Two Column Somerville

A top view of two hands wearing a white bodysuit tied together with a blue rope. We are looking from above. The hands enter the frame from the right and are separated by two or three inches. The hands face each other and are slightly cupped. A two column Somerville Bowline has been tied between them with two double wraps of rope going around the wrists. A knot on the top hides our view of the frapping turns that keep the wrists separate. A two inch bight is visible and the ends of the rope exit the frame to the left.

This is the two column version of the classic Somerville Bowline. Like the basic Somerville, this is a subtle tie that is hard to learn but has numerous technical advantages. It has a place in the toolbox of any serious rigger.


The Somerville is one of a family of ties invented by Topologist, who has a set of excellent articles and videos about them.

Step by step

We are looking down at the legs of a seated person in a white bodysuit. The legs are separated by five inches. A doubled blue rope enters from the bottom of the frame and makes two complete counter-clockwise circles around both legs, just above the knees. A twelve inch bight is left over and rests on the knees. The left hand is palm-up, with the middle and index fingers pointing forward and the thumb, ring, and pinkie fingers folded onto the palm. The hand is pinching all three passes of the rope between the thumb and the middle and index fingers.

1Sit with your legs 8 inches apart and your left hand palm up in between them, with the middle and index fingers extended.

Make two counter-clockwise passes around your legs and over your hand, leaving a 12" bight.

The standing part of the rope has made a four inch diameter loop around the bight. The bight and the index and middle fingers both pass upward through the loop. The standing part makes an X shape where it crosses over itself right by the base of the thumb.

2Make a counter-clockwise loop in the standing part, passing under your extended fingers, and behind the bight.

Notice that the rope makes an X shape where it crosses over itself.

The bight crosses over the X to the left, passing over the middle and index fingers. It goes down between the legs closer to the body than the wraps, crosses under the bottom wrap, and comes back up on the far side of the wraps. It then passes up through the loop a second time.

3Pass the bight over the X shape, down between your legs, around the bottom wraps, and up through the loop.

The right hand is pulling on the bight to shrink the loop to about two inches in diameter.

4Pull gently on the bight to collapse the tie from an oval shape to a figure 8 shape.

You can pull on the tail of the rope to shrink the loop a bit if it’s getting in the way, but leave some room for step 5.

The bight goes around the upper wrap by going down on the side closer to the body and back up on the side further way from the body. It then goes up through the loop a third and final time.

5This is the clever part: pay attention.

Pass the bight around the upper wrap and back through the loop again.

The right hand is pulling on the bight while the left hand pulls on the standing part, tightening the knot into place.

6Pull on the standing end and the bight to snug the knot.


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