Useful Tips, Terms, and Techniques for Knot Tying

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Practicing, as with learning any skill, is essential in mastering knot tying.
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“40 Knots and How to Tie Them” by Lucy Davidson gives simple step by step instructions to tie knots and how to practice these new skills to create useful and decorative projects.

In 40 Knots and How to Tie Them, Lucy Davidson shows readers the ropes on tying handy knots to use as a practical tool for everything from outdoor activities to arts and crafts. Davidson uses step-by-step instructions to teach readers knots essential for camping, climbing, and sailing, and shows readers how to practice these skills to create decorative projects. This book is a brilliant combination of impressive craftsmanship and clever designs, making it perfect for creative adventurers. The following excerpt is from the Introduction, “Useful Tips,” and “Terms and Techniques.”


  • Start simple. Tying knots comes naturally to some but not so easily to others. Start with the simpler knots in the book and then build your confidence by making one of the projects featuring the knots you’ve practiced.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Like learning any new skill, you will have to do it more than once. Tie the knot once and then again, and again, and again. I promise you it will become second nature in no time.
  • Before cutting any type of rope you should wrap a small amount of tape around it. Using a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cut down the middle of the tape. This ensures that the trimmed ends will not fray.
  • Have fun with it, practice the knots, and then create the projects as gifts. Your friends will love them, especially as these gifts were made by you. You will then want to carry on making more and more.

Terms and Techniques:

Knot tying has its own jargon and terminology. I have tried to keep this to a minimum, but here are some useful terms and techniques.

  • Bight: The slack created by folding a piece of rope so that the two parts lie side by side. Please note that a bight is not the same as a loop.
  • Carabiner: A metal link used by climbers.
  • Crossing turn: A loop made when a rope or cord crosses over itself. In an iverhand crossing turn, the end is on top; in an underhand crossing turn, the end is underneath.
  • Frapping: The extra turns put on a lashing to make them tighter.
  • Half hitch: A crossing turn made around an object.
  • Hitch: A temporary noose made when a rope is attached to something, for example a hitching post.
  • Lashing: An arrangement of rope used to secure items. Commonly used for connecting poles together, for example when camping.
  • Loop: A partial circle in which the ends of the rope cross over one another.
  • Round turn: A turn in which the rope goes all the way around a ring, pole, or rope.
  • Slip knot: A knot that unties easily when each end is pulled. To make a slip knot, wrap the rope or cord around your hand. Use the tail end to make a loop to pull through the wrap you have made. Pull the loop to tighten the knot.
  • Splice: A technique in which two ropes are joined by untwisting the ends and reweaving the two pieces together.
  • Standing end: The end of the rope that is not being used.
  • Standing part: The section of rope between the standing end and the working part.
  • Stopper knot: A knot that is used to prevent a rope from slipping through a whole or small space.
  • Working end: The end of the rope that is being used.
  • Working part: The part of the rope used in tying a knot.

More from 40 Knots and How to Tie Them:

From40 Knots and How to Tie Them by Lucy Davidson, Illustrated by Maria Nilsson. © Pavilion Book Company Ltd 2017, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Reprinted with permission from the publisher.

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