By Paul Haynie - Chicago, Illinois - USA

Eye splices are great. They are strong, secure, versatile and they look good. UNFORTUNATELY, depending on the rope you are using and your skill and interest in marlinspike work, they are at least "fussy" and sometime outright impossible to make. This means that when most of us need a loop at the end of a line, we fall back on the bowline (or even the overhand slip knot...). The bowline is a good and useful knot, but (like most knots) it cuts the rope's strength in half and doesn't look like much.

There is another knot, though, that is stronger (about 90% of rope strength) and more secure than an eye splice and is easy if not exactly fast to tie. It looks good or at least distinctive and is extremely versatile. It does have a couple of drawbacks, though: it eats up a LOT of rope (on the order of 120 diameters; that's 30 inches tied in 1/4 inch line) and it has something of a public relations problem, which is why I tend to think of it as Odin's Knot.

Odins Bend

You see, Odin is the king of the gods in the Norse pantheon and one of his many titles is, "Lord of the Gallows". The knot I am inclined to name after him is better known as the hangman's noose.

Among other more normal uses of this knot, such as serving as a hitch at the ends of a traveller, or a mainsheet or an anchor rode (note the double turn around the shackle, which effectively triples the strength of the hitch). This knot can also be pressed into service as a heaving knot, as a fender or even as a very strong and shock absorbing bend.

Anchor Chainand Rode
Heaving Knot

When I tie this knot, I like to put an extra half hitch in the first of the frapping turns, which tends to stabilize the knot a bit (or so it seems to me). I also tie a figure eight in the bitter end of the line once the knot has been worked and then work the slack back out to the standing part of the rope. This makes for a knot that will survive an enormous amount of thrashing with no chance of coming undone.

For use as a heaving knot (courtesy of Hervey Garrett Smith), the rope should be passed through the main loop before the frapping turns are begun in order to eliminate the possibility of the main loop pulling through the body of the knot. The main loop is then tightened around this blocking turn, resulting in a very functional heaving knot (though I am still partial to the monkey fist).


I leave the construction of Odin's Bend to the knot obsessed. While the resulting knot is certainly strong and has a great deal of shock absorbing ability, it takes a lot of time to tie and eats up an enormous amount of rope. It is really more of a stunt. It does have the advantage of being utterly secure when bending rope of very different sizes.

Valkyrie Stern

Finally, with stunts in mind, If you do not add any extra half hitches to this knot, pulling the main loop back through the knot causes it to collapse completely, which implies that it can be tied "in the bight", without access to either end. This is, in fact, possible. I have done it, though I can't think of a single practical application for being able to do so.


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