There’s often a bit of a debate about how to finish your rope ends, whether to knot them or whip them.
They do need finishing, because otherwise your rope tends to unravel.
Honestly, I started off with knotted because it just seemed like the simplest way of doing it. It’s quick, easy, and takes no time at all. Just a quick overhand knot, and you’re done.
But after awhile, as I got more into rope, and I began enjoying the smooth flow of the movement and the interaction with people as I tied them, I began to encounter something that irritated me more and more over time.
There’s something incredibly annoying about when you’re in the middle of a smooth pull, you’re in the zone, the person you’re tying is caught up in it all, and then your rope gets goddamned stuck as you pull it beneath some wraps or behind your stem.
And you have to pause, jerk at it, untangle it. It’s freaking frustrating! Because, as the Emperor says, it throws you off your groove.
You’re no longer feeling zen and caught up in the moment; you’ve experienced a spike of irritation which has messed with your scene. The person you’re tying may not have noticed, but you sure have.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve had that happen, and had it detract from the flow of the moment during a rope scene.
So I did some research.
The main reason people seem to like knotted ends with shibari is that it makes it easier to join your rope; a Larks Head doesn’t slide past those knots.
That said, I looked into that, and you know what?
I have no problem joining my rope without those knots. Even without using a Sheet Bend, the rope’s natural tooth holds things in place. If I was worried that my rope might slip, or if I was using synthetic rope, then I can just take a second or two more to do a Sheet Bend as I add on.
So to me, that almost seems like an irrelevant argument. You don’t even need those knots most of the time. Besides, how often do your knotted ends wind up even, anyway?
Not very often at all. Usually one part of your doubled rope is shorter than the other.
So then I turned my attention to whipping rope ends. I know it sounds like you’re torturing your rope, but it’s pretty fun and totally good for your rope.
(Spare the rod, and all that)
Whipping seems to do a pretty solid job of finishing my rope ends neatly and tidily, and because not everyone does it, it gives me a great way to distinguish my rope from other people’s.
It also really, really helps with that problem of my rope ends getting caught under wraps; because the whipping only stands about a millimetre out from the rope itself, there is very little impediment there. My flow during a scene is much less affected by unexpected stoppages.
To Whip Your Rope Ends:
You will need
- Twine or thread for making your whipping
- The piece of rope to be finished.
You’ll need to measure and cut a decent length of twine. It doesn’t hurt to have at least half a metre.
Place your loop up against the rope to be finished – be sure to leave plenty of dangling ends outside the loop. You’ll need to use those as handles later.
Begin wrapping one side of the loop over your piece of rope. The loop will also end up going over those dangling ends.
As you progress, it will start to look quite tidy, and your loop will get smaller.
When you feel you have enough whipping to hold everything in place (about a centimetre long should do it) pull the dangling ends tight. This will essentially suck the rest of the loop up into the whipping and compact everything down, fixing the whipping in place.
Because photos can occasionally still confuse people, I decided to go the extra mile and create a quick little video to demonstrate the above; and also how little time it takes.
Ta da! All done.
Pro-Tip 1: Leave one-two centimetres of stub after the whipping. This flares out and stops the whipping from sliding off.
Pro-Tip 2: If you fray the stub and make it nice and soft, it gives you a fun sensation toy to tease your rope bottom with. Who needs feathers when you have a soft brush at each tip of your rope?
So finally, to answer the question of knots vs whipping?
Right now, at this stage in my rope journey, I would definitely say that whipping wins.