) on the working end to lock it in place.

I like the concept of Robinet's Canadian jam knot (CJK). The concept is a compression knot whose sliding loop closes easily by pulling on the standing line - in contrast to a 'slide and grip' hitch whose knot grips wherever it sits on the standing line - then the knot grips on the standing line like a taut-line hitch or Prusik knot once the loop is pulled tight around an object, such as a rolled mat, sleeping bag, or lashing base. The grip can be loosened easily by pulling on the tag end. However, the overhand knot base of the CJK can be difficult to untie and may even need to be cut off. The arbor knot is designed to attach fishing line to the arbor of a fishing reel with the expectation it will be removed by being cut off. The poacher's knot is touted here as a better alternative to the CJK as a compression knot because the double overhand knot base of the poacher's knot is more practical to untie, particularly with a slipped tag end. Once the loop is pulled tight on a compressed object, the grip can be locked by tying a slipped half hitch with the standing line onto the tag end, snug on the knot, so the working side of the standing line can't slide down to widen the loop. Seating the point of the working side of the standing line where it enters the knot snug on the compressed object also helps to lock the grip and prevent the standing line from sliding down and widening the loop.

I normally tie my shoelaces using a two loop shoelace knot, which is a bow made from a slipped square knot with 2 bights. As long as I can remember, I've watched other people tie their shoelaces by forming a bight with one shoelace, wrapping the 2nd shoelace around it with one round turn, and then making the bow by pulling the 2nd shoelace through somehow as the 2nd bight. I couldn't decipher the technique. It looked like a slipped noose knot - close, but not quite. Here's an explanation of the standard shoelace knot. It's a bow made from a slipped square knot with 2 bights, same as the two loop shoelace knot. The difference is the standard shoelace knot forms the 2nd bight as the penultimate step before pulling the slipped square knot tight instead of forming both bights at the same time at the start. The Ian knot is interesting. It, too, forms a bow made from a slipped square knot with 2 bights. The difference is that it makes the bow with 2 left-over-right loops pulled through each other, like a handcuff knot, except unlike a handcuff knot, it crosses the loops left-over-right rather than right-over-left.

A slipped square knot with 2 bights is an easier method to tie a rescue handcuff knot, which traditionally uses a clove hitch base. The 2 sliding loops can be fixed by securing the working ends with an overhand knot or half hitches. When the working ends of a handcuff knot are secured with half hitches, the handcuff knot becomes a fireman's chair knot.

An easy method to tie a figure 8 loop is a figure 8 knot with a bight. The structure of a bighted figure 8 knot is the same as a figure 8 loop made by weaving the working end back through the figure 8 knot to form the loop. An even easier method to make a fixed loop is tying an overhand knot with a bight. However, the weaving technique is necessary if the loop must be tied around the post rather than slid onto it over an end.

Obvious but worth noting: A slip knot is just a bight cinched in a loop. A slip knot can be locked by inserting the pull-release end through the loop, which disallows the slip knot from being released. Ray Mears locks his slip knots by inserting the pull-release end through the loop as a bight and cinching it, thus forming a double slip knot. This keeps the 1st slip knot from working free on its own, but carries the same risk of accidently tugging on the pull-release end and pulling out both slip knots at once.

The clove hitch is a basic knot for lashings. It's the left-over-right loop, left-over-right loop, right loop over left loop we were taught to use to secure the clacker line on a stake for a Claymore mine so the firing pin wouldn't pull out if the line was tugged. (It also works right/left, right/left, left/right.) The clove hitch is also somewhat effective as a 'slide and grip' adjustable knot because it can be ratcheted and the working end can be secured with a slip knot or hitch. Its one advantage over other 'slide and grip' adjustable knots is the clove hitch doesn't need to extend along the standing line, which may be useful in limited space. A disadvantage is the clove hitch may be difficult to loosen.

For a sliding loop that can widen freely but won't close all the way, simply tie a non-slip stopper knot onto the loop below the loop knot where you want the loop to stop sliding shut. By the same principle, tie a stopper knot on the standing line above the loop knot for a loop that can close all the way but only widen to a preset diameter. To tie a mid-line stopper knot, I've used an alpine butterfly loop, bowline on a bight, bighted figure 8 knot, and bighted overhand knot (easiest). I tried a directional figure 8 loop as a stopper knot, too, but the loop slides into a hard to pry open knot when pulled the wrong way - bad idea. I can't think of a particular reason to modify a sliding knot like this.

The sailor's hitch and gripping sailor's hitch, which lock similarly to the constrictor knot, also work as an unreliable sliding hitch and good 'slide and grip' adjustable loop friction hitch, respectively, when tied on the standing line rather than a post.

The key to the timber hitch is the eye loop and 3+ turns are formed on the working line. One way to take care the timber hitch is correctly made is to keep the standing and working lines separate to start, form the eye loop and 3+ turns on the working end first (as opposed to forming the eye loop around the standing line first), and then complete the timber hitch by threading the standing end through the finished eye loop on the working line. A timber hitch base combined with 1 or more half hitches further up the standing line for added stability and support is called a Killick or Kelleg hitch. The Killick hitch can be used to raise and lower an object as well as drag it, although it won't be centered like a barrel hitch.

The easiest way to remember the buntline hitch is the knot is actually a clove hitch tied on the standing line; the key is to remember the finishing half hitch (or slip knot) is formed around the standing line. In contrast, the turns on a timber hitch are formed back around the working line.

The tumble hitch (correct), a variant of the highwayman's hitch, is a good quick-release knot. Note that the instructions linked here (wrong) make a mistake: steps 3 and 4 show the final working-end bight forming the cinching slip knot in front of the post. When correctly tied, the final working-end bight goes behind and around the post, not in front of it, in order to lock in the standing-line base bight, or else the standing line will pull over the cinching slip knot when under tension.

Bill Nye: "Knots are power. Everybody should learn to tie knots. The king of the knots is the bowline. Bowline, square knot, half-hitch, two half-hitches, taut-line hitch, and the crow's hitch [I believe he meant the cow hitch] are the tenderfoot knots. If you know those you're in good shape. If you also know the pipe hitch, Spanish bowline, and trucker's hitch, then you're in really good shape."

Note: 'Pipe hitch' is a generic name for 'slide and grip' friction hitches meant for use on pipes and other rods. The pipe-hitch instructions linked in the Bill Nye quote show a clove hitch to tie off the hitch; other versions use 2 half hitches on the standing line or a Klemheist. The key principles of pipe hitches are the 3+ turns with the working line away from the direction of pull that grip the rod, then the working line crossing over the turns back towards the direction of pull, and finally tying off the working end on the standing line (with hitches, clove hitch, etc) to take the pull on the standing line.

The sheepshank knot is controversial because it's commonly taught yet its use is often cautioned against. Sheepshank knots are used to shorten a rope or take strain off a frayed section. Make sure the frayed section is in the middle part of the 'Z'. (A good alternative knot for protecting a frayed section of rope is an alpine butterfly loop.) The positives are a sheepshank is easy to tie, doesn't require a free end, minimally stresses the rope, and comes undone easily when tension on the rope is released. However, a sheepshank knot tends to slip out under a high load or when not under constant load (slacken and tighten) because it's not locked in place. The end loops can be locked with a toggle, by tying off the end loop opposite from the direction of pull as a half-hitch, or more commonly, by adding a 2nd locking loop like a clove hitch or passing the ends through the loops. I like the sheepshank for shortening or taking up the slack of a rope.

The truckies hitch is a version of the trucker's hitch that's based on the sheepshank. Actual truckers prefer a truckies hitch to cinch down loads because the sheepshank loop unties easily (maybe too easily if you overload it) even when wet and frozen and will not damage the rope.

Toggles are useful. Add a toggle to a hanging line to hang items from, eg, a field-expedient pot holder or clothes hanger. It can be used as a temporary handle on the working end, eg, of a trucker's hitch, to pull a line tight. A toggle can be used to lock a (sliding) loop that's threaded through a 2nd (fixed) loop, usually under tension like a clothing button. A toggle may also be used as a quick-release pin to easily undo a knot that's been under a lot of tension. Insert the toggle at the knot's gripping point so that it grips on the toggle, instead. When the tension is eased and the toggle is pulled out, the knot should be loose enough to take apart easily. A toggle is commonly used in a slipped half hitch and other slipped knots to prevent the working end from pulling out and unraveling the knot. A simple toggle-specific knot is the Marlinespike hitch, which is really just a slip knot with an object stuck through the bight.

The Marlinespike hitch and bowline on a bight are intimidating because they're not straightforward to tie. They each have a step that reverses or flips over the line in a way that seems like a magic trick. Despite tying them numerous times, I still don't grasp how the reversal or flip works mechanically. Because the mechanical principles are a mystery, I cargo-cult the steps by rote, so it's easy to forget them. It's frustrating.

The slip-knot bowline hitch is another knot that is unsettlingly illusionary in the way it capsizes the slip knot to instantly transform into a seemingly entirely different knot. Unlike the Marlinespike hitch and bowline on a bight, though, the steps for tying a slip-knot bowline hitch are simple: slip knot on the standing line, insert working end, and pull standing line tight until the knot capsizes, which results in a bowline hitch.

I'm proud to say I know how to tie all 15 knots on this scouting guide. However, I was flummoxed by the scouting guide's 21 problems, which tells me that I need to learn the real-world applications of the knots I know.

Bart Simpson ([1F06] Boy Scoutz 'N the Hood, youtube): "The guys who wrote this show don't know squat. Itchy should have tied Scratchy's tongue with a taut-line hitch, not a sheet bend."

3-strand rope braid. I found 2 lengths of 3-strand braided rope with electrical taped ends. The electrical tape is old and its adhesive is dry. One of the pieces of electrical tape fell off and the braid under it uncoiled. I was surprised and made an incompetent attempt at rebraiding it, but more of the strands uncoiled while I tried. I finally wrapped duct tape around the rope before anymore could uncoil, but not before losing about 5 inches. I used the 3-strand rope braid to rebraid the loose strands and duct taped the end. The rope is tightly wound and stiff except for the part I braided, which is soft and loose. Lesson learned: Fusing the ends of braided rope, whether by whipping, taping, splicing or burning, is important. At least tie a quick overhand knot on the end to stop further uncoiling.

I tried my knot set with the rope. I learned wider, stiff, ridged rope acts differently than kernmantle cord. Simpler knots work better with rope, eg, the taut-line hitch that's hit-or-miss with cord was the easiest to tie and most reliable 'slide and grip' adjustable hitch with the rope, whereas the Farrimond friction hitch that's effective with cord was difficult to tie and unreliable with the rope. Rope grips stronger than cord due to its ridges. Slip knots are less functional with rope and may ruin the knot because the added bulk of the bight may split the knot. I couldn't get the tarp taut hitch to work with the rope; perhaps I need to try the knot on a wider post. I have a blister on my left index finger from the rope.

I tried my knot set with the 91" 550 cord (minus 2 strands). It was a pleasure to work with - as soft and pliable as the 550 cord sheath plus thickness in the cord body due to the strands inside. Someday, I'll buy myself a spool of 550 cord.

A sinnet shortens a line with a repeating pattern, like a braid. Unlike a braid, a sinnet uses slip knots to unravel quickly. The simplest sinnet is the chain sinnet (aka monkey braid, caterpillar sinnet). The line can be folded on itself for a thicker sinnet that includes a longer length of line. I made this 'survival' ripcord sinnet bracelet using the 550 cord. The instructions say to use 12 feet or 144" of 550 cord. Since I only have 91", I couldn't make a full bracelet. For now, I'm using an old cheap keychain D-ring to connect the ends and close the bracelet. Alternatively, I could have left enough cord unknotted to have sufficient length to wrap the bracelet around my wrist and tied a stopper knot onto the working ends. The hardest part is making a correctly sized 'belt' loop on the base knot. The repeating pattern was simple once I got the hang of it.

I deployed the ripcord, pulled apart the ripcord sinnet bracelet, and braided the 550 cord into a cobra lanyard knot bracelet. It's easy - the pattern basically is a repeated overhand knot. The bracelet is longer with the cobra lanyard knot (8") than the ripcord sinnet, but I'm still using the cheap D-Ring to connect the ends. I'm considering bending a piece of wirehanger into a hook fastener for the bracelet.

I tied a ripcord sinnet bracelet using 12 feet of the 1/16" accessory cord. It was about 2/5" wide and more than long enough to go around my wrist. Then I pulled it apart. The bracelet came apart easily and quickly. I then folded the same 12' line into 3 equal lengths or 48", like an 'N' and tied a 3-strand braid. The braided cord is 39.5". The biggest challenges are making a neat, tight braid, and braiding as much of the strands as possible while leaving enough at the ends to tie off securely so the braid doesn't unravel. With a tweak in how I started (I secured the 3rd strand to the top of bend of the 'N with an overhand knot, which shortened the over-all length), I might have added up to an inch to the braid. Take care to tie the repeating pattern on the same side of the braid. If the braid flips over, there will be an irregular section in the braid where the braid pattern flips over. I don't know whether flipping the pattern weakens the braid. The braided cord is definitely stronger than the single strand cord, but how much stronger? Intuitively, it should be 3X stronger than the unbraided cord but I don't know that the physics of the braid is that simple. If the cord has 100 lb tensile strength, I'll just guess the braid has 200-250 lb tensile strength.

Ray Mears demonstrates a spring-loaded rabbit snare. The concept of the rabbit snare is simple enough: a lariat-style loop set on a rabbit run, tied to a fixed anchor, propped open, and propped up to stand 4-6 inches off the ground. On a spring-loaded rabbit snare, the snare is tied to a twitch-up or spring such as a supple tree branch, bent. The spring is cocked by stretching (bending, pulling) it under tension and snagged. The spring's tension is held with a trigger, eg, Mears ties the snare's standing line to a 2nd fixed anchor with a slip knot. Another version of the trigger is a toggle fashioned as a notched hard trigger set on a 2nd fixed anchor that holds the tension in the spring by stopping upward movement, yet easily pulling away laterally from the fixed anchor. When the rabbit is caught in the snare, it pulls the loop tight and pulls on the standing line, which pulls the trigger out from the 2nd fixed anchor, releasing the spring, which pulls the rabbit up into the air. I can't identify the knot Mears uses to tie the slip knot on the 2nd fixed anchor; for now, I'm substituting a modified slipped sheet bend. A counter-weight could serve the same purpose as the spring but seems like a significantly more complicated contraption.

There are several methods of hanking to store cordage. A half-twist on each loop or even a figure-8 loop works well. I like to use whipping to make a tight coil. A buntline or gasket coil works well, too. The key is making sure the coil formed using the working end is tight. To create a secure loop that can be used to hang the hank on a hook, tied to a backpack, etc, you can use the working end; however, using the standing end is easier. Measure out a proper length of rope on the standing end before you begin looping and leave it hanging free. After you've secured the coil with the working end, bight the standing end and pass the bight through the loops. Then take the standing end around the loops, pass it through the bight and cinch tight. You can tie a fixed or adjustable loop or a hitch with the standing end; whatever suits the circumstances.

The next step is to practice lashing; more on lashings here. Then winches, such as the flip-flop winch.

Taking stock of cordage:
3/4" depth x 6" length spool (100 yards?) of 1.5mm (1/16") kernmantle accessory cord, probably 100 lb strength.
91" 550 cord with 2 strands removed and slightly torn sheath, so roughly 450 lb strength.
40" 550 cord sheath, say 150 lb strength.
39.5" 3-strand braid of the 1/16" kernmantle accessory cord, maybe 200-250 lb strength.
Roughly 65" and 67" lengths of 1/4" diameter 3-strand braided plastic rope, strength unknown.
Roughly 48" and 88" lengths (136" bend) of .4cm (1/6") cotton-weave cord, strength unknown.
Assorted shoelaces, nylon 550 cord strands, metal hanging wire, plastic fishing line, packing cord, electronic cables.

If I had to set up a tarp in the field and could choose one knot per task, to secure the 1st end of the ridge line (eg, on a tree), I would use a quick-release evenk hitch. To tie the opposite end of the ridge line and tension the ridge line, I would use a quick-release truckies hitch. To attach and tension the tarp on the ridge line, I would use Prusik knots. (The Prusik knot isn't a quick-release knot, but I would use quick-release knots to attach the tarp to the Prusik knots on the ridge line.) To tie and tension the tarp's guy lines (eg, on tent pegs), I would use quick-release Cawley hitches.

Knot set:

post hitches: clove hitch, constrictor knot, sailor's hitch, rolling hitch, cow hitch, (tarp taut) backhanded hitch, Killick hitch and timber hitch, tumble hitch;
gripping pipe hitches: Prusik knot, Klemheist, icicle hitch, gripping sailor's hitch, pipe hitch;
sliding loop hitches: (hitching tie) noose knot, halter hitch and (Siberian) evenk hitch, round turn and two half hitches, buntline hitch, hangman's noose;
compression knots: (double overhand noose) poacher's knot, (Canadian jam) arbor knot;
'slide and grip' loop hitches: taut-line hitch, Mears adjustable, Cawley hitch, Canterbury taut-line, Farrimond friction hitch;
fixed loops: Joe-line, bowline hitch, bowline on a bight, one-handed bowline, water bowline, (twist, wrap methods) alpine butterfly loop, double alpine butterfly loop, double dragon, figure 8 loop, directional figure 8 loop, Honda knot, water knot loop, sheet bend;
cinch hitches: trucker's hitch, truckies hitch, Versatackle;
bends: square knot, alpine butterfly bend, double dragon bend, (single, double, slipped) sheet bend, slippery bend, double fisherman's knot, Carrick bend, Zeppelin bend, water knot;
stopper knots: overhand knot, double overhand knot, figure 8 knot, slip knot;
miscellaneous knots: Marlinespike hitch, fireman's chair knot and handcuff knot, barrel hitch, common whipping, sheepshank, hank.


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