Ashley, Clifford, The Ashley
book of KNOTS. New York: Doubleday,
8.5x11", Hardbound, 620 pages, ISBN 0-385-04025-3. This is THE Bible for knot-tyers. Most references to knots just give their Ashley number, and to claim an original knot, it is almost sufficient to show that it is not in Ashley. Having said that, I find this a difficult book to learn from. Get it as a reference, but pick up some of the others to teach you to tie.
Budworth, Geoffrey, The Complete Book of Knots. New York: The Lyons Press, 1997
7.75x10.375", Paper, 160 pages, ISBN 1-55821-632-4. Budworth's illustrations are drawn, not photographed, and I find them particularly easy to learn from. This book has a great collection of knots in categories of Boating and sailing, outdoor pursuits, caving and climbing, angling and fishing, and home and house, though there is, of course, a lot of overlap. Outside of decorative knots which are not covered here, this is an excellent introduction to knotting.
Budworth, Geoffrey, The Complete Book of Decorative Knots. New York: The Lyons Press, 1998
7.75x10.375", Paper, 160 pages, ISBN 1-55821-791-6. This is Budworth's companion to The Complete Book of Knots, covering decorative knotting including Lanyard knots, button knots, globe knots, Turk's Heads, Mats, Hitching, and Plaiting. I learned most of the Turks Heads I know from this book, and would recommend it for that section alone. Illustrations are again drawn, but very clear.
Budworth, Geoffrey, The Complete Book of Sailing Knots. New York: The Lyons Press, 1998
7.75x10.375", Paper, 144 pages, ISBN 1-58574-067-5. Another in Budworth's series, This book has a lot of overlap with the other two "Complete" books, concentrating on sailing. Since these tend to be the most useful types of knots for scouting work also, this is a good alternative to the other two books if you only want to pick up one. Two simple Turk's Heads are included, as well as the gamut of useful knots.
Budworth, Geoffrey, The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots and Ropework. New York: Lorenz Books, 1999
9.5x12", Hardcover, 256 pages, ISBN 1-85967-911-0. This is a mammoth, gorgeous, beautifully illustrated coffee-table style book. Each knot gets a page or more to itself, with multiple photographs of an almost artistic quality. This is a fun book, and it actually can teach you knots, too!
Budworth, Geoffrey, Challenging Knots. New York: Lorenz Books, 2000
6.875x9", Flex Binding, 128 pages, ISBN 0-7548-0512-3. I admit to being quite disappointed when I received this book, expecting something along the lines of the "Complete" series, but with more complicated knots. It is not that at all. What it is, is a stripped down version of The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots and Ropework, reduced to a handbook size. Same great illustrations and photographs, but in a size that can be easily packed along. I would put it in the same class as Pawson's The Handbook of Knots, and in fact, these two books usually are packed along in my rope and knotting bag. I would like to see Budworth write a book of challenging knots, but in retrospect I'm glad to have this version of "Ultimate" on the slimfast plan.
Graumont, Raoul and John Hensel, Encyclopedia of Knots and Fancy Ropework. Centreville Maryland: Cornell Maritime Press, 1939,1942,1943,1952
7.5x10", Hardback, 689 pages, ISBN 0-87033-021-7. While this book does cover simple knots, it's main strength is in illustrating some of the fanciest knotting you are ever likely to see. It's a joy just to browse through the black and white photos. I honestly can't say that I've tried to do any of the fancy knotting here, and the instructions are pretty sparse, but it is a great encyclopedia.
Hensel, John J., The Book of Ornamental Knots. Centreville, Maryland: Cornell Maritime Press, 1973
7x10", Paper, 176 pages, ISBN 0-87033-410-7. A step or two more complex than Owen's book, this starts with the basic Carrick Bend, and advances to all sorts of mats and decorative knots based on it. The illustrations are clear black and white photos, and enticing enough that you will want to try some of these knots.
Owen, Peter, The Book of Decorative Knots. New York: Lyons & Burford, 1994
5.5x8.25", Paper, 139 pages, ISBN 1-55821-304-X. I admit to being intrigued by, but not very proficient at, decorative knots. This little book is a good introduction to this art, illustrating some 50 knots or so. The illustrations are simple line drawings, but really very clear. I suspect real decorative knotters would find it simplistic, but it is a good place to start.
Pawson, Des, The Handbook of Knots. New York: DK Publishing, Inc, 1998
5x8.75", Flex Binding, 160 pages, ISBN 0-7894-2395-2. This is probably my favorite knot handbook. Pawson's illustrations are very clear and explanatory, and there is an excellent balance of knots for all uses. Whether you are interested in lashing, decorative knots, turksheads, fishing knots, splicing, or utility knots for any purpose, they are probably here.
Pawson, Des, Pocket Guide to Knots & Splices. Edison,NJ: Chartwell Books, Inc, 2001
6.78x5.86", Hardbound, 256 pages, ISBN 0-7858-1446-9. If the preceeding book is my favorite, this new release is closing fast. Not intended as a complete compendium, it has excellent color photograph illustrations of a wide range of useful knots, and also covers lashings, whippings, and splices. The section on Turksheads, in particular, is more complete than most books. The directions are clear, and the book is in every respect up to his preceeding standard. While there are some knots I wish were included (ie tautline or midshipman's hitch), and some are that I don't want to hear any more about (granny), there also knots new to me. Add in the cost, $10.00 for a small 256 hardbound pages, with lots of color photos, and this book is a real value.
Regazzoni, Guido & Mario Bigon, The Morrow Guide to Knots. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1982
5x7.5", Paper, 255 pages, ISBN 0-688-01226-4. This is a great little book, showing most of the standard knots, well illustrated. It also shows some knots you won't find elsewhere, and alternative ways for tying such standards as the bowline. I like this one a lot.
Smith, Hervey Garrett, The Marlinspike Sailor. Camden, Maine: International Marine, 1960.
8.5x11", Paper, 131 pages, ISBN 0-07-059218-7. This one is probably just for fun. It shows a few knots, but the real joy of it is the projects from traditional sailing. If you are interested in a ditty bag, a lanyard for a cannon, rope fenders, a sea chest or many other items, here are detailed instructions for making them in a traditional way. Along the way you get a feel for the art of a sailor, which I fear will soon be a thing of the past, but for people like Mr. Smith.
That's my list, but I would love to receive suggestions for additions! Pick up a book or two, and learn some new skills. Remember, knotting ventured, knotting gained!
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