Author Topic: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank  (Read 15864 times)

roo

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1838
    • The Notable Knot Index
Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« on: September 03, 2009, 09:26:20 PM »
Have you ever been in the midst of small diameter rope that you're trying to pull without any handle-like objects to hitch onto in order to save your hands injury and maintain grip?  You might tie a loop on the bight, but, ow, maybe it still doesn't do the trick.

Well, coil up some of that rope and make a fat sheepshank.  Now you have a generous section (or two, if you wish) of rope with which to apply your strength.  Maybe you're not so silly after all, Sheepshank. ;D
« Last Edit: February 15, 2012, 08:44:19 PM by roo »
If you wish to add a troll to your ignore list, click "Profile" then "Buddies/Ignore List".


Pinrail

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #1 on: September 04, 2009, 07:39:59 PM »
On the water or on the land,
The Sheepshank is a knot that's grand,
For Shortenin' up that piece of rope,
Whose length is more than you can cope.

 ;)


roo

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1838
    • The Notable Knot Index
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #2 on: September 04, 2009, 08:12:29 PM »
On the water or on the land,
The Sheepshank is a knot that's grand,
For Shortenin' up that piece of rope,
Whose length is more than you can cope.

Is that an original work of poetry?  :)

Maybe that can start a point of discussion for other Sheepshank uses (good, bad, or indifferent).  I know in another discussion, someone used the Sheepshank as a starting point to make a pouch knot.  They'd run each free end of rope through the nearest bight poking out each end of the Sheepshank.  
« Last Edit: September 04, 2009, 08:13:20 PM by roo »
If you wish to add a troll to your ignore list, click "Profile" then "Buddies/Ignore List".


skyout

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 436
    • Fancy Knots by skyout
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #3 on: September 04, 2009, 10:24:05 PM »
Nice one Pinrail.

You should add one more line and submit it to the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form.
http://www.oedilf.com/db/Lim.php?


fcaccin told us about it here:
http://www.khww.net/forum/viewthread.php?thread_id=668
« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 05:44:40 AM by skyout »

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2009, 07:53:49 PM »
I have never understood the supposed point of the Sheepshank:  why would one
want to "shorten" a rope by a means other than adjusting one terminus or the
other?  With a structure such as this put in, the rope becomes all the more awkward
to handle, at the same time being suspect re security.  I've never seen a good rationale;
and I see that Joop Knoop numbers it among knotting's myths such as the Poldo Tackle
(which is often presented though devoid of a hint of how to work it!)!?

Long ago in this forum, PABpres/... made claims for employing the SS in some
log-hauling work, but that use never was explained clearly, and the thread
sadly died from miscommunication & misunderstandings.

Ashley writes about the Sheepshank as though it is well understood, and is put in
ropes sometimes with toggles or seizings.  Yet Day paraphrases some captain as
remarking that the knot is seldom used at all in the then current time of 1922,
long prior to Ashley's writing.  And still, Knight's Modern Seamanship
16th ed. pub. 1977 lists the structure as among "common knots" of the day!?
Common in usage, or just common in knots book?!  There is a difference.

The use suggested by Roo above in one I've considered, though not of so much
cordage but just the basic form, and as a way to implement a shoulder strap
-- for porting a bucket, say.  Clearly, though, this requires that one has anticipated
the structure with sufficient cordage.  And, if put in a bucket's lanyard, one might
as well reeve the ends through the bights for a sure lock, vs. the TIB usual way.

--dl*
====

dfred

  • Exp. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 125
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2009, 09:13:59 PM »
And still, Knight's Modern Seamanship 16th ed. pub. 1977 lists the structure as among "common knots" of the day!?
Common in usage, or just common in knots book?!  There is a difference.

Coincidentally I just posted a link to an earlier edition of that book in the old knot works thread.  The inclusion of the Sheepshank as a "common knot" in Modern Seamanship dates from at least 1921 in the 8th ed. found here -- so the 1977 listing, if it means anything, is probably more attributable to lack of revision than anything else.

EDIT: I forgot to say something nice about the sheepshank.  :)  Here's a very early description of use from Smith's 1627 Seamans Grammar (or at least the 1691 reprint) converted to modern orthographic conventions:  "The last is the Sheepshank which is a knot they cast them upon a runner or tackle when it is too long to take in the goods, and by this knot they can shorten a rope without cutting it, as much as they lift, and presently undo it again, and yet never the worse."

It seems possible if one were using a simple windlass or some other crude winching system with a hook or eye at the end of a line to hoist items aboard a ship, then lifting objects of different heights would require a great deal of cranking to get hook/eye to the right level for lifting.  A sheepshank would provide quick way to control slack in the line...

« Last Edit: September 06, 2009, 09:44:27 PM by dfred »

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2009, 05:14:20 AM »
Here's a very early description of use from Smith's 1627 Seamans Grammar (or at least the 1691 reprint)
converted to modern orthographic conventions:  "The last is the Sheepshank which is a knot they cast them
upon a runner or tackle when it is too long to take in the goods, and by this knot they can shorten a rope
without cutting it, as much as they lift, and presently undo it again, and yet never the worse."


It seems possible if one were using a simple windlass or some other crude winching system
with a hook or eye at the end of a line to hoist items aboard a ship, then lifting objects of
different heights would require a great deal of cranking to get hook/eye to the right level for lifting.
A sheepshank would provide quick way to control slack in the line...

Great find, Dave!  I'd seen the mention referred to, but not the words themselves.

Still, I don't follow the rationale:  if one is raising goods from deep in a hold,
a longer line is needed than if one is hoisting from upper reaches; but the hoisting
from the deeps must itself come up to the same height of daylight & beyond, no?
And having got the hook end that high, what's to do other than not lower it so
much if working next on higher stuff.

A sheepshank in a line doesn't feed through a sheave, etc., either; and that seems
a problem with using it, aside from the obvious question of simply adjusting the
rope somehow (which J.Smith implies cannot be done w/o cutting!?).  The
suggestion is, I guess, of a circumstance where the anchor end cannot be
easily re-tied, and the block needs to be raised ... ?

 ???

--dl*
====

Pinrail

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2009, 03:25:21 AM »
I have also often used a similar relation of the sheepshank, the bellringer's knot (ABOK #172, 173) to keep the ends of line out from underfoot around the fly floors of the theater.

As for the sheepshank itself, I have used it to shorten lines.  As previously mentioned, it would normally stand to reason that one could just as easily adjust the position of a knot securing the end of a line than tie a bulky sheepshank.  However, let me present a situation.  An object is suspended exactly where it needs to be, but must be temporarily shortened to make room below it.  Such as...a tire swing in a tree that needs to be raised to cut the grass underneath it, then released to hang at it's normal trim.  The sheepshank is the answer. 

Best regards!

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #8 on: September 16, 2009, 07:25:49 PM »
...  Such as...a tire swing in a tree that needs to be raised to cut the grass underneath it, then released to hang at it's normal trim.  The sheepshank is the answer. 

Maybe "an answer", but a better one for both tying and releasing
would be making a Reverse Sheet bend as follows:
fold the upper grasp of the line into a bight to be hitched to;
then bring up a bight from the lower end around and then tucked
down into this bight.  (Yes, one could also tie a Sheet bend.)
pulling on the slack spills the knot, as you've finished it with
a slip-tuck (lacking ends).

Although this example still seems contrived:  why not just push through/past
the swinging tyre (or tire) -- that could even become part of the fun -- ; or
just pull the tire to one side (takes extra piece of line) ?!

--dl*
====

Pinrail

  • New Member
  • *
  • Posts: 9
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2009, 02:48:09 AM »
Well...the tire swing does sound a little contrived, as I haven't personally done it, but borrowed an example from an old job.  In all fairness, I normally do push things out of the way.
Using the bellringer's knot is on the level though!
That particular description of a tying a reverse sheet bend interests me...I think I need to play with it, now where did I put that cord?

DerekSmith

  • IGKT Member
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1520
  • Knot Botherer
    • ALbion Alliance
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2009, 10:01:58 AM »
I have always thought of the SS as a static device - tie it in the rope to shorten it and leave it there until you want the 'stored' rope back again.  And as such, I thought of it as a lazy man's tool, and a clumsy one at that because it stored the spare rope in the working length which meant that some point might come where it would interfere with the use of that working rope, blocking its feed through some pulley or other equipment.

But today, courtesy of Gleipnir's knot and most recently Dan's variation on it for cross bracing a shelf, I had one of those OMG moments.

I quickly tied a SS and loosely 'fixed' the working ends to the table legs with the SS hanging limply in between - then I grabbed the two loops and pulled them apart - Eureka !! - the line tightened and the 'spare' line was taken into the SS -  it is NOT static, far from it, it is a dynamic and relatively powerful way of taking slack out of a working line (perhaps this was the operation we were all missing in log hauling post which lost its focus).  And it doesn't stop there, if the loops start to get too big and flop about out of control, just tidy them up with another hitch - the dynamic ability of the SS to take up slack still works !!

Just for fun, I tried a Gleipnir'n variation -- I tied one end of a rope to a post, then tied a SS near to the post and popped the SS loop over the post as well.  Then I tied the other end to another post, leaving a bit of slack in the whole assembly.  Now the neatest trick of the SS - I grabbed the other loop of the SS and pulled it - pulling on one 'side' of the loop took up the slack in the rope connection and pulling on the other tightened down the SS hitch at the post end - I found it easiest to work out the slack in this tighten / lock type movement.

Perhaps the SS has been languishing in disuse all these years because we forgot that it is a dynamic tool, not just a lazy man's tidy.

I now have a new respect for the humble SS and will start using it to learn more about its real world functionality.  Thanks Roo for bringing the SS back into focus just at a time when we are studying dynamic 'MonoShank' functionality.

Derek

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2009, 06:00:50 PM »
I quickly tied a SS and loosely 'fixed' the working ends ...

This might point to an issue with nomenclature:  if tying the Sheepshank
by using the bights to form --in a Bowline's quick-tying method-- the
half-hitch/turns in the line, then that would make the ends "S.Parts";
but if working with the ends to place turns onto the bights, then ...
"working ends".  For MYSELF, I want a term that applies after tying,
to the completed knot (and then it might, by deduction, apply to
such parts visible in the inchoate form).

Quote
... then I grabbed the two loops and pulled them apart - Eureka !!
 - the line tightened and the 'spare' line was taken into the SS -  it is NOT static, far from it,
it is a dynamic and relatively powerful way of taking slack out of a working line
...
Perhaps the SS has been languishing in disuse all these years because we forgot that it is a dynamic tool, ...

Wow, I find this very hard to believe, given my quick test now in some
cotton cord.  Firstly, there is one side of each of the SS's bights that is shared
-- is a solid connection between them -- ; so, one cannot grasp the bights
and just pull them, as that is tantamount to just pulling one a line (with the
other part of the bight along for the ride).

IF one put 'biners through the SS bights and pulled, then the material could
rotate around the metal as the turns/HHitch parts of the SS are drawn towards
each other (albeit tightening their grip as they move).  Yes, I'll have to give
the movement another try, in some synthetic rope (maybe a nylon solid braid
and some PP laid rope).  But I cannot conceive this as a worthwhile structure
for practical use -- even if the alleged behavior can be realized.

"Forgotten ... " ??  Meaning that in the olden days of frictive natural-fibre cordage
there was some mused use of the SS in this way?  I seriously doubt it.  Joop K.
has given the SS in general a "myth" status, about which I'm curious, since there
seems to be ample *smoke* for this asserted *flame*.

--dl*
====
« Last Edit: September 25, 2009, 02:35:47 PM by Dan_Lehman »

SlipJig

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 94
  • A Happy IGKT Member!
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #12 on: September 25, 2009, 05:00:09 AM »
Well I have finally lived long enough to see a really good use for a sheepshank.

Mrs Wydonkot has carved one in timber and it is a thing of beauty.  ;D

[Inkanyezi] gone

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 340
    • Pro three strand splice
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #13 on: January 24, 2010, 10:26:22 AM »
I have never understood the supposed point of the Sheepshank:  why would one
want to "shorten" a rope by a means other than adjusting one terminus or the
other?  
/.../
--dl*
====

For a very long time I have shared the impression that Dan expresses here. I think I learned the Sheepshank as a cub scout about 55 years ago, and I sometimes have claimed that I never ever applied that knot to anything useful.

However, I now must confess that for the first time, after more than fifty years, I found practical use for it.

I was in Cuba for some weeks, and one day my wife asked me, as I was supposed to be a "knotting expert", to raise the sagging shower curtain in our back bathroom a bit. The corner of the tubing that supports it was attached to the ceiling with a thin cord, knotted at both ends. I was unable to undo any the knots and did not want to cut the cord, so I put a Sheepshank in it to get the curtain to the correct height.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2010, 10:34:36 AM by Inkanyezi »
All images and text of mine published on the IGKT site is licensed according to a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/

Dan_Lehman

  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3903
Re: Saying Something Nice About the Sheepshank
« Reply #14 on: January 24, 2010, 06:46:24 PM »
However, I now must confess that for the first time, after more than fifty years, I found practical use for it.

Although here we should remark that this looks (IMO) more like
indeed "finding a use for <__>" than solving a rope problem
-- for which, in this particular case, I suspect the average commercial
fisherman (and maybe many other such rope users) would throw
in a Slip-knot and Half-hitch the draw-out bight (if not 2 HHs).
The first structure could serve qua directional eye-knot (bight-end
side slack).  Or they might put in an Overhand eye knot, and not
worrying much about untying.

 :)