85 Knots: Day 4 - The Kelvin

85 Knots: Day 5 – The Cross Kelvin

by Paul Creech on Sunday, February 16, 2014


Ah, our daring and dashing Lord Kelvin returns.  In his time, the Lord’s hubris was legendary.  He incorrectly proclaimed that aeronautics could not, scientifically speaking, go further than ballooning.  Flight by heavier than air vehicles was a dream for fools, and of course the Welsh.  The grand Scott declared in 1900 to the British Association for the advancement of Science that, “There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now.  All that remains is more and more precise measurement.”  Lord Kelvin’s atomic knot theory and its associated physics vocabulary have become historical curios, swept aside by the theory of relativity and quantum theory, and innovation has even found its way to Lord Kelvin’s necktie.

When last we left the Kelvin knot, the dashing young asymmetric knot had appeared smaller than anticipated, yet dazzled us with its boldness.   The Cross Kelvin is the Texas sized upgrade to the Scott’s Knot, a twist on the Kelvin that will appear several times down the road in other knots we visit, in the form of an extra wrap.   Instead of coming over the top and pulling the big end through the loop (tying the tie), just wrap it around again (which is three total wraps for the Kelvin), and increase the girth of your knot.  Girth is very important. What you are left with is a full sized knot that maintains the distinctive Kelvin jaunty angles.

A dimple tried to appear this morning when I tied today’s knot, but I smoothed it out for a more modern look.  With a more traditional shirt and for a flashier look I would have keep the dimple around.  The Kelvin knot is more difficult to keep a hold on when making, and it should take you a few tries to get the length right, because it only took me once and you’re just not that good.  This is one of those knots when a small adjustment to the starting length can cause a knot to be much larger and the tie much shorter than desired.  Tie widths will vary, but most will start to widen right before the extra wrap, which could throw the whole thing off.  I was prepared to dislike this variation as distortion of a fine and daring knot, but I do like it.  The larger size is less flashy, but the shape is maintained, and the overall effect is pleasing.

Instead of a product improvement–each version an upgrade on the last design, the Cross Kelvin is something of a well done sequel.  No, its not the original, but its done a bigger scale and that makes up for the loss of inspiration. An original can only be new–and hence original, once. Could they ever make a Pulp Fiction 2: Zed Rides Again that feels original? But, put Keanu on a huge cruise ship instead of a bus and you got yourself a summer blockbuster. In the sequel everything has to be bigger: the setting, the stars, and the budget.

The Cross Kelvin is more of an everyday kind of knot than the Kelvin, but it brings a bit of the Lord’s daring to its more pedestrian size and fuller form. Instructions on how to wrap the knot one extra time may be found here.  Other useful instructions here, here, and here.

Shirt by Express, tie by Kenneth Cole.



Paul Creech
Paul Creech is an attorney living in Houston, Texas. Paul has baccalaureate degrees in philosophy and political science from Utah State University, and a juris doctorate degree from Houston College of Law. He is a former U.S. Marine. Besides the law, Paul's interests include sports, art, and food.

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