Note: Many of these articles are very old, and although the technical information is still relevant the equipment mentioned may not be (for example a Stormy cooker was state of that art in 1995, but not in 2021).
For climbers who are new to tying the figure of eight knot, a recurring problem is that they find it hard to get the right length when first tying it, meaning there is either too much or too little tail. Too much tail is a pain, as it needs to be tied off somehow (stopper knots of the figure of eights are a waste of time – just make sure you have 5 inches of tail left), and too little tail could be dangerous. The best way to get the right length of rope the first time is to hold the end of the rope in your hand, hold your arm outstretched, and measure the rope from your fingers to your sternum. For an average person tying the figure of eight knot with this length of rope will give you a good length of tail, and mean you never have to retie or re-thread your figure of eight ever again.