The majority of ties start with a single column tie, it is the first anchor to the body. A single column tie is a loop that will not tighten when we pull on the standing end. “Column” refers to anything you can tie around: a leg, a torso, a bed post etc.

Somerville Bowline

The somerville bowline can be used with any type of rope. The knot is very stable and will stay in place when pulling in any direction. It also has the benefit that it can be untied from the bight without untying the standing end, but pulling a rope through the bight will lock it completely. It’s nice to have the choice to keep it open to be untied from both ends or make it inescapable.

The downside of this knot is that with a lot of pressure, the knot can compact and become difficult to untie, especially when the standing end is under tension. In case of emergency, you can always use your safety cutting device to free your partner or yourself by cutting the wraps.

The Somerville bowline is one variation out of many for a single column tie, and if you have already adopted another, it might be preferable to practice the one you already know. It is recommended to know one very well and master it.

In week 28 we will study different single column ties to understand the differences.

Practice Time!

Repetition is the key to imprint a tie in your muscle memory.

Self-evaluation checklist:

  • All ropes in the wrap are of equal tension and it lays flat on the body
  • Two fingers gap inside the cuff, not too tight, not too loose
  • There are no unnecessary twists in the knot
  • The knot is compacted and tight
  • When you pull on the bight or standing end, the structure stays intact

Exploration ideas:

  • Tie it with your eyes closed
  • Explore changes with different number of wraps
  • Different length of bight
  • Tie on a vertical column (gravity challenge)
  • Tie it behind your back
  • Tie three single column ties in unexpected places
  • Try to tie with the non-dominant hand
  • Show somebody how to tie it

Inspirations and Resources

Credit: Somerville bowline by Topologist –  Pictures – M/R: Ebi McKnotty P: AlexK7

Next: Day 2: Frictions

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