Hitched Cable
Hitched cables

   Although individual wires are useful for prototyping, in finished projects it is often necessary to group multiple wires into a cable for convenience, and one of the simplest ways to do this is by the use of half hitches. A half hitch is simply a winding that crosses behind itself, and two of these side by side form a clove hitch, which is a fairly stable knot. If a clove hitch is tied around a bundle of wires, and is followed by half hitches spaced evenly along the length of the bundle, a group of wires can be handled and routed as a single unit. This is demonstrated in the diagram below.

Loose hitch diagram

   While this is useful for internal wiring, the spaced nature of the half hitches leaves ample room for a section of wire to be pulled out of the bundle, and offers little protection from abrasion. If the hitches are tied directly adjacent to each other, however, an interesting effect occurs. The knots interlink and cover each others' gaps, and the knotted region forms a spiral around the bundle of wires, which is now fully enclosed by an indefinitely-extended clove hitch (sometimes called a Chinese staircase). The covering is similar to that produced by my yarn spinner, but the knots allow it to be easily (if somewhat tediously) tied by hand, and also prevent it from unraveling if cut or abraded, making it useful for exposed cables, such as power cords. The result can be seen at the top of the page, in comparison to its more open counterpart.

   Both of these types of cable are immediately useful; the former will likely see extensive use as a replacement for zip-ties in wire management tasks, while the latter may be used as a visually interesting covering for short cords such as headphone cables. The spiral effect, while somewhat irregular in the above example, could likely be improved by careful spacing of the adjacent hitches, or could be minimized (at the expense of time) by using a finer yarn. Both cables are compatible with each other, being composed of the same knot, and in theory a cable could even be made which includes both features. Although I initially intended for my experiments with insulated wire to be a brief detour, the subject has become surprisingly interesting, and I will continue to document my results in upcoming articles.