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Animated Knots: Learn how to tie knots with step-by-step animation (animatedknots.com)
437 points by wilsonfiifi on June 3, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 65 comments

Incidentally, my favourite knot of all time is also listed first: the adjustable grip hitch, https://www.animatedknots.com/adjustable-grip-hitch-knot

Take 5 minutes out of your day, find a small piece of rope (or CAT5, headphone wire, USB cable), and actually tie the knot with your hands. It's super easy to pre-visualize the knot forming and you can learn to tie the knot in any orientation after just a couple tries.

Being able to adjust the tension on the line after tying the knot pops up in all manner of practical situations. This was my gateway drug to the wonderful world of knots.


EDIT: to encourage people to actually tie the damn thing, here's a picture of my computer mouse cable around the handle of my coffee cup: https://i.imgur.com/ZN4WXoB.jpg (in the "right handed down" orientation, as opposed the the "right handed up" direction from the instructions).

I rarely find situations where I want to use this knot over a trucker's hitch (which trades some ease of adjustment for significant mechanical advantage when tensioning). I have combined the two from time to time (using the adjustable hitch to secure the working end)

That's fair, I too use a trucker's hitch for the ridgeline of a tarp.

However, I'll use adjustable grip hitches for the guylines. That lets me freely adjust how my tarp is placed and holds up the tension reasonably (from experience, the friction hitch on paracord could do with tightening every 1.5 days or so). It's also quicker to tie and uses less cordage, so that's a plus.

Combining the two straight up never occurred to me. Will definitely give that a shot :)

Clove hitch on a bight is great for guylines too.

Try the Versatackle! It's like a trucker's hitch but self-locking and IMO easier to tie.

I always do this one backward for some reason, with third loop on the outside inwards. My favorite too.

Then it’s a taut line hitch, right?

If you're not handsome, at least be handy ;) Got into knots partly as a hobby, partly because they actually come in handy when camping or when the license plate holder of your car gets knocked off from a low curb and you need a quick way of reattaching it. You know, good life skills.

If you want to experiment, there's really only three knots that will solve 80% of your common needs:

1) Bowline: https://www.animatedknots.com/bowline-knot -- secure loop that doesn't slide, easy to undo (mnemonic: "rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree, and runs back down the hole")

2) Midshipman's Hitch: https://www.animatedknots.com/midshipmans-hitch-knot -- sliding adjustable-tension knot for tying down gear or guy lines

3) Square Knot: https://www.animatedknots.com/square-knot For quick tying of two ropes together. Fun fact: the square knot is also how you already tie your shoelaces! You're just using a loop (a "bight") instead of the end of the rope because bights are commonly added to quickly undo knots (see, you're already using advanced techniques!). And funner fact: if you understand how you accidentally reverse the square knot to make it weaker, you can understand how NOT to tie your shoelaces in the way that makes them come undone easily!

Bonus Points: the Trucker's Hitch for tying down gear. It's basically any number of fixed-loop knots like the bowline to create a "pully" (mechanical advantage), fixed by any number of adjustable tension knots like the midshipman's to hold it down.

You really should never use the square knot as a bend (joining two lines together) as it can spill/capsize.

"But under no circumstances should it ever be tied as a bend, for if tied with two ends of unequal size, or if one end is stiffer or smoother than the other, the knot is almost bound to spill. Except for its true purpose of binding it is a knot to be shunned." To quote from Ashley.

Others refer to it as the most dangerous knot because of the number of people killed by relying on it as a bend.

i strongly prefer the EDK, despite the name. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euro_death-knot

If you don't like calling it an EDK (agreed!) just ignore its awful misleading nickname and call it an offset overhand bend instead.

> Fun fact: the square knot is also how you already tie your shoelaces!

Uhh, in theory. In practice no one knows how to tie their laces any more. I can go days and see nothing but granny knots and self-invented tangle (and I sneak photos to document such).

This seems to be an international issue, as well. Foreign nationals fare no better than we Yankees in my observations.

I don't know when this happened—the application of velcro in kid's shoes?—but it's definitely a real thing.

Be warned: once you start to look at people's shoes ... it's like a bad dream.

(p.s. Ian's Shoelace Site is a great resource and the double bunny ears knot (aka "Ian's Knot") is a life changer once you start to use it everydsy. I refer to it as the "All-day knot" since the added bight makes it last all day.

Wouldn't argue with the bowline, although do make sure you give it a generous safety stopper knot if it's vital (I climb with it and consider it incomplete without). It's a good alternative to figure of eight if you are untying frequently.

RE the "square not", in the UK this is usually called a reef knot: never use this for safety, a far superior alternative is the double fishermans https://www.animatedknots.com/double-fishermans-bend-knot, also use this for climbing, this is considered the best, strongest, safest way to join the ends of two ropes and it's pretty simple (you can add stoppers for safety or just make very long ends unlike the video). Unlike the bowline it can be a bitch to undo, but if you need safety...

My favorite knot video: Tie an emergency bowline in 1 second:


Parlor trick AND life saver!

> (I climb with it and consider it incomplete without)

My "climbing" is all rescue related (so almost entirely rappelling/hauling, not actual climbing), but I don't think I've ever used a bowline for anything life-safety related, with or without a safety knot.

Yeah I can't imagine it being used in a rescue context, you tend to see a lot of sports climbers using it, it's also more common in Spain - they have another variation where they thread it all the way back through itself so it's extremely safe, but still benefits from easy untying.

Bowline is useful if you are likely to take lots of falls on a single rope as with sport climbing (bolts) with frequent untying, where figure of eight can become very difficult to undo. Technically figure of eight is stronger in terms of _rope_ failure, but this is not usually the most important thing for climbing since if the instant force is strong enough for that to be a concern you are going to break your back anyway. It is however unsafer in the sense of being more easy to tie badly, for that reason I'd never encourage a novice climber to use it over a figure of eight - but when you are experienced, and are taking falls (and have a routine to check the knot), this knot saves your fingers and your rope from a lot of unnecessary stress. In a rescue context though I can't see any benefit, so figure of eight for sure.

Yeah, different priorities. Sport climbing you're trying to minimize hassle, and can do it frequently enough to be confident tying a secure bowline. I get to play with ropes maybe every other month between training and actual incidents. That's infrequent enough that sticking with a simple, bomb-proof knot like the figure-8 is the safer bet.

Like you said, the figure-8 excels in strength (which matters more in rescue, since you're often dealing with loads heavier than a single climber), and has the added advantage of being easily inspected. I can look at a figure-8 someone else tied and have a high degree of confidence very quickly; I feel like that's harder with the bowline (since it's asymmetrical, etc).

I add a couple half-hitches to the bowline for extra assurance.

I like the sheetbend, or double sheetbend for tying two ropes together, as long as they are similar is size and not to thick.

> I add a couple half-hitches to the bowline for extra assurance.

That sounds good, but the thing with that knot is it's not "assurance", it's required, it has a tendency to come undone without it, the free end just works it's way back toward the knot - especially when wet which makes many sailors shun it. Many climbers have also died using this knot without a stopper. The stopper should be considered an integral part of the bowline, there are other bowline variations which also serve this purpose as with your example.

There are plenty of bowline variations which are secure and stable without just tacking on stopper knots afterwards.

Gommers catalogs many of them in his bowline treatise.

Sorry, but what? Sailors shunning the bowline? RYA Level 4 Dinghy Sailing is even teaching you how to tie a bowline around yourself with one hand.

I never used a stopper on a bowline, if done correctly you don't need a stopper, is not going to slip.

I'm not a sailor but this coming directly from a few sailors experience to me... and from my personal experience, regardless of context, however "well" you tie a bowline, if it doesn't have a stopper or some equivalent variation it has the potential to work it's way loose given enough wiggling. If you want to risk your life with it that's your choice, but i wont climb with you, perhaps in the context of tying down something less important it's not so scary, but try hanging from it a few hundred metres up.

Sorry, but it seems you don't understand how the knot actually works, because if you are arguing that the choking part of the knot might get loose, then I can counter argue that regardless of how big your stopper is, still has "the potential" to go through the chocking part. That's not the case. Here is some data: https://www.yachtingmonthly.com/sailing-skills/strongest-sai.... Note that the knot did not fail, the lines did. Also, note the loads they are talking about, >1 tonne.

As a sort of meta, you are not making your point any easier to accept the way you presented it, you start off by stating "it has a tendency to come undone [...]", but then switch to "it has the potential to work it's way loose given enough wiggling".

> if you are arguing that the choking part of the knot might get loose, then I can counter argue that regardless of how big your stopper is, still has "the potential" to go through the chocking part.

This is nuts, are you talking about a different knot?... look at it: https://www.animatedknots.com/bowline-knot part of what makes this so easy to untie is what makes it easy for the end to slip through, the first loop self tightens (which locks the second loop), but also untightens itself when load is released again. you can't fit a full stopper through, but it's intuitive to see how the end can inch it's way through the first loop as the rope is repetitively tensioned and untensioned in different positions like a rachet.

> Here is some data: https://www.yachtingmonthly.com/sailing-skills/strongest-sai.... Note that the knot did not fail, the lines did. Also, note the loads they are talking about, >1 tonne.

You are referring to a completely different aspect, failure of a _static_ line under constant or instant load in a single position, this is completely different to the potential of a knot to work it's way loose under light or zero load and has more to do with how different choices in knots weaken the rope.

These knots don't work themselves loose at the instant load is applied, they do so before when they have opportunity to wriggle around. When climbing this is the scenario every single time you use it as a safety knot, 90% of the time it's not under load but will be continuously lightly tugged back and forth, sometimes tension will be applied then released over and over, then when you finally load it fully with your weight is merely the point you _realise_ it has failed. My mind is made on this one, I have a lot of first hand experience with this knot in climbing on dynamic lines, i am intuitively familiar with it's behaviour, perhaps in your context of static lines holding down things in one position with relatively constant load it is reliable as is (fair enough), but this does not make it _safe_ for all uses.

You've coaxed me into this massive argument against it like it's some terrible knot, but this is my favourite knot.. keep in mind I am talking about _safety_, where failure of the knot means your death, the basic bowline is a very reliable knot for most uses without a stopper - just not for hanging from deadly heights, for that it has to be more than just 99% reliable, and in that case, all it takes is an extra step... but it doesn't have to be about safety it can apply to anything that is important enough, as I said in my original comment: "make sure you give it a generous safety stopper knot if it's _vital_"

> you start off by stating "it has a tendency to come undone [...]", but then switch to "it has the potential to work it's way loose given enough wiggling".

Not really sure what you are complaining about, this is pretty clear, it has a tendency to come undone... did you imagine it would just untie itself without any movement?

You definitely do not know how a bowline works. This is how a finished bowline looks like: http://www.outsidebozeman.com/sites/default/files/styles/lar.... Is not supposed to be loose.

In the end, put all the stopping knots you want, but tie the damn knot properly.

> Is not supposed to be loose.

ffs, the video is an example, you really think anyone ties it that loose in practice? are all of your arguments going to be strawmen?

Your link is broken. and if all you are showing is a tightened version it's pointless.

> You definitely do not know how a bowline works

Based on what? your disagreement? you assuming i tie it loose like an example video? I really don't care what you think anymore, i've explained and reasoned in great detail (and i'm far from alone in this reasoning)... but you don't argue against my reasoning, all you do is accuse me of not tying correctly and then don't give specifics, you've never even seen me tie it so it's a massive assumption based purely on "I don't agree", you obviously can't be reasoned with. I've tied this knot probably over 10,000 times, and all of your arguments are very troll like, goodbye.

I actually changed how I tie my shoes at like 32 years old after browsing this site a few years back :)

Me too, at 35!

I'd replace the Bowline with the Figure-8. It's faster to tie on a bight, and only slightly slower when tying around a fixed anchor. It's also a lot stronger and less failure prone.

There's a link to the site that describes the one step shoelace knot. [1] It's saved me 5 seconds a day for 15 years, that's 8 hours I got back, plus it's neat to demonstrate and spread the word.

[1] https://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/ianknot.htm

I'm also a convert to this. It's even more efficient if combined with Ukranian Lacing: https://www.fieggen.com/shoelace/ukrainianlacing.htm

Wow I hadn't seen that. I will learn it, thanks!

This information is useful, but I'm often disappointed at the super-granular focus of information offered by knot-tying manuals, and this guide is no different.

For example, take the truckers hitch (https://www.animatedknots.com/truckers-hitch-knot). I could give this to someone and I'm sure they could tie the knot, but I would have great doubt about their ability to actually secure a load on a rooftop rack. There's a big gap between the mechanics of knot-tying and the application of the knot to a larger scenario.

I wish a guide came out that was more scenario based, covering things like:

How to secure a tarp so it doesn't blow away, how to secure a load on a car, how to lash together a back-country field-table/stool, etc.

How to secure a tarp so it doesn't blow away, how to secure a load on a car, how to lash together a back-country field-table/stool, etc.

I'm pretty sure the answer to all of those is duct tape.

As useful as sites like these are, there is still no substitute for the encyclopedic Ashley Book of Knots[1][2], which contains every knot under the sun and then some (up to the time it was written -- and, to be fair, quite a few knots have been invented since then, but it's still an impressive tome).

[1] - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ashley_Book_of_Knots

[2] - https://www.amazon.com/Ashley-Book-Knots-Clifford-W/dp/03850...

I have mixed feelings about Ashley - there's no doubt it's a very cool book for its sweeping scope, but I would never recommend it as a guide for learning tie knots. There are many good choices from Budworth[1], Pawson[2], Toss[3] and more.

1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1069046.The_Complete_Boo...

2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/220058.Handbook_of_Knots

3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1476184.Knots

FWIW, I agree. The Ashley Book of Knots is the only book I've ever returned to Amazon.

It's expensive for what amounts to a coffee-table book of old drawings and a history of many superfluous, duplicate, or decorative knots.

A lot of the information is outdated with respect to newer materials and/or the "knot" industry.

This is pretty cool, it helps to see things moving. I've got an app for the iPad that does this for a zillion knots. Of course it isn't as funny as the Ylvis youtube video on the trucker's hitch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUHgGK-tImY) :-)

This looks very nice - I use the rather lovely Knots 3D on iOS - an app that I've had installed for about 10 years or so? Handy if you are out on the road and lets you use a scrubber bar to see the construction of the knot and rotate it around 3 axes.

Can someone explain the difference between a "bight" and a "loop"?


In the linked pdf, a bight is bend/curve of rope that doesn't cross itself; however, they show a "double bight" which seems to cross itself. They say that the "strands" don't cross... errr ok?, I'm not understanding how the "double bight" is not a "loop"... the rope is crossing itself!

You "make" a loop but "take" a bight, as unhelpful as that may be. A loop is a step in making a knot, where as a bight is just a handful of rope somewhere in the middle of it.

You can tie a regular bowline, or a bowline on a bight. The same knot will need a different technique for tying on a bight, since you can't pass the ends through. When you tie a bowline on a bight, first you take a bight, then you make a loop.

A "bight" is simply a curved section in the middle of a line. There's no hard and fast definition of "how curved". Some folks would say a "bight" can't be any more than a semi-circle, others would say it can loop around as many times as you want.

I love how clean and professional looking this is, and how difficult it is to tell that it's being monetized. Content like this is why the internet exists! I can definitely see the value in having this app on my phone too.

Awesome that this is here on HN - By chance, used this site last week when setting up some fishing gear and commented to some friends how great the site was.

The site does an amazing job at a visual step-by-step guide that's easy to understand w/o always asking.. "did I skip a step?".. "How does that move that way?" .. The makers seem to have separated their steps in just the right way which is always a challenge. The pictures are high-quality too.

Kudos! Glad to see it get more eyeballs!

If you're going for one mostly-perfect bend or knot, make it the Zeppelin Bend[1] and the Zeppelin Loop[2]. Secure, fixed, easy, jam-resistant. It's not well known, so don't use it when other people need to understand your knots, but it's hard to beat for overall utility. If you need other people to understand it, use the Alpine Butterfly Bend[3]/Loop[4].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin_bend [2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeppelin_loop [3] https://www.animatedknots.com/alpine-butterfly-bend-knot [4] https://www.animatedknots.com/alpine-butterfly-loop-knot

I'm pretty ignorant about knots, but is there any specific reason the hangman's knot isn't listed? Perhaps I'm just unable to find it?

In case its not included at all - I realize the knot has macabre associations, but a site aiming to be an encyclopedia of knots should in my opinion include every knot there is, good or bad alike.

I believe this knot is similar, but not quite the same: https://www.animatedknots.com/uni-knot.

The site also has the noose knot which can be extended to create a hangman's knot: https://www.animatedknots.com/noose-knot

There is some discussion on the noose knot page that indicates the hangman's knot is deliberately not included in the encyclopedia. The site doesn't give a reason for not including it.

I agree it should be included in an encyclopedia of knots. Any knot can be dangerous if you put it around your neck.

That's a pretty cool sight, although some of the classifications confused me.

For example, suppose I've got two ropes that I want to join together near the ends. I need a splice, right? And there is a "splicing" category...but the "splicing" category only contains one knot for joining two ropes end to end. All the rest are for joining a rope to a non-rope, or joining two non-ropes via a rope, leading me to wonder if I misunderstand what "splice" means.

There are plenty of splices on the site for joining two ropes near their ends, but they aren't in "splicing". There is the Double Fisherman's knot, which is described as being for securely joining two ropes of similar size, which is listed under "climbing" and "scouting". There are similar cases of splices in "fishing" and "boating" and some other categories.

I think you may be looking for a "bend" rather than a "splice".


Splicing refers to interweaving the strands of the rope

grog knots is also a nice app from the same folks:



It’s worth having a hardcopy version of Ashley’s Book Of Knots if you’re really into this sort of thing... but for (my) practical purposes, i prefer John Long’s “Climbing Anchors”.

Long's books are definitive in the world of climbing, but the knots he teaches are limited by the needs of climbers. He isn't big on slip knots or knots that require tension (sheepshank) because those aren't safe for climbing. Knots for lashing and knots designed for natural fiber rope are similarly absent. Many a climber thinks they know knots until asked to lash a pair of ladders together.

Ironically the most common knot in all climbing, the one used by virtually every climber every day, isn't in Long's books. He doesn't teach how to lace and tie your climbing shoes. There are right and wrong ways. I have seen a climber injured by incorrectly tied boots. They hurt their foot and couldn't remove the boot quickly because the laces were all wrong.


i’m a 5.10 moccasym convert :)

as generalist all-day cragging shoes go, they’re very hard to beat.

This is the kind of frame-by-frame guide that really helps me learn knots. For a while there, I was carrying a few feet of paracord in my work bag and would practice knots.

Ha! I still do. Well, technically, I work from home, but my paracord is always next to me. If I'm stuck on a problem, I'll tie a few knots and then go back to work. It's really helpful in several ways.

I was pretty interested in why someone would create such a rich and detailed resource without any clear monetary incentive (yes, capitalism makes me cynical), so I checked out the "Grog Story" section, and wow, I highly recommend it: https://www.animatedknots.com/grog-story

The site is the years-long passion project of an anesthesiologist from South Carolina who happens to love making websites, along with his two sons. He's also an avid sailor, holds patents on medical devices, and creator of a bunch of other similarly niche sites devoted to subjects like stereo art, napkin folding, and magic squares. What a guy!

I love learning how to tie new knots. My problem is that, unless I use them regularly, I tend to forget how to tie the more complicated ones. My go-to knots are the bowline, sheetbend, tenter's hitch, the alpine butterfly, and the bloodknot, for joining fishing line.

Great site!

Seeing the amount of tail left for the bends that are listed as alpine worried me. They should really all be able to take one knot inversion without capsizing.

As someone who climbs I'm surprised that the EDK is not high up there.

This is just wonderful, love it when I see a site on HN with well-structured and displayed information on a physical skill. Gives me a reason to move away from the screen for a while :).

Great looking site. I just grabbed the app because I've been using the "What Knot to Do" app forever now, but find these animated single page descriptions more concise!

Random thought: a VR app that gave you "hands on" guidance and experience tieing knots would be an interesting way to learn them.

This would need some kind of force feedback mechanism, I can't imagine tieing a knot without resistance of the rope.

I feel it could still help people learn, by letting people step through the movements involved, and seeing it from a more natural visual perspective. Resources like this post's website (obviously) don't involve resistance but are still useful.

The Trucker's hitch is all I need to know. 🇸🇯

So HN app swallowed the music note emoji I put in as a clue for those who don't know the song.

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