-The FG team is held all day between meetings, so this is a quick post from a random chinese intern.-
Knots, a forgotten technique of the past
Basic knot technology
Desirable features of most knots are that they may be quickly tied, easily untied and will not slip under strain. A number of terms are generally used when tying knots. The “standing” part of a knot is the principal portion, or longest part of the rope. This is the knot that everybody can make. I hope that my readers are more knot-savvy than me, but I have to confess that it is the only one that I am able to make, when I tie my shoelaces.
With a bit more sophistication, much better knots can be made. The “figure eight knot” (commonly used to prevent a rope from running through an eye or ring or tackle block) is almost as simple as the overhand knot, and only a step beyond this is the “square knot”, which is one of the best all-round knots known . It is very strong, never slips or becomes jammed when being strained, and is readily untied. Beware of the “granny knot”, though, which looks very similar but is utterly useless. In spite of its versatility, however, the “square knot” is not always ideal. For example, it is not reliable when joining two ropes of unequal size together, because they will slip. In this case, the “open-hand knot” can be used . In joining small lines, the “weaver’s knot” is the best option, while the “fisherman’s knot” is valuable when it is important that the two lines may be drawn apart with just one pull. The “hawser knot” is the best to use when joining two stiff and heavy ropes and the “bowline knot” comes in handy to tie a horse or cow so that they will not choke themselves. For every possible application, our forefathers seem to have developed a suitable knot. Tools to be used in tandem with knots also exist: in a number of cases a toggle is used either to aid in making the knot or make it easier to untie it after a strain has been applied (applied to a decorative knot called the “monkey chain”).
Thanks to knots, ropes can be made as long as you please – regardless of the length of the ropewalk. However, many times it is necessary to join two ends together in such a way that the union is as strong as the rest of the rope and still not too large and irregular to pass through a hole or pulley block.
The method of joining two ropes to meet the above requirements is called splicing. There are two general types of rope splices, known as the short splice and the long splice. The long splice is preferable since it is stronger and does not increase the volume of the rope at all. A well-made long splice cannot be distinguished from the rope itself after a few days use. Splices can also be applied to steel “wire ropes” (below).
Again, the diversity of hitches is overwhelming, with each knot designed to meet some special requirements. Some are designed for fastenings where the pull is continuous, others were invented to hold without slipping on wet timber, and others serve extremely well when a knot should be easily untied. The pro’s and con’s of specific hitches can be crucial knowledge in pertinent situations. The “blackwall hitch”, for example, has the interesting property that it holds more securely the greater the strain is, but it is unreliable if the rope is slack.
Other hitches are especially designed for certain objects. The “catspaw” is useful for hoisting with a hook. Others are suitable to hoist an open barrel (“sling for a cask”), and others are used in hoisting pipe, where no special clamp is available for attaching the hoisting tackle to the pipe (“pipe hitch”).
There are hitches designed for attaching a rope to a ring, hitches used in tying up light packages, or hitches invented to form a seat for men to be lowered over cliffs or buildings. Many hitches will pull tighter the harder the strain, and are still easy to untie. The “tomfool knot” is used as a pair of very secure handcuffs. One of the most high-tech knots around is the “diamond hitch”, used to tie loads to pack animals.
Knots and ropes are fast on their way to become an obsolete technology. (+)
Bonus for the newskool