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Knot Your Average Knot

Posted on Wednesday, October 8th, 2008.

Burton Riffle’s interest in knot-tying began at 11-years-old. He overheard a conversation between his father and a veterinarian coming to treat the family’s jersey cow. The veterinarian told a story about a fatal horse accident. He tied knots to pull a horse out of a ravine.? The knots were then altered by an unknowing farmer. The horse fell on to the rocks below and “burst open” because the knots were not secure enough.

“Since then,” Burton says, “I have purchased many knot books. I have broadened my horizons by being able to tie knots. I have worked on trees. I have worked on steep barn roofs. I’ve hauled things with vehicles and tied things on top of cars. It all started with that first interest in knots.”

Luckily for us at MobileBooth West, Burton carries a rope in his pocket. He demonstrates many knots: slippery square, sheep shank, sheet bend ,and bow line. He finishes with a grand finale: the jar sling, which he uses to pick up a Gatorade bottle.

People often ask Burton for advice on knot-tying. A neighbor once asked, “I haven’t seen you lately, what have you been up to?” Burton answered, “I’ve just been reading this knot book.” The neighbor got a confused look on his face. “Knots? Like K-N-O-T-S?” He spelled. He then asked, “Is there a special type of knot you can tie a boat anchor with?”

Burton Riffle

Burton grimaces at the mention of the term “granny knot.” It is best to tie a reef knot in nearly all circumstances. A granny knot can release unpredictably. Burton gets excited about the use of knots in problem solving. “Knots broaden my horizons. It’s nice to tie something I can depend on.”

4 Responses to “Knot Your Average Knot”

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  • Alex. You are blessed with so much interest in life. Having been one of your projects with StoryCorps. I speak with authority. You made me remember back when My only dream in life was to be a cowboy. A wonderful old cowboy bought me a real cowboy lariet. He taught me to tie the Honda, which is the loop and he taught me to tie the saddle knot. We worked on the Hackamore knot for a very long time. At the same age of Mr, Riffle, I learned patience and a love of knots. This even helped me through Boot Camp during WW two. I still think of things I should have told you. You truly put people at ease when you interview them.
    Sincerely Larry

    Comment from Larry Kilgore on March 7, 2009 at 8:03 am - Reply to this Comment
  • I love the sheepshank! Brings me back to my girl scout and sailing memories. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment from Katie on October 21, 2008 at 12:10 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Dearest Alex I finally found out how to view your story on the comp. How wonderful it all is just perfect for my perfect grand daughter. Love xoxo Grammy Dot

    Comment from Dorothy Johnson on October 19, 2008 at 9:55 pm - Reply to this Comment
  • Alex,
    You are the prettiest girl in the world. How nice that you are taking that beautiful smile all over the country and sharing it and your passion for life.


    Comment from Sally Bates on October 9, 2008 at 11:21 am - Reply to this Comment

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