Lark's Head Noose -- an Easy, Useful Knot That Tightens and Loosens




Intro: Lark's Head Noose -- an Easy, Useful Knot That Tightens and Loosens

I thought I knew all the basic knots, but then I was taught this incredibly useful, simple knot. It's good for tying up the neck of a bag that you want to repeatedly open and securely close. It's good for tying around a springy bundle that will need tightening and retightening. And, it's easy to undo.

I've looked at knot literature but haven't found a name for this, so I named it. The basic knot is well known; it's called a "lark's head". Since all I've done is to slip the two ends through the lark's head to make a noose, I call it that.

2013 Update!: 

WARNING: Don't use this knot when human safety would depend on it. Climbers and mountaineers have well-tested, reliable knots for such situations.

Step 1: Double the Cord Over

The lark's head noose requires enough cord to go twice around your bundle, plus a foot or two. Find the center and double it over. Sailors call this a bight.

Step 2: Form the Lark's Head

Coming from below the bight, hook your thumb and forefinger over the two sides. Reach outward and downward and pinch your fingertips together underneath the doubled cord.

You've made a lark's head. Move the crossing cord a little farther from your hand, so there's a clear opening through the two half-loops.

Step 3: Form the Noose

Slip the two ends of the cord through the opening we were just talking about. Pull the lark's head tight so it grips the two cords. Find something that needs constricting, and put the noose around it.

Step 4: Tightening, Retightening, and Locking

Slide the knot against the bundle. If it's not tight enough to keep from slipping, tighten it by holding it in one hand and tugging on the cords one at a time with the other hand. Notice that you can slide the knot out again, for instance to re-open the bag you just tied shut. For some applications, this may be as tight as you need it.

A springy bundle probably still feels loose. If so, compress the bundle and get a new grip on the cords. Rest your foot on the bundle, on the cords nearest the lark's head, and pull to slide the lark's head tighter.

To make the knot more permanent, you can lock it. Make an overhand in the cord ends. (Exactly like the first step in tying shoelaces.) With your foot still on the bundle, pull on the cords and move your hands apart until you're pulling in opposite directions. You have just locked the lark's head, and you can trust it to stay that way.(*)

But, let's say that later on you want to loosen the locked knot. Again put your foot on the bundle and cords nearest the lark's head, hold the two cord ends together, and pull. This makes a little slack between the overhand and the lark's head so you can untie the overhand.

In twine or small string, the locking overhand knot may be difficult to undo. Use a shoelace knot instead of an overhand, and it'll unlock easily.

(*) If you're using slippery cord, like polypropylene, an overhand may not lock securely. You may want to tie another overhand knot. For added security, wrap a short length of duct tape around the two cords, close to the knot.



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    13 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I have spotted a variance of this knot in Ashley Book of Knots #1695, though this differs in running ends knotted instead if a bight through the lark's head
    Wolf :)

    1 reply

    Thanks, Wolf, for spotting #1695! To my eye they look identical; but if you mean differing steps to arrive at the same result, I agree. I often tie the whole noose completely in the bight: once I have the lark's head, I push the nearby running ends through the lark's head without pulling the ends all the way through. Then, untwist twists and dress it nicely. This is useful if the line I'm using is very long, and useless if the flagpole, or handrail, or electric line I want to put it over has no free end.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This looks like this will be useful. I just wish I could remember how to tie the correct knot when I really need one.

    2 replies
    Larry Breedbaudeagle

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks. Trouble remembering? Tie the knot, over and over. Play with it. Your finger muscles will remember how to tie it even if your head forgets. :-)

    rhaubejoiLarry Breed

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    When I joined the volunteer fire departement I used a rope and tied the knots over and over (carried it with me everywhere) and then practiced them in the dark (simulating poor visual situations) Then we had timed games...:)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love this knot - my favorite part is that you can tie it in the bight. Will definitely be adding this knot to my everyday usage! =)


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Taught line hitch is my favorite tightening knot. It's used in different applications than this knot. Handy for tying things to trees and poles.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I loved the tautline hitch, but actually found one I like even more called the adjutable grip hitch:

    The problem is that the tautline hitch can slip, especially if you tie it in something slippery (like some polypropylene twine). There's a more secure version that involves crossing the second wrap over the first one, but the adjustable grip hitch is more secure anyway.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I now reveal for the first time in public, my easy method of tying a Buntline Hitch !

    1) make a bight at the end of the string, of the size of the final loop.
    You hold both the standing end and the running end in your left hand, the
    running end nearer you.

    2) stick two fingers of your right hand up through the loop.
    3) rotate your right hand clockwise at the wrist for one-and-a-half turns, as if
    winding a clock forward; your fingers end up pointing down.
    So far, you have a twisted loop.

    4) curl the running end up through the loop and down again to the left of the loop
    and down past the far side of the running end, that is, down into the gap formed by the original running end and the twisted part of
    the loop.

    5) that's it: you have a way of tying a buntline hitch with your eyes closed !


    9 years ago on Introduction

    This is pretty much the Lobster Buoy Hitch, but with both ends going through the loop. A Buntline Hitch would be more tenacious, but also much harder to open unless 'slipped', and of course harder to tie.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    this is an oldie that's really gone out of style since the zip-tie straps. here's a pic of how i learned it. use it alot when i'm tying stuff up. it's finished off with a square knot.

    old school zip tie.JPG