Before duct tape, super glue and safety pins, humans relied on strong knots to hold things together. Anyone can learn to tie a few knots that will serve many purposes.
Radio interview source: John Sherry, Knot Expert
Knot tying dates back to over 10,000 years. Knots were used to tie fish hooks made of bone, secure logs for a river raft, and more.
John Sherry is the owner of NetKnots.com, which provides illustrations and animations of the most popular knots. He says there are dozens of knots to learn, but there are a few key ones. The number one all-purpose knot whether you're on a farm, in a boat, or on a mountain, is the Bowline.
"The bowline is a knot that forms a loop at the end of a line," he says. "And so with that loop, you can do a lot of different things. You can secure it to an item, you can wrap it around your body, and there's just a ton of uses. The bowline is the knot that people know by the old mnemonic that says, 'The rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree, and goes back into the hole.'"
Sherry says the other knot that everyone should tie is called The Trucker's Hitch.
"As its name implies, it's used for securing loads, and used by truckers," says Sherry. "It's actually a combination of knots, really three knots in total that allow you to cinch down a load extremely tight and secure. It has the mechanical effect of essentially having a pulley in the middle of the line."
A third knot, called the Buntline Hitch, is reliably used to fasten items such as snaps and rings to a rope or cord. It's a small knot, but repeated force will tighten it even further.
Keep in mind that practice does not always make perfect, but practice does make permanent. A knot tied wrong can have disastrous results, so commit your skills to long-term memory.
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