The maritime art of knot-tying is making a comeback in Campbell River thanks to one dedicated local knot expert.
“I did it for a long time, but for a long time, no one wanted to know about it. All of a sudden, there’s a lineup to take courses.”Ruedi Pletscher, knot expert
Ruedi Pletscher began tying knots when he was a boy boating with his father on the Rhine River in Switzerland. He has been tying them ever since. Now a Campbell River resident, he is reviving knot-tying for practical and artistic uses and is conducting sold-out workshops at the local Maritime Heritage Centre.
The retired aircraft maintenance engineer has travelled from the Maldives to Indonesia and has always been a sailboat enthusiast, learning knots from all over the world in his travels.
“I did it for a long time, but for a long time, no one wanted to know about it. All of a sudden, there’s a lineup to take courses,” he told West Coast Now. Apparently, his lifelong passion has not been all for naught.
“I would like to call it art, but I don’t know if that’s agreeable to the art world.”Ruedi Pletscher
The Maritime Heritage Centre recently approached him to do a course in knot-tying, and the response was overwhelming. “Within two days, 80 people applied. So I went, whoa! Let’s do two courses,” he said.
The elaborate knots – some of which are as strong as steel cable – are an impressive craft. “I would like to call it art, but I don’t know if that’s agreeable to the art world,” Pletscher told us, laughing.
“The two-strand diamond knot is my signature knot. If I go visit my friend’s dock, I tie the knot, and they will know I was there.”Ruedi Pletscher
“My style, I make a ‘knot picture’ like a diagram. It’s not art like paintings. This is more an installation. It has a frame, and then inside it has sample knots, with a pin rail on the bottom to practically tie them,” he explained.
Does he have a favourite knot? “The two-strand diamond knot is my signature knot. If I go visit my friend’s dock, I tie the knot, and they will know I was there,” he said.
It’s not just knots that appeal to Pletscher. He also makes rope and has invented his own rope-making machine that he was recently demonstrating at the BC Young Fishermen’s Network conference.
Besides the obvious practical uses of knots, he encourages knot-tying in old age to keep the brain sharp: “I have a knot called the Alzheimer’s knot. I tie it every month or two to practise.”
If you want to learn more about the art of knot-tying, you can visit the Maritime Heritage Centre’s site to see upcoming workshops. Two Intro to Practical Knot-Tying courses are planned in May, but hurry because one is already sold out.