He's got too much tying on his hands

Who wouldn't want to be 'knot dork'?

By Tom Ryan

I've got a new hobby. This new gig finds me hard at it, learning the subtleties of such things as the Carrick Bend, the Sink Stopper, and the Buntline Hitch. Well, I'll get to some of those. Just as soon as I master the Stevedore Knot. And as soon as I learn to properly dress my Bowline every time.

It's a brave new world out there for me. When I've completed my goal, there's not a woodsman challenge in the world that I won't be able to handle with a knot.

When I grow up...I'm going to be a knot dork.


A friend of mine from work bought me a book. It's called "The Handbook of Knots," written by this cool guy named Des Pawson. I know Mr. Pawson is cool because his picture is in the back of the book. He's wearing a red beret, wire-rimmed glasses, a denim shirt and what looks like a red kerchief tied around his neck. He's the co-founder of the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and has a museum that celebrates the world of knots and rope.

I aim to be one of his disciples. He's the kind of guy, I'm sure, that all of the chicks dug in high school, they just never told him. I noticed that he's written other books, about boats and such. Which means this guy must love the sea. That in turn, tells me he's probably a latent pirate, which makes him even cooler.

This new interest of mine was born out of my firefighter experience.

Firefighters have to know how to tie knots, and to get state certified you have to be able to tie at least four. Four GOOD KNOTS! No back-yard, "good enough" knots suffice. So as we learned how to rescue people from car wrecks, and learned how to do a leg-lock on a 30-foot ladder, and as we learned how dead Hepatitis B could make us -- well, there's lots of things that could make us dead -- we also learned how to tie a few knots.

This book just inflames my new passion. It's all life-long learning at its best, in my view.

I'm excited about the next phase of my development. Even I know that tying a mean Turk's Head-Four-Lead Five-Bight while seated in the comfort of your favorite chair means nothing if you're not ready for a little application. Being a knot-tyer means seizing opportunities in the bush.

I'm all over it. I just wish I could have been involved in this work sooner. If I had, I could have helped Big Mike in deer camp that day he decided to tie his old man up in his bunk while he slept. Big Mike tried to be stealthy, but it ain't in him. With his prank nearly completed, his papa woke up in a start from a very deep sleep, shed Mike's feeble tie-down and chased him around the cabin until he finally, truly woke up. He was kind of sleepwalking or something, and we all suspect that Mike was pretty near getting a substantial lickin'. If he only knew how to tie a decent knot.

I could have shown my friend Tim how to tie a knot that would have kept his dog Zeke near us when we hunted. At least in the same township, anyway.


We all called Zeke by his field name: "Zeke Back." A good knot on the rope would have at least meant Tim came home from the hunt without a sore throat and hoarse voice.

Or, when Craig and Tad lost all of my big fish because they failed to grasp the concept of NETTING THE FISH ... I could have taught them how to LASSO the darn things -- guess I'm still kind of bitter about that.

Ryan is a naturalist at Olmsted County's Oxbow Park north of Byron and writes a monthly column for the Post-Bulletin. To comment or pass along story ideas, call him at (507) 775-2451.

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