Square Knot

This square knot has been tied around a gray pole that divides the frame vertically. The knot has been pulled tight around the pole and is neat and symmetrical. The blue rope enters from the left, crosses under then over the green rope, makes a loop that crosses twice over the green rope, the crosses under and over the green rope. The working end of the blue rope lies flat and parallel to the standing part, with both crossing over the loop of the green rope. The green rope is a mirror image of the blue rope, but with its loop, working end, and standing part underneath the blue rope. Both standing parts exit on the bottom of the knot and both working ends exit on the top of the knot.

The square knot is most commonly used for tying shoelaces. It’s a good knot when used appropriately, to tie two ends of a rope together around a solid object. It’s notoriously unreliable when used inappropriately.

When to use it

The square knot is a good way to finish a larger tie, especially if you’re running short on rope.

We use the square knot as part of the square knot extension, to join two ropes together.

It’s commonly used in Japanese-inspired rope cuffs, although it is important to fully understand its limitations in that context.

Step by step

A three inch diameter gray pole divides the frame vertically. A green rope emerges from behind the pole on the right side and goes upward around the pole at a 30 degree angle. About two inches of rope extend beyond the left edge of the pole. A blue rope mirrors the green one, entering from the left and crossing over the green rope.

1Pull the two ends snug around the pole and cross the blue rope over the green rope…

“Right over left,”

The blue rope is in approximately the same position as before, but has crossed under, around, and over the green rope once, so the two ropes are now twisted together. The blue rope goes over, under, and over the green rope, and the green rope goes under, over, and under the blue rope.

2…then twist it once around the green rope.

The end of the green rope has been pulled back to the right, almost reaching the right edge of the pole. The blue rope has been similarly bent, and crosses over the green rope about an inch from the ends of both ropes.

3Again cross the blue rope over the green one…

“left over right”

The blue rope has again been twisted around the green rope. The end of the blue rope goes over, under, and over the green rope, and the end of the green rope goes under, over, and under the blue rope.

4…and twist it once around the green rope.

This square knot has been tied around a gray pole that divides the frame vertically. The knot has been pulled tight around the pole and is neat and symmetrical. The blue rope enters from the left, crosses under then over the green rope, makes a loop that crosses twice over the green rope, the crosses under and over the green rope. The working end of the blue rope lies flat and parallel to the standing part, with both crossing over the loop of the green rope. The green rope is a mirror image of the blue rope, but with its loop, working end, and standing part underneath the blue rope. Both standing parts exit on the bottom of the knot and both working ends exit on the top of the knot.

5Snug the knot. It should lie flat and symmetrical.

This is a granny knot, which looks much more jumbled than the square knot. It does not lie flat on the pole, and the working ends exit the knot at 90 degrees from the standing parts, rather than lying flat next to them.

WRONG!If you get step 3 wrong (going right over left, right over left), you’ll end up with the inferior granny knot (ABOK 1206).

The granny knot does not lie flat like the square knot and is even more prone to capsizing.

Notes for nerds

References and naming

This knot is ABOK # 1402 (Reef Knot)

The square knot is closely related to the granny knot (ABOK 1206), which is similar but in every way inferior.

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© COPYRIGHT 2018-2022 FULL CIRCLE KINK LLC