10♣ – Make a monkey’s fist

Monkey's fist

A monkey’s fist is a type of knot that apparently looked like a monkey’s fist to someone. There are practical uses for it, such as using it as a weight on the end of a rope, mostly in the nautical world, and in the past, it was also used as a weapon or even as an anchor in rock climbing, by stuffing it into a crack. However, my use case, which is frequent these days, is ornamental. You can often see it at an end of a keychain or a lanyard. I used mine as a handle for a wardrobe that lost its handles. Another common feature of the monkey’s fist is a marble that is put inside the knot that gives the knot more weight and shape.

There were two main lessons for me in the making of this week’s project.

The first one is the one I’ve talked about a lot during this challenge and that is time. I wanted to title this post “Make time for a project” because that was a much harder task than making this knot. Initially, I planned something more complex for this week, but I quickly realized that I already have plans for Monday through Wednesday and I’m going to my hometown from Friday till Sunday. This leaves me with Thursday which is definitely not enough for my original plan. So I adapted in the simplest possible way and changed the plan to a simpler project. What I realized during this challenge is that a week is a really short period for planning. It is very demanding to plan and realize a project every single week. The better way is when you can plan the project at least a week in advance and then realize it the next week. That also means you have to plan and realize a project every week, just not for the same project. Even though it doesn’t sound like a big difference, it very much is. Especially psychologically. Planning and preparation is more than a half of work. I try to at least decide what I’ll be making a week in advance, but too often I don’t succeed in it.

The second lesson is patience. Even though this is a lesson that I am very aware of, I’ve fallen into the impatience trap this time. The wisdom here is that if you want to do something fast, do it slowly. If you’re trying to hurry, you’ll make more mistakes so it pays off way more to do it slowly and carefully. If I did it like that the first time, I would’ve finished 4 times faster since I failed to make it 4 times. There is a meme, but also a wise saying, from a violin Youtube channel TwoSetViolin: “If you can play it slowly, you can play it quickly” which means in order to play something quickly, first you need to perfect it slowly. I am definitely not an expert in making a monkey’s fist so when I tried to hurry it up, I failed, because I haven’t mastered the technique to make it slowly first.

Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.

-Benjamin Franklin

Boring stuff

This is another project which you can explain in text but it is far easier if you watch a tutorial. It is not hard to make and there are jigs that help you do it. I tried making one, but I didn’t have much luck with it. Although, I didn’t really have much luck with any method since it took me 4 tries to do it right. It is important to say that that is not because it is hard, but more because I wasn’t patient enough (and a bit because the cord I used was really thin for this).

The material you use for decorative monkey’s knot is very often paracord. I don’t even know if you can find it in Serbia, but I used some string I had anyway without searching for better material. Maybe some round shoelaces would’ve been a better alternative.

There are two methods (that I know of) for making this knot. One is freehand, and the other one is with a jig. Here is a tutorial for the freehand version and here is a tutorial for the jig version. I tried both and even though I ended up making it freehand, that doesn’t mean that the jig is bad. The main reason why I failed with the jig was because of my lack of patience in the final tightening phase, which is done off the jig anyway.

Monkey's fist jog
Improvized jig for making the monkey’s fist (Yes, that is a screwdriver and 4 really long screws in a piece of carboard held together by a rubber band)

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