When tying the basic, oft-used, simple “two-half-hitches” (double-half-hitch), instead of applying a clove hitch around the standing part, there’s a thing about mistakingly tying a lark’s head. This accident rears its head time and again, and many Scouts (both youth and adult) somehow don’t recognize the difference. Fact remains, tying a lark’s head around the standing part (cow hitch) doesn’t provide the same holding effect or friction as forming a clove hitch. Mostly, it does the trick, BUT, it’s not the same and shouldn’t be considered as such.
A clove hitch is formed by tying two half hitches in the same direction. The lark’s head is made up of two half hitches tied in opposite directions (see above video).
This becomes a “bigger” issue when tying a taut-line hitch. If the half hitches aren’t tied in the same fashion (if the running end isn’t spiraling around the standing part in the same direction), instead of a rolling hitch around the standing part, what you get is a lark’s head along with an extra round turn. This provides less friction. It will not grab the guyline as well, and hence is less effective.
In addition to the campcraft jobs it does so well, the lark’s head is useful in Pioneering too. Besides coming into play to hang all kinds of stuff, it’s how we start off the Filipino diagonal lashing.
III A. In the BSA, the square knot is commonly referred to as a joining knot and tying it is a requirement to earn the Scout rank. However, the square knot (reef knot) is first and foremost a binding knot. For our purposes, its primary use will be to complete a Mark II Square Lashing.
III B. A roundturn with two half hitches is one of the basic knots that is very reliable for a number of uses in pioneering work. It is easy to tie and untie and does not reduce the strength of the rope due to sharp turns when under a hard pull.
Scouts will show they understand the square knot is used as a binding knot and will demonstrate they can always tie it (instead of a granny knot) by relying solely on the appearance of the first overhand knot. Refer to Foolproof Way to ALWAYS Tie a Square Knot Right.
Scouts will demonstrate how a roundturn can be used to temporarily hold the strain on a rope.
Scouts will demonstrate they can tie two half hitches around the standing part of a rope and draw them up tight against a roundturn.
3-foot length of 3/16 or 1/4-inch braided nylon or polyester cord for each Scout
Length of 1/2-inch nylon or polyester cord and a vertical pole or tree, to serve as a large visual aid
Sturdy horizontal pole, lashed between two trees or anchored uprights about 3-1/2 feet off the ground
One 15-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing rope for every two Scouts
Utilizing the 1/2-inch cord and vertical pole or tree, the instructor demonstrates how a square knot is used to secure a line or rope directly around an object.
While tying an overhand knot (half knot) around the pole, the instructor explains how it’s always possible to know how to tie the second overhand knot just by looking at the first. This can be illustrated by positioning the two running ends so they are perpendicular to the standing part wrapped around the pole, (see Illustration 1) It’s pointed out that one running end is on the bottom and the other is on the top. When bringing the ends together to tie the second overhand knot, the end on the bottom should stay on the bottom and the end on top should stay on the top, and then the second overhand knot can be tied to form the square knot correctly 100% of the time. This is demonstrated by the instructor!
Using their 3-foot cord, Scouts tie an overhand knot around their thigh, and then position the two ends so they lie at right angles to the part wrapped around their thigh. They then practice carrying the bottom and top ends together to form a square knot.
Scouts bring their 3-foot cords to the horizontal pole(s) and each ties an overhand knot around the pole. When all the overhand knots are in place, they back away and change places with another Scout. The “new” overhand knot is interpreted, and relying only on its appearance, Scouts complete the square knot.
5. Alternating the position of the running ends of overhand knots tied around the horizontal pole, races are run between individuals to determine that the ability to rely only on the appearance of the initial overhand knot has been mastered. Reviews are conducted as necessary.
1. The instructor wraps the 1/2-inch cord around the horizontal pole forming a roundturn. He explains that a roundturn goes around the pole twice, and when maintaining a grip on the running end, a good deal of stress can be held because of the friction around the pole created by the roundturn.
2. The instructor ties a half hitch around the standing part of the rope and cinches it up to the roundturn on the pole.
3. The instructor ties a second half hitch around the standing part and cinches that up to the first. He explains that these two half hitches have formed a clove hitch around the standing part and the knot is often called two half hitches. He further explains that when two half hitches are tied like this after a roundturn, the knot is called a roundturn with two half hitches and, as will be seen later, is often used on guylines and anchor points when building a pioneering structure.
4. The class is divided into twos. The first Scout holds the end of the 15-foot rope and stands about 12 feet away from the horizontal pole. The second Scout goes to the pole and with the other end of the rope applies a roundturn, while the first gives the rope some tension with a slight, steady pull. When the roundturn is completed, the second Scout lets go of the standing part and with one hand grabbing the running end, he holds the strain still applied by the first Scout. He then adds two half hitches. When the roundturn with two half hitches is tied, the second Scout lets go of the rope entirely. The two Scouts switch so that everyone in the class can demonstrate they are comfortable tying the knot.
II. In Pioneering, half hitches are everywhere! Two of them next to each other is a clove hitch, and that’s something we use time and time again. As John Thurman declares, “If only we can get Scouts to learn that if you make one half hitch and another half hitch and bring them together they make a clove hitch, what a lot of time the Movement would save in the amount of fiddling and fumbling that goes on when a clove hitch is the order of the day.”
Scouts will demonstrate they can tie half hitches around a horizontal pole, proceeding from both the right and the left.
Scouts will demonstrate they can tie a round lashing by starting and ending the lashing with two half hitches.
Scouts will lash together two staves to make a longer pole by using two properly positioned round lashings.
Suspended horizontal hitching post or similar setup, to accommodate the entire class
Two or more 5-foot Scout Staves for every Scout (the more the better)
Four 6 to 10-foot x 1/4-inch manila lashing ropes for every Scout (the more the better)
6-foot x 1-1/2-inch diameter spar set up as a crossbar with a 6-foot length of 1/2-inch nylon or polyester cord, attached in the middle, to serve as a large visual aid
Starting at the center of the 6-foot spar, the instructor slowly ties a half hitch for all to see, proceeding from the left and initially carrying the running end over the top of the spar.
The half hitch is untied and slowly tied again for all to see. This is repeated as necessary while, in like manner, the class ties their own half hitch around the horizontal hitching post.
When each Scout can tie the half hitch, the instructor slowly demonstrates the tying of two half hitches in succession. (No mention needs to be made that this is a clove hitch.)
When all Scouts can accomplish this, three and four half hitches are tied in succession. Scouts give it a go.
Starting again at the center, steps 1-4 are repeated on the other side, this time proceeding from the right and initially carrying the running end over the top of the spar.
Using two Scout Staves and a lashing rope, the instructor demonstrates how, by holding in one hand the two staves and the long end of the rope as the standing part, he can tie two half hitches around both staves working with the running end. This forms a clove hitch which will start off the round lashing. It will be easy to see that since the long end of the rope will be used for the wrappings, to start the lashing, the half hitches will be applied moving towards the nearest end of one of the staves.
Scouts apply the technique, tying the clove hitch around two staves in the manner shown.
The instructor demonstrates wrapping the longer end tightly and neatly around both staves, leaving enough rope to finish the lashing with two half hitches.
Scouts practice lashing two staves together with two round lashings. The space where the two poles are joined, gets two tight round lashings—one on either side of the overlap and right near the ends of each pole. (See photo to the left.)
Scouts combine into one group and, using all the materials on hand, join all the staves tightly together into one very long pole, with round lashings.
Ah, the clove hitch. It’s a simple way to attach a rope to a pole, it’s side-to-side adjustable and is frequently used to start and finish a variety of lashings. Some folks don’t like it because in various applications, it’s not the most secure or reliable choice. But, in those instances, there are numerous alternatives. See the following photos—all close clove hitch relatives.
The clove hitch is one of the most-frequently-used knots Scouts learn, so common, yet it can also be very elusive, especially when it comes to completing certain lashings. In the knot-tying universe, the clove hitch is a whole lot more prevalent than most of us realize, and it can be tied in a variety of ways and from a variety of different perspectives.
Two Half Hitches. Here’s what John Thurman says in Pioneering Projects: “The first and everlasting thing to remember about the clove hitch is that it is composed of two half hitches. What a very obvious thing to say, but there is hardly one Scout in a hundred who learns what it means. If only we can get Scouts to learn that if you make one half hitch and another half hitch and bring them together they make a clove hitch, what a lot of time the Movement would save in the amount of fiddling and fumbling that goes on when a clove hitch is the order of the day. We would be able to start in the sure knowledge that we can make clove hitches and pass quickly on to better and brighter things.”
Before addressing the various ways to approach tying a clove hitch, did you ever wonder why the basic knot, two half hitches is called “Two Half Hitches?” (The name “Double Half Hitch” has also been used.) What’s a half hitch anyway? Well, now we know it’s half a clove hitch, (the line wraps around the object and then passes under itself) but how many of us have realized that in actuality, two half hitches is a clove hitch tied around the rope’s standing part? That’s what it is! On a side note, the very useful taut-line hitch is nothing but a clove hitch started off with a roundturn (called a rolling hitch), which is also tied around the rope’s standing part. As mentioned above, the clove hitch is whole lot more prevalent than most of us realize, and indeed it can be tied in a variety of ways. Here we go:
Open-End Clove Hitch (Clove Hitch on a Bight). Back in the 60s at Camp Wauwepex, a Scout camp on Long Island, one of the attractions in the Scoutcraft area was a vertical pole about 4 feet tall with a rope attached near the bottom. This was a “Hitching Post.” It was put up so Scouts could see how many Half Hitches they could throw over the top of the pole as quickly as possible. Watching fellow Scouts who had mastered the simple technique provided enough motivation to learn how to do it too, and it was easy to get quite good at it. As we were throwing hitches over the pole with greater and greater alacrity, we weren’t aware that every two of these hitches was a clove hitch. Nor would we have cared. It was just fun to see how fast we could get. VIEW VIDEO: Hitching Race
When preceding from the left, all that needs to be done is:
Form another right underhand loop and place it over the pole (on top of the pervious one).
Voila! Clove hitch!
When preceding from the right, instead of right underhand loops, form left underhand loops.
Without being informed, one can just look at two of these half hitches and see they look exactly like a clove hitch. Of course, that’s because these two half hitches are a clove hitch. Throwing two half hitches over the open end of a vertical pole is the hands down, quickest way of tying a clove hitch. After you’ve done it for awhile, it takes about a second. A common way to refer to this “Clove Hitch on a Bight” is to call it an “Open-Ended Clove Hitch.” It’s exactly what the doctor ordered when you need to tie a clove hitch over the end of a spar. It’s also the only way to tie a clove hitch in the middle of a long line, like when securing a hand rope on the top of an A-frame during the construction of a Double A-frame Monkey Bridge (unless you want to pull foot after foot of rope through the hitches because you’re using an alternate method, or… you just don’t know any better).
It’s really surprising how many folks, old and young, aren’t familiar with this simple method of tying a clove hitch. Here’s an amusing illustration: A young Scout was competing at a camporee for the best time in completing a Rope-Toss-Log-Lift Challenge. After throwing the rope over the crossbar and tying the end to a log with a timber hitch, the third step is to secure the other end of the rope to a stake in the ground with a clove hitch. Ah! An open ended pole! So, this young Scout completes the first two steps, runs over to the stake and, bam! He ties an Open-Ended Clove Hitch over that stake in nothing flat. The jaw of the Scouter conducting the event drops down. With mouth open and a look of bewilderment on his face, he leans down, scratches his head, and examines the knot. Yes, to his surprise, indeed it’s a clove hitch! This skinny, young Scout did something the adult had never seen before, and the old guy was astonished!
Finishing a Lashing with Two Half Hitches.
Here’s the story: When you learn how to do this, number one, it’s faster. Number two, it’s also easier to securely finish off the frapping turns, because it’s a cinch to snug both half hitches in close and pull them real tight, which is definitely something you want to do.