- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: Lyons Press; 1st edition (July 1, 1997)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781558216327
- ISBN-13: 978-1558216327
- ASIN: 1558216324
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.8 x 10.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 60 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #119,579 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Book of Knots Paperback – July 1, 1997
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Another deficiency is too many knots! But how could this be a deficiency, one might ask. Isn't more better? The answer is that the beginner needs to know the most useful knots that have the widest application. If the book contains knots that don't have wide application but doesn't tell the reader which ones are widely used and which ones aren't, how is the reader to know which ones to learn? Therefore, for a beginner, careful selection by the author is essential.
Budworth, The Complete Book of Knots
Of all the books, this is my pick as the best for a beginner.
What I like about this book is that it contains large, clear line drawings, and for the most part, the layout is pleasing to the eye. Drawings are superior, in my opinion, to photographs. One drawback of drawings is that the cordage you're trying to knot never lies as smoothly and gracefully as the one in the drawings. (This tends to be true of photographs, too, however.) But if you view the drawings more as a blueprint, then you get a conceptual understanding of how the knot is to be tied, and drawings allow a clearer conceptual understanding than photographs in most cases.
Another plus to this book is that most of the knots Budworth picked for inclusion are useful and often "best of breed" knots. On pages 6 and 7, there is a "directory of knots" that shows the best or most popular use of each knot. In addition, for each knot, there is a summary called "applications," and occasionally a warning when not to use a knot.
A minus is that some of the drawings are wrong or misleading. For example, in the drawing for the double bowline (figure 8 on page 37), the arrow to show how the working end is rove (threaded) through the loops would have the working end going from the top of the loops to the bottom when it should be the reverse. After some frustration and referring to other sources, I was able to tie the knot. (Google is your friend.)
A bigger minus is the terseness of the descriptions. In a number of instances, the author assumes you should be able to figure out the process from fewer drawings than I think necessary. I would like it if each and every step in tying the knots were shown. With some effort, I was able to figure out each knot that I tried to tie even though some drawings included several steps in one drawing. But why make the reader work? A book for beginners should make it easy.
When I was starting with this book, I thought that it would be helpful if the author included pictures of the finished knot. After about a week, I realized that he did! But they are murky pictures that are either in a small space at the top of the page, above the name of the knot, or serve as a background for the entire page. There is no excuse for such bad pictures, which mar an otherwise excellent layout. Instead of putting some trivia about the history of the knot in a circle on each page, a clear monochromatic photo in the circle would serve the reader better.
The book does not include decorative knots (Budworth having written a separate book on decorative knots).
Because of the terseness of the descriptions, the lack of clear photographs of the finished knots, and the occasional errors, I downgraded this book from five stars to four.
Pawson, Handbook of Knots (expanded edition)
This book contains very clear color photographs, and the layout is quite pleasing to the eye. The problem with photographs is that it can be hard sometimes to discern when one cord is on top of another or below, and sometimes the hand can be hiding some important information. Compounding this is the fact that the book is small in format, and when you have four or five photographs on one page, each photograph ends up being small (say, 1.5" by 2.5"), too small sometimes.
Although the book is soft-cover, the binding is stitched, and the book can be opened flat without breaking the binding. I found that it would stay open without much difficulty.
Pawson, like Budworth, is a founding member of the International Guild of Knot Tyers. But his choice of knots puzzles me. For example, he has a number of stopper knots but does not include Ashley's stopper knot, which many consider the most important stopper knot. He also does not include any grip-and-hold knot (such as the midshipman's hitch, taut-line hitch, or the Tarbuck knot). This is peculiar in that a grip-and-hold knot can be quite useful. I almost had the feeling that Pawson had decided that he would avoid (when he could) duplicating what Budworth had done. Quite gentlemanly, but not what I want in a book for beginners.
On the plus side, Pawson includes a number of lashings, plaits and sennits, and splices, which Budworth does not.
For what it's worth, I was unable to tie the Turquoise Turtle knot following Pawson's description until I watched a video on the internet.
Based on the fact that this book uses photographs instead of drawings (particularly in a small format book), the sometimes odd choice of knots, and lack of warnings about certain knot uses, I downgraded this book from five stars to three.
The Morrow Guide to Knots
This book contains very clear color photographs, and the pictures are larger than in the Pawson book which is helpful. But layout is off-putting. There are typically several pictures on a page, but the picture on the top of the page is not the starting picture; it's the one on the bottom of the page to the left.
Like the Pawson book, the book is soft-cover, the binding is stitched, and the book can be opened flat without breaking the binding. I found that it would stay open without much difficulty.
I found the choice of knots to be satisfactory in that most of the basic knots are covered. A plus is that several ways of tying a knot is shown for several of the knots. That is always helpful. Another plus is that it covers decorative knots, such as plaits and sennits.
This book's depiction of the climber's method of tying the bowline knot took me an hour to figure out because two steps were (inexcusably) combined into one picture without an explanation.
A minus is that the book is outdated. This comment would have come as a surprise to me before I started studying knots inasmuch as many knots are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old. But a number of improvements in knots have been made in the last twenty years, and these improved knots can't be found in a book published in 1981. Moreover, for the Tarbuck knot, the book states that the knot is used by climbers, but climbers have avoided this knot for decades because it tends to damage the kernmantel type of rope used in climbing.
Another minus is the paucity of information about the use and misuse of knots.
Based on the fact that this book uses photographs instead of drawings (particularly in a small format book), the odd layout, the lack of warnings about knot uses, and the dated nature of the information, I downgraded this book from five stars to three.
Budworth, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework
This book contains very clear color photographs, and the layout is quite pleasing to the eye.
Of all the books that use photographs to depict the tying of knots, this is my pick as the best. Although the pictures are small, it's much more step-by-step than the others. In particular, it doesn't suffer from the terseness of Budworth's The Complete Book of Knots, and it shows a large picture of the finished knot. (It also correctly depicts the double bowline.)
An important plus of this book, given its claim to encyclopedic coverage, is the inclusion of decorative knots. There are far more knots in this book than any beginner would need, and there is a paucity of information about the use and misuse of knots.
My copy has an update date of 2002, making it the most recent edition of all my knot books.
This book coupled with Budworth's The Complete Book of Knots would make a complete library for any beginner. But this book is too much, in my opinion, for the ordinary reader who just wants to learn a few useful knots.
The fact that this book uses photographs would normally make me downgrade it, but number of step-by-step pictures for each knot offset that. Based on the fact that this book is intended as an encyclopedia and it fulfills that function very well, I give this book five stars. If this book were intended for a beginner, however, I would downgrade it to four stars because of the sheer number of knots, the lack of guidance to beginners as to which ones to learn, and the lack of warnings about knot uses (and misuses). The number of ste-by-step pictures keeps it from going to three stars.
The Ashley Book of Knots
As an encyclopedic work, The Ashley Book of Knots is not suitable for beginners. For knot aficionados, it's a must-have.
Based on the fact that this book is intended as an encyclopedia and it is in fact the standard reference work for knots, I give it five stars. If this book were intended for a beginner, however, I would downgrade it to three stars because of the sheer number of knots and the fact that it was published in 1944, which means that it does not satisfactorily address modern synthetic ropes.
For the beginner, that is, for the reader who simply wants to learn a few of the most useful knots, my pick is Budworth, The Complete Book of Knots. For an encyclopedia of knots, my pick is Budworth, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots & Ropework. For the knot hobbyist or public library, The Ashley Book of Knots is a must-have.