Monday, February 3, 2014

Knots and Lashing

Rope is an extremely useful tool around a farm. Sure, it's a no brainier that one uses it for "rope things", but it's handy in a pinch for emergency repairs. Driveway gate comes off its hinge and the horse will get loose if you just prop it up. So grab that rope from behind the seat of the truck and throw a few loops around the post and make a fancy knot. Or a tree branch falls and breaks the fencing. A rope can make temporary "rails" until you can get to the barn for proper replacements. The right knots will make the rope nice and taut. Rope has come to the rescue many a time until I could make the proper repair or solution. But besides emergency use, rope has its own valuable place on the homestead. But I found that even though the size and strength of the rope is important, the right knot is right up there too. If the knot fails, then it doesn't matter how perfect the rope was! 
(Special knots and lashing for cradling a Hawaiian water gourd.)

Let me think. What have I used rope for recently? 

---Tying a load of lumber and siding into the truck bed. 
---Securing a load of trash in the back of the truck so that it doesn't fall out, and so that I don't get a ticket from a passing cop.
---Hitching the horse to a post so that I could trim her hooves. 
---Making a new clothesline for my mother.
---Securing a cover to the water catchment tank. 
---Pulling a downed banana tree over to the biotrash pit. 
---Making an emergency "hinge" on the driveway gate until I could run to the hardware store for a replacement. 
---Lassoing the wayward goat who had no intention of being caught. 
---Holding a tarp in place over a pile of lumber. 
---Mark a straight line in the garden. 
---Making a quick belt to hold my pants up! Yup, zipper broke, button popped off, and I was in what one would call an awkward situation. Rope to the rescue! 
(Decorative rope lashing on a timber fence.)

Of course, all that was just recent stuff. I've used rope to hold the old truck's clutch linkage together so that I could drive home, pull stuck vehicles out of wet slick grass, drag uncooperative sheep to a pen, hold a barn door open (or shut), hang a slaughtered pig for butchering, tie up a loose dog, pull down a dead tree, tighten a fence being installed. I've sat on a pile of rope to avoid sitting on wet muddy of the few uses where a knot was not required. Another instance where a knot wasn't needed.......I needed to start a campfire and had no dry kindling.  So I unraveled a length of rope and lit it. Worked like a charm. Before long we had a nice blaze going where we could all huddle around to dry out and warm up. It was either sacrifice my rope or use people's underwear. The vote went to the rope. 

Just about every task using rope requires a knot. And depending upon the job, the knot can be highly precise. Since the knot becomes the weakest part of the rope, it's really important to get the right knot and make it correctly. But rope is also great for lashing. Lashing works very effectively not only on decorative fencing but as an integral part of the fence. I love the visual effect that lashing gives. 
(Rope lashing holding corner together and netting to the rails.)

I've loved knots every since my older brothers were in Boy Scouts. They made these fancy knots just to lord it over their little sister, but I wasn't phased at all by their dominance ploy. Instead I was fascinated and entralled. Even to this day, I love a good knot. I've got a knot book in my library that's gigantic. Great book. 

And just recently I discovered an animated site on the Internet for knot making. 


  1. Aloha, Sue Ba! I have been off the internet due to several things, including a broken power cord to the laptop (desktop remains unresponsive), so getting a working computer forced me to play catch-up on things.
    I am so sorry to hear of the friend with the arm amputation. May God help him overcome that adversity successfully. And you and your clan's woes -augh! The viruses have been wrecking lots of folks, flu shot or no. Take your time to rest up, work on island time, yeah? It will recover as you will, also.
    Knots! I was a Boy Scout and a Sea Scout, so I had lots of knots to learn. Now you can get an app for your smartphone for free, with lots of useful knots nicely illustrated. The one knot I still can do like a reflex is the one-handed bowline. I never needed it for a dangerous situation, but I did a lot of crazy things as a boy, so I practiced that knot a million times. It is a non-slipping way of tying a line to yourself singlehandedly. I most recently used that trci to keep a branch pulled back while pruned another broken branch that my saw couldn't reach otherwise. Staking plants, trellising vines, plenty things to tie with the right knots!

    1. Thanks for the tip about the phone app. I'm going to go look for it right now. Boy, I enjoy knots, can't figure out what many should be used for, but they're fun anyway!

  2. Can you give us the link or url for the website on knot making?