Marking time in February 2005
Puzzling through the diagrams and descriptions of knots in a book may be good for my mental fitness, but Alan Folsom’s animations make the whole thing easier to grasp.
Of course, I still enjoy the flavour of the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship (my copy, a hand-me-down from my father’s father, is the 1915 edition). Here is what it says about the Sheet Bend:
Sheet Bend (or Swab Hitch).—In making a bend the ends of the two ropes are not used simultaneously as in forming a reef knot, but an eye or loop is first formed in the end of one of the ropes, as in Fig.1, and the other rope’s end is then rove through it in various ways according to the bend desired. Used for securing boat’s lazy painters to the Jacob’s ladders of the Lower Booms.
To form a Sheet Bend, pass the second rope’s end underneath the eye at point a and bring up through the loop, then form with it a half hitch round c and b (Fig. 2).
It will hold still better, and is less likely to jamb, if the end is passed round again as in Fig. 3. This is called a Double Sheet Bend.
Knocking off timeIn a post to the oldtools mailing list, Jeff Gorman explained the origin of ‘knocking off time’:
In case you might just want to know, the expression derives from coalmining when at the end of the shift, the miner inverts his pick and thumps the shaft end on the ground to release the head.
Snakes and spidersFrom Samuel Pepys’s diary entry for this day in 1661:
To Westminster Hall, where it was full term. Here all the morning, and at noon to my Lord Crew’s, where one Mr. Templer (an ingenious man and a person of honour he seems to be) dined; and, discoursing of the nature of serpents, he told us some that in the waste places of Lancashire do grow to a great bigness, and that do feed upon larks, which they take thus: They observe when the lark is soared to the highest, and do crawl till they come to be just underneath them; and there they place themselves with their mouths uppermost, and there, as is conceived, they do eject poyson up to the bird; for the bird do suddenly come down again in its course of a circle, and falls directly into the mouth of the serpent; which is very strange. He is a great traveller; and, speaking of the tarantula, he says that all the harvest long (about which times they are most busy) there are fidlers go up and down the fields every where, in expectation of being hired by those that are stung….