Rope Magic, Part III
There's a fancy "trick" way to make a Sheepshank. You start with the rope laying across your open palms as your hands are held, palm up in front of you. Your right hand closes over the rope over it and rolls toward the left forming a loop which is hung over the extended fingers of the left hand while the rest of the rope that was hanging over it pressed lightly in the crotch of the thumb. The right hand now moves to the right and, palm up, passes under another section of the remaining rope which is on the right side. Repeat the same closing and rolling movement you did before and form another loop which you place on top of the previous loop on your left hand's fingers. Do this one more time so that you have three loops hanging on your left hand.
The Sheepshank is completed by pulling the left side of the middle loop up through the top loop, and at the same time pulling the right side of the middle loop down through the first loop. As these two loops are pulled outwards, you will also pull on the un-looped ends of the rope which was on either side to complete the knot.
Once you gain experience in forming this knot, you can experiment by making the middle loop larger to produce a larger version of the Sheepshank. You can also make several "middle" loops and the knot will form correctly as long as you make certain that all of the left and right sides of the "middle" loops are pulled through the top and bottom loops.
Rope Magic: Two in One
Before I show you how to do a string of several knots, here's a bit of a puzzle for you, if you feel up to it. Follow the following 4 pictures, without any explanation, and you'll produce 2 knots at one time.
Rope Magic: String of multiple knots
You can form a string of any number of knots you wish using exactly the same beginning moves as you use to make the trick Sheepshank. The differences in the results come partly from the number of loops you hang onto your left hand's fingers: each loop will produce one knot.
Then, after you have placed the number of loops you want, straighten the fingers of your right hand and simply slide the loops onto that hand removing your left hand. As you make the transfer of hands, secretly grasp the end of the rope that was hanging off the left and between the first two fingers of the right hand. Holding on to that end, drop your right hand down and allow all the loops to fall off with the held end passing up through the loops. Gently shake the loops and one-by-one the knots will appear.
Undoing a string of knots.
This same string of knots can be quickly undone almost in the same wa as they were formed. If the knots are small, begin by making them enough so that your hand can pass through the loop of each one. Stack them one on top of the other making certain that the part which leaves the top of the lower knot runs directly without twisting into the bottom of the next knot which lays above on the pile. Reach down through the pile and grasp the end which is on the bottom. Pull this up through the center of the pile and as you continue to pull it upward all the knots will disappear.
Rope Magic: Other Vanishing Knots
The vanishing Overhand knot begins with a loose knot hanging about in the center of your rope. Hold one end in each hand and look at the knot. You'll notice one end of the rope leaves the knot close to your body, the other end will be on the side of the knot away from your body. Note which end of the rope is closest to your body and pass it to the other hand so that both ends are now in one hand. Now pick up the knot with your other hand and flip the loop over placing it over the end which was closest to you. Grab this end and shake the rope: the knot will vanish. As you practice this you want to make it appear that you are passing the loop over both ends instead of just the one.
Vanishing Bow Knot
You make this one disappear in plain sight but create a tale about it which makes it seem like the knot is becoming helplessly tangled before it disappears.
Make the Bow Knot in the way we described earlier and show how easy it is to undo as everyone knows. Then demonstrate how this knot gets tangled and snagged when an end passes up through the loop. When passing an end up through the loop make certain you first pass it over the loop on the side where the overhand knot is located. Make it extra tangled by passing the other end up through the loop on the other side too. Pull both ends to show how tangled this knot becomes.
Doing this demonstration is an important part of the misdirection that you need to do for this bit of rope magic to be believable. In the next stage, you're going to appear to make the knot get tangled but you'll actually be doing it differently which, of course, you do not tell your spectators.
After undoing the tangled knot, make another Bow knot and mention that you've discovered a magic way of dealing with a tangle of this kind. Put the each end of the rope through the loops on either side but this time put the end through from the top down on the side where the ends come out of the knot without crossing. Now start pulling the ends slowly and this knot, too, will seem to become tangled which you can comment on. As the knot starts to get snagged up, say your magic word, give a quick tug and the knot will undo itself.
The trick in this lays in the direction the ends are passed through the loops. As you practice this do each part very slowly at first and pay particular attention to the way the parts of the ropes cross in each version, after a few times you'll begin to see the differences which will help you not only with this trick but with many knotty puzzles which you may have encountered previously.
This concludes our basic primer on rope magic. By combining the different knots and vanishing knots and weaving an appropriate tale about them, you can develop a routine of simple rope magic, or if you prefer, simply a demonstration of knot tying agility.