Friday, May 31, 2013

Crappy decorative ropework at Gaylord Palms in Orlando

My wife (aka "Knotty Old Lady"?) won a weekend trip to Gaylord Palms Resort in Orlando, so we made the short trek over from Melbourne on Memorial Day weekend because we're gluttons for crowds and punishment.

If you've never been, the interior is a huge lobby atrium with shopws and restaurants, and indoor streams and plantings. In some areas, it is patterned to be like St. Augustine; in others, I think it's supposed to be like the Everglades.

Anyway, I saw many cases where it appeared there was once an attempt to have decorative ropework. I don't know if it was originally tied in a "real" knot, but today it's just a mass of coils that in some cases is nailed or bolted in place.

It was driving the OCD knot tie-r in me crazy. How freaking hard is it to tie a hitch? And don't even get me started on what I think were attempts at coxcombing some vertical  deck rails...

Anyway, the pictures are below. How much better would these look with some simple hitches, or maybe a Turk's Head if you wanted to get fancy? What about adding some coxcombing to some of the rails, like in the WIP photos I have below?

Did it used to be a clove hitch?

Tighten up those lines, guys!

What about hosting a Boy Scout troop for a day at the pool in exchange for cleaning up these knots?

Coxcomb Work-in-Progress (WIP)

All coxcombs are being tied on 1" dowels, 12" in length, with Turk's Heads at either end. Plan to frame in a shadow box for display. I've been using the Coxcomb tutorials at Frayed Knot Arts to learn.

Simple coxcomb on the right, French coxcomb on the left

Another angle for both. I am not satisfied with the French. uneven number of wraps between each half-hitch when you count them vertically. 

Turk's head on the French coxcomb

Turk's head on the simple coxcomb

Just laying them together in a carefully staged "Oh so casual" manner ;-)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Handmade Dog Leash in Use

As an update to the post regarding the dog leash I made with utility cord, my coworker sent the following email & photos:
As a thank you for the gift this morning, I decided to provide you with some photos which could be used for ads,  guaranteed to sell ice to the coldest Eskimo. One is a clearer shot but one is unarguably more adorable. As always, I'll leave the tough decisions up to you...

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dog leash for a larger dog

One of the guys I work with adopted a dog a few months ago, and I've been meaning to make a leash and finally got around to it this weekend. It was underfed when he adopted it, but he's gotten the dog's weight up over 50 lbs finally.

I didn't use paracord or nice nylon dock line for this one. I picked up some cheap-ass 1/4" utility cord at Tractor Supply a few months ago for $5 for 100 feet, and I bought 300' in red, black, and blue. It's nothing special, and in fact is very difficult to work with, but I figured a dog leash for a large dog would be the perfect application.

I kept it simple: a 4-strand round braid with an eye splice. Aboout 6 feet long. Used a Turk's Head as a decorative cover where the ends of the strands were, but honestly, this is the first time I felt like I did a good enough job of finishing that I could have done without the "dressing". I finally figured out that the trick to splicing with these synthetic-type cords is to remove the inner core - go "gutted" for the strands at the point you start splicing. Lays much neater that way.

Finished dog leash using red and black 1/4" utility cord. About 6 feet long, using a 4-strand round braid finished with an eye splice.

Started the braid by hanging it from a hurricane post on the patio so I could get good leverage  for tight starting knots.

Spot the mistake: I was 3 feet into the braid when I looked back and saw it. In every project, I call this the "Motherfuncker!" point.

Eye splice with a Turk's Head to cover the finished ends of rope.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alabama Crimson Tide Monkey Fist

A guy I've worked with at two companies over the past 5 years decided to take a new job back in Huntsville, AL. As a parting gift, I fashioned a Monkey Fist in red, white, and gray paracord. I thought I could whip it out in a single night, but it turned into a multi-night marathon of false starts and blind alleys.

Probably because Nick Saban is the devil.

Anyway, I probably gave myself scabies or herpes or something, just from handling this thing. Certainly, I've earned another football season in purgatory after I die, before I make it to heaven.

Two color monkey fist
Two-color Monkey Fist, with a multi-color diamond knot (I think?). Core is a rubber ball.

Top view. Two-color Monkey Fist, diamond knot, 4-strand round  braid, snake knot, turk's head, another 4-strand round braid, another turk's head, ending in a cobra knot finger loop.

Made in America
"Made by the rum-soaked fingers of a middle-aged American man, not the tear-stained fingers of a third-world 9 yr old."

Nick Saban is the devil himself
Four-strand round braid, transitioned to a red/gray Snake knot. Snake knot used in honor of Nick Saban, the serpent

Nick Saban is the devil
Turk's head used as transition to a small Cobra knot finger loop. Cobra knot used in honor of Nick Saban, the serpent

Monkey Fist given at Meg O'Malley's
Good man, despite his rooting for a football team coached by the devil himself. Parting gift given at Meg O'Malley's in Melbourne, which I noticed has Trefoil knot decorations all around the bar (See upper right of photo)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Another dog leash

Here's some photos from another early project I did, a dog leash. This one is about 6 feet long with a standard 4-strand round braid that transitions into a large loop handle made with cobra stitching. I wasn't happy with the transition, so I went back later and added a nice fat turk's head at the transition point, but that photo has gone MIA for now. The TH makes a nice hold point, not that I need it for my wife's little lap dog.

Cobra stitch handle for the loop

6' dog leash using 4-strand round braid and cobra stitch handle

Celtic Knot Crucifix

I posted a couple of weeks ago about the present I was working on for Mother's Day. I was struggling with the decision to use polyurethane or go "au nateural". I decided to go with the polyurethane after it was pointed out to me that the cord would be a great dust-catcher without a finish. So, I bought a small can of minwax polyurethane clear gloss and brushed it on.

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. It discolored the nice white cord, making it look a bit "yellowed". I would appreciate it if anyone has suggestions for polyurethane that won't discolor rope?

celtic knot crucifix
Celtic Knot Crucifix

Sunday, May 5, 2013

New Coxcombing Project

L-to-R: French coxcomb, Turk's Head, Ringbolt hitch
I found a 45" x 1/2" dowel around the house, so I pulled out some 1/8" diamondbraid utility cord, reviewed the coxcombing instructions over at, and got to work.

I started with the French (Bannister) Coxcomb and wrapped two revolutions around the dowel - about 4" of length. I slid a turk's head on to transition to the Ringbolt Hitch Coxcomb. This transition was necessary because the French coxcomb is single-strand fancywork, while the Ringbolt Hitch is three-strand fancywork. So, the additional two strands are added and laid under at the turk's head.

I will probably do 10"-12" of the Ringbolt Hitch, do another transition knot, and do the middle section of the dowel in a Full Moku coxcomb, then transition back to Ringbolt Hitches, and finally end it it with another section of French coxcomb for symmetry.

The plan is to hang this on a wall at work as a conversation piece. It looks really cool, much better than the photo. I also have plans for a couple more coxcombing projects, but I may keep those under wraps for the time being.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A little bling for the walking stick

Having trouble with my Achilles tendon this week, so I had to break out the old cane. It's kind of a metallic electric blue color, so I pulled out the orange utility cord and wrapped a Turk's Head. I can't possibly go out without my knotty bling these days.

Turk's Head
Orange utility cord fashioned into Turk's Head knot