Designing knots.

The round turn and two half hitches has the nice property that no matter how much tension is put on the rope, the knot is still easily untied.

Is it possible to design a knot for a specific purpose? Suppose I wished to create a knot like the round turn and two half hitches, but for some reason was wanting to come up with a completely new knot. Is it possible to specifically design this knot, or must I use trial and error?

+MDI I don’t see why you couldn’t design a knot, i would suppose that is exactly what you see in those macraméd pot hangers. Although i’d expect that any designed knot would be more a combination of simple knots (bends, bights, etc.) than some new ‘whole’ knot. If you seriously want to study knots, pick up a copy of The Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford W. Ashley (Doubleday 1944). The book is not cheap, mine cost $US 60 about 10 years ago, but it is the most complete book of knots i’ve run across and is considered the ‘bible’ of knot-tying. While at times confusing and the illustrations less than clear, you can generally figure out how to tie just about anything from a Monkey’s Fist to a Turk’s Head. It’s interesting that the knowledge of knots was not built on the shoulders of giants, but on the backs of ordinary men; sailors, stevedores, farmers, riggers, and laborors who had to devise knots to solve everday problems.

As far as I know, a knot was “recently” discovered (1978 I believe). It is called “Hunter’s Knot”. The reason for that name is not because of its usage in hunting. A person named “Hunter” ‘discovered’ it.
If nothing else, you might get imoortalized by having a knot named after you.

Most good knots aren’t hard to untie after having been loaded. The sheet-bend, for example, unties in all cases that I’m aware of. The idea that knots are hard to untie probably arises because most people use a granny knot for all purposes and they are hard to untie after loading.

The square, or reef, knot can be untied quite simply while loaded.

I’m a gib fan of knots, knot tying and ropework in general, but I found this site to be a little excessive.

Shouldn’t that read, “A big naf of knots, … ?”

The KnotPlot Site

David Simmons
Most good knots should not be difficult to untie (as you said).
A good example of that would be the bowline.

Sometimes, you might want a knot that really “cinches” something closed ( a sack for example) and won’t work loose. A constrictor knot which is very difficult to untie is just such a knot.

In the past couple of months there was a show about a rich young man that had nothing better to do than to go hunting a new orchid which he could name after his grandmother. He went to New Guiena and hired two experts on New Guiena orchids to accompany him into the jungle to look for something new. They found two prospects. One was not fancy enough for him to consider naming after his grandmother. The other was acceptable. Trouble is that after submitting them to the world of ochids, other experts showed his two specimens had already been discovered.

The reason I mention the above is that after following the link to the shoestring knots and doing a little googling of my own, it is obvious that there are more known knots than anyone but a world-class knot expert could recognize. Unless the OP wants to become acquainted with all these knots, he has no chance of coming up with a new knot. It would also seem that there truly is a finite number of knots and they have probably all been tied or not worth the title of being a knot.

Also to be taken into account is how much a rope will stretch. With the widespread use of woven and braided ropes (as opposed to the 3&4 strand twisted varieties) and the availability of rope with a greater amount of ‘give’, one has to consider the amount the rope will stretch as the knot will tighten under the applied tension such that it may not be easily untied, if it can be untied at all. I’ve seen bowlines in 3/4" woven rope in which the knot had to be cut apart. Use of a removable toggle may be indicated to provide for the slack necessary to untie the knot.

As for ‘cinch’ knots, unless your purpose is to cut the rope to unseal a sack or bag, i’ve always found a simple clove hitch to be adequate to keep a sack closed and yet be easy to untie. For compressable bundles, tie a bowline in one end of the rope (or splice an eye if you’ve time) and, once you’ve wrapped the bundle, pull the other end through the bowline. You can then reef the rope through the bowline and secure with a half-hitch; pulling a loop (similar to tying your shoes) through to make it easier to release.

In the same way, shoelaces tend not to come untied as frequently if tied such that the ‘loops’ are treated as tying a square knot.

I never knew someone could be quite that devoted to different ways of tying your shoes.

It’s kind of scary, actually. I’m usually lucky if I can manage to make the standard shoelace knot without pulling a loop all the way through…

It’s a funny thing about your mentioning the story about the “new” orchid “discovery”.
When I went looking for information on “Hunter’s Knot”, I came across this website (it’s in French) which claims that the knot was discovered in 1943 by Gabier and “re-discovered” in 1978 by Dr Hunter.