Aye, Gordius! – A Tribute to Clifford W. Ashley

The Ashley Book of Knots, by Clifford W. Ashley, has been continuously in print for 42 years, has sold over 175 ,000 copies and still enjoys a steadily climbing sales trade.

As its author observes in an introductory essay, ” The urge to write a book is nowadays accepted as ample excuse for any delinquency.”

 THE BOOK LOCKER But no other knot book has achieved anything like the success of Ashley’s.

 It is a warm, concise, readable and authoritati ve encyclopedia of 3,854 lovi ngly depicted knots.

The International Guild of Knot Tyers (IGKT), a London-based organization devoted to the preservation and increase of knot knowledge ,

has 28 1 members in 20 countries. The members are serious ligaturists who know of-or have writtenevery worthwhile word on knots.

Ashley’s is their bible. So when Geoffrey Budworth , editor of the Gui ld’s quarterly newsletter, ”

Knotting Matters,” suggested an Ashley ti e-a-thon, the response was immediate and enthusiastic.

The scope , vo lume and technical challenges which the book presents are so great that an attempt

THE BOOK LOCKER by an individual to ti e everything in it could take months, even years.

(Ashl ey spent forty years collecting knots, eleven years writing the book and drawing the illustrati ons.)

But a tie-athon would allow members to contribute according to the ir spec ialti es and spare time,

to an ex hibit which wo uld de monstrate to the publi c knottin g’s ri c hn ess and variety, and a lso pay homage to the ir master.

The site chosen for the event was the Inigo Jones-designed Charltown Town House, a 379-year-old , 3-story , brick and stone building near Greenwich.

Its third fl oor is a maze of rooms large and small.

On 2 1 June, most of the rooms, as well as the lobby , were full of knots and knot tyers.

Eric Franklin , a professional magician since well before Ash ley’s was printed , discussed the design of Chinese Priest Cords while casually flicking overhand knots, one handed, into a length of string.

Vernon Hughes, his copy of Ashley’s on a music stand , finished up the very difficult Solid Sinnet chapter, which begins with a 6-strand braid , triangular in cross-section , and fi nishes with a 6 1-strand Pentalpha.

Des and Liz Pawson, whose ropework li brary surpasses even that of the National Maritime Museum, are proprietors of Footrope Knots.

They supply many guild members with books, tools, materials and encouragement.

J. Fletcher turned out grommets, short, long, eye, and tail splices of wire rope , and had the bandaged fingers to prove it.

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