The Single Hitch
(also called The Simple Hitch)
Although this is probably the simplest knot of all, you have to be a skilled knot-tyer to know how to tye and use it in a safe way. The loose end of the rope is nipped against the object and the standing part. The best nip is obtained against an edge or shoulder. If the load is released and the standing part shaken, the hitch is spilled instantly.
It is used to attatch rope to a belay-pin, a weaver needle or even to a tree branch, to start belaying, to start winding or as a temporary easy to spill made-fast.
The Single Hitch on the WEB.
The Half Hitch
This is the capsized overhand knot. It is very useful to carry light loads which have to be removed easily. Ashley recommends it to use it for hanging store to out of reach for mice. It should not be disturbed.
The Half Hitch on the WEB.
The Clove Hitch
This is a very important knot of only theoretical value. Without extra support, it is untrustworthy in any situation, except as a crossing knot. You have to learn it for scouting and at sailing schools. If you have to use it, work it up properly; pull length-wise only at both ends before you load the working end. It is better to use The Rolling Hitch instead.
The Clove Hitch on the WEB.
Two Half Hitches
The two half hitches is used for tieing a rope with a right-angle pull to a pole or ring. It should be constant under load. (Not under constant load). It does not jam. If the object you tye it on has a small diameter it is better to use the “Round Turn with Two Half Hitches”. This is the same knot but with an extra turn round the object.
The Two Half Hitches on the WEB.
The Buntline Hitch is (was) used to tie a buntline to a square sail. It is a secure knot, but it tends to jam, so it is not easy to untie. Therefore, it is useful for work that will be left unattended for longer periods, since it will not untie suddenly.
The Buntline Hitch on the WEB.
The Rolling Hitch or Magnus and Magner’s Hitch
The best simple hitch for lengthwise pull. It needs to be laid very carefully and pulled firmly before loading. Never use it for right angle pull, for it will spill.
The Rolling Hitch on the WEB.
Midshipmans Hitch Or Tautline Hitch
This is a remarkably useful knot. It is adjustable AND trustworthy.
Each sailor should know how to tye this knot in any circumstance. Especially to tye himself to a rescue rope thrown to him in the water. On the lifeline he has to hold the loose end securely to the standing part. This gives a good grip and a useful goal in this critical situation (HOLD!)
Anyone who uses a tent should know this knot. It is the best way to adjust your lines to the tent-poles.
It is the most simple of the adjustable knot family.
The Tautline Hitch on the WEB.
Adjusible or Jamming Hitch
This brother of the midshipmans Hitch is just a bit less important. This is because it tends to jam. When jamming is desirable, this knot is o.k., as when work will be left unattended. Ashley states it was used by cotton brokers in New Bedford to tye their cotton samples they took from mill to mill. The packages could be opened and closed at will, and still be secure when left alone at travel.
The Adjusible or Jamming Hitch on the WEB.
The Cow Hitch
This hitch is really useful for tieing a cow to a pole so it can graze round it. I myself would add an overhand knot at the loose end as a stopper. But I am not a farmer. Sailors use it to secure a lanyard to a shroud.
The Cow Hitch on the WEB.
Reversed Half Hitches
This knot is used to tye guy-ropes to tent-poles. But is is inferior to the Tautline Hitch The only reason I have included it in the elementary hitches is because its topology places it there. I see no use for it. (Please let me know if you know an application where this knot is the best knot to use.) A keen eye will recognize a capsized Reefknot in it.
The Reversed Half Hitches on the WEB.
Lobster Buoy Hitch
The Lobster Buoy Hitch is almost as secure as the Buntline Hitch, but more easy to untie. It is used to tie timber.
The Reversed Half Hitches on the WEB.
Marline Hitch or Single Hitch
This hitch is very practical to lash long objects. The working end needs only one tug and will not slip easy. Before the ‘tiewrap’ (or how are they called) this hitch was used by electrical engineers to tye ‘wiring-trees’ A row marlshitches is best started en ended with a double marlshitch.
The Marline Hitch on the WEB.
The Strangle Knot or Double Marline Hitch
The strangle knot is important as temporary whiping and as permanent binding from which you need more in line. Laid well it is virtually impossible to untie without tools (needle or knife). So never use it if you need to untie. Used as marlhitch it is best used as first and last in a row. Or when a row becomes ‘dangerously’ long this hitch is used as ensurance between shorter rows.
Be careful!. Tied in this way the working end (or the bundle) needs only one tug, but it is not enoug to pull once, it needs to be worked up properly!
The Strangle Knot on the WEB.
The Constrictor Hitch
The constrictor knot is important as temporary whipping and as permanent binding from which you need more than one in a row, but not in line (when you should use the strangle knot). Laid well, it is virtually impossible to untie without tools (needle or knife). Never use it if you need to untie it. It is almost the strongest among the ‘simple’ hitches. Only the double constrictor is stronger. Because the constrictor may be tied in a bight, it is often preferred over the strangle knot.
For more information on the constrictor-knot-family you may visit the Constrictor-knot Family.