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…

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Forget about I-cord. Here comes Pli-cord!

My very recent post about making Turk’s Head knots led some CraftShack readers to want to know more, especially about how I made the cordage to begin with. Well, I used a little tool called a ‘lucet’. They’re easy to get hold of or you could make your own. But other means are available for those with a little imagination…

For instance, most people will have a pair of pliers in the house, shed, or garage. Big chunky pliers or dainty little round-nosed pliers. It doesn’t really matter. What matters are the hand grips. These are what we shall use in this ‘how-to’ post. You will soon be making your very own sturdy braided cordage.

It’s similar to I-cord (possibly stronger) but is more square in profile.

But because we shall make it using pliers, we shall from now on call it…

Pli-cord!!!

Grab some yarn and a pair of pliers and follow my simple instructions. I have used still photographs. However, if you prefer the medium of video. then just scroll up and down the page really really fast, and pretend it’s a vid. (No, it’s ok. I’m happy to have helped 🙂 )

First, put a rubber band round the bottom end of your pliers. This is to stop the grips from opening and means the business end won’t catch your fingers.  Then lay the yarn through between the arms and round the back as in the first pic.

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Then bring the yarn back round the other arm and round to the front again as in the next two pics.

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Next, pull the yarn forward as indicated…

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And place it over the right arm, thus…

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And pull it tight.

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That’s the uber-complicated start. Now it gets even easier 🙂 Next turn the pliers in a clockwise direction, while keeping hold of the yarn that you just pulled…

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And then bring a loop over the right arm again (yes, it’s really the rear side of what was the left arm before you turned the pliers. But for our purposes , as you look at it, it’s the right arm. OK?)

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And finally, turn the pliers clockwise once more, again keeping hold of the yarn as you do so, and repeat the ‘pull loop over right arm’ rigmarole. Do this again and again until you have as much cordage as you need. It shouldn’t take too long once you get going.

How fast can you make Pli-cord?
Well, I timed myself and made around eight inches in five minutes. I wasn’t rushing. On a ‘proper’ lucet I might have made even more. If you’ve made traditional I-cord before, you’ll soon see that Pli-cord is way superior as far as how quick you can produce it. Ideal for those who lead busy lives 🙂

How much yarn will you need?
I used a five-foot length of cordage to tie some of my turks head knots. After a quick test (you might get slightly different results) I found ten feet of yarn made about thirteen inches of Pli-cord. That sounds like a lot of what yarnies (people who knit, crochet etc) sometimes call ‘take-up’. However, it means you’re using all that yarn to make a good sturdy braided cord.

Go ahead. Make some Pli-cord today. You know you want to.

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Lucet cord key fobs

Having got my lucet a couple of weeks ago, I have been raiding the scrap yarn drawer for all those niggly little bits of acrylic that were left over after Shana’s previous projects.

I now have half a shoe box full of various lengths of cordage that I made on the lucet. So after lunch today I rustled up a couple of key fobs: a lime green and forest green one for the garden shed keys; and a high-contrast orange and blue one for the house keys.

Somewhere along the way, my attention wandered. I may have looked out of the window and remarked ‘Ooh, a sparrow!’ Anyway, I ended up with a small design flaw in the garden keys fob. See where the colour twists round a bit at the top? Five style points docked there, I think 🙂  No such problem with the other one though.

The fobs were made using a series of crown knots one after another. This becomes what is known as a crown ‘sennit’ (or ‘sinnet’, depending on who you ask).

One good tip I found in the Pocket Guide To Knots & Splices by Des Pawson ( a book I’ve had for several years now) is that if you keep making your crown knots in the same direction, you will finish up with a round sinnet. But if you alternate directions between clockwise and anticlockwise, you will get a sinnet that is square in section. If you want a spiral pattern, go for the round sinnet.

Finishing off, I just tied a couple of flat knots and snipped the ends. If I wanted a more polished finish I could, among other options, have used a basic Matthew Walker knot. More on knots in a future post (if I manage to untangle my ball of string, that is 🙂 )

Naturally, you can use crown sinnets to make key fobs out of any cordage you want. Doesn’t have to be yarn. Just don’t try to make one by using your shoelaces. Because if you trip yourself up due to  your loafers having come loose, I’m afraid I cannot be held responsible.

 

 

I’ve got a lucet and I know how to use it!

I first discovered the delights of the lucet or ‘knitting fork’ about eighteen months ago and tried to improvise my own lucet using something I grabbed from my toolbox (see ‘Knitting With Spanners‘ for a full explanation).

Recently, though, after being mighty impressed at seeing lucet maestro Ziggy Rytka on the telly, Shana decided it was time I got a proper lucet. Shana is nothing if not generous.

Unfortunately, now I am armed with a real lucet, there isn’t a ball of yarn in the house that is safe from my lucetting mania. Here, for example, is some lucet cord I made today. It measures seven feet in length, or if you are inclined towards the metric system, that’s about seven metric feet.

lucet cord

And when I run out of yarn, I shall unravel everyone’s jumpers. Somebody stop me! 🙂

Knitting with spanners

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Apparently, there are men in this world who knit. I know, it’s scarcely credible. Nevertheless, it’s true. Some men even crochet, would you believe it! (I think I’m going to have to sit down for a moment to recover.)

Anyway, the least these blokes can do is use proper manly tools. So, in the name of academic research, I found an excellent tutorial on something called a lucet, or  knitting fork.. And I figured you could just as easily use a spanner. Here I am, with my size 19 Draper spanner (or ‘wrench’ if you’re foreign) showing how it’s done.

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Today, I knitted just under two metres of pink yarn–and no, I didn’t turn into a girl! You too could do this, although I can’t think why you’d want to, unless…

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…you wanted to make a spanner cosy!

Cheapskates might like to know that you can also make your own lucet out of cardboard. Here’s one I made earlierer 🙂

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