Our study groups are beginning. I will be leading the study on spinning ROPE! To stay informed of our progress, follow this thread. Please always reply directly to this thread so that we can keep all of our information together. You can post pictures, video and text information here.
Please introduce yourself as a member of Study 1--Rope by replying directly to this post.
And we get started...
Here are some resources to start with:
I have not even tried Amazon yet. Anyone else have a book on ropemaking?
hi Gwen, I'm Caroline, from Adelaide, Australia. I'm really looking forward to this as its a completely new avenue of spinning for me. I actually have a quantity of hemp and nettle fibres, that are only partially processed, and ideal for making rope, or a very strong yarn for carpetmaking, or basket-making or rug-making, etc, and at this stage would plan on using my upright charkha as my spinning tool. I also have access to strong mohair and wool - not that I really need to add to my stash, lol! But any excuse.................
There is no such thing as too much fibre, just not enough storage space!
hi Gwen, I have just found a couple of wonderful web references I had to share:
which actually covers the initial preparation and spinning of the fibres, and:
which also has some useful links.
I hope its OK to post them here.
hi, thanks for starting this rope study. just wanted to check in and try to find the space. i like knots and netting and they tie into my love of rope. alden amos has some info on rope in his handspinning book.
i always gravitate toward the harsher/interesting materials, so have tons of wonderful fibers for rope :) equally, tho i have materials that'd be great for soft + strong rope/cord. in addition to what you've listed, herdwick, navajo churro, sari silk strings/thrums are some suggestions. last year, i bought a number of lamb fleeces of breeds like dorset and navajo churro. this will be a perfect use for them. i also have nettle, linen...this'll be a fun exploration. i usually purchase my fibers at fiber festivals, BTW.
So what kinds of fibers would you want to use for making rope?
I see hemp, nettle material mentioned. What else? What fiber qualities would make good rope and...not so good rope.
I have talked to someone who raises goats, and she was telling me that coarse mohair makes an excellent backing for rugs and carpets, so I am waiting on her shearing to see if she has anything suitable. In the meantime I trying to find out what I need to do to my nettle stash to make it useable.
Its still pretty much in an unprocessed state, and very dusty if I touch it, but it feels quite nice and soft if I can manage to clean it up. I also need to find a hackle, but they should be pretty easy to make? I don't know if anyone sells them in Australia, and I'm not sure what our border security would make of it if I imported one, ;-)!!
The hemp is also unprocessed, and needs processing, and this is where I have struck a problem. All that I have read so far, and this includes some older UK and US spinning mags and books, assume that spinners either have the fibres already processed, or know what to do with the raw product. We have water rationing over here, so letting the leaves soak in a running stream is not going to happen!
This project is already starting to get more interesting as I research how these fibres are processed in places like the Andes and Nepal so I can adapt those techniques to a drought situation.
For those who are wondering why I don't just stick withcoarse wool fleece, we don't have that much choice here in Oz. Fleece suitable for carpets etc goes to the big processors and never hits the hobby market.
So I guess for me determining what makes or doesn't make good rope is going to very much depend on what I can get hold of, and what I can do with it, hehe! But then, then fun is in finding out and experimenting, isn't it?
What fibers is a good question. But also the question is can we make rope from non-traditional rope making fibers. Can we spin a rope with angora? If so, how.
So there is more than one way to approach the study and we can all take different routes. We can explore known rope fibers and work on different techniques and we can explore unconventional fibers to see if we can somehow make a suitable rope out of them. For instance, I have two cocker spaniels with lovely soft coats. I save all of their brushings. I will try to find a way to spin a small rope to use as a leash. Can I find a technique that will make a strong enough cord out of this material? Will I core spin it over something else? How will it wear? If I felt it in the finish will it wear better. Will a smooth ply be stronger than a braid or a cable? This is what a study is about. Finding answers to these questions.
Here we will each study what interests us and report back to everyone. Post your pictures and information on this site. Give feedback and answer questions to other spinners who post. I am posting a blog in a few minutes on fiber ideas.
Regarding having difficulty getting fiber: that can help you narrow your study. Can you make rope, good rope from the fibers that are readily at your access. Some will be trial and error. Judith MacKenzie McCuin's new book the intentional spinner gives great simple description of preparing hemp and flax. Yes, and there are methods to use minimal water too. If any of us in the study stumble upon a website regarding preparing hemp, please post it hear so that Caroline can read up on it. We are not allowed to grow it in the US. Politics of the early 20th century banned us from growing that very vaulable crop (thank you tobacco and alcohol industries).
Tools is another facet of the study. Tools for preparing fiber and tools for spinning the fiber and tools for plying the singles into multiple strands. I combed the Karakul in my first study, spun it on a very bulky wheel that I have since sold and plied it on a Navajo spindle. I am very slowly working on a wheel to spin bulky but will ply on the Navajo or a small "rope maker" from Ashford that I borrowed.
Alden Amos makes and sales a few very large rope making tools. Cost more than a good new spinning wheel. He also makes hackles. Caroline, study some hackles on the web and see if someone can make you a set.
On MythBusters, the teams used power drills to twist the cords. I'm not sure how, but I'm sure if we put our minds to it we could safely create something.
If you check out some of the websites on rope making machines, they mention using a drill to drive the plying device (rope making machine).
I can't access those webpages from where I am today but will try to post them here tonight.
I have done what I hope is a thorough search of the web and have found a monograph on nettle use in Nepal, written by Susi Dunsmore, who is very involved with the development of nettle spinning and weaving as a cottage industry in that country. I also found a video on Youtube, and promptly wished I hadn't, as all thought of nettle being a Fair Trade product went straight out the window!
There iare a series of videos showing most of the process, but the coughing punctuating that particular short clip, and the appalling name the fashionista gave it, made me feel sick.
However it does provide a good look at how I can safely use these techniques (wearing a dust mask) with both the hemp and the nettle I have - though I think I will leave my big toe out of it! By the way, nettle is spun on a regular drop spindle, and its the use after that process that seems to determine whether it is rope, cord or yarn. However I have yet to confirm that.
I will have to wait at least 6 weeks before I can get my book! I am not a patient person!
Gwen, and everyone, I've been very lucky and found quite a lot of the information I've been looking for, but it raises a question:
what is the definition of rope?
Everything I have read so far, and I must confess most of it is from out of print books written by intrepid Victorian travellers, states that rope is plied twine or cord over 1 inch thick! Anything else is cord, twine, or braid, unless its very fine in which case its string or yarn or thread. But there is a distinct difference between rope and the rest, and its as much based, so it appears, on how its manufactured as anything else, with rope being the modern industrialised product. In the less industrialised countries the difference between string or twine and yarn is one of size, and perhaps end use, and both are produced of the same materials, and by similar processes, on a spindle or by thigh rolling. This is certainly true of nettle used in the Himalayas by the Nepalese.
Has anyone else wondered about what rope actually is?
As an aside: before the use of coir, jute and other similar materials, the ropes used on sailing ships were called marine cables. It described how they were plied - generally from nettle yarn!
What a wonderful questions. I have pondered it myself. I forwarded the question to Alden Amos. I know he is currently working on a new book on ropemaking. Let us hope he will comment on this for us.
Meanwhile, I have washed up some Karakul and want to post pictures. The stuff is utterly fantastic. Can't wait to start sampling. Just as soon as I get this dang program written for work. Back to the coding.