You worked hard to earn that Scouting square knot and should wear it with pride.
You also should wear it right-side up. (Unlike the Hornaday Award knot pictured above. It’s shown upside down to illustrate my point.)
Quick refresher: Square knots are rectangular representations of a variety of Scouting awards. Most of these awards are for adult volunteers, but there are some awarded to Scouts and Scouting professionals. The square knot itself isn’t the award; it is a convenient way to wear the award — usually a medal or a plaque — on your uniform. You don’t want to carry around a plaque, do you?
You can earn awards (and the representative knots) for service to Cub Scouting, Boy Scouting, Varsity Scouting, Sea Scouting or Venturing. You can earn awards for getting trained. There are awards for Eagle Scouts, Venturing Summit Award recipients and Quartermasters. There’s even a new award and knot — the Scouting Service Award.
For a guide to the more than 30 different knots, check out this unofficial, volunteer-created site.
Up or down?
Today’s post presupposes that you’ve received a knot and are sitting at the sewing machine, stumped. Or maybe you’re taking a look at those knots already on your uniform and wondering whether they’re on the right way.
Because you probably aren’t going to sew while wearing the shirt, each step assumes you’re looking at the shirt as it hangs in your closet or lies on your sewing machine.
Step 1: Look at the right pocket. This is where the knot will go.
The knots go above the right pocket (wearer’s left). That’s the pocket that doesn’t have the words “Boy Scouts of America” above it.
Knots are worn in rows of three. The BSA recommends that the number of knots be limited to three rows of three (a total of nine knots).
The order for wearing knots is up to you, but most Scouters place their most treasured knot in the lower left position as you look at the shirt. (That’s where the purple Youth Religious Award knot is shown above.)
Step 2: Look at the knot and find the “standing part.”
Above is how the Guide to Awards and Insignia explains it. Let’s look at some practical examples.
Look at the Eagle Scout knot above. Notice how one of the loops appears to be on top of the other?
That top loop should always be on the left as you sew the knot onto the shirt.
This is a little more difficult with the single-color knots, but if you look closely at the Adult Religious Award above, you’ll see that one loop is again above the other.
Step 2 (alternate): Find the “distinguishing color” and make sure it’s on the left.
Many knots have a nonwhite “distinguishing color” that can be used to quickly determine the proper orientation.
Here’s the Silver Beaver Award knot, a council-level honor that is blue and white. Look at the two strands of blue that extend to the left. Because blue is the distinguishing color here, we know that blue should point left.
Yellow points left on the regional-level Silver Antelope Award.
And red points left on the national-level Silver Buffalo Award.
Step 3: Sew it on and wear it with pride.
Note: The image below doesn’t include the new Scouting Service Award.