To start, take three lines and strop them well to the body to be
covered or decorated,  Then determine WHICH DIRECTION you
wish the coxcomb to go.   

Here, I've chosen the right, so you take the line OPPOSITE
the direction you want to travel and make a half-hitch in it,
exiting in your chosen direction as is shown in the inadequate
attempt at photography to the right....................................................

Next step is to take the CENTER line, lead it OVER the first
half-hitch and half-hitch IT with the tail following the first.

In this and other photographs of fancywork in
these tutorial pages, I often show the half-hitches as
lying rather loosely on the work surface.  This is so
you can follow the directions and for tucking of lines.
You should snug down any half-hitches as soon as made!)

The last line is now led over the other two and a half-hitch is
taken, again with the tail leading out, to the right in this case.

Subsequent to this you will ALWAYS take the TOP line of the
three, lead it down and across the last two hitches and make
a half-hitch .       In a very short order you will begin to see the
pattern I spoke of emerging like a Dowager Empress from a
London Hackney... quite surprising!

Et Voila!  The coxcomb begins to form nicely and will continue to
do so, providing you take a few normal precautions:

Always fair up the work
(push it together from below) to get the
maximum coverage for the rail as well as keeping it neat.

Do a "dummy run" of at LEAST a foot of rail... this will give you a
feel for how tight to pull the hitching as well as giving you a
chance to reliably estimate how much line you'll need to complete
the run.   If you pull unevenly, the resulting detail will have valleys
and bumps in it and not look well made.   After doing a foot of rail,
you should develop a muscle memory for the force to be used.

The St. Mary's, like all three-strand coxcombs will use
approximately nine (09) yards per strand to cover one foot
of rail using #45 (5/32") line on a 1-1/2" o.d. piperail, but by
doing up a dummy run, you can see pretty closely how much
line you'll need per foot of rail.

Take that measurement and add 5% to it, hank up and turn to.

Trust me, it is MUCH better to have extra at the end that you did
not need instead of getting to the end of the run and finding
yourself a few inches short of completion!  The cutoffs can
always be used as bellrope puddings or for other fancywork.  

I hope the tutorial is clear and usable, but should you have
suggestions to make it more so, please
EMAIL ME and I'll be
glad to incorporate your ideas into it.    I am always available
for questions.

I'd also LOVE to see pictures of your projects, in progress as well as completed!

Here's a page devoted to a job I did at Patuxent Naval Air Station in Sept 2009.

Fair Winds!

                                                    BACK to Coxcombing page.
Three Strand
"St. Mary's Coxcomb"
Last updated  2009-09-05
Click on any
picture to bring
up a larger
Coxcombing comes in may shapes and flavours, but one of the oddest and yet more pleasing types is the "St. Mary's

As you will see, this gives the illusion that the work has been "wrapped" in a continuous strand of line and then a larger
rope has been appliqued somehow to the surface of the basic wrap.

It is useful both inside and outboard a ship, on interior and weather decks alike, as it is easily sealed with varnish or
shellac and may be painted if so desired without loosing too much of the character of the line.

It is best used on stanchions for lifelines,
decorative boathooks,  jackstaffs and anywhere that a positive grip in a seaway
is not absolutely necessary.  It's major failing is that the wrap really doesn't give that good a hand-grip as the spiral detail
is a bit too large to be grasped comfortably.

As a decorative piece, it's aces, though!