I'm looking for a knot similar to a sheepshank but adjustable and stable under load on both ends.

Think of two poles that have the two ends of a rope permanently attached to them but you want to shorten the rope in-between like you would do with a taut-line hitch. Obviously, you have no free ends for a taut-line. A sheepshank would at least shorten the rope mid-line but could not create tension like a taut-line hitch would.

I feel like there should be a knot for this but I haven't seen one like it yet. Any ideas?

2 Answers 2


Knots by Grog say:

If you are asked to learn to tie the Sheepshank, please request your Troop Leader to eliminate this knot and replace it with something safe and useful, e.g., the Alpine Butterfly Loop is an excellent way of creating a loop in the middle of a length of rope and can also be safely used to shorten a rope.

So it sounds like you want an

Alpine Butterfly Loop

Tying it:

There are several methods for tying it. We devised the method that is used in the animation. It is an improvement on other "hand-winding" methods. It helps locate the loop: the second crossing of your hand is near your fingertips and away from the other two turns. This helps you to locate it, pick it up, and wrap it around the other two strands. Setting the knot usually requires holding the loop in your teeth and pulling both ends with your hands.

If you need tension then you could also try:

Truckers Hitch

Form a bight in the standing end and use it to tie a Directional Figure 8 Knot. Pass the tail round the hook below and through the Directional Figure 8 Loop, and pull tight. Complete the knot with two Half Hitches below the loop.

  • 1
    Thanks for the answer. I know the Alpine Butterfly and usually use it for this very purpose for lack of a better knot. The problem with it is you can't create tension on the rope like with a taut-line hitch. You end up with a shorter, but still slack rope.
    – smossum
    May 28, 2015 at 15:04
  • 2
    What about a truckers hitch then @smossum?
    – user2766
    May 28, 2015 at 15:09
  • 1
    Oh man, that is genius. I didn't think of using a trucker's hitch on a bight but it works perfectly fine. Alpine Butterfly as the top loop and then just pull a bight through the loop, pull tight, and finish with a few half hitches. Big thanks!
    – smossum
    May 28, 2015 at 15:29
  • While the Sheepshank is not useful in this position, it is a good knot to know for other uses and it is a good teaching tool for a whole series of mid line knots.
    – Willeke
    Apr 2, 2018 at 8:49

The basic sheep shank is pretty useless - but if you add a second half hitch to each end and have a decent sized loop out of each end it works great. This is not far off a redirect used by tree climbers... so is head and shoulderr s above the basic sheep shank.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.