Friday, December 20, 2013

Book review: Paracords - Knots from Beginner to Advanced

A number of months ago I started seeing a new trend of jewelry in the craft stores - bracelets made from paracord, which is short for parachute cord.  According to the Wikipedia article, it was first used for parachutes in WWII, and it's now used for other military and survival uses.  Its main appeal is that it's strong and light.  If you make a bracelet or necklace with it, it can be unraveled if needed, like I guess if someone is stuck down a hole or something.  The most common paracord has a "minimum breaking strength of 550 pounds", so I can imagine it would be very handy in a jam.  My survival skills include never going near deep holes.  :)

At some point the crafters got a hold of it and bright, non-military colors started appearing.  And shortly after that, people started writing books on how you can make jewelry with it.

I found a few eBooks that were offered for free about paracords, and I downloaded them both because I was curious what all the hype was about.  Also, I'm always looking for inspiration for my own designs, and I thought learning some new knots might help.  That was in July, and now only one of the books I got for free is still offered on Amazon.  I was going to review both of them, but since the other one has disappeared, I'm not going to bother reviewing it.  It was only slightly better than this one, and I have a feeling it was yanked for not providing any references for where the source material came from.

So, on to Paracords - Knots from Beginner to Advanced.  Here's a picture of the book you want to avoid:

Yes, I realize (now that my husband mentions it) that the book cover says "Paracord Knots From Beginner to Advanced" and not "Paracords - Knots from Beginner to Advanced".  The Amazon page and the title at the tops of the pages has the "Paracords" title, so I'm thinking the author didn't even bother proofing his own cover.  ::groan::

It's no longer offered for free.  Even if it was, I'd say to save your money and just do some searches online, because that's what it looks like this author did.  He does list sources for the pictures he has copied off of the web, so he has that going for him.

I really hate to completely slam a book, but if you're going to take the time to write a book (or to gather a bunch of information from websites and throw it together), you really need to put in an effort.  With very few exceptions, the only pictures are of the finished knots.  The aspect ratio of the many pictures is off, so the images look distorted like in a fun house mirror.  That's bad enough when you're looking at a finished knot, but if there's a chart showing the steps, there's no way you can follow it.

You can click on some of the source links, but I don't recommend it.  The chart for the Cobra Knot is too small and squished to be useful, so I clicked on it.  The link behind the chart goes to some webpage that has 45 errors.  Yes, 45.  I counted when I clicked on the link that's listed under the chart, which goes to the same place.  The really irritating thing is that when you look at the link and wade through all 8 lines of it, it's supposed to go to a completely different knot.

The book does have instructions on how to do the knots, but there are no pictures to go along with them.  Remember last week I wanted to add a loop and a knot made out of duct tape for my purse, and I mentioned that I wanted to make the Celtic Button knot?  Well, the instructions in this book were awful:  "Make the first over-loop.  Then make a second over-loop."  What?  What the heck is an over-loop?  It just got more confusing after that.  I ended up finding something online that worked much better for me.

All of the instructions are like that, including using the term "bight", which was never explained.  "Take the right end of the strand, form a bight..."  I thought it was a typo.  Fortunately Kindles and Kindle apps have dictionaries.  A bight is "a curve or recess in a coastline, river, or other geographical feature."  That's no help.  Oh!  There's a special usage: "a loop of rope, as distinct from the rope's ends."  Really?  A loop?  That's it?  Why didn't he just say to form a loop.  Everyone knows what a loop is.

I could go on and on about how crappy the formatting is and how there are many grammatical errors and typos, but it's really just enough that the directions are impossible to follow.  The only good thing about the book (in my opinion) is that you can see (sometimes distorted) pictures of the knots.  From there, you know what to search for online.  That is not really worth the current $2.99 price or the space on your Kindle or other device.

I haven't tried to make any of the "standard" paracord bracelets I've seen in the craft stores or online.  I will, though, because I purchased a "Paracord bracelet kit" from Walmart for less than $5.  Unfortunately, I can't find it online to show you.  It has 6 different colors of paracord along with the buckles to make 6 bracelets.  There are also instructions.  I haven't looked at them yet, but they're bound to be better than those in Paracords - Knots from Beginner to Advanced.

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