Playing around with a Monkey Fist knot...
Most rope or knot experts know how to tie a Monkey Fist knot... It is a bit of a party trick!
If you know your bowlines from your reef knots then chances are you know how to turn a piece of string into something pretty and useful. Making the end of a piece of rope into a little ball is one of those really satisfying things to do. You have probably seen them around...
The monkey fist knot is a decorative knot that is commonly used as a weight or as a decorative ornament. Its origins are somewhat unclear, but it is believed to have been invented by sailors in the 19th century.
One theory suggests that the knot was originally used as a weight for throwing lines from ships to the dock, and its name comes from its resemblance to a small, bunched-up fist. Another theory suggests that it was used as a weapon, with a rock or lead weight tied inside the knot.
The monkey fist knot gained popularity as a decorative item in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, particularly among yachtsmen and fishermen. It was often used as a keychain or attached to the end of a lanyard.
Today, the monkey fist knot is still used as a decorative item, as well as in some practical applications, such as a weight for a heaving line on a ship or as a handle on a tool. It is also commonly used in dog training as a toy for dogs to fetch.
The thicker the rope you use to make a Monkey Fist Knot the larger the ball. Given the fact our beautiful natural manilla rope is quite thick our rope balls are big enough to sit on, but as you can see on the video below it makes it into a team effort to make these Monkey Fist swings!
When the then HRM Princess Catherine used a rope ball swing in her beautiful RHS Chelsea Flower Show garden in 2018 we could not make enough of these.
At the time my husband was the only person in the team who could manage to make the Monkey Fists in this large size, and there was a slight issue in that we were travelling in the US at the time, exhibiting at The Devon Horse Show, Pennsylvania, US.
In order to keep up with demand we sourced some manila rope locally and for the three weeks we were there Aaron made as many rope ball swings as possible under the shade of a tree in 30 degree celcius temperatures. At the end of each day we went to local Fed Ex office to ship the ready swings back to the UK or anywhere else in the world where customers had ordered one of our swings...
This is the only time we have moved production away from The Oak & Rope HQ.
As you can see from the video above, the making of these swings is now a team effort and we try to keep a stock of these so they can be shipped out and delivered in 2-4 days globally.