The Ashley Book of Knots

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Ashley Book of Knots
Although Ashley was an esteemed painter, the cover illustration was painted by George Giguere. It shows a sailor displaying a Tom fool's knot.
AuthorClifford W. Ashley
Cover artistGeorge Giguere
GenreReference work
Publication date
Reprint-Version: 1963–1979

The Ashley Book of Knots is an encyclopedia of knots written and illustrated by the American sailor and artist Clifford W. Ashley. First published in 1944, it was the culmination of over 11 years of work. The book contains 3,857 numbered entries (the final number, "3854", is added to by three "1/2" #s (794.5, 1034.5, & 2585.5) and, in later editions of the book, #1425a for Hunter's Bend; and #2545 has no entry reading only "This knot was mislaid") and approximately 7,000 illustrations.[1] The entries include knot instructions, uses, and some histories, categorized by type or function. It remains one of the most important and comprehensive books on knots.

Use as a reference[edit]

Due to its scope and wide availability, The Ashley Book of Knots has become a significant reference work in the field of knotting. The numbers Ashley assigned to each knot can be used to unambiguously identify them. This helps to identify knots despite local colloquialisms or identification changes. Citations to Ashley numbers are usually in the form: "The Constrictor Knot (ABOK #1249)", "ABOK #1249" or even simply "#1249" if the context of the reference is clear or already established.[2]

Some knots have more than one Ashley number due to having multiple uses or forms. For example, the main entry for #1249 is in the chapter on binding knots but it is also listed as #176 in a chapter on occupational knot usage.

The Ashley Book of Knots was compiled and first published before the introduction of synthetic fiber ropes, during a time when natural fiber cordage – typically twisted, laid, or braided rope – was most commonly used. The commentary on some knots may fail to address their behavior when tied with modern synthetic fiber or kernmantle style ropes.

Corrections and additions[edit]

Ashley suffered a debilitating stroke the year after the book was published.[3] He was not able to produce an erratum or oversee a corrected edition. Corrections submitted by the International Guild of Knot Tyers were incorporated in 1991.[4][5] The original list of revisions submitted to the publisher is believed to have been lost, but many had been collected from a series of articles in Knotting Matters, the Guild's quarterly publication.[6][7] Additional errors have been identified since the 1991 corrections.[8]

At least one knot, the Hunter's bend (#1425A), was added in 1979.[9]

Cultural references[edit]

The Ashley Book of Knots is quoted extensively in the novel The Shipping News (1993) by E. Annie Proulx, with its descriptions and illustrations of various knots providing the chapter headings. In the novel's acknowledgements, Proulx writes that "without the inspiration of Clifford W. Ashley's wonderful 1944 work, The Ashley Book of Knots, which I had the good fortune to find at a yard sale for a quarter, this book would have remained just a thread of an idea."

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ Ashley, Clifford W. (1993) [1944], The Ashley Book of Knots, New York: Doubleday, p. Dust jacket, ISBN 0-385-04025-3
  2. ^ Warner, Charles; Turner, John (1996), Turner, J.C.; van de Griend, P. (eds.), History and Science of Knots, K&E Series on Knots and Everything, vol. 11, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, pp. 22, 274–275, ISBN 981-02-2469-9
  3. ^ Budworth, Geoffrey, ed. (Spring 1985). "Profile of Knotsman Clifford W. Ashley". Knotting Matters. London: International Guild of Knot Tyers (11): 6–7. ISSN 0959-2881.
  4. ^ Budworth, Geoffrey (Autumn 1991). "Amending Ashley". Knotting Matters. London: International Guild of Knot Tyers (37): 26. ISSN 0959-2881.
  5. ^ Ashley (1993), p. Edition notice
  6. ^ Schmidbauer, Joseph, ed. (September 1998), "The Ashley Book of Knots: Corrections and Observations", Knot News, International Guild of Knot Tyers - Pacific Americas Branch (13): 1–3
  7. ^ The Knotting Matters issues cited in the above Knot News article are: KM1, KM28, KM31, KM32, and KM33.
  8. ^ For an example see the footnotes in harness loop and butterfly loop articles. Additionally, this IGKT posting contains many verifiable examples.
  9. ^ Ashley (1993), pp. 260–261

Further reading[edit]

  • Clifford W. Ashley. The Ashley Book of Knots. Doubleday, New York 1944. ISBN 0-385-04025-3
  • Reprint: Doubleday, New York 1963–1979, ISBN 0-571-09659-X
  • Reprint with amendment of Geoffrey Budworth: The Ashley Book of Knots. With amendments of Geoffrey Budworth. Doubleday, New York 1993.

External links[edit]