Crash Restraint Blog Archives (2010-2016)

A Column Tie for Beginners


This is a column tie specifically designed to be easy to learn for people brand new to rope. It is an adaptation of a tie I learned from Nell, who learned it from Max, who developed it based on earlier work with yet murkier origins. As far as we can agree, the most historically accurate and descriptive name for this would be the Double-Modified Fishermen's Bend.

Thanks to Nell and Max for help producing the video, as well as introducing me to the original concept, although I hasten to add that what I present here is not Max's canonical version of the tie, and any pitfalls should be solely attributed to my own tinkering with it.

It's also worth noting that none of the three of us use this in our daily tying -- various more advanced column ties are quicker with sufficient practice -- but this is a good place to start if you're just looking for something easy to tie someone to the bed with.

You might notice that in the single-column video I do four wraps, and in the...

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Reverse Somerville Bowline for Resistance Play


I mentioned when I first posted the RSB that I considered it particularly useful for tying someone who was struggling, because it didn't require leaving room to pass a line under the cuff. However, if you're going to leave someone in a tie for a while, or if you're going to suspend with it, you don't want the cuff too tight. I recently had exactly this situation come up in preparing my performance for Citadel's post-pride party/demos, where I wanted to do a "take up", tying a struggling bottom into a puppet suspension.

It turns out, you can actually tie the RSB onto a moving target in a way that maintains space between the cuff and the limb. Here's a quick, unscripted video, just to show putting a bunch of column ties onto someone who's resisting:

And here's an illustration/explanation of what I was doing, there:

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Slipped Somerville Bowline


Personally I've never found any particular need for this -- I don't usually want to release a column tie while loaded -- but there was some previous discussion in which people were bemoaning not being able to untie a Somerville Bowline while under tension.

So if, for whatever reason, you want an ultra-quick-release column tie, here's a simple modification:

This has, I think, everything you could want in a quick-release knot -- when in the "locked" configuration, it would be very hard to release accidentally (and in fact you can tug on the bight all day long) -- but when you want to release it, it takes no force at all to unlock and then a single good yank not only releases the knot, but simultaneously unthreads the wrap passing under the cuff.

I'd say this is pretty inarguably easier to release than a Boola Boola, while also remaining more secure (if anything, it's even less likely to capsize than a normal Somerville Bowline).

Lochai also has a...

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Reverse Somerville Bowline


I've been sitting on this for a while, mostly because I'm not set up to do video, and people seem to prefer that to photos, but I finally gave in and just shot something off quickly with my phone gaffed to a tripod:

This is a fairly tricky knot, and finicky even once you know it, but in certain situations it is invaluable, most especially this one:

You might ask "but why can't I just do half hitches around the leg, like everybody does?". And the answer is that, if you really load that, from the standing line end, it tends to pull on just the first wrap, and cinch down -- it's not a real column tie. You'll notice that the tutorial I linked that image from then goes on to run the line back up to the harness, which is the usual way to avoid the issue; but with the RSB, you don't have to go back, you could end your rope at the cuff, or do another cuff further down the leg.

When I demonstrated this a while back at the last CT Grue, someone asked...

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Reverse French and Portuguese Bowlines


There's been some discussion recently of reverse bowline column ties. Jack has long had posted on his site the Reverse French Bowline, a knot which I never paid much mind on account of his warning that it can collapse when the standing line is loaded (as one would expect, from the construction of the knot). However, WykD Dave points out that this is actually a very appealing way to begin a takate-kote.

Further, it turns out that this is actually the same as David Lawrence's Reverse Portuguese Bowline -- a knot I've wondered about for some time. So that begs the it French, or is it Portuguese? For reference, here are the French Bowline and Portuguese Bowline.

I'd argue that Jack is correct in his naming -- the reverse bowline he demonstrates shares two key properties with the French Bowline -- only a single line passes behind the cuff, and the whole cuff is bundled together. A Reverse Portuguese Bowline should pass both sides of the bight under the...

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New Video Tutorials


RiggerJay had me record some video tutorials of my new column ties for Boston Rope Group last week:

My original pictorial explanation of the Somerville Bowline is here.

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Larks-head Based Single Column


I was surprised not to be able to find this tie, which to me is the single most fundamental column tie, documented anywhere on the internet or in the books that I own.

You start with a lark's head about the column:

Then reverse directions:

And wrap around to the desired cuff width:

Now if you look back to the beginning, there are two interlocking bights, one in a single line, the other in doubled rope. Pull the working end all the way through the doubled one:

Now reverse directions, and make a loop over the cuff to the opposite side:

And then run the line back under the cuff, and up through the loop:

Then tighten it down:

This is great if you're going to be pulling directly away from the column, or along it in the direction that you passed under the cuff. However, you'll notice that if you pull in the opposite direction, it tends to make the cuff roll over and bunch up:

To avoid this, if you're going to be pulling in that direction, perform...

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The Somerville Bowline


The Somerville Bowline is not, technically, a bowline. Rather, it is actually based on ABOK 1445, sometimes later called the Myrtle Hitch. However, I call the cuff the Somerville Bowline, because its intent is to combine the speed of the Portuguese Bowline with the compactness of the French Bowline -- and it was invented in Somerville.

[Update: for videos of this tie, see here]

As a Single Column

Start as for most cuffs that use the bight as the working end, by taking a few wraps:

You'll notice I have a magic rope here that changes colors at the end. This is just to make it clearer what's going on -- don't freak out! You'll only be using one rope in reality.

OK, next, take the working (bight) end and wrap it 360 degrees around the standing (long) line, going in the natural/easiest direction (it has to be this particular direction! which just happens to be the most natural one, if you ask me):

Now, pull on the working end while leaving the standing line slack, to...

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