Friday, September 7, 2012

Manly knitting

I've finally found the time to experiment a bit with weaving paracord. I've found it quite fun to do; experimenting with new patterns is interesting, and weaving while watching TV is strangely satisfying - it feels more productive than just sitting and staring, but it's still relaxing. I'm painfully aware of how close the whole activity is to knitting though, so I'm calling it "manly knitting". Because it's all for the sake of manly survival in case I ever get into a spot of trouble while doing all the manly activities I read about but never actually get around to doing... I'm not really helping my case here, am I?

I recently lost my watch. It wasn't particularly expensive or anything, but it was pretty much the first watch I actually found comfortable to wear. The reason why it was comfortable was because the single-piece leather strap wrapped naturally around the wrist, in contrast to a typical leather strap that bends primarily at the pins where it attaches to the watch, thus pinching the wrist. Yes, leather isn't the only option, but unfortunately metal and plastic straps irritate me. I reasoned that a paracord strap might fit in a similar way to the one-piece leather strap, I figured it was worth a try anyway. I considered buying one, but I decided it would be more fun to try to make one. So I did:

I followed some instructions from the internet, but instead of the usual snap buckle I tried to make an adjustable strap that worked the same way as a normal watch strap. It was too thick and wide to fit through most watch buckles I could find. Luckily, a guy in a local watch repair shop had one that was big enough, in fact he was so nice that he refused to take any payment for it:

Unfortunately it turned out that the weave I was using was not terribly suitable for pushing a prong through. However, by filing the prong to a point it became do-able, though not convenient:

Of course, a belt stores a hell of a lot more rope than a watch strap. I found out about something called the "Slatt's Rescue Belt". I liked the fact that you didn't have to pre-measure it, you just weave until you run out of cord, and that you didn't need to pull the entire length of cord through every weave. It was actually MUCH slower going than the watch, partly because it had a natural tendency to twist the cord (strangely paracord doesn't handle twisting very well), so I had to continually work out the twists. The results were pretty good though:

As you can see the belt grows at an angle, meaning it doesn't extend straight from the buckle. I left the first few rows a little loose and tied a knot in the base of the first loop to try to alleviate the problem. It helped but didn't completely solve the issue. I think it's good enough to wear, but I'm not really sure because it wasn't long enough.

I started out with a 100 foot length of paracord. I cut about 3-4 feet off the end to act as the spine for the watch, so I should have had about 95+ feet of paracord. I have about a 34" inch waist, and the resulting belt fit with just about two rows spare. That's not enough to tuck it into a belt loop, meaning that it looks silly for me. Instead I gave it to someone slimmer than me, it seemed to be just long enough for him to use. Hope he doesn't gain any weight.

I need to try the belt again with a longer piece of paracord - I have a couple of ideas for how to solve the angle issue. I'm also planning to try a few things to solve the problem with the watch strap without sacrificing adjustability. Stay tuned.

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