Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lost Knowledge: Knot tying

Lost Knowledge: Knot tying

The Lost Knowledge column explores the possible technologies of the future in the forgotten ideas of the past (and those slightly forgotten or just off to the side). We look at retro-tech, "lost" technology, and the make-do, improvised "street tech" of village artisans and tradespeople from around the globe. "Lost Knowledge" was also the theme of MAKE Volume 17

One of my favorite sites for finding ideas for the "Lost Knowledge" column, Low-Tech Magazine, has a piece (first in a series?) called "Lost Knowledge: ropes and knots." Hey, why not? We've been... "borrowing" from them... In fact, I'd been planning on doing a column on knot tying, and again, they've done most of the work for me! They actually have two fairly in-depth features, the "Ropes and knots" piece and "How to tie the world together: online knotting reference books." Here are some excerpts from these pieces, followed by some additional resources, and previous knotty content from MAKE.


From "Lost Knowledge: Ropes and knots:"

Few realize the importance that knots and cords have played in human history. It is remarkable that they are not even mentioned in otherwise great books on the history of technology. Yet, it is hard to find any important technology developed over the last 250,000 years that did not, in some way, make use of ropes and knots. Starting in prehistoric times, they were used for hunting, pulling, fastening, attaching, carrying, lifting and climbing.
The hardware: ropes

From fibers to rope In rope making, four basic steps are identified: preparing the fibre, spinning the fibres together to form yarns, twisting the yarns in bunches to form strands, and winding the strands in rope.

At each stage the twisting is performed in the opposite direction from the previous stage, in order to overcome the natural tendency for each yarn, strand or rope to unravel. Most ropes consist of three twisted strands (called a Hawser laid rope).

Sent from James' iPhone

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