e: mike@forensic-knots.uk

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1. HISTORY. The International Guild of Knot Tyers was established April 1982 and included a number of eminent and well-known knotting experts such as Dr Harry Asher, Geoff Budworth, Eric Franklin, Dr Edward Hunter, Desmond Mandeville, Frank Harris, Stuart Grainger, Dennis Murphy, Des Pawson, Don Woods, Percy Blandford, Ken Yalden and Brian Field. Membership is now approaching 1500 worldwide. A list of published books and booklets can be produced if required and also a list of previous Presidents and those with special responsibility.

The aims and objectives of the Guild are:

  • To promote the art, craft and science of knotting, its study and practice
  • To undertake research into all aspects of knotting
  • To establish an authoritative body for consultative purposes

A regular magazine was soon established called ‘Knotting Matters’, of which there have now been 84 issues, with contributions from knotting enthusiasts and experts from around the world.
Formal meetings have been held bi-annually since the establishment of the IGKT, at which short talks, demonstrations and workshops enable interchange of ideas.

There are a number of branches in the various regions in UK with international branches now established in many parts of the world including Belgium, Finland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden. There are also several branches in USA.

In 1990 the IGKT became a UK registered charity, number 802153. A new constitution was approved and rules amended April 1989. The amended rules included authorization for the following:

  • Undertake research into all aspects of knotting and to publish useful results
  • Establish an authoritative body for consultation
  • Publish periodicals, papers and books about knot craft and related subjects
  • Maintain archives of the activities of the Guild and its members.
  • Maintain a library of books, papers, films, photographs and other materials about knot crafts and related subjects and to make information available to Guild members and the general public.
  • Form a collection of knots, knotting and work in related crafts.
  • Encourage the use of knot crafts in schools and as a therapy among the physically and mentally handicapped.


2. FORENSIC ACTIVITY. The first member to apply a forensic bias to knotting was Geoffrey Budworth who, as a Metropolitan Police Inspector in the early 1980’s, began to focus the attention of criminal investigators and trial lawyers upon the potential relevance of knotted clues preserved at scenes of crime. Also Mr Budworth has been prolific in the writing of books, initially for the use of police forces and latterly for yachtsmen.

Another of the founder members was Robert Chisnall, whose academic background in biology and educational psychology equipped him well to interpret knots as artifacts of human behaviour. Mr Chisnall of Canada is one of the foremost authorities in the world on forensic knotting investigations and has worked closely with the Canadian Metropolitan Toronto Police and also the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Both the above forensic knotting experts have been past presidents of IGKT, as also has Des Pawson who is a professional knot and rope worker in his full time business. This has provided useful background for involvement in a number of forensic investigations.

Involved in this small but highly experienced group of professional forensic knot investigators is Mike Lucas. With over 30 years experience working with knots and cordage in yachts and boats, Mike has applied this knowledge to the analysis of knots used for criminal purposes. This has led to involvement in over 20 murder/suicide cases. Mike originally joined the Guild of Knot Tyers nearly 20 years ago and makes periodic contributions to the Guild Magazine.

3. OUTLINE OF PROMINENT MEMBERS. I have identified four Guild Members who are
known to have been actively engaged in forensic work, so as to indicate the breadth and
knowledge available within the Guild. There may well be others of whom I am unaware.
However, these four individuals present an appropriate image of the Guild activities in their
essential contributions to solving crime.

A brief summary of each individual as follows:

  • Geoffrey Budworth - Geoff’s awareness of the significance of knotting characteristics to help in solving crime was developed on the River Thames when he was a Metropolitan Police Inspector. Utilizing this knowledge of knots and also recreational knots used in climbing and sailing, has resulted in several books being written, specifically for the purpose of training and assisting police in forensic work. In 1982 the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science laboratory in London published ‘Identification of Knots’ by Geoffrey Budworth. His work was also written up in the Journal of the Forensic Science Society in 1982. A further book followed in 1985 being ‘Knots and Crime’. A prolific writer of knotting books, Geoff Budworth has subsequently written some of the best books available, relating to practical tying of knots and decorative rope work.
  • Robert Chisnall BSc MEd PhD - has over 20 years experience in the study of knots in recreational activities. His formal training in biology and subsequent work in educational psychology enabled him to develop skills in qualitative and quantitive research, physical and social science. This dual approach helped in developing an analytical approach to forensic techniques, which resulted in the production of probably the most advanced book written, being ‘The Forensic Analysis of Knots and Ligatures’. This has been widely used as a teaching aid and provides a basis for future research. By 1999
    Mr Chisnall had been involved in nearly 100 criminal cases, involving knots and he testified as an Expert Witness in some 15 of these. Many articles pertaining to forensic knot investigation have been produced by Robert over the years and a number of short articles have been written pertaining to safety and climbing. Research interests include ‘handedness of knot tyers’, forensic analysis and knot security.
  • Mike Lucas BSc, Ceng - Mike has been involved in over 20 criminal cases involving knots and cordage. His exclusive work in the knotting field has developed from over 30 years sailing and intensive involvement in practical aspects of tying a variety of knots in recreational activities, including native applications in West Africa. An interest in teaching knot-tying skills has led to a deep understanding of tying characteristics, as exhibited by people from a variety of backgrounds. A summary of Mike’s forensic work was written up in Spotlight (Spring ’99), being the journal of the National Crime Faculty.
  • Des Pawson - has been a practical knotter all his life and an experienced practitioner in artistic rope work. Des earns a living through decorative rope work and has been in the rope business most of his adult life. He has written a handbook called ‘Des Pawson’s Knot Craft’, popular among yachtsmen and was involved for a period in forensic work.

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