There have been several articles recently in the Newsletter of the Society of Bookbinders in England and The Binders Guild Newsletter about the 'weaver's knot' used for joining on a new thread when sewing a book. Some time ago, in BGN, Vol. X, No. 3, Jim Dorsey had discussed at great length the weaver's knot, using diagrams and instructions from a number of bookbinding books and manuals (Watson's Hand Bookbinding, Bannister's Bookbinding as a Handcraft, Arthur Johnson in The Thames & Hudson Manual of Bookbinding, Lewis' Basic Bookbinding, Edith Diehl in Bookbinding: Its Background and Technique, Wolf-leFranc & Vrermuyse in La Reliure, Cockerell in Bookbinding and the Care of Books, and Darley's Introduction to Bookbinding). But of all the methods shown, the simplest and easiest is the Ascona Knot, the one we will show here as described and illustrated by Alan Parker, of the London & South East chapter of the Society of Bookbinders, in their Newsletter of August 1996.
Ascona - The Knot
Sewing - Joining on a new thread
The easiest and best method for joining on a new thread when sewing a book is, surprisingly, not widely taught in Britain. English authors usually fail to mention or describe it, and yet it is so widely used on the Continent that it is taken for granted and does not have a name. When used in Britain, it is commonly referred to as the 'Ascona' knot.
The thread is always joined on at the end of a section. The new thread on its needle is inserted between the two previous sections and pulled through until only a short tail is left. (The diagram shows the needle passing through eye-first, in the normal and correct manner.) A loop is made close to the book in the length of the new thread.
Whilst the loop is retained with the right fingers, the left fingers act from below the loop to bring both tail ends down through the loop and hold them. A gentle pull on the new thread moves the knot into the kettle and tightens it.
The knot can be adapted to suit either head or tail. But if it is always used at the tail, it leaves a very neat kettle at the head.
Knotting enthusiasts will note that the knot ties equally well in both directions, i.e. an alternative way can be to make a downwards loop, and take the tail ends upwards through this loop. N.B. After the description above, Frank Hippman, Editor of the Society of Bookbinders' Newsletter added the following clarification: "The secret lies in which way the loop is formed. These two illustrations show the right and wrong way forming the loop."
Ed. note: For greater clarity, I have indicated the ends of the threads with a small ball. This knot is so fast and easy, and seems so secure, that I wonder how I tied-on before reading this.
Web ed. note: In the original printed newsletter, there were several illustrations which clarified this technique.