Making Knots: The Ins and Outs

The following article and videos are taken from our Dutch partner’s site and may not be fully translated. The videos are indicative but do show the correct way to tie the knots.

Specialist Work at Height activities regularly require the use of rope to lift, lower, rescue or position a load (including personnel). Ropes also referred to as lines (back up or working lines) and are secured, connected or joined via the use of a selected knot.

When tying and using knots, specific knowledge and skills are required from the user. In this article we would like to take you through several knot types.

In order to categorize the knots as they occur in the different work activities, we have made a distinction in a number of families of knots that are fairly similar in appearance and manner of tying making it easier for users to recognise and learn the knots.

The Eight Knot amily

The eight-knot family consists of knotting techniques in which a knot is tied that closely resembles a figure of eight. The simplest knots in this family look more like a pretzel than a figure eight, but they are the basis for making the figure eight. We show seven different knots in the video below.

  1. Overhand knot
  2. Figure of eight
  3. Overhand on-the-bite
  4. Figure of eight on-the-bight knot
  5. Double Figure of eight (Bunny Ears)
  6. Threaded Figure of eight on-the-bight knot
  7. Stopper knot

Most knots in this family aim to tie a loop at the end of a rope with the rope loaded in one direction by default (except for the stopper knot, which has a different purpose). This knot family is usually used when lifting, for example, a bucket or people.

For beginners, these are excellent knots to learn. The overhand knot is the simplest, the Double figure of eight (Bunny Ears) is often experienced as the most complicated. The Double figure of eight. (Bunny Ears) provides two loops at the end and is therefore slightly more difficult to tie.

The Stopper Knot Family

The stopper knot family consists of knots that prevent a rope from slipping through an auxiliary device, because the device is blocked by the knot before it shoots through. When having free rope ends during vertical transport, it is extremely important to provide the line with a stopper knot that does not just come out.  We show three knots in the video below.

  1. Stopper knot
  2. Stopper knot (alternatively tied)
  3. Double fisherman’s knot

This family has the same end result of the knot, but how the knot is tied differs. The emphasis is on the end finish in the rope. With a double fisherman’s knot, it is the intention to tie two rope ends together (so this is actually not a stopper knot but a connecting knot).

This family has the same end result of the knot, but how the knot is tied differs. The emphasis is on the end finish in the rope. With a double fisherman’s knot, it is the intention to tie two rope ends together (so this is actually not a stopper knot but a connecting knot).

The Hitch Knot

With a hitch, a line is attached to a post or other anchor point, usually in the middle of a line. The knot does not shift when tension is applied. We show three different knots in the video below.

  1. Clove Hitch
  2. Threaded Clove Hitch
  3. Munter Hitch

The two hitch variants have the similarity that the knot can be tied in two places in a rope, in the middle or at the end. The latter often requires a stopper knot and then usually better solutions are possible. However, when using fenders alongside a boat or rope protectors on an eaves, it is often sufficient to secure them with only a hitch.

A munter hitch in a special HMS carabiner is only used in outdoor sports and not in industry. Because it is the most basic way of creating friction, it is common to only use this type of knotting technique for lowering aids, such as with a heavy bag.

With this family of knots, it is easy to quickly adjust the knot without undoing it. Shortening an auxiliary rope on a rope guard, for example, can easily be done by simply sliding it into the hitch.

The Butterfly Knot

The butterfly knot is used to create a non-sliding loop in the middle of a line. The butterfly knot together with the double eight knot is one of the most used knots in the rope access industry. Characteristic of this technique is the possibility to load the knot in different directions. In the video below we show two different ways to tie the butterfly knot.

  1. Alpine Butterfly
  2. Alpine Butterfly (alternatively tied)

The butterfly knot can be tied in different ways. Which version the user picks depends on the level of the user and what is needed in terms of loop size. One method is easier than the other. What matters is that the end result is safe. The version with a loop around your hand is not recommended. The moment it gets entangled, the user’s hand is in between. For beginners, this is an excellent knot to learn.

These buttons are used, for example, for:

  • Lifting a bucket, attaching it to the centre of the line.
  • Making a Y-anchor using a rope in the rope access.
  • Guiding a stretcher, where the rope acts as a steering line

Tape Sling Knot, or Water Knot

The tape sling knot or water knot is the only suitable knot for tying two ends of webbing material together. The tape sling knot is nothing more than a single stitch where the knot is put back in the opposite direction with the other end. This knot is mainly used for making an anchor point around, for example, a tube/beam to fix the strap against the tube/beam as short as possible. This knot can also be tied in ropes and if it is heavily loaded, it is very difficult to untie afterwards.

You can learn buttons

Knotting requires more knowledge and expertise than a user of only basic fall protection equipment usually has. Our training courses cover the common knots are taught that suit the specific activity, such as rope access or height rescue.

During a training, a student learns a knotting technique to apply in certain situations; how well a technique sticks has to do with the competence of the user and the frequency of the use of the knot. To aid this memory process a methodical structure is followed that ensures that students recognise the similarities and ways of tying the knots.

A user must correctly learn which knot to use in practice, tailored to his/her situation and in practice this also applies! Making knots is something that needs to be practiced and kept up to date. If this is not done frequently, we recommend refresher training is taken.

For more information please contact us...