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Top 10 Theatre Knots Every Live Entertainment Professional Should Know

Whether it's securing a piece of scenery, working the fly rail, or tying up an actor (kidding), the use of knots in live entertainment -- theatre especially -- is an everyday necessity. Every entertainment professional, whether they're onstage talent or back-of-house folks, should know how to tie at least three of these standard industry knots. How many do you know?

Disclaimer: These knot diagrams and instructional videos are for practice only. Any rigging application should be done by a trained and ETCP-certified professional.

Bowline knot illustration
How to tie a bowline knot diagram

The Bowline Knot: The bowline is an ancient and simple knot used to form a fixed loop at the end of a rope. It has the virtues of being both easy to tie and untie; most notably, it is easy to untie after being subjected to a load. The bowline is sometimes referred to as King of the Knots because of its importance. Instructional Video

Double figure eight knot illustration
How to tie a double figure eight knot
Source: CMCPRO

Double Figure Eight Bend Knot: The figure eight bend, also known as the Flemish bend, rewoven figure eight or a double figure eight bend, joins two ropes of roughly equal diameters together. Referred to in the Ashley Book of Knots, it is safe, easy to remember, and tie. It should not be used in ropes that differ much in diameter for security reasons. For heavy loads, it is important to dress the symmetrical figure of eight-bend knot correctly and leave longer tag ends. Instructional Video

Apline butterfly knot illustration

How to tie an alpine butterfly knot diagram

Alpine Butterfly Knot: The "Queen of Knots," the butterfly, is a popular type of knot used to tie a secure loop in the middle of the rope. Climbers use the butterfly knot in various situations, such as equalizing a belay or isolating damaged rope. When tied properly, the butterfly knot forms a stable and secure loop in the middle of a rope, called the bight, that can bear weight and won’t slip. This knot can bear weight in three directions (the loop and each of the line’s strands), and it's fairly easy to tie while wearing gloves. Instructional Video

Square knot illustration
How to tie a square knot diagram

Square (Reef) Knot: The square knot, is an ancient and simple binding knot used to secure a rope or line around an object. It is sometimes also referred to as a Hercules knot. The knot is formed by tying a left-handed overhand knot between two ends, instead of around one end, and then a right-handed overhand knot via the same procedure, or vice versa. Instructional Video

Sheet bend knot illustration
How to tie a sheet bend knot diagram
Source: 6th Kowloon Scout Group

Sheet Bend Knot: The sheet bend (also known as becket bend, weaver's knot, and weaver's hitch) is a bend knot. It is practical for joining lines of different diameters or rigidity. It is quick and easy to tie and is considered so essential it is the first knot given in the Ashley Book of Knots. Additionally, it is one of the six knots given in the International Guild of Knot Tyers' Six Knot Challenge, along with the clove hitch, bowline, reef knot (square knot), round turn and two half-hitches, and sheepshank. Instructional Video

Carrick bend knot illustration
How to tie a carrick bend knot diagram

Carrick Bend Knot: The Carrick bend, also known as the Sailor's breastplate, is a knot used for joining two lines. It is particularly appropriate for very heavy rope or cable that is too large and stiff to be easily formed into other common bends. It will not jam even after carrying a significant load or being soaked with water. Instructional Video

Clove hitch knot illustration

Source: Josh Koerpel

How to tie a clove hitch diagram

Clove Hitch Knot: The clove hitch is a classic knot, made of two successive single hitches tied around an object. It is most effectively used to secure a middle section of rope to an object it crosses over, such as a line on a fencepost. This knot is particularly useful where the length of the running end needs to be adjustable since feeding in rope from either direction will loosen the knot to be tightened at a new position. With certain types of cord, the clove hitch can slip when loaded. Instructional Video

Half hitch knot illustration
How to tie a half hitch knot diagram

Half Hitch Knot: The half hitch is a simple overhand knot, where the working end of a line is brought over and under the standing part. Insecure on its own, it is a valuable component of a wide variety of useful and reliable hitches, bends, and knots. Securing an additional single hitch to the rope's standing part produces the related two half-hitch knot.  Instructional Video

Prusick knot illustration
How to tie a prusick knot diagram

Prusick Knot: A Prusik is a friction hitch or knot used to attach a loop of cord around a rope, applied in climbing, rope rescue, and by arborists. The term Prusik is a name for both the loops of cord used to tie the hitch and the hitch itself. More casually, the term is used for any friction hitch or device that can grab a rope. A Prusik made from cord does little or no damage to the rope it is attached to, whereas some mechanical ascenders (not Prusiks) can cause damage from normal use, and especially if the device slips during climbing or is heavily loaded or shock-loaded. Instructional Video

Trucker's hitch knot illustration

How to tie a trucker's hitch knot diagram

Trucker's Hitch Knot: The trucker's hitch is a compound knot commonly used for securing loads on trucks or trailers. The general arrangement, using loops and turns in the rope itself to form a crude block and tackle, has long been used to tension lines and is known by multiple names. The portion of the trucker's hitch which differs in the following variations is the method used to form the loop that the working end slides through to produce the mechanical advantage. The different methods of forming the loop affect the ease and speed of tying and releasing and the stability of the final product. Instructional Video


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