The relatively recent popularity of paracord has brought thousands of people into the hobby of knot artistry, and has spawned a real thirst for knowledge of new designs. Paracord Fusion Ties Volume 1 attempts to help quench this thirst. In doing so it also enables and inspires knot artists at all levels to push themselves to combine designs and develop their own Fusion Ties.
In this review, I will discuss briefly who J.D. Lenzen is, describe the format of the book, and cover the usefulness of the book for both the beginner and the experienced knot tyer. I also include some of my my own experience using the book.
J.D. Lenzen has been designing and tying knots for years. Since 2008 he has published over 200 videos on his popular Youtube channel, TyingItAllTogether, more commonly know as TIAT. As of today the channel has around 75,000 subscribers. The tying media used in the videos on the channel became almost exclusively paracord in 2010. In researching the book, I have come to believe that J.D. uses paracord in his knot tying much like a painter settles on a certain type of paint. Interestingly, his most popular video, with over 3 million views, does not involve paracord. In 2011, J.D. published his first knot design book, Decorative Fusion Knots: A Step-by-Step Illustrated Guide to New and Unusual Ornamental Knots, which clearly demonstrated the author’s creativity, and is still highly regarded.
Fusion ties are “innovative ties created through the merging of different knot elements or knotting techniques.” This is an important concept to understand in terms of the book. Somewhere during my second pass through, tying various knots, I realized how different elements of the various knots are borrowed from and built upon each other. It is this realization that demonstrates the true value of the book. It is not just about teaching various knots, the book almost subliminally encourages the reader to ask “what if” and discover their own creativity. As the author states, “knotting is not a finite field of study.”
Structurally, the book is 124 pages containing seven chapters. Within these chapters there are 35 knots, all constructed using paracord described step by step with words and over 800 color photographs. There is also background on fusion knots, basics such as how to snip & singe cord ends, and pages containing definitions and visual clarifications of terms and base techniques used in the book. The Forward is written by David Hopper (Stormdrane), who is another respected member of the paracord and knot tying community. On each page of the knot instruction chapters there are 8 step-by-step images with typically one sentence of text for each step. The number of steps, and therefore pages, of each knot varies depending on complexity.
The photography, much like the video on the TIAT channel, is visually stunning and extremely clear. Bright colors of paracord are used and contrasting bright colors of paracord are used appropriately where more than one strand of cord is used in a knot. The high quality step-by-step images contribute to the instructional value of the book, and in many cases the accompanying words are not necessary. However, this is not a book of just pretty pictures. The images are laid out in a deliberate and thoughtful order where detail is appropriate and not overwhelming. I have tied many of the designs in the book, having never done so before. Unlike other knot tying resources I have come across, at no time was I forced to wonder or figure out how the author got from one step to another. Also unlike other resources, the visual perspective of the knot in progress does not change suddenly mid way through construction. When the reader is required to flip the design, the author will advise to “flip the piece over, horizontally”, for example.
I have produced my own paracord design videos and I don’t want to take anything away from the well executed TIAT channel, but video can often move too fast when learning how to tie a new design. Pausing video can be difficult when your hands are holding a partially created design. Conversely, learning from a book allows the reader to go at their own pace without the distraction of starting and stopping. Quite simply, I find clear printed instructions to be easier to follow than video.
The knots themselves are decorative in nature. Most of them are presented with a bracelet as the finished product and could easily be adapted to a lanyard, key fob, etc. There are some fun knots as well, such as the Tiny Globe and Paracord Ball. Foundational knots that are used in multiple ties are presented such as diamond knots and the stopper knot.
Those who are brand new to paracord will be happy to see that the Solomon Bar, known also as the “Cobra”, is included. This is a very common paracord tie used for bracelets, lanyards, etc and is most often the starting point for a beginner. Of course, there are more advanced versions of the Solomon bar such as the Crisscrossed and the Stitched. Through feedback from and conversations I have had with fans of paracord tying and of the TIAT Youtube channel, most find these less complex designs a good starting point and the more complex designs a relatively easy transition with the instructional skills of J.D. Without a doubt, the beginner will find this to be true when using this book. It would be a bold statement to say that anyone, regardless of tying experience, could pick up any book and begin to create. However, in the case of Paracord Fusion Ties: Volume 1, I believe that to be true.
More advanced readers will find many designs to create and experiment with. For example, the chapter on slip knots demonstrates techniques that I personally found fascinating. I find it amazing that one can create a decorative but usable bracelet, for example, from a series of slip knots. Similarly, the Endless Falls chapter is especially intriguing in the same way, and after tying a couple from that chapter I had to wonder how the creative mind works to come up with such designs. Perhaps J.D. gives us some insight into his creative thinking with the KBK Bar. In the introduction to this tie he describes how it came to him in a dream and he jumped from bed to tie it in the middle of the night.
In summary, I find the book to be ground breaking. It is a visually stunning representation of the creative genius of J.D. Lenzen presented in a clear instructional format. Beginners will find Paracord Fusion Ties: Volume 1 to be an excellent starting point. Those more experienced will find new and innovative designs and ideas. Regardless of starting experience and skill, readers can expect their own creativity to be stirred. I would encourage anyone with an interest in paracord knots and crafts to discover this book as I am sure it will become the catalyst for many imaginations.
Paracord Fusion Ties: Volume 1 is available through all major book sellers. For more information about purchasing a copy, please visit the author’s web site, Fusion Knots.