| Exclusive Interview with J.D. Lenzen of TIAT
Exclusive Interview with J.D. Lenzen of Tying It All Together
J.D. Lenzen, creator of the famous ‘TIAT’ YouTube videos stops by to answer a few questions for us!
|J.D. Lenzen of Tying It All Together|
We took a week off, but the Paracord blog is back and better than ever, this week featuring an exclusive interview with J.D. Lenzen. J.D. is the creator of the ‘Tying It All Together’ (TIAT) videos on YouTube, the author of the Paracord Fusion Ties books with another coming out this year; and an inspiration to millions of people worldwide. J.D. was kind enough to grant us an opportunity to get to learn a little more about him, how his knot tying began and where it is headed.
Sam: How did you get into knot tying originally?
J.D.: Having a restless nature, I suppose. When I was a kid, about 7 or 8, I started tying lanyards to pass time and occupy my mind, but I quickly grew bored with the limitations of flat (lanyard) cords. So I started fiddling with rope. By my teens, I’d memorized nearly all of the practical and decorative knots in The Ashley Book of Knots (ABOK). In my early twenties I began breaking knots down into their component parts—studying the techniques for tying them, then reorganizing them by to their fundamental structures. By my late twenties, I’d established a style of tying I call Fusion Knotting, or innovative knots and ties created through the merging of different knot elements or knotting techniques. I still enjoy tying historical knots, but my primary passion is Fusion Knotting. This style of tying provides me more creative freedom and has allowed me (and others) to shift knotting from a finite field of study, to an expansive and infinite expression of creativity. I'm still restless, but now I have something to show for it.
Sam: You work full time as an environmental chemist, how did your hobby of knot tying become a second full-time job?
J.D.: I used to say, "I have a dreaming problem." That is, my awareness of the infinite ways in which life can be expressed, drives me to manifest my dreams. On account of personal struggles and others who've trusted me with knowledge of their life challenges, I've long felt compelled to inspire self-acceptance, self-esteem, and the activation of creative capabilities, in others. My vehicle for achieving these goals was to turn my dreams into choices. Starting with the creation of my YouTube channel, Tying It All Together, in 2008, followed by the publication of my first knot book, Decorative Fusion Knots, in 2011, I went on to start my own publishing company, 4th Level Indie, in 2012. Since 2012, I've published two knot books through 4th Level Indie, Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 1 (2012) and Volume 2 (2013). And we're in the final production stages for our third book, Paracord Project Inspirations (PPI), planned for release later this year (2014). Following publication of PPI, we're scheduled to start work on Paracord Fusion Ties - Volume 3. Between 4th Level Indie, my design work, and my weekly instructional videos on Tying It All Together, my nights and weekends are highly scheduled, and, for the most part, occupied with work responsibilities. I massively enjoy my day job as an environmental chemist. However, I also love tying knots and teaching others. I'm not willing to stop doing both. So as a result, I'm what people call...very busy.
Sam: Everyone knows you as TIAT, the greatest knot instructor on the web, but what do you enjoy aside from knot tying?
J.D.: I paint and I write novels. Clifford W. Ashley (author of ABOK) was also a painter and an astonishingly good illustration artist. I mention this fact on account, I find my interest in painting and his equal (historical) interest...extremely interesting and (at the same time) massively connecting. As if he and I we're communicating through the ages by a mutual love of the visual arts. I have a massive amount of respect for Ashley and his weighty tome (i.e. ABOK). But at the same time, his and my mutual love for painting means a slight bit more to me than creating knots. As for my novels, think of the unconventional twists and turns I've become accustomed to teaching others through Fusion Knotting—hold the surreal and fantastic parts, subtract the lengths of cord...and add people. At that point you'll be standing in a room, decorated by the fundamental reasons I'm also driven to write novels.
Sam: You have a YouTube channel with over 300 instructional videos that more than 50 million people have seen, what initiated your instructional videos?
J.D.: Back in early 2007, my wife (Kristen) gifted me a Canon PowerShot SD800 IS and its video function allowed me to start creating instructional videos. My earliest videos were pretty clunky, but over time and with a lot of practice, patience, and reading, my skills improved to what they are today. It’s important to note, I still use a PowerShot camera (now a SD1300 IS) and my production setup is super simple (view “How I Make TIAT Videos” on YouTube for details). Moreover, the video production software I use, Windows Movie Maker 2.6, was (and still is) a free download. My point being, if you’re interested in starting your own YouTube instruction channel, let go of the idea that it costs a lot of money to do so—it doesn't. All it takes is time, dedication, and work, or...things that are inside you.
Sam: How has this massive following changed your life?
J.D.: I'm not sure if it's changed me, as much as it's reinforced me. More specifically, I don't see myself as having a following, per se. I see myself as a member of a community of like-minded tyers who, like myself, appreciate the creation of new and innovative knots and ties. I'm a member of this community. And as a member I seek to inspire, not to lead or direct. Put another way, if our community had a shape...it would be a circle. You see, ultimately Fusion Knotting is about the individual. It's not about figure heads, their videos, their books, or even their designs. It's about people recognizing their own artistic capabilities, and sharing their insights with others. Doing so builds the circle. And building the circle is fundamentally all I'm interested in doing.
Sam: You have mentioned that you are working on your third book Paracord Project Inspirations, what can we expect from you in this installment?
J.D.: I never wanted others to think I was anti-past, or that I was solely focused on innovation, future design, and the next step(s) in knotting. I genuinely appreciate the history of knotting. The foundation of all that I know is steeped in it. So I wanted to foster a love and appreciation for historical knot and ties, while at the same time pointing out the multitude of possibilities stemming from them. In this thought was born Paracord Project Inspirations (PPI). A brief departure from my Paracord Fusion Ties volume series and a way of teaching others classic and original knots and ties. Beyond this, my focus for the book is readily reproducible pieces that people can make for fundraising efforts, fashion, or fun. It's a tight, focused book that, as the name implies, is meant to inspire. As I write this, my life is bathing in this book effort which, I won't lie, has been super-challenging for me at times. All that said, PPI is elegant and filled with designs that represent deep personal moments in my life. But because this is a knot book, and not an autobiography or a memoir, I can't openly express all of those moments, with you. What I can share is that the images that summarize PPI were especially inspired, and that the source of that inspiration will not soon be forgotten.
Note: The images provided to accompany this article are sourced from Paracord Project Inspirations, J.D. Lenzen's forthcoming book, scheduled to be released this May 2014.
We would like to extend a big thank you to JD for taking the time to answer a few questions for us, he has been most gracious to work with. I have provided links to the TIAT videos, his books, his website (where donations are welcome) and the TIAT Facebook page. As always, if you would like to stay up on the latest Paracord deals, like our Facebook page.
The Top 5 Ways to Store Paracord
Frederick of Paracord Planet
Keeping it Simple: The Top 5 Ways to Store Paracord
Paracord can be a little tricky to handle at times, today I present you with the top 5 ways to store it
You love having Paracord with you in the field, but how to properly store and travel with it? Paracord is obviously one of the best survival tools to have on hand, the only problem with carrying Paracord is how likely it is to get mixed up with any knives, food or other tools you might have in your pack. Trust me when I say it is not fun to have to try and ‘quick deploy’ some hideous tent stake-Granola bar-Paracord combination. To make it a little more fun, I employed a ranking system along 4 dimensions: time to store, time to deploy, ease of redeployment and aesthetics (we Paracorders are a stylish bunch) on a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest. These methods are ranked from 5 to 1, with 1 being the overall best method.
Image Source: Trekker Outdoors
The Paracord donut comes in at our 5th spot mainly because of the time it takes to store and redeploy it. The donut knot is a very good way to store Paracord in terms of both speed of deployment, and aesthetic appearance once finished. However, the chief problem is wrapping the donut initially and re-wrapping it once deployed. It is easy to imagine trying to use this method in the field and getting your Paracord caught on a variety of branches, leaves and rocks. If you are looking to store your Paracord in this way, click here.
Image Source: Wikipedia
Also known as the ‘Quick Rope,’ the Fast Rope method of storage is the king of simplicity in the Paracord world. No complicated weaving pattern here, simply extend one hand and do a figure eight pattern between your thumb and pinky finger. Although this method is simple, it does not look particularly good and is much more prone to snagging and accidental deployment than other methods of storage. Instructions on how to make it are provided by YouTube user WheeliePete.
Peanut Butter Jar/ Pop Bottle
Image Source: Field and Stream
The peanut butter jar method may have won out entirely if not for two factors: preparation and aesthetics. Using a peanut butter jar or pop bottle to store your Paracord is a great idea, but not quite as simple as tying a not. You are definitely going to want to clean the containers out thoroughly beforehand to prevent your Paracord from becoming a sticky—although tasty—mess. Furthermore, to make the jar as effective as possible you must drill a hole in the lid/cap which can be a pain if you do not have a drill in addition to the likelihood of you breaking a cap before you get it right. The last aspect is appearance, obviously no one really wants a glaring peanut butter label in the field with them, but with a little additional preparation and some camouflage Duct tape, your container will look right at home. Idea Credit: Jim Ratermann.
Image Source: aplusssurvival
This method is also mentioned in our Shock Cord blog post as great way to store Paracord while making a usable storage chain out of it. The Daisy Chain ranks #2 on our list because it is a nice, simple method that can be made and deployed quickly while looking rather stylish. The main disadvantage is similar to that of the quick rope in which you still risk it getting caught and tangled on things in the field or in your pack. Overall, the Daisy Chain represents a great storage method with simple and straight forward instructions by Reality Survival.
The Spool Tool from TricornE
Additional Functionality: +5
One of our favorite products here at Paracord Planet, the Spool Tool is a great addition to any Paracord arsenal. Ok, so I may have cheated in creating a new ranking dimension just for the Spool Tool, but as the author and fan of the Spool Tool, I can do that. Not only is it extremely easy to quickly wrap your Paracord around the quality-constructed tool, but it also looks sharp and keeps everything neat and tidy. In the spirit of equality I did take off one point because it doesn’t deploy quite as quickly as some of the other methods, but it is still rapid. The Spool Tool receives its bonus because it possesses lighter storage, a cutting blade, fusion notches and a handy spot to clip a carabineer. The Spool Tool is the ultimate mobile Paracord storage method.
Feel free to comment below with your own ranking or tweet us @ParacordPlanet using #ParaStorage to tell us what method should have won. As always, ‘Like’ our Facebook page to stay up to date on our latest deals and giveaways and visit Paracord Planet for the best Paracord available.
Image Source: Paracord Planet
This week we breakdown Polyester Paracord, is it really just an afterthought to Nylon?
I have written about unknown and misunderstood products in the past, but perhaps none are quite as maligned as Polyester Paracord. Polyester has long been considered the black sheep of the Paracord family with no real home, always playing second-fiddle to Nylon. The general public assumes Polyester Paracord must in some way be inferior, but today I will explain that although they have their differences, it is how you use the Paracord that determines its value. You may want to start adding Polyester to your Paracord adventures immediately.
Image Source: Camping Life
So what are the real differences between Polyester and Nylon Paracord? The first characteristic Paracorders notice when working with the two cords is the difference in feel. Many users believe Polyester is ‘rough’, making it less comfortable to work with. I am not here to say anyone is incorrect in feeling this way, only to point out that my marketing intern hands have no problem working with it. There is a difference in the material texture, but in my opinion it is slight and certainly does not impair the use of Polyester Paracord.
Another difference the user will notice is the ‘stretch’; this is not necessarily a negative characteristic, in fact, depending on how the cord is being used, it can be a definite positive. Nylon has far more ‘give’ or stretch than Polyester; thus both are highly practical, depending on the situation. In instances where elasticity is a necessity such as mooring lines on a sailing vessel, Nylon is preferred. On the contrary, when hoisting supplies as most campers do to keep them away from bears; Polyester Paracord is preferable because it will not stretch out overnight.
The last key difference between Polyester and Nylon is the price. Both cords are extremely competitively priced from Paracord Planet with Nylon at $9.25/100 ft hank and Polyester costing $8.49/100 ft hank, but Polyester has the added incentive of saving you around $4 every 500 feet! Add the price difference to the fact that like Nylon Paracord, Polyester Paracord does not rot, and you can begin to see the merit of Polyester.
Image Source: Paracord Planet
Ultimately, when choosing your Paracord it is imperative to have a clear picture of what you intend to use it for. Paracord planet offers eight different types of Paracord ranging from standard 550 Nylon to 550 Polyester and Micro Cord so you will be properly outfitted for every project. It is important to keep in mind the weight tests of each Paracord you are considering as well as the difference in elasticity to make sure you will not be surprised by anything. Make sure you think of Polyester when considering your next Paracord Project!
Please comment below with your thoughts on Polyester or any other type of Paracord you like to use and be sure to ‘Like’ our Facebook Page to stay up to date on all the best daily deals!
Paracord, a Look Back
Image Source: Kiss 925
Paracord has taken quite a journey to get to where it is today
“What walks down stairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound?” Sound familiar? This famous jingle belonged to the Slinky, one of the most beloved children’s toys of all time; the Slinky shares a very similar lineage with Paracord. Both the Slinky and Paracord began their life in service to the Military, but became immensely popular consumer products over time. The Slinky was born out of Richard James’ desire to develop a naval battleship horsepower meter using tension wire, when he dropped the wire he noticed how it kept bouncing and moving forward and the rest, as they say, is history. Similarly, Parachute Cord began its life in the Military well before it was popular worldwide and the famous sobriquet ‘Paracord’ was born.
Originally used in Parachute suspension, the utilitarian ability of Paracord was quickly realized and spread throughout the entire military. Military units understood the litany of uses Paracord possessed and used it to greatly simplify their lives. Paracord was a workhorse, being used for everything from dummy cord to keep track of random equipment to pant fastener; in addition to tying down pretty much anything and everything. Once the cord was split open the fibers were also frequently used to stitch torn garments and the gutted Paracord was used as boot laces.
Image Source: Space Telescope
Following Paracord’s WWII genesis, Paracord swiftly became popular in the civilian world among outdoorsman. However, it was never really in the national spotlight until NASA brought it to the nation’s attention. In 1997, during STS-82 the Space Shuttle Discovery’s 22nd flight, Paracord was used in congruence with Teflon coated copper wire and Velcro to repair tears in the Hubble telescope’s insulation material. If nothing else, NASA’s incredible use of Paracord served to verify the cord’s prowess and establish it as preeminent survival gear.
Fast forward to today, Paracord represents a rapidly growing industry that is beginning to permeate the national conscience as an everyday product. As might be expected when a product as functional as Paracord becomes globally popular, an incredible number of uses have been realized. Uses range from your typical survivalist carrying daisy chains of the stuff to be ready to make a snare, lean-to, or splint at a moment’s notice to veritable fashion industry. Paracord can now be bought in every form from bracelet to belt and appeals to every demographic. Paracord’s home use has expanded to include dog collars, horse bridles and water bottle cozies.
Image Source: Customer Submissions
As a product, Paracord has diversified from the most popular 550 lb test Military designation MIL-C-5040 III to include 425 lb test, Polyester and Micro Paracord. All of these varying styles have different sizes and weight limits, however most are available in a variety of colors. Colors are perhaps the category in which Paracord has exhibited the greatest growth; originally being offered with minimal variation from olive drab, Paracord Planet offers over 300 colors ranging from solid colors to glow in the dark.
Image Source: Paracord Planet
It is evident Paracord has taken quite the journey to get to where it is today, but I for one am glad that it has. Paracord continues to grow in recognition and product diversity and will only gain popularity as more uses are discovered.
Thanks for reading, if you would like to share where you think Paracord is headed next or any of your thoughts on Paracord, please comment below. If you enjoyed this article please share it and as always be sure to check our Facebook page for the latest Paracord deals.
|Shock Cord from Paracord Planet|
Finding flexibility in an uncompromising world
Do you ever find
yourself wishing your Paracord were just a bit softer or more flexible? One of the most common complaints we hear about Paracord is how it can be uncomfortable to wear at times, especially for young children. Additionally, customers often request a greater range of flexibility, explaining that while Paracord strength is tremendous, it does not offer much ‘give’ which can make it tough to work with both in the field and when making projects at home. So this week seems like a great week to highlight a Paracord product that has been one of the fastest trending subjects in the Paracord World lately, Shock Cord.
Shock Cord is becoming increasingly popular as Paracorders are realizing all the possibilities this cord possesses. Shock Cord, which is also known as Bungee or Elastic Shock Cord is anywhere from 5%-25% smaller in diameter than standard 550 Paracord, thus it feels roughly the same to work with only ‘tighter’. Like most Paracord, it is surrounded by an abrasion, mildew and UV resistant Nylon sheath; the difference lies in the core. The heart of Shock Cord is a rubber core that provides approximately 100% elongation. The ‘bounce’ is clearly the most noticeable difference between standard Paracord and Shock Cord and can be just what is needed at times.
|The famous 'Paracord Pete' of Paracord Planet|
One of ‘those times’ is with a hammock. Paracord hammock’s are notorious for being a somewhat uncomfortable to lie on, the lack of flexibility in the Paracord can be harsh against the back. Similarly, Paracorder’s sometimes enjoy finding an old chair with the bottom worn out and replacing it with Paracord. In both these instances, Shock Cord is the ideal substitute for Paracord; Shock cord still possesses strength while its rubbery nature makes it far more comfortable to put weight on.
|Frederick is being tied down with Shock Cord|
The uses of Shock Cord go far beyond relaxing in the sunshine, if you enjoy camping, Shock Cord can be a great addition to your pack. Shock Cord is frequently used to make additional storage on packs, while storing extra cord through a daisy chain, which is essentially adding more loops to your pack; perfect for storing water bottles or a hatchet (Video Credit: Reality Survival) . It can be further used in camping to stow cargo whether it be in a canoe or at a campsite. And if you plan on hitting the water, sailors utilize Shock Cord all over the boat from stowing gear to tying down essential ropes.
Shock Cord has also found its way into the hearts of the brave Men and Women who serve this country. Members of the Military commonly use Shock Cord in their Boonie hats to hold foliage or ammunition in place. And to maximize the uses of shock cord, it can be a great replacement for the uncomfortable drawstring found in sweatpants, athletic shorts and other pants; shock cord will give you form-fitting comfort.
|Image Credit: Stormdrane|
So if you guys are ready to try a new cord that is changing the game, pick up some Shock Cord from the best retailer around Paracord Planet and our unparalleled selection of over 30 Shock Cord colors. As always, be sure to like our Facebook Page so you never miss one of our daily flash sales and please leave a comment letting me know what you are going to use shock cord for!
Exclusive Interview with J.D. Lenzen of TIAT
The Top 5 Ways to Store Paracord