Sailors, cowboys, horsemen, and sportsmen all make great use of knots in their daily work. The necessary skills of knotting, braiding, netting, and thonging were widely used by those who lived in the pioneer days of our country; crafts for leisure hours grew from these skills. The best-known craftsmen with ropes and cord were sailors, who spent many hours on sailing vessels and ashore making intricate articles of rope and cord, for use on shipboard or as gifts for those at home. Macrame, a knotting craft of the last century, still has enthusiastic followers who make belts and bags and other fine articles from cord; in this country the craft is known as "square knotting." Knotting, braiding, and netting are good crafts that grow from the first campcraft experiences of campers as they learn basic knots to help make themselves more comfortable, or to take care of their possessions in the woods. Many such projects involve other techniques, such as the whittling of a buckle or toggle for a knotted or braided belt. Rope-work is a good pocket craft, too, as it is easy to carry around in one's pocket or knapsack. Braiding and knotting call for few tools, and for relatively inexpensive materials: cord and small rope are the usual materials; leather or gimp strips are also used for braided and knotted projects.

Materials Used

Various materials are used for projects in braiding and knotting, depending on the type, the size, and the general use for the article to be made:

Cord of various kinds may be used. A hard-twist small cord, for lanyards, belts, etc., comes under such trade names as Belfast cord, Derrycord, Dreadnaught cord; may be obtained in many colors, usually in 250-ft. balls, from handcraft supply houses. Seine twine, a softer, heavier cord, suitable for belts, bags, etc., is good for beginners for braiding and knotting; obtainable in many colors, from some handcraft supply houses. (P. C. Herwig Co., 39 Henry St., Brooklyn 1, N. Y., is one source.) Chalk line or mason's twine is heavier, somewhat harder than seine twine, and is used for bags, belts, etc. It comes in white or yellow, and is easily obtained at hardware stores. Small rope is also obtainable in many sizes at any hardware store. Binder twine is a shaggy, relatively inexpensive twine used for lashed articles and for making rope.

Leather and gimp strips are used for lanyards, belts, etc. These may be obtained at handcraft and leather supply houses.

Rope, available in many types and sizes, is made of cotton, hemp, manila, nylon, or plastic. Woven cotton rope is easiest for use in learning to tie knots, but hemp or manila rope is generally used on waterfronts. Plastic rope is not usually considered satisfactory for rope work; nylon rope is used in boating and near salt water because it will not rot or mildew, is very strong, and will not kink or swell when wet.

Tools used in braiding and knotting

Tools Used In Braiding And Knotting

Materials used

Materials Used Braiding

plate II.

Twisted rope of cotton, hemp, or nylon is used for splicing.

Fishing line, plastic or nylon, is used in some braiding and knotting projects.


Few special techniques are used in braiding, and knotting, but some general comments may be helpful.

Practice Pieces

Braiding and knotting call for skill in producing an even braid, or an even pull on the knots. A few practice pieces hung on pegs around the craft shop or outdoors (Figs. Il-l, 2, 3) will give campers a chance to "get the feel" before launching out on specific projects. Make these pieces of short cords, so they are easily tied and untied for the next person to use.

Practice Pieces

Braiding Over A Core

When strands are braided over a core, it is important to keep the core taut. This may be done on a post or tree by thumbtacking end (Fig. 11-4), or the core may be tied to a hook or to the camper's belt or leg (Fig. 11-5).

Attaching Toggles and Buckles

Loops are needed on both ends for fastening a braided or knotted belt. One end is a loop, double or single, and the other end is a loop fastened to toggle or buckle.

One or more strands should be at least 14" longer than other strands, and are used for the fastening loops (Figs. II-6 and 7). The loop is made and, with other strands, stitched in place with needle and thread, and the ends tapered. The stitching is covered with a whipping or a turk's head (Figs. 11-10-14 and 11-59-64).

The toggle or buckle is attached by passing one (or more) strands through holes drilled in the wood; the strand is then carried back to the other strands, all are stitched together, and the stitching covered with whipping or a turk's head (Figs. II-8 and 9). Ends are tapered off as they are stitched in place, to make as small a joining place as possible.

Whipping A Rope

Whipping is a method of binding the end of a rope or cord to keep it from raveling; it also serves as trimming in some projects-in covering rough ends of cord on a belt, or trimming the ends of cord in a knapsack. Sometimes, as in splicing, it is a temporary measure to keep strands in order while working.

Equipment needed: knife or scissors. Materials needed: rope to be whipped; 12" piece of smaller cord or string for whipping.

1. Make loop A 1 to 2 inches at one end of string, and lay it along one end of rope, on top, so that both ends of string (B and C) hang off end of rope (Fig. 11-10).

2. Hold with thumb at end of rope; begin to wind with long end C around end, toward loop A. End B stays hanging at end of rope (Fig. II-11).

3. Keep winding, neatly and firmly, covering string, until within 1/2" of loop A (Fig. 11-12).

4. Tuck end C, with which you have been winding, into loop A, and pull end C taut (Fig. 11-12).

5. Shift to end B; pull B, making loop A grow smaller; as it reaches the edge of winding, give a tug, and pull loop A under the winding, carrying end C with it. Pull until you judge loop A, with C, is about half way under winding (Fig. 11-13).

6. Trim ends B and C close to winding; ends will stay under the winding. Test by trying to push whipping off with thumb and finger; if it stays, the whipping is good.

7. Trim end of rope to about 14" from whipping (Fig. 11-14).

Knots Commonly Used In Craft Projects. Steps

Knots Commonly Used In Craft Projects

Half knot-a simple knot, used as beginning of other knots (Fig. 11-15)

Square knot-joins two ends of similar sized rope (Fig. 11-16)

Sheet bend-joins two ends of different size; sometimes called the weaver's or triangle knot (Fig. 11-17)

Fisherman's knot-joins two ends; will not become loose (Fig. 11-18)

Clove hitch-used to fasten one end to a bar, pole, etc. (Fig. 11-19)

Half hitch-used to make an end fast, temporarily (Fig. 11-20)

Overhand knot-used as a stopper knot (Fig. 11-21)

Lark's head-used for fastening strands to a buckle, etc. (Fig. 11-22)

Monkey's fists, turk's head knots, and crown knots are shown later in this chapter.