The joy of knots !

The Scouts may have ditched them, but you never know when a reef, hitch or sheet bend might come in handy. Here are six great knots you’ll be happy you learned how to tieKnots

Photograph: Bob Thomas/Popperfoto/Getty Images

Scout leaders no longer need to know how to tie knots, according to reports this week, because their job these days is more about “inspiring young minds” and helping their young charges to win activity badges in fields such as street sports, information technology and public relations rather than more traditional woodcraft skills such as campfire cooking or lashings.

But bends and hitches are not merely the preserve of sailors, anglers and climbers or indeed ageing scouts: knowing how to tie a good knot – or better still, the right knot – remains a non-negligible life skill that can come in handy in all sorts of everyday domestic and outdoor situations. Plus, it will leave whoever sees you do it massively (if, in my experience, somewhat secretly) impressed. Honest.

Here are half a dozen good ’uns:

1) The figure of eight

The figure of eight knot

An effective and easy-to-undo stopper knot for preventing a rope or cord pulling through a ring or eyelet.

2) The reef knot

Reef knot

AKA “left over right and under, right over left and under”: for securing a rope around an object (such as a bundle of sailcloth; hence its name). Often wrongly, and dangerously, used to tie two ropes together; used this way it can easily collapse.

3) The sheet bend

Sheet Bend Knot

The right knot to use for joining (bending) two lengths of rope together; inherently more stable, and works even for ropes of different material and thickness. The Carrick bend is a strong and elegant alternative, particularly for thick or stiff rope.

4) Two half hitches

Two half hitches

Attaches (hitches) a rope end to a fixed object like a pole or ring. Some consider the closely related round turn and two half hitches a more secure variant.

5) The bowline

Bowline knot

Sometimes called the King of Knots and often taught by reference to rabbits, holes and trees: a vital knot that makes a fixed loop at the end of a rope. The rescue knot par excellence, but invaluable whenever a non-slip loop is needed.

6) The sheepshank

Sheepshank knot

Shortens a rope without having to cut it. Impressive, no?

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