December 2015 - The Dolly Knot
This month we have chosen the Dolly knot.
When undertaking LGV/HGV driver training (which one member of the SPOCK group is doing currently),
you may be asked to learn, and then demonstrate in an exam, how to tie a Dolly knot.
This comes as part of the training covering how to secure a load on the back of your vehicle.
It is a fairly simple knot which is used in a similar way to a pulley. It allows tension to be applied to the rope easily,
which in turn secures your cargo firmly. You can even use multiple numbers of Dolly knots in one piece of rope for extra effect.
Furthermore, when you're finished with your Dolly knot, it is remarkably easy to remove with a bit of a tug.
There are many other, very similar, pulley-like knots used for tightening rope,
all of which are classed as hitches (i.e. a knot used to bind rope to something else).
In the Ashley Book of Knots, this type of knot features in knots 1514, 2124, 2125 and 2126.
September 2015 - The Shoelace Knot
This month, we chose the humble shoelace
For most of us, tying our shoelaces is often done swiftly and without thought thanks to muscle memory
and years of practice. But there are lots of variations on how to best tie your shoelaces, with many websites
dedicated to finding the best knot for each occasion. Generally, shoelaces are tied starting with an
overhand knot, or half-hitch, (which would form a trefoil if the ends were joined) and then finished off
with a form of reef knot. This can be made more secure by looping around the knot twice instead of once
in the final part forming a double slip knot.
If you fancy having a go at experimenting with lace tying,
have a look at a site like
Ian's Shoelace Site
and see which becomes your favourite.
You should also see whether the overhand knot you start with is left over right, or right over left. Try each
and notice how the way the final bow lays changes depending on how you started. Have you been tying
your laces wrong all these years? (Of course, you could get the same effect from tying the second part of
the knot in the opposite direction as well. This is because you want both stages tied in opposite directions
for a smart shoelace bow, rather than in the same direction which gives a crooked bow.)
June 2015 - Neck Tie Knot
This month, we have decided to explore neck tie knots.
One of the oldest and most commonly used knots is the four-in-hand knot which is a simple,
slightly asymmetric fastening of a neck tie.
Other very common tie knots are the Windsor and half-Windsor,
both are which produce neat, triangular knots. Nowadays, a simple internet search reveals
a multitude of websites showing increasingly fancy tie knots and their methods of creation.
In 2000, Fink and Mao, based at the Cavendish Laboratories in Cambridge, published a paper
(T. M. A. Fink and Y. Mao, Physica A, 2000, 276, 109-121) in which they attempted to predict
the next big thing in neck tie knots using a more rigorous approach than normal fashion trends.
Around the same time the authors also wrote a commercially available book entitled "The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie"
based on the work in the aforementioned paper and that of a short correspondence in Nature
(T. M. A. Fink and Y. Mao, Nature, 1999, 398, 31-32). Their research is based on relating tie knots
to random walks across a triangular lattice.
They determine the 85 tie knots that they present in their book but say that only 13 of these are
really aesthetic knots due to reasons of symmetry and balance.
This year another related paper was published,
(D. Hirsch et al., PeerJ Comput. Sci., 2015, DOI: 10.7717/peerj-cs.2) this time by different authors
who decided to continue the enumeration of tie knots while including knots with a textured front
tied with the narrow end of the tie (something ruled out by Fink and Mao).
These authors found 266,682 distinct neck tie knots which they claim are tie-able with a normal neck tie.
The paper suggests that the cause of the recent proliferation of fancy tie knots was prompted by
the exotic neck tie knots worn by the character of "The Merovingian" from the 2003 film The Matrix Reloaded.