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.
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)?