Book Review – All the Knots You Need (By: R.S. Lee)

All the Knots You Need is a 1999 book by R.S. Lee about, surprisingly enough, knots. It is a fairly short and heavily illustrated guide to the knots most people would need in their “day to day” lives (quotes because I rarely need knots and I probably will only need a bowline and a square knot in my life) and it took me way longer to finish than it should have. But that’s not the point here; “did it teach me how to tie knots?” is the point.


The book has around 60 knots that it shows you how to tie, give or take 10 for similarities, like the knots being “the same” but in slightly different configurations, and how you want to count them as “individual knots”. Each one has between 1 and 4 illustrations associated with it, mostly on how to tie it, but sometimes with what it looks like tied. These illustrations are very simple, and clear, but do have more of a flair than just a line telling you what to do (they actually look like rope). They suffer from what all “how-to” books suffer from, they don’t quite explain exactly what to do in a 3-dimensional space. Even with the worded explanations provided I found myself having to try knots again and again with slight adjustments and reviews of the diagram. Since most of the images are singular they don’t provide the proper context for the “process” that is tying the knot, and even the multiple images convey motion very poorly. But that could also be a function of how “knot-illiterate” I am.

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Included in the book along with these knot-tying instructions is information about materials, the parts of a rope, rope repair, rope care, and a glossary of terms related to ropes and knot-tying. All of this information is presented in easy-to-read and understand ways, with minimal but well-written (and drawn) text and diagrams. Almost everything is easy to understand (once you get the hang of it or are interested in an application) and nothing superfluous is added to inflate the book’s length. That being said, some of the sections were incredibly boring to a person (like me) who wouldn’t have a need for those knots on a regular basis (the fishing knot section comes to mind) and if one doesn’t closely follow the instructions it isn’t hard to get lost. But, as I said, I’m not one who needs many knots; the fishing, hoisting, farmwork, and sailing knots aren’t of particular use to me, and the sections aren’t “enthralling”.

For a newbie like me just starting to really learn knots (I didn’t retain much boy-scout knowledge) this is an unintimidating way to get started. The knots you really need are present and presented in a generally understandable format. It is worth mentioning that you pretty much need a rope or the described tying device (fishing line in some cases, or a frayed rope to whip and mend) to get the full effect. And reading this book is almost useless without a lot of practice during and afterwards. Knots aren’t just things that you throw in your brain and then can do perfectly. They need to be practiced in order to be effectively executed. But while the book can’t do that for you, I’d say it’s a good place to start.

Review – Velcro One-Wrap Ties

Velcro makes useful products. Well, variations on the same useful products. And it being so popular that its name has become the word for hook-and-loop attachment systems is a testament to this. And I’m glad that they have many different products to meet many differing needs. When I was looking to secure something to my backpack shoulder strap I found the Velcro One-Wrap Ties and thought “That’s what I need”.


Now I know that a cut-up regular strip of Velcro could do the same thing, but with the simple attachment system built right, in these strips are very handy in a variety of situations with no customization needed. They are the non-industrial Velcro variety, so they aren’t the absolute best at holding together, but they do a pretty good job. The attachment system is essentially a wider end with a slot that you feed a smaller end through. This is the same principle that a lot of cable ties use, but these are reusable, and more comfortable to use than those are.


They come mainly in multi-colored packs, which I’m not a fan of but can deal with, and for most people that will aid in the organization of the cords they’re storing organizing with them. But I have a bit of a different use. I use mine to secure a pouch holding a canister of pepper spray to my backpack, and one looped through a belt-loop and onto itself to hold a flashlight to a waist-pack camera bag. Both of these tasks are much more difficult than the pen- and cable-corralling the packaging suggests the use is. And the strips have held up quite well. They are more secure than my previous Velcro cut-to-size straps, and only loosen after fiddling around with them for quite some time. I have yet to have one fall off, and have only had to adjust them once in several months of use.

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So there’s one more use to add to an already useful and “fairly” inexpensive product. For their intended purpose they work well, and can even take on a few more difficult tasks along the way.

A Second Tie Sampler (With Designer Thoughts)

Since the last one was such a success… Here are more ties with designer thoughts.


This one has some very strange neon cats and toys with a teal background.


“Oh, these splotches of paint I just dripped look like cats, guys check this out, we gotta do something with this!”


Here’s a Tabasco one, with standard sea food and tabacso logos floating through ribbons of color.


“I have to do a colorful tie now. What do people eat with hot sauce, oh yeah, fish and stuff… I have no idea what I’ll do tomorrow, but for today the tie has seafood.”


Now we have Mickey Mouse… playing golf… in what is apparently hell and the Matrix.


“Another Mickey tie! I can’t do this anymore! What am I even… Oh I have a game on Saturday, I’ll have Mickey playing golf! at least then I can pretend my job is better than it is and I’m playing golf.” 


Here are some people watching a tennis game.


“Man TV is so boring. All there is to watch is tennis… tennis, tennis, tennis… oh, I’ve accidentally made a tie.”


Dis one got money, da Grants and da Benjamin’s


“Ha money, money, money, I have so much money, my tie is made out of money. I bet other people would want to pretend to be like me.” 


And finally, one with Abrams tanks, no I’m not wearing it.


“You’ve heard of tank tops, now let me show you tank ties… God, I need sleep!”

Speak Your Mind 82 #406-410


1. Who is your math teacher?

2. Do you think men should have to wear ties?

3. What do you think is a good number of puppies for a dog to have?

4. What do you think is the best way to bake a potato: in a conventional oven or in a microwave?

5. What did you have for lunch today (yesterday)?

ANSWERS By: Austin Smith

1. I have no math teachers as I don’t go to school.

2. No, but I think they look good.

3. About eight, thats how many teats they have right?

4. I have no real preference.

5. I had a Dairy Queen hamburger for lunch.