So, to further beat a dead 'orse.... (left to right, now...) (posted 2006-03-08 rev 2006-11-02)
1. A brown left-hand ("S") laid soft cord from Holland... The sender isn't sure just where it came from but is attempting to research this. Soft, but very nicely laid. Consistant twist tightness offsets the rather "softy" feel of the line. Not sure just how suitable this would be for most knotwork, but it would make a finely done boatswain's lanyard or a close sennit. Appx 1.0 mm diameter.
2. The Holy Grail, at last. GEMSCO (?) Belfast Cord (purchased at a Navy Exchange in the mid 1960's) in black. GEMSCO cord came in six colours: White, Black, Brown, Green, Blue, Red and Yellow. A very hard-laid (RH or "Z" lay) cotton line, heavily sized with some sort of starching to produce a glossy line which gives excellent definition to belts and half-hitch work. The white was absolutely brilliant in hue. THE line to use for just about any kind of small knotwork, such as the Boatswain's Lanyard. Appx .8 mm in diameter (or a #9 net line size). (Upon re-reading the donor's email, it appears that this may be by P.C. Herwig also... he described a "brown box with a large hole in the side".... the standard packaging for Herwig's Dreadnaught... GEMSCO was in a white and blue box, as I remember...)
3. Another "Holy Grail"... a piece of P.C. Herwig "Dreadnaught"( Belfast) Cord. It turns out that P.C. Herwig DID job their "Dreadnaught" cord to GEMSCO, who then packaged it themselves, re-named it "Belfast" cord and flogged the result in every Navy Exchange and not a few Army-Navy stores and Military Uniform mercantile establishments. GEMSCO also was a HUGE manufacturer of Military decorations, rank badges and other militaria. Original colour is uncertain... if it was white, then the sizing and time may have discoloured it to it's present bluish sea-foam colour, but I suspect it began life as a blue cord. P.C. Herwig was an elctrician's mate in the USN in WWI and thereafter and either bought or started the company in the early '20's based out of Brooklyn. For years, his was "THE" material for use in small-stuff fancywork. His company also published several booklets on doing "square-knotting" which were incorporated into Graumont/Hensel's "Encyclopaedia Of Knots And Fancy Ropework" (Cornell Maritime Press, 1943). One can occasionally find these booklets on Ebay but you will do better (and a considerable financial favour to your overdraught) if you merely pick up the EKAFR for yourself... all the Herwig booklets have been incorporated therein.
4. Exciting.... here is a piece of "CARDOC Cotton Builder's Twine #2", which is available in DIY stores in England in 18 metre hanks. The diameter is almost exactly the same as the two samples of Belfast Cord, but it is neither sized nor as hard a lay, being what I would call a "medium-laid" line. Beige colour only available to my knowledge, although it may be made in colours as well. CARDOC also makes a nylon line of similar dimensions in "nylon fluorescent white" which dyes well with "DYLON" a dye made for the purpose and also available in England, though I've not seen it in the US. CARDOC is one of the major names in quality trout and salmon fishing lines in the U.K. - no small deal!
5. Another example of a CARDOC line, this one is also a cotton builder's twine in size #3... slightly larger than #2, it also is a medium laid line available in 18 metre hanks. The size would more readily lend itself to making of belts and fancy work on small tools such as Cbrew makes. Both (4) and (5) handle quite nicely and produce a very nice end result. Quite a suitable substitute for Belfast other than the lack of sizing and the softer lay. If you live in the UK, either CARDOC line would be a viable choice: overseas shipments entail so much postal cost that it will nearly treble the cost of the cordage.
6. Marty Comb's #15b "possum" line. Excellent handling and a fairly hard-laid three-strand cotton line, it is suitable for belts up to 20 lines before the belt width gets too large for modern belt-loops. Readily available from Mr. Combs, it is exceptional for knife lanyards, but the colour mitigates against use in Boatswain's Lanyards other than for working use (undress). For a dress lanyard, one would want as white a colour as possible. Also, the layup is slightly more irregular than the Belfast or CARDOC cords... not much, mind you, but sufficient to be noticeable to my eye and hand. This and his 15a (not shown... a slightly smaller and softer line than the 15b but otherwise similar in all respects) and his #21 are nice, hard lays and will work very well for medium size fancywork, such as bellropes.
7. A #18 polished white cotton twine from a mill somewhere in Georgia. I obtained a box of this from the mill's Florida agent and it is just fine for commercial square-knot belts up to 16 lines (after that there's a width/belt-loop problem again). It is a soft-laid line with no sizing to it to speak of and does not lend itself to work where knot definition is necessary, such as lanyards. It rather "snuggles" into itself in turksheads and looks much better when dyed a light brown colour. When washing this type of line in particular, care must taken NOT to use any fabric conditioner/softners or risk the line "balooning" and getting quite fuzzy. Unfortunately, the fellow I bought this from (Bob Kappler of Pompano Beach, FL.) passed away suddenly just after this page was made and I've not been able to find either the manufacturer of the cordage or a replacement for it.
If you have a sample of line that you particularly like, it would be most apreciated if you would take a large-format pic against a millimetre ruler and send it to me, or send me a sample of it, along with particulars on where to get it and the cost/yard and manufacturer.
Well, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it!
LINE SIZE COMPARISON PICTURE (It's feckin' huge... give it a mo'
NOTE: Clicking on this picture will unleash a 2.8 MB copy onto your computer's screen... Don't do it unless you have (a) Broadband capabiity or (b) infinite patience.