KnotsSmall, large, actual, rendered, real and imagined
In a discussion on what unschooling is and isn't, and on the encroachment of early childhood education into everyday learning (shoe-tying and butt-wiping), the topic turned to knots.
My daughter can't tie a bow, but she has a blast with knots. They are very useful. She learned how to tie them herself and while what she does doesn't match a knot book, they stay together very well and she loves doing them. I think it started with the laces from the lacing toys we have. I don't know that she laced the lacing toys more than once or twice, but she loves the string. I also bought a plain jump rope and it gets used more as normal rope than as a jump rope.
Let's see, this weekend she tied the rope as a leash around a small duck and then switched to string when the duck kept falling out. She used the rope to have her younger brother drag get across the hardwood floors (knotted to make a loop which she was inside) as she was a baby and couldn't walk. She also used the rope to connect her fort to her brothers fort so that Lucy Little would be able to climb the rope between them if Lucy came out of the walls at night. Probably more rope/string stuff, but that is what springs to mind.
String makes great living room spider webs. Masking tape does too :)
There's a link to a site on many interesting ways to tie shoe laces (or to lace shoes, at least) here:
Knot tying can lead to all kinds of history and geography. Hunters, traps, climbing, ships (wrapped bottles, in addition to all kinds of sail rigging and tethering knots), and cowboy stuff, and...
I found a history on tatting, which evolved from "knotting" and likely originated in Ancient Egypt. I have some small doilies and a centerpiece that my grandmother tatted (though I didn't realize until now that that was what it was called!)
And math—knot theory! http://www.cut-the-knot.org/do_you_know/knots.shtml seems like a good site on the subject and they recommend the book "Experiments in Topology" which I own and have played with. No calculations required. Some of the experiments where you make a mobius strip and cut it to make new things are especially neat.
They also link to this site which is very cool:
I just showed the picture to my daughter and I am now working on a tying a chinese flower knot with a jump rope... third time is the charm (fingers crossed).
My husband, Keith, has always been a knot-tying guy, since he was a kid. He can make tents out of rope and anything, and did so once at a company picnic. We got there and it started raining and he built a kitchen out of stuff we had in the car—rope and a tarp—so that the hot-dog cooking could proceed. He always has bundles of rope in his truck, and some of these ropes he's had since before I met him 30 years ago. It's kind of amazing.
And his current artistic expression has to do with carving knotwork into wood.
Keith's a very mathematically-minded guy who thinks in patterns, and these knots come easy to him.
There are photos of some of his stuff here: http://sandradodd.com/knotwork
That leads to another page on which there's a photo of a shield with knotwork that Marty did (that second page turns to SCA names, and Marty is Bardolf Gunwaldtsson, and that roundshield at the bottom right with the yellow knotwork is Marty's. It's leaning against a leather stool that Keith owns but didn't make. It was a gift years ago from one of his squires. http://sandradodd.com/guestfest/knotwork
And in that same medieval projects series, another friend of ours taught how to make nets (for hair, but it's the same as for fishing) and that's here: http://sandradodd.com/guestfest/netting Marty was at that one, too; he's in the video. So is Holly. So is Sadie, another unschooler friend of ours. (They're in the knotwork photos too, somewhere.)