All of us know how to tie a few knots, former Boy Scouts perhaps a dozen, but the sailor of two centuries ago knew hundreds of knots, both practical and ornamental. Many other trades, such as the weaver and logger, had their own special sets.

Clifford Ashley, a sailor with an eye for a vanishing art, collected knots all his life and eventually wrote this, the ultimate book of knots. It describes over 3900 of them in detailed text and some 7000 drawings.

He differentiates between a hitch, which fastens a rope to an object, and a bend, which fastens two ropes together. He notes that the reef or square knot has caused more accidents than all other knots together, based on its improper use as a bend, with its tendency to capsize when one end is jerked, and its unsuitability for joining ropes of unequal thickness.

Well indexed, this book presents the knowledge needed to tie not only the practical knots we still use, but also the complex, beautiful decorative knots that are in danger of being lost. A 52-page chapter describes knots used in over 90 occupations, including archer, baker, carpenter, cooper, farmer, fisherman, gardener, tree surgeon, and weaver.

Old sailors will bless Ashley for preserving this wonderful lore.

Hardcover, 8 1/2" × 11", 620 pages. First printed in 1944.

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