Amusing Monday: To have or have knot

When I was 17 years old, I worked as a lifeguard at a country club in Wichita, Kans. Having been a Boy Scout, I could tie a few basic knots, including the bowline, sheet bend and two half hitches, which often came in handy around the swimming pool.

The head lifeguard at the club began referring to me as “Nautical Knot Dunagan,” or just “Knot” for short. I can still remember him calling out to me, as in “Hey, Knot, will you come here and help me tie this rope?”

The years have gone by, and I’ve used my limited repertoire of knots to secure loads in my pickup truck, to dock my boat (when I owned one) and to attach fishing hooks to the end up my line. I may have added two or three knots to my knowledge base when I took a boating class 25 years ago, but I can’t remember them now.

For me, one of the big issues has always been to understand the use for a particular knot and then recall how to tie it when the need arises.

Recently, for amusement, I’ve ventured back into the world of knot-tying with the help of a website called “Animated Knots by Grog,” which is derived from the family name of the folks who run the website, Grogono.

The website, which dates back more than a decade, makes it easy to learn to tie various knots. Explanations with each knot provide a clear understanding for when and when not to use them. With a short piece of cotton rope and a cutoff broom handle, anyone can play around with knots while watching television or just hanging out.

Today’s smart phones and other portable devices make it even easier to learn to tie knots. The Grog apps — available for a fee — are still some of the best. But if you’re just starting out, you may wish to choose a free knot-tying app, such as, “How to Tie Knots,” or just stick to the Grog website on your computer. Another way to begin is by visiting the YouTube channel, “Animated Knots,” which shows how to tie some selected knots.

It was interesting to learn the history of the Grog name and website, which started as a side note to a family website first created by Alan Walter “Grog” Grogono. A recent note:

“The original photographs were taken on the kitchen table. When the sun shone the photos were bright; when it rained they were dark. During 2010 and 2011 nearly every animation has been re-photographed using new technology and more consistent conditions. Also, prompted by requests from website visitors, in 2011 and 2012, over fifty new animations have been added to reach a total of nearly a hundred and thirty. The new material was the basis for the updates to the website and for the release of a new version of the App in February 2011 and a new Download version in June 2012.

“We are currently working on developing versions for other platforms including the iPad and an improved version for phones based on the Android operating system.”

Speaking of knots, I recently stumbled onto a website that revealed to me that I’ve been been tying my shoes with a “weak” knot since I was a child. Check out the video to learn how to tie the “strong” shoelace knot. And if you want more efficiency, you may wish to master the method shown in the video below (click “Read the rest…”).

Feel free to share your own knot-tying stories in the comments section that follows.

One thought on “Amusing Monday: To have or have knot

  1. Duane Fagergren sent this recollection by email and allowed me to share it with you all:

    I liked your piece on knots. I love knots, though I’ve forgotten many I once knew. When I lived in Kitsap County in the early 70s and worked for DomSea Farms, raising coho salmon in net pens at Manchester, it was critically important to know how to tie a few knots, probably most important bowline, clove hitch, magnus hitch and sheet bend to name a few. We had to learn knots that would hold under pressure but could be released after the load was removed.

    My mentor, close friend and fishing partner of 40 years worked for NOAA Fisheries at the Manchester Lab. He was the butt of several jokes of his co-workers, since he’d attempt to tie up the agency’s skiff or what we called the “launch,” and miraculously they’d appear floating offshore, happy to be free of any tether. He was fondly referred to as “No-Notny”, but his real name was Anthony (Tony) Novotny.

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