A few days ago I was watching the movie ‘Gabriel’s Inferno’. In one scene Julianne is fixing Gabriel’s tie in a car. It annoyed me that the rich, sophisticated, intellectual was both bad at tying a tie, and that it was a simple and bad looking knot. It just seemed incongruent. So, I paused the show.
I grabbed a tie and looked up knots. I learned the notation system, which is pretty simple. I went through the 13 most common knots from the book ‘The 85 Ways to Tie a Tie’. I determined that the knots that I think are decent are the: Small, Victoria, 11–3, Nicky, Half-Windsor, Hanover, Plattsburgh, Cavendish, and Balthus.
Then I started playing around. I thought I might be able to invent a new tie knot. That’s not an easy task to do. There are mathematical academic articles written by physicists on working out all of the different ways to tie a tie.
The first knot I thought I invented ended up being number 34 in the ‘Encyclopedia of Tie Knots’. I also thought I invented the Cavendish knot for a little while before I realized that they were the same. I came up with a few more, some of them pretty wild, and I’m not wholly sure that I like them. But, there is one that is my own, and that I like.
I like the neckties that are fairly symmetrical, like most people. But, a number of years ago I ordered this dress shirt from Asia that was asymmetrical. Near the top of the buttons a piece was folded over to reveal a different color that swept across the front. The shirt was designed to be worn without a tie and I liked the look. The idea of being intentionally asymmetrical gets me an advantage over the mathematical models. And yet, my knot ended up being fairly symmetrical. It’s funny how things work out sometimes.
Here’s the notation for how to do the ‘Jeffrey Knot’: Li Co Ri Co Ri Co Ri Li Co T
Here’s how to do it in English. You start like normal, with the small end of the tie shorter and the finished side of the tie facing forward. All of the movements will be with the larger end of the tie, which I start with on the right. 1) Put it across the smaller end. 2) Go up through the middle and out to the right with the inside of the tie facing back toward you. 3) Go up through the middle and come back to that same position out to the right. 4) Go up through the middle again. 5) Come across the front of the tie to the left side, with the inside of the tie facing back. 6) Go up through the middle of the tie and tuck it through the loop in the front. Slowly tighten it up, cinch it up, and you’re done.
When you’re looping around the same spot several times in a row you’ll want to keep it somewhat tight because you can’t adjust that tension at the end. Having the three loops on that side ends up balancing out the single on the other side. It seems a little odd before you tighten it up, but it comes together nicely. When cinch it up to you’re neck it’s one of the most balanced feeling knots that I’ve encountered, which I like. Also, you can’t see a hole in the center of the knot, but you can stick your finger through it. I like the empty center even though it can’t be seen, it’s unique, and maybe even symbolic.
I invented this last Friday. On Saturday morning I was getting ready to head to the Messianic Synagogue. I thought about doing my own knot, but I was short on time and decided to go with the 11–3. The 3 stands for a triple tuck. After you tie it you can pull those sections apart and have three layers of overlapping bands across the front of the tie, which is cool. So, initially, I did that one.
On my drive I realized why it isn’t that great of a knot though. The three layers don’t have anything to keep them separate, so they have a tendency to slide back together. Thus, when I got to the synagogue I took that out and did a Nicky knot, which is simple and solid. One of the congregation leaders complimented me on my vest and tie, but not because it was a special knot.
The next day I was going to the Greek Orthodox Church and decided to go with my own knot, the Jeffrey Knot. I wanted to see how it would perform in the field. And… it did well. It held well, and looked and felt good the entire time.
I’ve done a lot of unique things over my life. I’m happy to add inventing a new necktie knot to the list.