Saturday, January 14, 2006

The English Diamond Knot

A Useful Ornament

Identification of the English Diamond Knot

I learned to tie the English Diamond Knot from J. M. Drew’s description and illustrations in Lester Griswold’s Handicraft, 8th edition, 1940, p. 401. It makes an attractive terminal knot for a lanyard, pull-tab for a zipper, or tag on a suitcase.

Other Names for the English Diamond Knot

Ashley gives five names for the knot: The Sailors Knife Lanyard Knot, Marlingspike Lanyard Knot, Single-Strand Diamond Knot, Two-Strand Diamond Knot, and Bosun's Whistle Knot. A web search using Google shows several entries under each of these names, many of them repetitive, and most of them citing Ashley’s knot #787. Another name, which has become current, is Friendship Knot, but it is also used for another knot. Several websites comment that the English Diamond Knot is identical with the Chinese Button Knot.

It is interesting that although (according to Cyrus Day) Ashley met Drew in 1929, he did not use the name "English Diamond Knot," which Drew used, and he does not mention Drew's discussion of the knot. This is apparently another instance in which Ashley overlooked a knot publication.

I suggest that a possible alternative name would be “Carrick Lanyard Knot,” which is at once more specific and is not likely to be confused with the names of other knots that have the words English or Diamond in them. Additionally, the name refers to both the base knot and the most common use. But this knot is blessed with a plethora of names already, no doubt enough to satisfy anyone.

How to Tie the English Diamond Knot

As shown by Drew, to tie the English Diamond Knot, begin with a Double Carrick Bend (Ashley #1439) then weave the two tails over and under and poke them up through the opening in the center. Each tail goes over one segment, under two, then up in the center. Arrange the segments and pull it snug.

Clifford Ashley’s illustration (#787) is accompanied by sixteen lines (something over 150 words) of directions for tying it in hand. His rigmarole is a bit difficult to follow. I find it much easier to begin with a Double Carrick Bend, then pass the tails over and up through the middle, as Drew shows it. Some might find it easier to tie this knot by a method based on Ashley’s. In any case, you begin with a Double Carrick Bend.

The English Diamond Knot as a Bend

Although the English Diamond Knot is well-suited to be a lanyard knot, it also makes a very secure, stable, and strong bend for tying two ropes together, which of course was the original purpose of its base knot, the Double Carrick Bend. The basket-weave structure makes it secure and stable, while the gentle first curve in the stem makes it strong.

One of the most common forms of rope nowadays is the vile yellow and black stuff that ski areas use to mark closed trails. It is a hollow weave rope made of a slippery plastic material. It is so stiff and so slippery that few knots will hold it, but the English Diamond Knot will.


Ashley, Clifford W. The Ashley Book of Knots. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1944, page 141 #787.

Bigon, Mario, and Guido Regazzoni. The Morrow Guide to Knots. Translated from the Italian by Maria Piotrowska. New York: Quill, 1982. American edition edited by Kennie Lyman. Originally published in Italian in Italy in 1981 by Arnoldo Mondadori Editore under the title Guia ai Nodi. This guide shows the “Two-Strand Diamond Knot” and tells how to tie it.

Drew, J. M., 1942: “Rope–Cordage” in Griswold, 389–391. Drew names the knot and shows how to tie it.

Griswold, Lester. Handicraft: Simplified Procedure and Projects. Eighth Edition. 1942 (First published 1931). The tenth edition of Griswold’s book has nothing on knots.

Leeming, Joseph. Fun With String. Illustrated by Charles E. Pont. “an unabridged and unaltered republication of the work originally published in 1940 by J. B. Lippincott Company.” New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1974. Leeming does not show Ashley’s (#787), but another knot with the same name. Two notes on this website comment that this knot is the same as a Chinese button knot. Another note comments that upon completion of Woodbadge Part 2, a Scout leader is awarded the Gilwell beads, with this knot. I cannot vouch for these identifications.

A search on the web by Google turns up five results for the entry “English Diamond Knot," several for "Friendship Knot," and eight for “Sailors’ Knife Lanyard Knot,” but I have found few useful sites.


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