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’.


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.


(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 🙂


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 🙂



I love to go a Wanda-ing

‘No question about it. You just have to buy that book,’ I said, listening to Shana describe something she’d found on eBay.

‘But you don’t even do crochet, so what possible use is it to you?’

‘Who cares!’ I insisted. ‘That is just such a fantastic name for an author. You couldn’t make it up. I…we…simply must have it.’

And that is how we came to have a British first edition copy of ‘Stitches, Patterns & Projects for Crochet’ by (wait for it, wait for it…) none other than Wanda Bonando. What a marvelous moniker.

Translated by Sylvia Mulcahy from the original Italian, Shana found some of it that seemed to have been rendered into gibberish instead: some of the great Wanda’s patterns were not working out well. Two days after receiving the book, Shana finally realised that the patterns were written using UK terminology, as opposed to the US style, which is virtually standard in the world of crochet, no matter what country you are in. If you don’t know about this kind of thing, it’s quite simple really: anything you crochet using US-style instructions will turn out at least 50% larger than the equivalent British instructions. The reason for this is obvious: Americans need to crochet bigger woolly hats…because they have bigger woolly heads 🙂

Before all of the above dawned on Shana, she wasn’t sure who to blame. Wanda Bonando herself, Sylvia Mulcahy’s translation, or Barbara Clarkson’s charts. (‘They might as well have been written by Jeremy Clarkson for all the use they are,’ she complained.)

All has turned out ok at last, however. As for the author herself though, the Internet reveals little info. I suggested that translator Sylv and chart writer Barbs may in fact be aliases of Wanda Bonando, who, I suspect, may actually be a Sicilian lorry driver with creative leanings. But don’t quote me on any of that, because…

…I could be wrong.