Also sometimes known as a swab hitch. It is used to secure a rope's end through a small eye, as, for example, in securing a boat's lazy painter to the eye at the end of a Jacob's ladder hanging from a lower boom. It is a simple knot in which the end of the rope is threaded through the eye and the end led round the eye and underneath its own standing part so that it is nipped in the eye. The greater the pull on the rope, the tighter the nip. A double sheet bend is a similar knot but with the end of the rope led twice underneath the eye instead of once. A sheet bend is also useful to temporarily join two ropes of different sizes, the smaller rope being given two turns around the larger one, as in the double sheet bend.
The origin of the name presumably came from its original use as the means of bending a sheet to the clew of a small sail.
Subjects: Maritime History.