|Last modified 13 Jan 2009|
Encyclopedia of Tie Knots
The catalogue follows, and compliments,
The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie,
though it does not excerpt any of the text therein.
More detailed information can be found in the book.
A mathematical derivation of the knots included here and technical information about the different knots
can be found in the two physics journal articles,
'Designing tie knots by random walks' (a summary) and
'Tie knots, random walks and topology' (a detailed exposition).
The two ways of beginning a tie knot.
The six ways of continuing a tie knot.
The two ways of ending a tie knot.
The T T ending. This can be generalised to T T T, etc., as expected.
Knots of Note
Although this is the simplest of knots, it is not widely known in the Western world, where it is sometimes called the simple knot. It is, however, widely used by youth groups in China, hence its name. The Oriental is particularly useful for wool or thick silk ties. On thinner cloths it can loosen up over time, requiring frequent adjustment. The Oriental is also the first knot to be tied with the tie inside-out around the neck, a technique unfamiliar to most men but used in half of all possible knots.
This is, without question, the most well-known, and today most frequently worn, knot of all. Tied in an ordinary silk tie, it is a small knot with a characteristic elongated, asymmetric shape. In thicker ties, the four-in-hand can look deceptively large; the Windsor knot, named after the eponymous Duke, was in fact a four-in-hand tied with specially tailored thick ties. It was the public, rather than the Duke, which invented the Windsor knot and in an attempt to emulate his big knot.
The four-in-hand refers not only to the knot described here, but also to the modern necktie itself. The knot and the tie were simultaneously introduced in the 1850s as an alternative to the cravats popular at the time. There are a number of possible etymologies for the name: drivers of the four-in-hand carriage tied their scarves with the above knot; the reigns of carriage were tied in the same way; it was worn by members of the now-defunct Four-in-Hand Club.
Although this knot is technically no different from the four-in-hand (2) (the wide blade is simply thrown behind ond over the existing knot), it gives a dramatically different appearance. It was worn by the Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis and, according to The New York Times in 1989, it 'still has a certain popularity along Seventh Avenue' in New York City.
The suffix 'on' has been added to the knot number 2 to designate this Onassis variation. The Ri Co effect can in principle be applied to any knot, although the effect will be the same.
This knot, also begun inside-out, is similar to the four-in-hand, but slightly bigger and more symmetric. It is named after Lord Kelvin who, although he would not have used the knot itself, contributed to the mathematical theory of knots first seriously studied in the 19th century.
When the T T ending is used with the Kelvin, it produces a cruciform structure similar to the Christensen below (knot 252). This is the smallest knot with which the T T ending can be used, given that the knot must end L R L R C or R L R L C to do so.
When the cross Kelvin is worn in reverse (back-to-front), it shows an unusual diagonal pattern. The tie itself should be reversed before tying.
This knot, a cousin of the Pratt (5), has a compact, symmetric shape, despite the fact that is has two L moves and one R. In size it is in between the four-in-hand (2) and half-Windsor (7), and it is a natural choice for those seeking a symmetric knot of modest size.
Although more well-known than the Nicky, this knot is also the co-Nicky, being identical to that knot apart from the transposition of the R-L pair. Some men prefer the Nicky, some the Pratt; one or the other should be a staple of any man's knot repertoire.
This knot is identical to the four-in-hand apart from the addition of another R-L pass of the the wide blade across the knot before ending.
If a man claims to know a second knot in addition to the four-in-hand, it is likely to be the half-Windsor, the third of the four classic tie knots. This symmetric knot is medium-sized, with the silhouette of an equilateral triangle. It can satisfactorily be worn with collars of most sizes and spreads. Although the name of the half-Windsor suggests it is derived from the Windsor, there is little direct evidence for this claim. Moreover, the half-Windsor is not half the size of the Windsor, but rather three-quarters.
Keep in mind that the half-Windsor is sometimes a victim of the erroneous naming convention used to describe both it and the Windsor, calling them the Windsor and double-Windsor. There is no such thing as a double Windsor, and the Windsor should be used to refer to knot 31 only.
This cousin of the half-Windsor has the advantage of self-releasing (unknotting) when the thin end
is pulled out through the knot.
Named after the small town in up-state New York, where the author was born.
This is the principal 8-move, 2-centre knot. As its sequence suggests, the Cavendish is a concatenation of two four-in-hands, one being a mirror image of the other. This gives an idea of its shape: similar to the four-in-hand, but much bigger.
This is an ingenious knot which has an unusual cruciform structure. It is achieved by wrapping the thin blade around twice and passing the wide blade through both loops (see the explanation of the T T move above). Here is a picture of a Christensen knot from an old catalogue, using a tie of uniform width. Notice that both layers of the (normally) thin end should be visible, which form the two legs of the cross.
The knot is best tied with ties made from thin material, giving the hourglass shape shown here
and not the more triangular shape which results from medium- and heavy-weight fabrics.
This is probably the most well-known knot name, though in practice more men know how to tie the simpler half-Windsor (7). It is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the double-Windsor; no such not exists, unless it is meant to refer to the ludicrously large 16-move knot, Li Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co Ri Co Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T.
The Windsor produces a large, solid, triangular knot, which is not worn as frequently as it was in the first half of the 20th century. In the Ian Fleming novels, Bond thinks the Windsor knot is 'the mark of a cad'. Today it is, curiously, the knot of choice of (once) communist leaders and dictators; Hugo Chavez, Putin and the Chinese leaders Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao are examples. The knot is self-releasing.
Despite the knot's name, it was not, as is commonly held, invented by the Duke of Windsor. In his memoirs A Family Album, the Duke explains that it was his specially made thick ties, rather than a complicated knot, that produced the effect:
'The so-called ''Windsor knot'' in the tie was adopted in America at a later date. It was I believe regulation wear for G.I.s during the war, when American college boys adopted it too. But in fact I was in no way responsible for this. The knot to which Americans gave my name was a double knot in a narrow tie - a ''slim Jim'' as it is sometimes called. It is true that I myself have always preferred a large knot, as looking better than a small one, so during the nineteen twenties I devised, in conclave with Mr Sandford, a tie always of the broad variety which was reinforced by an extra thickness of material to produce this effect. As far as I know this particular fashion has never been followed in America or elsewhere.'
A cousin of the Windsor, but not self-releasing.
Another cousin of the Windsor, but not self-releasing.
A self-releasing cousin of the Windsor.
This is the principal 9-move, 3-centre knot. It is a direct extension of the Oriental and the half-Windsor, each knot being larger in turn by the addition of an L-R-C triplet. The Hanover is one move larger than the Windsor, and in shape is slightly less squat - like the half-Windsor, if forms a perfect equilateral triangle. Being a 9-move knot, it requires a larger collar or at least one with considerable spread. It is not self-releasing.
The Hanover is named after the House of Hanover, which lasted from 1760 to 1901 and included the British monarchs George III, George IV, William IV and Victoria.
A cousin of the Hanover, but self-releasing.
Another self-releasing cousin of the Hanover.
Another cousin of the Hanover, but not self-releasing.
This is the principal 9-move, 4-centre knot, the largest, broadest class of all. It is an natural extension of the Plattsburgh, starting inside-out but with the addition of the Lo Ci moves. The Balthus is very wide, and requires a spread collar to accommodate it. It is self-releasing.
A cousin of the Balthus, but not self-releasing.
Comprehensive List of Knots
- Number is the number of the knot, and, along with any subscripts or superscripts, a unique identifier (e.g., FM7 is the half-Windsor, where FM refers to the Fink-Mao notation).
Knots are ordered first by size, then by the number of centre moves C, then by symmetry s, then by balance b.
- Size is the number of moves, not including T. Higher values correspond to bigger knots.
- Centres is the number of centre moves C. Higher values correspond to broader knots.
- Sequence The instructions for tying the knot, using the notation described at the top of this page.
- Symmetry (s) is the absolute value of the difference between the number of R and L moves.
- Balance (b) is the number of times the winding of the wide blade switches from clockwise to counter-clockwise, or vice-versa.
- Knotted status (k) Whether, when the tie is removed over the head and the thin end pulled out of the knot, a knot remains (y) or does not (n).
If a knot remains, it is said to be not self-releasing; if no knot remains, it is said to be self-releasing.
- Name Standard name of the knot.
- 3on The subscript on is short for Onassis, and it indicates his particular style of bring the wide blade behind and through the center after tying a four-in-hand. This variation can be applied to any knot but the results are all much the same.
- 32, 62, etc. If a knot ends with two Ts, it is subscripted 2; if three Ts, it is subscripted 3; and so on.
- 32r, etc. The superscript r means the tie is worn in reverse, that is, back-to-front. While this is of course possible for any knot, with some it gives unusual and pleasant results. The tie itself should be reversed before tying.
|1||3||1||Lo Ri Co T||0||0||y||Oriental|
|2||4||1||Li Ro Li Co T||1||1||n||four-in-hand|
|2on||4||1||Li Ro Li Co T Ri Co||1||1||Onassis|
|3||5||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y||Kelvin|
|32||5||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||2||cross Kelvin|
|32r||5||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||2||diagonal|
|4||5||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||0||n||Nicky|
|5||5||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||1||y||Pratt|
|6||6||1||Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||3||n||Victoria|
|62||6||1||Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||3||cross Victoria|
|7||6||2||Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||0||y||half-Windsor|
|8||6||2||Li Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||1||n||co-half-Windsor|
|9||6||2||Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||1||y|
|10||6||2||Li Co Li Ro Li Co T||2||2||n|
|11||7||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||4||y|
|112||7||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||4|
|113||7||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T T||0||4|
|12||7||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||1||n||St Andrew|
|13||7||2||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||1||1||n|
|14||7||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||2||y||co-St Andrew|
|15||7||2||Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||2||y|
|16||7||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||2||n|
|162||7||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||2|
|17||7||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y|
|172||7||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||1||3|
|18||7||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||1||y||Plattsburgh|
|19||7||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||2||n||co-Plattsburgh|
|20||7||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||2||2||n|
|21||7||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||2||3||y|
|22||8||1||Li Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||5||n|
|222||8||1||Li Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||5|
|223||8||1||Li Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T T||1||5|
|23||8||2||Li Ro Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y||Cavendish|
|24||8||2||Li Ro Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y|
|25||8||2||Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y|
|252||8||2||Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||2||Christensen|
|26||8||2||Li Ro Li Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||3||n|
|27||8||2||Li Ro Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T||0||3||n|
|272||8||2||Li Ro Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||0||3||co-Christensen|
|28||8||2||Li Co Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||3||y|
|282||8||2||Li Co Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||3|
|29||8||2||Li Ro Li Co Li Ro Li Co T||2||3||n|
|30||8||2||Li Co Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||2||4||n|
|302||8||2||Li Co Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||2||4|
|31||8||3||Li Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||0||n||Windsor|
|32||8||3||Li Co Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||1||y||co-Windsor 1|
|33||8||3||Li Co Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||1||y||co-Windsor 2|
|34||8||3||Li Ro Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||1||n|
|35||8||3||Li Co Li Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||1||2||n||co-Windsor 3|
|36||8||2||Li Ro Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||2||y|
|37||8||3||Li Ro Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||2||y|
|38||8||3||Li Co Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||1||2||n|
|39||8||3||Li Ro Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||1||3||n|
|40||8||3||Li Co Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y|
|41||8||3||Li Co Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y|
|42||8||3||Li Co Li Co Li Ro Li Co T||3||4||n|
|43||9||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||6||y|
|432||9||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||6|
|433||9||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T T||0||6|
|434||9||1||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T T T||0||6|
|44||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||1||3||n||Granchester|
|45||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||3||n|
|452||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||3|
|46||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||3||n|
|47||9||2||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||3||n|
|472||9||2||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||3|
|48||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||4||y||co-Grantchester|
|49||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||4||y|
|492||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||1||4|
|50||9||2||Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||4||y|
|51||9||2||Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||4||y|
|512||9||2||Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||1||4|
|52||9||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T||1||4||n|
|522||9||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||1||4|
|523||9||2||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Ro Li Co T T T||1||4|
|53||9||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||1||5||y|
|532||9||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||1||5|
|533||9||2||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T T||1||5|
|54||9||3||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||0||y||Hanover|
|55||9||3||Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||0||1||n||co-Hanover 1|
|56||9||3||Lo Ri Co Li Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||1||n||co-Hanover 2|
|57||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||1||y|
|58||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||1||y||co-Hanover 3|
|59||9||3||Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y|
|60||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||2||n|
|61||9||3||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y|
|62||9||3||Lo Ri Co Li Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||2||y|
|63||9||3||Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||0||3||n|
|64||9||3||Lo Ri Co Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||0||3||n|
|65||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||3||y|
|66||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||0||3||y|
|662||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||0||3|
|67||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T||0||4||n|
|672||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||0||4|
|68||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||2||2||n|
|69||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ri Co Li Ro Li Co T||2||2||n|
|70||9||3||Lo Ci Ro Li Co Li Ro Li Co T||2||2||n|
|71||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||2||3||y|
|72||9||3||Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||2||3||n|
|73||9||3||Lo Ri Co Li Co Li Ro Li Co T||2||3||n|
|74||9||3||Lo Ri Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||2||4||y|
|75||9||3||Lo Ri Co Ri Co Ri Lo Ri Co T||2||4||y|
|76||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T||2||4||n|
|762||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Ro Li Co T T||2||4|
|77||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T||2||5||y|
|772||9||3||Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Lo Ri Co T T||2||5|
|78||9||4||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||1||2||n||Balthus|
|79||9||4||Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y|
|80||9||4||Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y|
|81||9||4||Lo Ci Ro Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||1||3||y||co-Balthus|
|82||9||4||Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||1||4||n|
|83||9||4||Lo Ci Ro Ci Ro Ci Ro Li Co T||1||4||n|
|84||9||4||Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ci Ro Li Co T||3||4||n|
|85||9||4||Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ci Lo Ri Co T||3||5||y|
Notes on Ties
'When the fabric of the tie permits (if it is silk twill or a supple Jacquard silk, for example), a beautiful effect can be obtained by using the index finger to press a slight convex cavity into the tie just below the knot. The French call this little hollow a cuillère, which means spoon or scoop' explains François Chaille in The Book of Ties. This hollow is called a dimple in English, and it is best suited to wide and medium width ties. But while one dimple is smart, two is very much an affectation.
On the back of the wide blade a small horizontal band can be found, usually a label with the name of the maker or, on better-made ties, a band of the same material as the tie itself. While most men slip the thin blade through this band to secure it, it is arguably smarter to leave it free to flow. If the thin blade is too long after the tie is tied, one way of shortening it is to slip the excess through the label and pass the thin blade through it, as shown.