Tinker Taylorís Homepage

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A Page of Knots

From my first trip to sea I always enjoyed the practical side of seamanship, both the practical "Marline Spike" and traditional "Decorative" varieties.

Included on this page are some examples of knots or knotting in the decorative style. These have been scanned directly. All of the knots displayed on this page are tied using braided white nylon cord. This modern material gives a very pleasing finish to the eye, but its slippery nature can be troublesome when forming the knots - particularly those which are not pulled or locked tight.




The above knots are multi-strand Button Knots, and include the "Spiritsail Sheet Knot", "Star Knot" and the more familiar "Manrope Knot". The centre piece is called the "Sunflower". All these knots are from "The Ashley Book of Knots" by Clifford W. Ashley.



The Rope Anchor is given in the 'Encyclodepia of Knots and Fancy Ropework' by Raoul Graumont and John Hensel. It is tied with six strands of thirty feet in length, and the completed article measures eight by fifteen inches. (This was scanned, in two sections, through the glass of it's Box Picture Frame , in which its mounted - Thus accounting for the poor resolution)



Single Strand Mat

This single strand mat, is started with five interlocking hitches, and can easily be tied in the hand.





And for three dimensional covering knots these two spherical knots, around 1¼" ball-bearings, were a trifle more tricky to tie! The first circuit of the knot is started flat and pinned to a paper line drawing or road map!

Then the knot is slowly formed into shape as the start is followed with the multipe turns.




The most common form of 'Fancy Rope Work', found on today's ships, and in most British Pubs, is the Bell Rope or Bell Lanyard. Bell ropes are constructed using a variety of 'sinnets', normally crown sinnets. These may be built up in layers to increase the diameter of the rope. Additional knots may be tied with the sinnet strands, or tied separately on top of the sinnet for decoration.


Bell Lanyard 1Bell Lanyard 2

Ship's Bell - Ex Athelduke

This bell, ex focsle bell from the "Athelduke" circa 1948, was first presented, by Athel Line, to the Parochial School, Trowbridge, in 1973.

Athelduke in Sydney Harbour

For twenty years it hung, open to the elements, on the side of the school building and used as a traditional school bell.

In 1996 the bell was refurbished by the Athelian Apprentices Accosiation and the original 1972 co-presenters, Captain Tom GoRst and myself, returned to the school to make a new presentation.

Athel Line has had links with the Parochial School dating from the early 1960's, originally through the "Ship Adoption Society".


Presentation in 1973

The 1973 Presentation.


The then youngest member of the school, Janice Long, assited by Deputy Headmaster, Bill Vaughan receiving the bell.

(Guess who had a full head of hair then!)







The 'Mathew Walker' knot is the only knot that is named after a person.

The following quote from Ashley gives possible origins of the knot.


Lever in 1808 speaks of "MATTHEW WALKER'S KNOT" and describes the knot which Alston in 1860 calls the "DOUBLE MATTHEW WALKER KNOT." A refinement of the original knot had in the meantime taken over the original name , which is now generally modified to "a MATTHEW WALKER..

Lever's familiar expression, "MATTHEW WALKER'S KNOT," suggests that he may have known the inventor, who was possibly a master rigger in one of the British naval dockyards. Many myths have grown up around Matthew Walker, "the only man ever to have a knot named for him." Dr. Frederic Lucas, of the American Museum of Natural History, once told me the following story of the Origin of the knot, which he had heard off the Chincha Islands while loading guano in 1869.

A sailor, having been sentenced to death by a judge who in earlier life had been a sailor himself, was reprieved by the judge because of their common fellowship of the sea. The judge offered the sailor a full pardon if he could show him a knot that he, the judge, could neither tie nor untie.

The sailor called for ten fathoms of rope and, having retired to the privacy of his cell, unlaid the rope halfway, put in a MATTHEW WALKER KNOT, and then laid up the rope again to the end.

So Matthew Walker secured his pardon, and the world gained an excellent knot.


Cordage Belt

This Belt is made with twelve strands of 'Square-Knotting'. The pocket knife sheath has eighteen strands, middled and 'Cow Hitched' to a loop, to give 36 stands of 'Square-Knotting'.


Ringbolt Hitching


This is a steel ring covered with three strand Ringbolt Hitching



Light Pull

This bathroom light pull is made from 'Rocket Line' cord and is 1200mm (4feet 11in) in length.


Key Fobs

Key Fobs. The small one is tied with four strands and the large one with two - single strand middled to form the 'cow-hitch' loop.


This is a traditional wooden sail-needle case, covered with needle stitching, in sail twine, and varnished.


Link Button to my Athel Apprentices Association pages...

Athel Apprentices Association