Long mat

While the rest of the world (or so it seems) has cottoned on to cotton, I have become a dyed-in-the-wool fan of acrylic. To any yarn purists reading this I might apologise for mixing my metaphors. But not for mixing my fibres 🙂 My latest acquisition (thanks to Shana, who can’t actually use it herself owing to allergies) is a subtle blend of acrylic and nylon. It’s King Cole ‘Comfort chunky’ and I have three of the more edible-sounding colours, among which is one called Dolly Mixture.

Long story short, I hitched a ball of Dolly Mixture to my trusty lucet and rapidly whipped up ten feet of pretty cordage. (For victims of the metric system, ten feet is approximately a few metres 🙂 ) with which I then produced something called a long mat, also known as a Prolong mat. (I followed the instructions in Des Pawson’s excellent book ‘Knots and Splices’.) It measures seven inches long by four inches wide. Admire, if you will, the double passes and all those fancy overs and unders. These mats can be used for putting hot teacups on, or simply as decorative items. This kind of mat can be finished tidily by glueing a suitable piece of felt to the underside. Or not, as the case may be.

If there is enough interest or curiosity, I might even show you how to make cordage on a lucet. We shall see at some later date perhaps…


Monkey’s first

Just tried a “monkey’s fist” knot.  This is the first one I’ve tried at this size and it had six passes (ie, I wound it six times round with each change of direction) and the inner core was a polystyrene sphere a couple of inches in diameter. The tying was easy enough, although I had a few false starts using some silver-grey metallic yarn, in the hope of making a small glitterball. I eventually succeeded by switching to some thicker braided cordage we bought a few weeks ago.


With this knot, the real art is in tightening it neatly. I’m still practising that part of it, although I did recently make a rather nice smaller version of the knot, complete with a catnip ball at the core, for Smoky to play with. He seems to enjoy it and there’s little danger of his getting at the innards any time soon 🙂


Fobs, fobs, and more fobs

I have made a few colourful key fobs from time to time using a series of crown knots. Usually I tie them using four strands, but recently I went a bit mad and tied a six-strand crown knot sinnet. A bit fancy just for a couple of outhouse keys perhaps, but if you can’t give your own shed a bit of bling then it’s a great shame, isn’t it?


And here’s one a tied a while back when I was first getting the hang of those fiendish Turk’s Head knots. This one has a large wooden bead inside it and I somehow managed to conceal it completely (which is what you should do).


I’m now just getting round to trying some “monkey’s fist” knots, with a view to doing more key fobs and also making a cat toy with a concealed catnip ball for Smoky to chase around. Progress updates will follow ‘as and when’. Best perhaps not to hold your breath 🙂

Better the dibber you know…

Doesn’t matter how old you are, you’re never too old to own a dibber. I acquired my first ever dibber only this week and I’m 1 years old (oh dear, I seem to have deleted the figure in the tens column but never mind eh? 🙂 ).

Stranger still, I have a dibber and I’m still not a gardener! So what was the thinking behind Shana’s forking out a whole two and a half English pounds to buy me this dibber? Well, it’s all to do with one of those dastardly Turks head knots that I wrote about a little while ago. The golden yellow 4 lead, 5 bight knot featured in that post can also be tied on a T-shaped handle. You could use it to decorate a tool handle, a fence rail, or even (depending on your choice of fancy cordage) a car steering wheel, if you think of a wheel spoke and where it meets the wheel rim as another kind of T shape.

To practice, I needed something suitable. Which is how this dibber came to me. Here’s some old cordage by way of a sort of sample. Soon, you too shall learn how to tie this knot…

Oh, and if anyone has suddenly been stricken with dibber envy, I can reveal that it is a Silverline dibber. Only the best here at the CraftShack, of course.

Hurrah for rope!

It’s a long story so I’ll make it short. In rope terms that would mean using a sheepshank, which is just a quick way  to shorten a long piece of rope without cutting it. (More about sheepshanks soon; somebody stop me 🙂 )

So, keeping it short, as promised, basically we have a grocery delivery every two weeks, and to help things go as smoothly as possible, I always temporarily tie open the door to the walkway where the delivery driver brings his stack of  grocery boxes through. Recently, my tatty old piece of thick shoelace suffered a catastrophic failure, ie it broke. My replacement length of thin electric flex (more like hifi speaker wire really) was also looking quite strained in places. Crisis was looming.

The shoelace cordage was easily fixed using something called a ‘butterfly bend’. I bet you never heard David Attenborough use that phrase in his Living Planet series, did you!

My butterfly bend worked fine, but Shana decided to splash out on some pink paracord. This was ok up to a point but could sometimes be a bit slippery if I wanted to put an adjustable hitch in it. Here’s what Shana found. Now this is what I call rope 🙂 Isn’t that just a luvverly piece of jute?


Oh, and she also snaffled some cotton cordage at the same time. I reckon there’ll be one or two handy knot tutorials coming up on here soon. ..


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 🙂