Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knotty Spruce

When we said back in February that we wanted to learn new knots, the knot we had in mind (although we didn't know it then) was the trucker's hitch.  It's one of the best knots for tying stuff, such as a canoe, pile of lumber, or Christmas tree, onto the top of a car.  Of course, the advent of ratchet straps has made knot tying on cargo a dying art, but we had a chance this weekend to, well, practice a dying art.  Actually, as long as we're at it, why don't we try to see how many knots we can use in this exercise?

The first step is to head out in -9 °F weather to find a tree.  Tying knots with frozen fingers builds character!  Looks like this lovely specimen is an Engelman Spruce, Picea engelmannii, with crowded growing conditions and a buck rub on the trunk.  Yup, this must be our tree!
When we got it back to the car, we laced it up in a tarp to keep the branches from flapping in the wind and/or scratching our car too much.  (Some of these pictures might seem out of order since we forgot to bring the camera on the trip.  Or, yes, the national forest does look a lot like our driveway!)
We took one end of the rope and fed it through the first corner grommet, then tied a bunch of overhand knots in the same place so it wouldn't slip out.
We did the same thing on the last corner grommet, except with a loop of rope since there was a lot of extra.
With the extra we kind of mangled it together, but it's sort of a clove hitch around the loops of rope.  We tossed the excess rope inside the tarp by the tree and put the tree on top of the car.  As a side note, the site linked there is one of the best knot-tying resources we could find.  The animations are super easy to follow (like, way easier than trying to figure out what we did by looking at these pictures).
Now to affix the tarped tree to the car.  On the back side, we started with a simple noose knot, plus a half-hitch for extra security.
We threw the rope over the top of the tree to a loop at the front of the car, and finally we get to practice our trucker's hitch!  Whatever trucker invented that hitch was a pretty bright guy.  Note that making the tag end a loop instead of pulling the thing all the way through will make it easier to untie later on and work better if there is a lot of extra.  The tradeoff is that if we tie another knot with the extra, we risk pulling out this knot.
We threw the extra back over the top of the tree and tied another trucker's hitch to the inside of the car on the opposite side. (Practice makes perfect!)
There!  Secure atop the car. (Actually, this picture was taken before we tied the second trucker's hitch.  So, don't worry!  We didn't leave the rope in the wheel well like that.)
Also, since we brought along the ratchet straps to be safe, we might as well use 'em...
And we made it home with a 100% survival rate!  What a nicely shaped but sparsely packed tree.  Thanks for helping us get it home, knots!

What are your favorite knots?  Do you know of another knot-tying resource with cool animations like netknots?  Let us know in the comments section below!

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