In 1957 Raymond McLaren was a 19 year old mechanical engineering student in Newcastle when an innocuous visit to the city library would eventually come to plait out the course of his life.
Mr McLaren borrowed the book Knots, Splices and Fancy Work, and was so enamoured with what he read that he would never return it.
Some 19,350 days later, in 2012, he did confess to his literary crime, paying the $5000 fine as a donation to the library fund, after it accumulated at 2.5 cents a day.
He also donated a new editions of the book, although would not let go of the tatty well used original edition, which “still gets pulled off the shelf from time to time.”
After Mr McLaren mastered some of the work in the book he decided to go traveling around the country, and soon found that wherever he laid his hat “everyone wanted something spliced”, and an idea was borne.
“I was intrigued by people splicing cable so I borrowed a book, looked at plaiting, applied engineering and the rest just happened,” he said.
“It turned out to be the seed to my business.”
These days Mr McLaren owns and operates Andromeda Industries in Moonbi, a multi-million dollar company that specialises in plaited and woven steel slings for big industry, with his newest model capable of handling up to 80 tonnes.
The engineers interest in the art of knot tying has only grown stronger with age, with Mr mcLaren planing to host Australia’s first ever meeting of the International Guild of Knot Tyers convention in Tamworth in June next year.
“I have been a member for 25 years but had never been to a meeting,” he said.
“Six weeks ago I went to the UK, where the guild is mostly based, and attended a meeting in Stourport-on-Severn, near Birmingham, and I just thought why not hold one in Australia.”
While the meeting has only just recently become public knowledge Mr McLaren has already heard from 14 Australian Guild members, and is expecting to also field some visitors from overseas, with active Guild branches operating in 19 countries.
“The art began with sailors a long time ago,” he said.
“They needed to tie knots of course, but they also had pieces of rope and lots of time on their hands while they were onboard ships.
“These days it is a hobby for most people – but it does attract some very interesting people – for instance one member made a wallet using one 27 metre long piece of leather.”
The IGKT meeting will be held at Wests Leagues Club on the weekend of June 6.