Knots and their uses

For thousands of years, ships relied on wind power. They crossed the oceans using cloth sails secured by ropes (called sheets).  Even the lowliest sailor would know how to tie knots. On long voyages, sailors would use rope to make items to sell when they reached port.

   We looked at the history of knots on sea and land, and learned to tie a bowline -- an essential knot if you need to throw a looped rope to someone who has fallen overboard. We also tied a sheepshank -- a knot which is used to shorten a rope. 

   We looked too at decorative knot work called macramé, on the fringes of two 1920s shawls and a WW2 lanyard, which had a whistle on the end. Macramé became very fashionable in Britain during the Victorian era, in the 1920s and again in the 1970s.

   Have a look at the pictures and diagrams in our gallery and try the knots and macramé for yourself. The gallery includes pages from 'Sylvia's book of macramé lace', which was published in 1890. The complete book, which has illustrations and instructions for everything from collars to curtains, can be downloaded here: