jump to example.com

I know I should be out in the shop tearing into the pile of tools we’ve got backed up here for testing, but (like everyone else, I suspect) I get sidetracked by the internet sometimes. It’s one of the dangers of writing online; the net’s always there, just a click away, waiting to tell you all about some new-found interest. Here’s how it happened to me this time:

I was walking around Half-Price Books (an awesome place, by the way) a few days ago when I came across the book What Knot? sitting on an end cap. Flipping through it, I discovered that it’s pretty much like all the other knot books I’ve seen, with the notable exception that it includes quite a bit of history as well as some pretty sweet color photos. Not quite motivated to pick it up, I snapped a shot of it with my cameraphone, intending to look into it later.

Then this morning I ran across the picture and looked it up on Amazon [What’s This?]. Good news: Lots of used copies are floating around cheap. Then I Googled the first-listed author, Geoffrey Budworth. Read on to follow me down the knot-history rabbit hole.

While I couldn’t find a page specifically on Mr. Budworth, I did find him mentioned on forensic-knots.co.uk, a site created by Mike Lucas, a self-styled “forensic knot specialist.” There I not only discovered that Budworth is one of a number of “eminent and well-known knotting experts” who established the International Guild of Knot Tyers in 1982, but also that “forensic knot specialists” work with the police and other investigative agencies to analyze the type of knots found in various crime scenes (sometimes used to bind people, other times simply incidental in theft or other incidents). By looking at the type of knots selected and how they’re tied, such specialists can often uncover a suspect’s possible former trades (fisherman, sailor, logger, etc.) or spare time pursuits, the urgency of the situation in which the knot was tied, the suspect’s handedness, and sometimes even the type of load to which a knot was subjected. The above-linked page is pretty interesting, but I suggest you avoid the case history page. It’s pretty gruesome.

The Guild of Knot Tyers, on the other hand, looks pretty awesome. According to its website, the Guild is an “educational non-profit organization dedicated to furthering interest in practical, recreational, and theoretical aspects of knotting.” Membership requirements are simple: you must simply have an interest in knotting and pay the 23-pound annual membership fee. (Children under 16 can join for free, by the way, and youth groups and their guides can also qualify for free membership.) Members receive access to the Guild’s forum, which looks pretty darn interesting. This is definitely on my list of cool-things-to do when I’ve got $36 to spend.

Even without membership, you can access the Guild’s knot gallery and beginner’s guide to knots, both good for hours (I speak from experience here) of entertaining learning.

For those of us in the USA, the Guild’s North American Branch has its own website as well and holds yearly gatherings, the next of which will likely occur sometime in the fall of 2012. Judging from the photos of last year’s event, it doesn’t look like a lot of folks attend, but I’m betting the ones who do have some interesting stories to share.

Which brought me back around to the book. Budworth has authored a ton of books on knots as well as, it seems, a book on how to teach your kids to swim [What’s This?]. Honestly, I’d like to know more about this guy. Sounds like an interesting person. For what it’s worth, I bought a used copy of the book I originally Googled, but only after a good two hours of digging around online and reading about the little corner of the specialty world occupied by the folks who spend their time curating knots.

Now you know one of my dirty little secrets: how, specifically, I waste time online. How ’bout you? What do you research online (that’s safe for work)?


6 Responses to How To Lose A Day, Toolmonger Style

  1. Ed Flamtwangle says:

    And don’t forget the Hervey Garrett Smith Singularity, that’ll swallow up whole weeks. And ABoK.

  2. PutnamEco says:

    No post about knot tying books should neglect Ashley Book of Knots (by Clifford W. Ashley), It is the ultimate reference.
    There is also another great website called Animated Knots by Grog animatedknots.com which features step by step images of knots being tied. There is certainly no shortage of videos on Youtube showing knotting techniques, some very trade specific, like for climbing and firemens knots.

    For finding used books, you want to go to abebooks.com

    I can easily blow a day going through all the trade blogs and forums I have bookmarked

    Good ways to loose a day, Google “tricks of the trade”, then add the trade or tool your most interested in.

  3. Mac says:

    Wow! – I have that book on my nightstand. Am about halfway through it. Picked it up used also. Very good so far.

    Ashleys is the knot bible for sure (have it too), but can be overwhelming. It’s for the folks with issues (that’d be me). For everyone else, Budworth’s books are great. (I have several of his books, and probably a dozen knot books – ok, I again admit I have issues.)

    Grog’s site is really good too.

    Yeah, the interweb is amazing. Makes research and learning so much easier than it used to be.

  4. Pete in Elma WA says:

    Ashley’s is the bible of knots. Love my copy.

  5. Mark says:

    How to lose a day?… I’ve lost about 10 years to knotting 😉

    I would have joined Knotter’s Anonymous but couldn’t find a meeting!!!!

    Don’t get hooked man, or it will take over your life!

  6. Schteveo says:

    I was a Boy Scout, and then a sailor, U.S. Navy type, and a hippie in between, and again after the Navy too. I’ve done tons of knot tying for different jobs I’ve had. I’m the king of teaching people a Dutchman’s Knot for tying gear into trucks or trailers. I’ve got macrame pieces out the whazoo that I made as a kid.

    I even tried to tie a 9′, circular cast net, out of yellow nylon surveyors string I had laying around.

    But a year ago when I was making survival bracelets out of 550 cord, I had to look up HOW to tie a hollow centered monkey’s fist. I’d seen it done, I’d thrown them filled with everything from ball bearings and marbles to stripped out brass nuts, even one made with a triple condom core, filled with sand for weight. But I’D never tied one myself.

    But like Chuck said, looking on the interwebs gives you about 10M web sites with directions for the project you started on. Then it spirals out of hand…hop…by…hop…by…hop…by…hop!

    A monkeys fist lead to boat rigging and pulleys and clothes lines with pulleys and the worlds biggest pulleys, and the world’s biggest tow truck pulling a truck in a pit mine, and a mine sweeper made out of aluminum cans, and a guy who makes monkey fists out of garden hoses that STILL let water flow, and a water fountain with a….

    …and in retrospect, I’m not sure how I came in to the ToolMonger site today. But it’s cool as hell, and I’ve been going back through the archives. I started at the current post about Moody -Axe Making. I hate that no new posts have been done since last June.

    I hope you get back to this!

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