Handle Hitch Knot for Pulling Thin Rope

If you’ve ever tried to pull hard on thin rope (maybe to tighten slack in a line), you’ve probably wrapped the rope around your hand and felt it dig in as it constricted around your fingers.

Here’s a knot that solves the problem – I call it the Handle Hitch. I couldn’t find it anywhere else – if you’ve heard of it and it has a name, I’d love to know.

With slippery rope (i.e.: paracord), it isn’t suitable for massive loads due to its similarity to the sheepshank. However, it unquestionably improves your ability to grip a line.

Wrap the cord around your hand

The first step is to wrap the cord around your hand. I find it useful to wrap from the outside in.

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Create a bight in the exiting rope

And tuck it between your fingers and the series of strands on the back of your hand.

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Pull the bight forward

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Create a loop in the standing end

Create this loop in a similar way that you create the loop in a sheepshank. The bight we previously created is on the right, the sheepshank loop is on the left.

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Pass the bight through the sheepshank loop

As you do with the bight in either end of a sheepshank.

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Tighten the sheepshank loop

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Let go of the standing end, and pull

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Once the rope is under tension, it can accommodate medium loads. With paracord, I found the bight would slip out of the sheepshank loop with about 100lbs of pulling force - a similar failure mode to the sheepshank, but far greater than what is comfortable to pull by just wrapping the rope around your hand.

For loads greater than that, you really would want something more secure – for example, using a strong stick or your pocket knife in a Marlinspike hitch.

Here’s a video of tying this knot:

One Response to “Handle Hitch Knot for Pulling Thin Rope”

  1. David Rosen writes:

    Hi Lee,

    I found your post last month, and I enjoyed learning this knot. But I just discovered something I like even more, and I thought you might be interested. It’s the bowline on a coil, an extension of the Portuguese Bowline. Like your knot, you can use as many loops as you like. It seems to be most commonly used to spread a load around an anchor point, for climbing or rescue operations, but it can also be used as a handle. I like knots that serve multiple purposes!

    I wasn’t satisfied with the instructions I found online, but borrowing from a number of sources, here are the steps I’ve written up: Form a coil, and create an overhand loop in the standing part. Pass this loop under the coil, then fold it back over so it lies on the standing part. Pass the end over the loop and under the standing part. Then tug the standing part, which will pull the end through the loop, forming the collar of a bowline. (These last two steps are based on the “snap” method of bowline tying.)

    If you’re interested, I have photos I can send you that will clarify these instructions.

    Thanks again for your post,
    David

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