Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bibliography of Knot Performance

KM, Knotting Matters is the quarterly newsletter of the International Guild of Knot Tyers.
Ashley, Clifford W. The Ashley Book of Knots. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1944.
Barnes, Stanley. Angling Knots in Gut and Nylon. Birmingham: Cornish Brothers Limited, 1947.
Budworth, Geoffrey. Knots and Crime. London: Police Review Publishing Co. Ltd., 1985.
Chisholm, Richard M. “Preferred Knots for Joining Hollow Braid Poly Rope,” ISSW ’98 Proceedings. Washington State Department of Transportation for the International Snow Science Workshop, 1998.
Chisnall, Robert (editor). Rock Climbing Safety Manual. Ontario Rock Climbing Association, 1985.
Chisnall, Robert. The Forensic Analysis of Knots and Ligatures. First Edition. Salem, Oregon: Lightning Powder Company, Inc., 2000.
Day, Cyrus L., 1947, 1955, 1970, 1986: The Art of Knotting and Splicing. Fourth Edition. Edited by Ray O. Beard, Jr. and M. Lee Hoffman, Jr. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press.
Frank, James A., and Jerrold B. Smith. Rope Rescue Manual. Second Edition Santa Barbara, California: CMC Rescue, Inc., 1992 (1987).
Kennedy, E .S. (Chairman), F. C. Grove (Secretary), J. J. Cowell, H. B. George, W. E. Hall, and R. C. Nichols. “Report of the Special Committee on Ropes, Axes, and Alpenstocks. Read before the Alpine Club on July 5, 1864.” The Alpine Journal, Volume I, No. 7, September 1864. A note at the top of this report comments “The report presented by this committee was adopted by the Club and ordered to be circulated among all its members.”
Long, Adam, Malcolm Lyon, and Graham Lyon. Industrial Rope Access: Investigation into Items of Personal Protective Equipment. Prepared for Lyon Health and Safety Executive. Contract Research Report 364/2001. Dent Sedbergh Cumbria UK: Lyon Equipment Limited, 2001.  
This report by Long et al. comes to the same conclusion as other sources about variation in knot strength, but it offers no explanation.
Luebben, Craig. Knots for Climbers. Second Edition. How to Climb Series. A Falcon Guide. Guilford, Connecticut: Falcon; An imprint of The Globe Pequot Press, 2002 (1995).
Montgomery, Neil R. Single Rope Techniques, a Guide for Vertical Cavers. Sydney: The Sydney Speleological Society, 1977.
Pieranski, Piotr, Sandor Kasas, Giovanni Dietler, Jacques Dubochet, and Stasiak Andrezej. “Localization of Breakage Points in Knotted Strings.” New Journal of Physics 3 (2001) 10.1–10.13 Published 14 June, 2001.
Raleigh, Duane. Knots & Ropes for Climbers. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1998.
Setnicka, Tim J. Wilderness Search and Rescue . Edited by Kenneth Andrasko. Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club, 1980. The authors provide references to other pertinent studies and acknowledge other sources.
Turner, John C., and Pieter van de Griend. History and Science of Knots. Series on Knots and Everything – Vol. 11. Singapore and River Edge, New Jersey: World Scientific Publishing Company Pte. Ltd., 1996.
Vines, Tom, and Steve Hudson. High Angle Rescue Techniques. The National Association for Search and Rescue. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 1982, 1992. Second Edition. New York: Mosby, 1999.
Warner, Charles. “Studies on the Behaviour of Knots.” Chapter 10 (pages 181–203) in Turner, John C., and Pieter van de Griend. History and Science of Knots. Series on Knots and Everything – Vol. 11. Singapore and River Edge, New Jersey: World Scientific Publishing Company Pte. Ltd., 1996.
Warner, Charles. A Fresh Approach to Knotting and Ropework: Knots Arranged According to their Structure. Picton, New South Wales 2571, Australia: Privately printed, 1992, 1993, 1995. ISBN 0 9592036 3 X.
Wright, C. E. I, and J. E. Magowan. “Knots for Climbers,” Alpine Journal, 1928. Part I, 120–140; Part II, 340–351.
Values in Comments on Knot Performance 
A handful of devoted writers have made significant contributions to our store of knowledge about how knots work. From the earliest treatises on knots, written mainly by sailors, through the encyclopedic works by Ashley and Day in mid-20th century, to the standard modern presentations and reports of recent scientific studies, various writers have supplied us with a storehouse of information about knots. We are fortunate to have a reports of investigations of knot history and knot lore such as those collected by Turner & van de Griend, conclaves of knot enthusiasts such as the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and reports of the practical experience of climbing, rescue, sailing, and angling groups. Their work is essential to anyone interested in knots and knot tying. Taken together, these sources are rich in discussing knot performance.
All of the major knot books mention the three aspects of knot performance, security, stability, and strength. A few of them describe tests of knot security. Many of them directly mention knot structure, the parts of a knot such as a bight or crossing, knot strength and where knots break, friction, nip, load, and instability. Some show that previous explanations of how knots work are mistaken. The best of the writers, like Clifford Ashley and Cyrus Day, admit the limits of their ability to understand knot performance.
The Limitation of Comments on Knot Performance
But these knot studies have been limited mainly to tying and using knots and neglect many aspects of knot performance. I have not found many studies of knot mechanics or discussions of how knots work and how they fail to work. None of the knot books that I have seen explain the devices that knots are made up of or show how they create friction, and only recently have physicists published diagrams of the forces on a loaded knot.
The neglect of knot study is not limited to knot specialists or the writers of knot books. Knot performance has been largely ignored by both the popular and technical press. Few scientists and engineers have described knots as physical devices, and the general public seems indifferent to them. Mathematicians, who have contributed so much to our understanding of knot structure, have understandably not directed their attention to studying the environment, materials, and mechanics that affect the performance of practical knots.
Many other devices and gadgets have engaged the interest of both serious and popular investigators as well as of the reading public. Numerous books explain how things work. In any number of encyclopedias and “How Things Work” books, a lay person will find explanations of how other devices work, everything from electric toasters to atomic bombs, and usually in a page or two. A recent volume tells the history of the screw in delightful prose, and others trace the development of everyday things. But there is precious little on the way knots work. Even the major encyclopedias fail to take up the subject.
When I ask questions about the physical properties of knots—whether of ski patrollers, anglers, or sailors or of engineers and physicists—the most frequent reply is, “I had never thought of that.” In view of the fact that security, stability, and strength are the chief aspects of knot performance and are the fundamental properties in knots, it is unfortunate that so many knot books fail to treat them at length, that so many ignore the distinction, and that so many neglect the subject altogether.
Notes on Knot Performance in Charles Warner
Charles Warner makes numerous brief comments on the security and strength of knots. Following is a topical index to references on knot performance in his book A Fresh Approach to Knotting and Ropework.
viii.    Preface. General comment on structure and performance.
31      Twin knots, slipping, sliding
34      Strength and security
34      Deformation
46.2   A “long line of friction”
33      Binding, crossing, etc.
39      Arrangement
143    Quick Release, 127, 146, 153, 153 (bis)
163    Unequal thickness, 166, 178
163    Backup, 52 (terms), 178 ; tightened “on to itself” (or not); 207 (“extra security”)
168    Wear on rope; kindliest knot210    Testing knot security
References to Knot Security in Clifford Ashley
In his discussion of knot failure, Clifford Ashley is careful to distinguish knot security from knot strength. As aspects of security, he mentions two kinds of failure, slipping and deformation, which he calls capsizing. When he describes his tests of security, however, he does not mention capsizing. In his presentation of individual knots, he often comments “this knot is secure” or “it slips,” or “it capsizes,” or words to that effect, but he never treats these topics directly nor discusses them again at length. 
On the  comparative security of various knots for joining ropes of unequal circumference:
Sheet Bend, #1464–71, various bends, Square Knot, Double Carrick Bend, #1405–1407.
The Bowline has been under suspicion for some time. See Ashley page 186 #1015. 
Ashley's condemnation of a Granny Knot (p. 258 #1405) is not entirely unequivocal. This is about as close as anyone ever gets to praise for a Granny Knot
Behavior of a Half Knot, used as a crossing knot: “when not in use they would be liable to loosen and get out of adjustment.” (p. 216 #1183)


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