Making rope from rushes

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
Just slide your hand down and pull gently. They slip easily out of the brown sheath.

Those in the last photos were ones that I had cut though. It leaves a round open end to the rush and that's not quite as tidy when making rope as the more naturally shaped pulled end, but it works, and it works very well.
It's been so damp here that the rushes are still too 'fresh' to work with properly. At this rate I'll need to spread them out on the kitchen floor for a few hours to get them on their way.

M
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Toddy, goid thread!
A question: the rope you made back in -14, what did you use it for and how well did last?

Here traditionally they made a rope from a palm called Silver Thatch.
Incredibly strong. source of income, sold to ships.
Also otherthings.
Not many people know how to use the palm leaves and it is rare to even see one.
 
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Toddy

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Your work Toddy is fine stuff. Not many folk up here can do that any more. Mostly we use spruce roots and for cordage rawhide/sinew when we need too - most of the older men - which includes me can make rawhide rope but I'd struggle to make any bowl/bag from spruce roots, although in my youth I saw many women make such things.
Thank you kindly :)

Your spruce roots are excellent material though. Spruce isn't native here, and very few use the roots, mostly spruce is grown in plantations for timber.
I have books showing illustrations of First Nations crafts, and the workmanship and design are beautiful, even for very practical everyday items. Lovely to see.
We have very little of that here. We do have basketmakers, and there are folks who make the most amazing pieces of work. Incredibly inspiring.

Good rawhide rope is superb stuff. It's strong, flexible, kinder on even frozen hands than many plant based cordages.

I think making is hardwired into a healthy human mind, I really do.
I do wish that more shared their work on the forum though, and more threads where they show and explain the ins and outs of making from natural resources.

M
 
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Toddy

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Toddy, goid thread!
A question: the rope you made back in -14, what did you use it for and how well did last?

Here traditionally they made a rope from a palm called Silver Thatch.
Incredibly strong. source of income, sold to ships.
Also otherthings.
Not many people know how to use the palm leaves and it is rare to even see one.
It's still in the shed. The rheumatoid arthritis flared and I put it by when I just couldn't face trying to wrestle with oatstraw to make a kishie.
I had a look at it the other day and it's still sound, has mellowed out to soft greens and golds, and I'm thinking about using it to make a basket to hold vegetables.

Tropical fibres can make such beautiful ropes. Manila hemp, genuine stuff that is, not the coarse 'nobody'll notice the difference' stuff made from sisal, is absolutely wonderful to work with.
What I said about the rawhide rope really matters. Ropes can damage hands just by using the rope, and when hands are working hard in adverse conditions, they're all too easily hurt more than we feel at the time.
Most folks never give rope a thought these days, but if you use rope, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.
 

Janne

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Feb 10, 2016
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Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
Oh yes, ‘Rope Matters’!

When I fish ( bottom lines, crab pots and similar) I used to use ropes made from synthetics, coarse Nylon or spun softer fiber, but they still used to cut into my water logged, naturally ultra soft hands.
I changed to real sisal just to try. Firstly it does not cut into hands, or abrade the skin, but more importantly, my wet, fishbloody hands do not slip.
Three negatives: goddamn expensive, difficult to get and has to be thoroughly washed and hung up to dry once I pack up and leave Norway.

The local Silver Thatch is quite rough, but incredibly strong (fibers)
 
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Woody girl

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Found some rushes today! Nice long ones . They are on waterboard land so normally I walk right past without a look. Today the gate was open and I glanced in. There they were in their full rushy glory. I spoke to the chaps and I got permission to harvest as much as I want. How's that for serendipity? I shall be spending some rainy days making rush rope.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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Instead of starting a new thread, I'm resurrecting this one.
I started pulling my rushes today. It's a good time to do it. I am very lucky and I have a garden, and it's a garden that doesn't need to be a showpiece, just alive and healthy and full of interesting plants :)
The rushes grow beside one of my ponds and I pull them every year. They make really good rope, that I can use to make baskets, nets, lines, etc.,
It's not an ugly plant to grow in a wet spot, and if it gets too big it's easily dug out. It's non toxic, it's safe near children and pets, it's native and it's hardy and useful.
It doesn't harbour pests either, well, apart from newts :rolleyes: which are only a pest because I'm wary of hurting them by carelessness.
Pulling the stems leaves the new growth undamaged and it'll come up bright green and fresh through Summer. I can get a second crop off it late on too.
It's one of the bushcraft simples. It's a staple, it's common right across these islands and since it's mostly considered a weed, no one will mind you pulling them.

M