Forget the 3 Granny Knots in a Row - Learn to Tie a Real Knot
Apr 12, 2011 5:00 AM PT
Knot Guide, an app from Winkpass Creations, is available for US$1.99 at the App Store. As near as I can tell, there's no "Granny knot" in Winkpass Creations' Knot Guide app. Other than the knot that I use to tie my shoes, a Granny knot may have been the first knot I ever learned to tie. Why? It's easy. All you have to do is take two pieces of rope and throw them around each other and poke the ends through some holes and pull. A knot.
In fact, it's so easy to tie that when you set out to attempt to tie a similar, yet much superior knot -- the Square or Reef knot -- you accidentally tie the shoddy and weak Granny knot instead.
When I was a kid, making forts in the woods and building swings for trees and creating ropy things to practice becoming a ninja, the square knot was a mythical achievement, something that occurred by happenstance. Because I was never quite sure if I got the right knot or not, I resulted to the old standby: several Granny knots tied one after another, because surely, a mess of tangled rope couldn't possibly slip, right?
I was in high school before I finally figured how to tie a square knot, and by then, it was too late -- I knew there were better knots for most any application. Except robes. If you're going to wear a robe -- fresh out of the shower or for some special ceremony in the dark of night -- square knots still apply. There's nothing worse than trying to gracefully untie a robe knot and failing miserably as you dig frantically at your shower-damp-Granny-knot-mess while time (and the moment) slips away.
Knots for Dudes With Pickup Trucks
I'm of the mind that every iPhone should be packed with a core set of tool apps, just in case -- and knots fall into that just-in-case world. Still, where in the modern world do most people actually need knots? If you're not a fisherperson or a Boy Scout, where does the need for knots universally appear? Moving day.
If you're not in the stratosphere of upper class rich folk who don't pack their own boxes -- and certainly don't rent their own moving vans -- there's a decent chance you've helped a friend move or will help a friend move.
This might be across town with a pickup truck or it might be with a van. Hey, those college kids have to leave the dorm room sometime, right?
For these jobs, you can get away with a gob of granny knots, but is that the person you really want to be? Do you want strap down a mirror really tight only to realize after the bump and the tinkle of broken glass that the knot must have slipped? What if you're a guy, and you're moving your girlfriend? Is this really the kind of man you want to be?
I hope not. And that's where an app like Knot Guide comes in. Winkpass Creations makes at a few versions -- an HD version for the iPad, as well as a $1.99 version for the iPhone or a free version if you want to see some ads along with your app.
Me, I like to reward a job well done directly, whenever possible, so I bought the $1.99 version. And I'm quite pleased.
It's All About Preparation
Knot Guide gives you temporary knowledge, and if there's a metaphor for the modern world, it's that you don't have to store up real experience and skill at all -- you just need the right app at the right time. In most cases, you're going to have your iPhone with you, so you can dial up the right knot for the right purpose without much trouble.
For instance, I know I'll most likely be traversing a very steep path with a section that has a sheer drop to death and doom sometime this summer. There's also a good chance I'll be taking a newbie backpacker with me.
A couple of years ago, one guy totally chickened out, got the shakes, and had to back slowly down the trail and go the long way around. I realized then that it was a good thing he didn't freak out while actually on the hairy section of the trail. Hence, I need a safety rope. And at the very least, I need to be able to tie a Bowline knot, which, it turns out, might not be enough -- and might not even be the best knot.
While Knot Guide isn't an app aimed at mountain climbing, it does have 27 knots for climbing purposes. Enough, certainly, to get a novice through in an emergency. Of course, Knot Guide has a splash screen that warns buyers that ropes and knots can be dangerous, along with this bit of advice: "Never trust a person's life with a rope or knot." That's good, sound advice.
Back to the pickup truck on moving day, then. What's a good knot? Two Half Hitches is practically essential. This knot lets you tie the end of a rope to something like a rail, securely and easily, and then, when you're done, easily untie it. Master this this knot, and the girls will swoon. Seriously.
Another great knot is the Double Fisherman's knot. Use this extra strong version instead of the already excellent Fisherman's knot to join two lengths of rope together by tying each end to the other piece of rope. It's quite handy when you have a bunch of small pieces of rope left after you had to cut up your buddy's Granny knot mess in order to extricate a couch from the back of a pickup truck.
Overall, Knot Guide is easy to use. Instead of a video guide -- which I'm not sold on yet as being superior -- Knot Guide uses a series of photos to show you how to tie a knot. To find a knot, you can navigate by category -- like Bends, Binding Knots, Decorative Knots, Hitches or Lashings, to name a few -- or by knot name.
This navigation is pretty good, and it also works by sight -- you can see a small graphic of the kind of knot you're looking for, which is handy because "Hitches" doesn't really mean anything to most people. But when you can see that a hitch is about connecting to things like bars or posts, you get the basic idea pretty quickly.
In addition to the step-through instructions, there's a short description of each knot, which isn't exhaustive, but it does give you a quick idea what the knot is good for -- and more importantly, if it's not good for something.
While there are only 80-plus different knots, Knot Guide includes a Favorites feature that lets you navigate quickly to your list of favorite knots -- again, quite handy -- for instance, when you're using the light of your iPhone to re-tie your robe shut.