Author Topic: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots  (Read 22461 times)

Hrungnir

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Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« on: May 18, 2011, 05:18:55 PM »
The four basic maritime knots:
bowline, figure-eight knot, reef knot and clove hitch.

Six knot challenge:
sheet bend, reef knot, bowline, clove hitch, round turn and two half hitches, sheepshank

Sea cadet knots:
overhand knot, figure-eight knot, reef knot, round turn and two half hitches, rolling hitch, clove hitch, (double) sheet bend, timber hitch, bowline, fishermens bend, heaving line

The eight basic boy scout knots:
bowline, reef knot, two half hitches, sheet bend, tautline hitch, clove hitch, timber hitch, figure-eight knot / sheepshank


The knots which all have in common are:
bowline, reef knot and clove hitch. The only bend which is taught is the sheet bend. None of these knots are considered safe or secure.

Then my question is: why do we "always" introduce beginners to these knots at first? A beginner learns the five most important or basic knots (clove hitch, bowline, sheet bend, reef knot, sheepshank),  but he haven't learned a single knot he can fully trust. Or to do the topic more complex, he has to learn when he can trust these knots and then learn methods for making the knots secure.

We already have some secure knots which are easy to tie, easy to untie, easy to remember, easy to recognize and reasonable quik to tie.
Some examples:
sheet bend - zeppelin bend
sheepshank - alpine butterfly
two half hitches - buntline hitch
bowline - zeppelin loop, alpine butterfly bend loop and double dragon aren't much slower or harder to tie than a secure bowline-version
reef knot - butchers knot (we already know the buntline, figure eight or two half hitches=
clove hitch - can't think of a good secure replacement right now

Why knot making "basic knot" categories less complex by adding knots which are also secure? I guess this would be more helpful to the average person.

dmacdd

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2011, 12:37:56 AM »
One good reason for teaching the classical knots first is simply that the student could not
credibly claim to know knots without knowing those knots. Many students who want to know
knots want to learn them to fit into the sailing community, for example, or the scouting community,
and in general to be able to claim a recognized skill -- a claim that would not be credible to someone
who knew the classical knots if those knots were not in the student's skill set.

Nevertheless, a course whose only purpose was to communicate a basic competence in using cordage
in everyday life might rationally teach a radically different set -- a set whose overriding  rational of choice was ease of learning
and remembering a set of adequate knots, rather than a set of the best knots
for the various purposes for which the knots were intended.

Here's my list for the above objective:

Basic Set:

Stopper: overhand knot
Binder: reef knot and slipped reef knot, with application to e.g. shoelaces.
Bend: Overhand bend
Hitch: two half hitches
The use of an overhand stopper to make two half hitches or the reef knot secure
Fixed loop: overhand loop
Running loop constructed with the overhand loop.
Use of running loop as a collapsing hitch
Coiling a rope for twist-free payout
Lashing started with a two half hitches optionally stoppered, or a running loop, and finished with two half hitches, optionally stoppered.

Intermediate extension:

Package knot started with running loop constructed with an overhand loop,  a crossing knot, (ABoK 2077, or better: tuck the bight under, then reeve)
      for the back crossing,  finished with half hitches around the front crossing, possibly stoppered for security, or possibly a lot of HHs.
Trucker's hitch, constructed from half hitches and a twisted loop.

Advanced extension

Unjammable fixed loop: bowstring knot, with optional overhand stopper for jerky load (honda knot)
Unjammable bend: two linked bowstring knots for steady load, honda knots for jerky load
Well pipe hitch
Buntline hitch as a semipermanent or slipped collapsing hitch
Constrictor knot tied in the bight
?
.... etc.

 

« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 12:59:00 AM by dmacdd »

Hrungnir

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2011, 02:42:26 AM »
I assume you mean alpine butterfly LOOP?  Sheepshank is no loop, so I don't understand the comparison.  If you meant BEND, then I still don't understand.  Despite the flack it receives, I think the Sheepshank teaches very important knotting principles.
Yes, I meant the alpine butterfly loop. But the knot is more than just a loop, it can be used as a rope shortener and was meant to replace the sheepshank for that purpose.

Quote from: Korgan
alpine butterfly bend loop:  ....which is it?  the loop or the bend?  I agree that the Alpine Butterfly Loop should be taught early, as it's fairly simple to keep the image of it in your head, and can easily lead to learning the Hunter's Bend and the Zeppelin bend, all very fine knots.
It's actually an alpine butterfly end loop, but you have to tie it similar to the bend to avoid a jamming version. http://davidmdelaney.com/alpine-butterfly-loop/Alpine-butterfly-bend-loop.html
« Last Edit: May 19, 2011, 02:44:03 AM by Hrungnir »

Sweeney

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2011, 09:53:48 AM »
I am pretty sure that  I have said this before but teaching any knot for what appears to be its own sake is pointless. To my mind this approach provides a solution without a problem. Knots are invaluable when used properly but for example teaching a reef knot without first examining what task is to be undertaken is potentially dangerous. Because we are all interested in knots we tend to forget that to most people knots are simply a means to an end - find out first what the purpose is and then teach solutions ie I would never list a set of knots to learn but rather a set of circumstances where a knowledge of knots would help followed by recommendations. If a pupil (any age or background) asks "what's it for? we've failed! When someone asked me about hanging his cycle in his garage he didn't ask me which knot to use but how to go about about it generally (a trawl through posts on the forum will show many similar examples).

Barry

Transminator

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2011, 12:00:55 PM »
I am pretty sure that  I have said this before but teaching any knot for what appears to be its own sake is pointless. To my mind this approach provides a solution without a problem.

I am with you there. However, it does make sense to teach a basic set of knots (including when and how to use them) that cover a large variety of scenarios.
That is, I think, the basic idea behind any toolbox kind of approach. But does anybody actually teach the bowline, sheetbend etc. without actually saying what they are for and what function they serve? If so, that would indeed be questionable, but I think it would be hard to teach somebody the sheetbend e.g. , without mentioning or making it obvious that it is used to bend two pieces of rope together.

Then my question is: why do we "always" introduce beginners to these knots at first? A beginner learns the five most important or basic knots (clove hitch, bowline, sheet bend, reef knot, sheepshank),  but he haven't learned a single knot he can fully trust. Or to do the topic more complex, he has to learn when he can trust these knots and then learn methods for making the knots secure.

[...]

Why knot making "basic knot" categories less complex by adding knots which are also secure? I guess this would be more helpful to the average person.

Now we come to the next step. As I said above, the basic idea of teaching a basic set of knots is to give them some basic tools into their toolbox that cover a wide range of applications and scenarios.
I do agree with you that the currently taught basic sets of knots are somewhat outdated and should be replaced with better knots. You have mentioned some above.
Yes, there are better bends then the sheetbend, the sheepshank is rather redundant as a standalone knot (only the principle of the half hitch it teaches is worth it, but that can and should be taught extra, rather then by putting the sheepshank into the basic set).
I personally would leave the bowline in the set, as it is a sufficiently secure knot for most scenarios, is easy to tie, easy to untie etc.

What knots exactly should be taught in the basic set is in issue for debate and everybody will have a different opinion. But we might find an intersection we could all agree on. But that is probably one of the reasons why the currently used sets have not changed. They have been taught for so long that it is very difficult to come up with a widely accepted new set.
This thread gives good number of examples for this: http://igkt.net/sm/index.php?topic=1150.0

Once we taught them a handful (up to a baker's dozen ) of knots that are useful and secure, including the applications and limitations (e.g. don't use a single bowline for rescue work) we can go ahead and teach them additional things to know about knots. And here the sheepshank comes in, the sheetbend, the glove hitch etc. to teach them the basic principles of knotting, hitching and so on.
The idea is: even if they don't progress to this more advanced knotting knowledge, they still have their basic tools to use.

Dan_Lehman

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2011, 07:01:58 PM »
I assume you mean alpine butterfly LOOP?  Sheepshank is no loop, so I don't understand the comparison.  If you meant BEND, then I still don't understand.  Despite the flack it receives, I think the Sheepshank teaches very important knotting principles.
Yes, I meant the alpine butterfly loop. But the knot is more than just a loop, it can be used as a rope shortener and was meant to replace the sheepshank for that purpose.

Please explain / defend where anyone uses or might need
this "rope shortener" ?!!  The sheepshank has long been
promulgated, but never, IMO, satisfactorily explained (e.g.,
with clear indications of its use historically).  There was
some effort several years ago on this forum for one to try
to present a use of it, but that didn't succeed.

--dl*
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Transminator

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2011, 11:01:13 PM »

Please explain / defend where anyone uses or might need
this "rope shortener" ?!!  The sheepshank has long been
promulgated, but never, IMO, satisfactorily explained (e.g.,
with clear indications of its use historically).  There was
some effort several years ago on this forum for one to try
to present a use of it, but that didn't succeed.

 ;D you realy don't like that sheepshank, do you?

I think the sheepshank is married to the poldo tackle. And perhaps the purpose of that lovely couple is not a practical but an educational one.
They might not have a proper practical use, but they may serve to demonstrate some principles of knotting structures and principles or they are
merely representational for the world of knotting like the Kings and Queens of some countries.

Hrungnir

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2011, 05:30:42 PM »
......the alpine butterfly loop. But the knot is more than just a loop, it can be used as a rope shortener and was meant to replace the sheepshank for that purpose.

Huh.  I never thought of it like that before.  Thanks. 
I still think I'd use the sheepshank for a few reasons: one is that the sheepshank holds the extra rope material still, the ABL lets it hang freely and it could get caught up.

If one loop leaves too much rope hanging, you can tie multiple alpine butterfly loops. I haven't tried the multiple loops for this purpose myself, but if the multiple alpine butterfly loops should have any value at all, the knots should be safe to be loaded like this. The multiple alpine butterfly loop can have as many loops as you want to, but the more loops, the more complex the process of moving rope from the standing part to the  loops will be.


Hrungnir

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2011, 06:00:59 PM »
I do understand the point of getting some kind of fundamental theory about knots. That you learn how half hitching and overhand knots works. But learning six knots for the theoretical purpose, where none of the knots are safe to use, seems a bit overwhelming.

It seems like some people disagree when I say the knots aren't secure, but I'll try to explain my opinion:

The Bowline
- weak to ringloading
- might work loose when the knot isn't under constant loading
- too high load will make the knot capsize into a slip-form
- it's widely accepted that this knot shouldn't be used for climbing or rescue operations
- roundturn bowline, eskimo bowline, water bowline, yosemite bowline, bowline with a stopper knot are all attempts to make the knot more secure - which again is a rather good indiciation that there are a lot of situations where you wouldn't trust the security of a simple bowline.

The Sheet bend
- similar to the bowline, but it's more accepted that this knot is insecure
- some sources claims that the working ends have top be on the same side, or else the knot will be even less secure. This complicates the tying method and adds a dangerous aspect to the knot
- the knot will jam horribly in some materials. Especially if one of the materials is soft and the other is hard and stiff

The Clove hitch
- doesn't hold at all on thin ropes/twine
- doesn't hold on a moving object
- doesn't hold if the loading isn't constant
- might jam

Reef knot
- hard to get reasonable tight for a lot of tasks.
- finger gymnastics to get the knot reasonable tight
- requires the object to press against the knot, like an edge.
- unstable knot.
- might work loose
- lots of examples where the beginner might put himself or other in danger by misusing this knot. Like using it as a bend.

The Sheepshank
- Sources claims the knot is unstable. It falls apart when too much or too little tension is applied

Round Turn and Tow Half Hitches:
- Several sources claims this knot has poor security. Example: http://notableknotindex.webs.com/roundturntwohalfhitches.html and http://www.animatedknots.com/roundturn/
« Last Edit: May 21, 2011, 06:03:21 PM by Hrungnir »

Sweeney

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2011, 09:21:02 PM »
I still think that this is experienced people trying to explain tools to someone who has no obvious use for them. In other words examine the problem - attaching a tow rope, hanging a swing, joining 2 short lines to make a long one and as this problem arises then teach the appropriate knots in context. Learning for its own sake rarely captures the imagination and leads to confusion - children in particular will learn very quickly if they can see some logic. And one final point, when the bowline, sheet bend, etc were in  their heyday polyester braid for example was not around. What works pretty well in manilla may be a disaster in man made fibres so we need to be careful to teach knots which adapt well to these materials (and which conversely may be unsuitable in old fashioned rope because of eg jamming). In other words separate tradition from modern day reality - knots as a phone App perhaps?

Barry

skyout

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2011, 03:04:21 AM »
I guess most kids do have phones but in case they didn't, you could stick some cards in their backpacks. The US Dept. of Defense and US Customs and Border Protection use these:

http://www.netknots.com/html/pko.html
« Last Edit: May 22, 2011, 03:06:52 AM by skyout »

KenY

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2011, 05:05:19 PM »
Over the years, much like ' Sweeny ' I have found given a task to do, and the knot to do it, the task of learing a knot is much easier:- even giving the knot a tempory name to match the task, until the student is comfortable and competent.

If you wish to chew on a bone, the Surrey Branch of the IGKT, as an update the Baden-Powell 6 Tenderfoot Knots, published the 'Surrey Six', please find this on www.surreyknots.org.uk .As this list is over 10 years old I am sure those who wish, can chip in with their bright ideas, as the branch has always welcomed a debate , on change.

Ken.

knot4u

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2011, 05:57:13 AM »
Now that I established the Bowline is necessary, then you might as well get the full bang for your buck.  Keep the Sheet Bend on the list because it's already in the same family as the Bowline.  Plus, there are not many substitutes for a Slipped Sheet Bend, nifty little variation.

Hrungnir

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2011, 12:51:52 PM »
You call a Double Dragon a substitute for a Bowline?  Not me, a Double Dragon is hard to remember...
I learned the double dragon pretty fast. I don't find it hard to remember compared to a lot of other popular knots - like hitches for lengthwise pulls, adjustable loops and even the zeppelin loop.

Layhands guide for tying the knot is close to hopeless and I hope you aren't referring to that method.

Quote from: knot4u
...and difficult to untie after a heavy load.  Some say if you dress it right, then it's not hard to untie.  That's too much high-maintenance going on for me. 
Just don't pull too hard on the working end. That isn't high-maintenance to me.

Quote from: knot4you
You want a viable substitute for a Bowline?  It's the Janus Bowline!  Learn it.  Get it.  Teach it.  Oh, by the way, it's still a Bowline.
I do find the Janus Bowline more difficult to learn and tie than the Double Dragon. Especially if you don't allready know the simple Bowline. After all, we are talking about learning knots to people not familiar to knots at all.


Hrungnir

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Re: Learning/teaching a basic set of knots
« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2011, 01:00:52 PM »
If you wish to chew on a bone, the Surrey Branch of the IGKT, as an update the Baden-Powell 6 Tenderfoot Knots, published the 'Surrey Six', please find this on www.surreyknots.org.uk .As this list is over 10 years old I am sure those who wish, can chip in with their bright ideas, as the branch has always welcomed a debate , on change.
Quite interesting.

The Surrey Six is:
Figure-eight stopper knot, Bowline, Sheet bend, Constrictor, Rolling hitch and Roundturn and two half hitches.

The reef knot is replaced by a stronger binder.
The sheepshank (rope shortener) is replaced by figure-eight (a stopper knot)
The clove hitch (middle hitch) is replaced by rolling hitch (lengthwise pull)

They have done more than just replacing knots with similar knots. They've used knots suited for other purposes, which gives a different toolbox from the original one. This proves how difficult it is to pick six, and only six knots as the basic set of knots.

 

anything