books · knots

The knots of yore

If you get interested in knots, over and above simply the ones you need to tie your shoelaces, sooner or later you will want to delve into a few knotting books. Shana bought this old one last week.  Penned by a mysterious Commander J. Irving, it is a ‘completely revised and rewritten edition of J .T. Burgess’s well-known handbook’. Not well-known to me, alas; Burgess has been eclipsed by the really well-known and much-quoted Clifford Ashley, whose ‘A Book of Knots’ is usually referred to simply as ‘ABOK’.

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Anyhow, this little book, published in 1944 and packed with excellent line drawings, does contain some knots I’ve never heard of, like the French Shroud Knot in the chapter on splicing.

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(I’ll put that on my ‘to do’ list, shall I?)

The text also shows its age by the inclusion of the word ‘shown’ spelt in the archaic form ‘shewn’. Is this the King James version of Knots and Splices, perhaps? Better hunt for a few thees and thous after I’ve done writing this 🙂

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But my favourite bit of knotting jargon is also in the splicing section. (I have yet to try rope splicing but hope to have a go at it soon with some spare sisal off an old cat scratching post.) Here’s what has both amused and baffled me. Apparently, when you’ve finished making your splice, the loose ends should be cut off close and the whole splice should be ‘wormed, parcelled and served over’.  If ever there was a time and a place for a lightly pencilled margin note of ‘WTF’, surely this is it 🙂

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