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Seeman's Knoten aka Seaman's Knots

Updated on October 3, 2015

A Passion

There are four things I will probably remember the most about my Dad:

...The seemingly endless collection of 'Mundharmonikas' (Harmonica) he always carried around and played at every moment. Later his musical skill was extended to the 'Zieharmonika'; this giant, hand-held organ of melodies that remind us so much of sailors shanties.

...The beautiful ...certificates he created with Sepia ink with real ink wells and 'feathers' on 'elephant skin'. Giant creations so much valued by his friends and coworkers!

...The comics he created for the monthly 'newspaper' for the Lufthansa Cargo section on Frankfurt Airport.

...The never-ending pieces of yarn and rope he would carry around and 'put knots into'!

OH...! And maybe his love for oak trees in their magnificent beauty!

Ring a Bell
Ring a Bell | Source
Practical and Beautiful
Practical and Beautiful | Source

From Key Chains to Shadow Boxes

I remember an old, green book with instructions on how to 'knot'! It was worn and probably as old as I was.
When my Dad wasn't walking around with his 'Tampen' (yarn, rope), the leather glove with the metal thing in the middle used for sewing/using large sharp needles, the poky metal thing with the sharp tip used to 'dig holes'; knotting things together and creating beauty, he would sit at the table and do so! That book would always lay there wide open; revealing new secrets to making beautiful things!

He also made little boxes with hidden ways to open them. And so many other things that often became going-away gifts or awards! His creativity never seemed to stop; especially not when it involved one of his countless... 'acts of humor'!

We children had special key rings. Anything from the hard little balls that hurt like hell when hitting somebody, to the beautiful creation looking like a bell.

From key rings and simple to totally complex and complicated knots he graduated to candle holders in beautiful varieties! He never stopped with just the simple knots shown in the book of secrets. It would start simple; and become a creation of such complex creativity that it often left us stunned. I soon owned and still have a long belt made out of a combination of several different knots. It is almost too beautiful to wear!

Tuerkischer Bund aka Turkish Bind/Knot
Tuerkischer Bund aka Turkish Bind/Knot | Source

A growing Passion

What may have started out as the need of a passionate sailor (a former Container Ship sailor capable of captaining such large ships for the 'Reederei Bolten'; and at home on any yacht that could carry him around Corsica and across oceans) to be able to fix things and make things work, had made it far pass a now hobby of a working man.

Things around the house would show signs of it. There were those neat things laying on the table to keep the tablecloth from burning under hot pots (I can't even remember the German name for them!) to all kinds of useful and beautiful creations. Even his self-built desk and drawing station had his inventions keeping it together!

Folks from his sailing club and work would ask him for his creations and he has produced many going-away gifts such as entire 'shadow boxes' full of knots! They were a piece of art and spoke of the meticulous nature I have found in many Germans.

You have to see the knots up close to get an idea of how much work is in them; but you won't know for real until you saw one created! Something simple looking like the 'Turkischer Bund' is actually layers over layers of yarn or rope knotted together until it creates this rock hard ball that could actually be used as weapon.
...all the while looking like 'just' a key ring!

Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek
Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek | Source
Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek
Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek | Source

Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek

My Dad has a interesting kind of Humor that can have you breathless with laughter or shaking your head!

Of course it wasn't long before his natural sense of humor blended itself with his creativity and turned into a serious of ...jokes!

I belief it was the shadow box for 'Mon Capitan' (a outstanding and highly respected sailor, his friend and ...probably his evil twin when it came to some of the jokes these two came up with) that first saw the 'Hanseatischer Wuhlingstek'.
Despite the fact that he soon used his skills to create what seems instructions on how to create this knot, it continued to cause a lot of drawn-out thought-processes on the 'how to'; with often meager results!

Only after he and his evil companions had their fill of perplex faces and hand raised in defeat.. would he uncover the secret...

There was no way to actually 'knot' this creation and make it work! It was a simple but seemingly complicated combination of looks and hidden ends! The ends of ropes or yarn that were part of the 'extra' rope/yarn who's existence just couldn't be explained! Like an extra leg that seemingly comes out of nowhere!

I am sure there were many other knots he created for entertainment. He replaced his often tough, stressful and too often ungrateful job with a humor that most of us just can't acquire. And creating those 'knotted' pieces of art, no matter if they were 'real' or not, was just part of it. In the same way his music became part of it.

I don't know if his self-created stress relief worked, but the results of it have been many times the sources of laughter, happiness and gratefulness.

I tried it once or twice to use my own book (a gift by my Dad) to create a 'knot'. But in the end all I created was a knot you can probably not find in any book!

I did learn something out of it, tough!

Persistence and attention to detail can create some amazing things!

Neunschwaenzige Katze aka Nine-tailed Cat (translated)
Neunschwaenzige Katze aka Nine-tailed Cat (translated) | Source
My Dad used to make these for ceremonies and as rewards.
My Dad used to make these for ceremonies and as rewards. | Source
The 'Turkish Bind/Knot' as a Candle Holder
The 'Turkish Bind/Knot' as a Candle Holder | Source
This is actually a combination of three knots within each other and knotted so tight that it is as hard as a rock. 'Wurfline' would be a weighted line/rope to be 'thrown'.
This is actually a combination of three knots within each other and knotted so tight that it is as hard as a rock. 'Wurfline' would be a weighted line/rope to be 'thrown'. | Source


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    • Becky Katz profile image

      Becky Katz 5 years ago from Hereford, AZ

      These are beautiful. I wonder if macrame came from this. I have done macrame for ears and it is very stress reducing. Now it is difficult to find the cord and strings to make macrame. It is not as popular as it once was.