Select your Swedish fid, your heaver, and your marlinespike; gather up your gunk, goos, and tar; consider your cordage. Then tie into one of the 28 ropework projects packed in this practical guide. From a simple key ring utilizing a single yard of line to an ocean mat requiring more than 82 feet of rope, there are step-by-step directions and detailed illustrations to keep you on course.

Des Pawson, a professional ropeworker for more than 25 years, describes this book as a “recipe book, ” rather than a “how-to-tie-knots” book. Knotwork is Des’ passion, and he has worked for years to compile the cuisine presented in this volume. Like any good chef, he encourages the reader/roper to order à la carte, to mix and match knots and techniques, to season the stew to one’s own specifications.

An impressive smorgasbord of projects is featured: fenders, binocular straps, tiller and boathook covers, belts, a whisk, and several types of deck mats, among others. It’s your choice: the blue plate special or haute cuisine. Each project is accompanied by an introductory section, a checklist of required materials, a rundown of knots used (with references to other pages in the book when necessary), and the method/directions, along with a selection of illustrations.

The book opens with a section covering tips of the trade: favored tools and knots, converting measurements to metric, and choosing the appropriate cordage. Appendices offer information on suppliers of cordage, the International Guild of Knot Tyers, and recommended reading on knotting. An index comes in handy, as well

This is well-written, well-illustrated book, peppered with vocabulary sure to broaden the linguistic horizons of the non-knotter. I honestly found both the book and the projects appealing. That said, honesty also requires me to admit something else.

After receiving the book and scanning the menu, I promptly decided that a “simple key ring” was just what my life was lacking. I flipped to the first project confident that I could master what was obviously the most appropriate undertaking for a beginner. I spent several hours and a goodly allotment of my patience pondering the pointers and poring over the illustrations. I flopped. My soufflé fell.

No simple key ring with single and double boatswain’s whistle lanyard knots for this reader. No forward progression to the pretty port and starboard earrings I could have made with heavy red and green thread using the same knots. Definitely no grommet for a game of deck quoits!

My final assessment? I cheerfully recommend this book to every not-knot-challenged reader with an interest in rope crafts!

Des Pawson’s Knot Craft by Des Pawson (Paradise Cay Publications, Inc., 2003; 96 pages)