(1) The tools employed in netting are exceedingly simple, and can, in case of necessity, be made by any person with the aid of an ordinary pocket-knife and some pieces of hard wood. The most important are the needles on which the string to be employed is wound, and the mesh pegs or spools on which the netting is worked.
Needles are of two kinds; those made alike at both ends, with converging prongs, between which the twine is passed (a Fig. 344), and those made with an eve and tongue at one end and an open fork at the other (6 c d). On these the twine is wound by fastening it to the tongue, then carrying it down one side to the prongs of the fork and bringing up the other; then hitching it over the tongue and carrying it down to the fork again, on the same side as that it was brought up, and so repeating the operation until the needle has sufficient twine wound upon it. The needles made with eyes will be found superior to those alike at both ends, as they are not liable to be caught in the net whilst working. They are made of various sizes, according to the stoutness of the cord they have to carry, and are modified, so as to fit them for various uses. Sometimes the eye and tongue are made very long, as in 6, which is a reduced representation of a needle used by the Hull netters, its advantage being that it carries a large amount of twine, the hitches of which pass round the sides of the long tongue without making a sudden swelling, which is very inconvenient to the netter, as it prevents the needle being passed rapidly through the meshes.
In case needles of the ordinary kind cannot be readily obtained, substitutes may be extemporised out of two pieces of wire bent as in c, the wires being soldered, or, in case of necessity, even tied tightly together.
Short needles, about 4 in. long, are required in mending nets. That represented in d is an exceedingly convenient form; being thinner at the point, and carrying the string sunk in the broad grooves on the sides, it passes through the meshes with great facility, a point of much importance in mending damaged nets. Netting needles can be purchased of any required size at most cordage warehouses, and they are readily made from thin pieces of hard wood, such as box, oak, ash, etc, by the aid of a common fret saw and a half-round file.
Mesh pegs or spools, on which the netting is worked, are best made of very hard wood, such as box for the smaller, and oak or beech, etc, for those of larger size. A considerable number are required if various nets are being made, as the size of the openings in, or meshes of, the net depends entirely on the size ot the mesh peg employed. Cylindrical or round mesh pegs, which are sometimes used, are much less convenient than such as are flat. The edges of flat spools should be quite straight; otherwise the meshes of the net will be of unequal size; and they should be very smooth, so that the loops will slip off rapidly when desired.
Mesh pegs of the form shown in e are used by the Grimsby netters for the sea fisheries. They are all 4 in. long, and usually made in sets of 5, the number being shown by the shallow holes at one end of each peg. No. 1 is 2 1/8 in. wide by 1 in. thick; No. 2, 1 3/4 in. by 3/4 in.; No. 3, 1 5/8 in. by 3/4 in.; No. 4 (shown in the figure), 13/8 in. by 3/4 in.; No. 5, 1 1/4 in. by 5/8 in. They have each a hole bored through the short diameter for the purpose of stringing them together.
When large meshes are required, as in walling for trammels, the mesh peg would be too broad to be held by the thumb and forefinger, in which case it should be made as in /, the hollow part passing between the thumb and bottom joint of the forefinger of the left hand. These mesh pegs can be made of any desired width; but when very wide they should be made very short, never exceeding a few in. long.
It is a very common error to call mesh pegs or spools by the name of meshes, and a great amount of confusion results from using one word to signify two things. By the Yarmouth netters a mesh peg is sometimes termed a " shale," and by some writers it is spoken of as a mesh pin, or mesh stick.
Meshes are the openings between the cords of the net. They are either diamond or square shaped; each mesh, except those at the sides of the net, has four sides and four knots, one at each corner. The meshes are formed by netting a succession of loops. The last row netted consists of loops, each of which, with the halves of two loops in the previous row, constitutes a complete mesh. Thus in A Fig. 345, a b c are the last loops formed, d is one being made (the needle and mesh peg are not shown for the sake of clearness), e is a loop in the row previously made, which would form part of the next mesh to be made if the netting were continued.
The string or cord on which the netting is commenced is usually termed the foundation. It is shown in /.
The knot employed in making nets is that which is known as the "weavers' knot" or the " bend knot"; it is used not only to join together the ends of the cords of which nets are made, but is the means by which the loops forming the meshes are fastened together, every knot in a net being a weavers' or bend knot. As the mode of making this knot with rapidity is not very generally understood, and as the knowledge of its arrangement is of essential importance to the netter, it is necessary to explain its formation at some length. The simplest mode of making a bend knot is as follows: Bend a piece of twine into a loop c d Fig. 345 B; pass the second piece of cord through the loop from the farther side; then carry it round behind the two cords of the loop, bring it forward and pass the end under itself, bringing it out at a; pull the end b tight, and the bend knot is completed. When one of the ends of twine is very short (as is usually the case in net mending) it can be made into a loop, c dt and another piece of twine can be securely tied to it, even if the loop is only 1 in. long.