#920: AutoKnot

It’s hard for people to learn visually to tie effective knots. After a while under instruction, they tend to absorb the knowledge directly into their cerebellar motor memory (can you describe how you tie a tie, or your laces, without actually executing the movements?)

Today’s invention is a way to get the right knot for a given situation taught correctly.


A transparent plastic sheet has a regular matrix of clear rods standing on its surface. The sheet is made to fit one’s laptop screen and the spacing between the rods is a bit more than the diameter of the rope to be knotted. A user would be asked to select the knot’s application details eg ‘quick, release, safety-critical’, etc. The laptop’s program would decide the best knot and load the correct instructions.

A moving arrow then appears on the screen and is visible through the sheet. This draws a snake-like pattern on the screen, gradually showing the path the rope must follow between the rods. When one end of the rope needs to go over another section, the graphical snake changes briefly to red (under–> blue) and the machine might even say “Over”.

The rope is thus pulled between the rods and around itself until a loose knot is formed and can be slipped up off the rods.

It’s just possible to imagine rods which could be made to vibrate (or a small robot tug) so that the rope is automatically transported around the correct path. Similarly, the sheets might be made with different spacings between the rods to accommodate variation in rope diameter.


  1. Actually of course it doesn’t need a computer…a coloured path between rods on a sheet of paper for each knot, viewed through the sheet, would suffice.

  2. Great, Patrick, nice site.
    I like the look of your “knot generator” hardware for helping an interested person practice knots correctly, but as you alluded to in the wording, knots eventually have to become part of your muscle memory/visualisation if they are to be used in daily life.

  3. Thanks Tony,
    I remember it took me along time to tie my shoes laces when I was a child. I’d like to see a version of this moulded into the tongues of childrens’ trainers.
    See also

  4. Pingback: Knot trainer | Patrick Andrews

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