For millennia knots have satisfied countless roles - from survival to disaster resilience, sailing, to occupational and decorative applications.

While less central to everyday life in an era of mass-machined inter-locking parts and industrial glue, they nonetheless find themselves irreplaceable time and again (and will more so, in the coming decades). How do I reliably lash something to my bike, or perhaps myself with simple cord? How can I securely hang a heavy object from a beam or bar? What is the best way to join two cords together, whether fishing line or heavy rope? How can I use rope to lift a wounded animal or person to safety? How can I build a ladder from cord to help me down a tree, cliff or building - or even quickly build a robust shelter structure to house multiple people?

Practical applications aside, to learn knots is also to engage in a sort of memory sport, or 'martial-arts for the hands'; only by thinking through the cord or rope, completing gestures in succession, will a knot be finished.


Thanks to those people that taught me to tie, bind, hitch and bend as a kid, growing up in rural NZ. Thanks also to American artist Clifford W. Ashley, author of the tremendously inspirational 1944 tome, The Ashley Book of Knots.

Thanks also to Crystelle Vu for the name 'knotworks'. Still gives me a giggle, given my history.


To the ends of teaching a selection of invaluable knots, bends and hitches, I chose to avoid the traditional method of instruction - that of drawings and text - in favour of video seen from the perspective of the knot maker. This way you can learn knots as they are made, copying my hand movements to completion.

It's intended that the videos are completed more-or-less in order, from left to right, but in truth that only really matters for the first section. It's really no use doing any of the following videos without covering those first, else central terms and concepts will be lacking, resulting in bafflement and/or frustration.

All the below videos were made by Julian Oliver in 2018, and are freely available for download (right-click for the URL on each video file) and onward distribution under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

To contact Julian about these videos, go here.


Short videos that'll help you on your way learning knots, from terminology to the best choice of cord. It's especially recommended to go through these videos first if you don't yet know the difference between a bend and a hitch, or a bight and a standing part.


There are dozens of documented loop knots, of varying complexity and application. Here is my personal selection, based on their usefulness and memorability. For instance, I haven't included the famously beautiful Spanish Bowline due to it being very difficult to recall, and also because it was warned against as a rescue knot in the Ashely Book of Knots due to high risk of loop-slippage under load. For this reason I've chosen the wholly rigid Double Figure 8 Loop in its place; not only is it a broadly useful knot, but as a rescue knot it will not slip and is very difficult to forget, even under pressure.

BENDS - joining cord together

I am currently adding videos to this section, one at a time.

HITCHES - attaching cord to other things

I am currently adding videos to this section, one at a time.

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