When Creative Ropecraft was first published in 1975, there was limited written material on the subject. During the next 25 years, an awareness of the possibilities for intricate, but functional, ropework proliferated. Perhaps Stuart Grainger’s original book stimulated this interest, but he passes much of this credit on to the International Guild of Knot Tyers, an organization formed in 1982.

The author has diligently laid a foundation for the novice knot tyer, while at the same time providing a concise refresher course for those who have already been to sea in ships. Essentials such as splicing an eye loop, joining two ends together for a short or long splice, then constructing the handy monkey fist to weight down a heaving line, are just a few of the stimulating exercises offered.

As the reader advances beyond the basics, he is introduced to the Turk’s head, probably the most important of all single-strand fancy knots. Starting with a three-lead, four-bight, Stuart Grainger works his way up to the beautiful six-lead, five-bight example. I had learned to tie this years ago by using another author’s drawing and must admit to a rampant frustration trying to decipher where the leads should go. Creative Ropecraft greatly simplifies the process.

Later, the legendary star knot is introduced. The author counsels patience in learning to tie this most distinctive knot. Without question, the pictures offer a fail-safe entry into laying up the star knot.

This book offers instructions for coachwhipping. There are unlimited designs developed by grafting, half-hitching, and spiral hitching. Handsome drawings of netting show neat methods of covering rounded objects with overhand knots and sheetbends. The sheetbend is the primary knot used in making fishing nets. Details of these are greatly magnified to enhance understanding and simplify direction. The book concludes with six practical projects: a lanyard for a knife or whistle, a hammock, a rope-edged serving tray, a table lamp, and a door knocker. Each is meticulously illustrated with written instructions.

The cover itself is a rich gold color, attesting to the real treasure that lies within. The tradition of maritime artcraft with dreams of square-riggers will live on as long as there are people like Stuart Grainger to lead us through life with readable and workable books like Creative Ropecraft.

Creative Ropecraft by Stuart Grainger (Sheridan House, 200; 128 pages)