Have you ever considered how a strand of rope is made? It, now done in factories, is simply long cuts of dried plant material (often wheat, hay or hemp), spun tightly by machine. This DIY will make a small, simplistic rope, but will feature a technique that in spirit mirrors a less complex way of how the colonials once did it. Our rope will be made of dried Yucca and will really be able to hold weight if needed.
To start, go on a walk in your local area and collect plant materials. Depending on where you live wild Yucca may not be an option; it is a tall leafy plant found in the south west with a core that makes a great and sturdy thread. Other species that work similarly can be milkweed, agave, basswood, dogbane, and anything from the nettle family. Find plants with long stems and add a verity to your collection. Bound them together and allow to dry in bundles until brittle.
When making your rope, the only part of the plant truly needed is the core. In this craft, once dried, hit the stem of your collected plants with a heavy object such as a brick or rock. Using your finger nail, peel back the layer of “skin” to attain the brown wispy material inside. This is the fiber you will make your rope with.
Handle your rope fiber. When first gotten it will be stiff and wax-like in texture. When I do this, I bundle all my material together and work them vigorously with my hands. This is called “buffing” by the pros and if done for long enough will make the plants bendable similar to how cotton thread is.
Once nimble, it is time to begin the weaving process. The technique used for weaving a rope depends on the kind and type of rope needed. If you research how to braid a rope it is very complex (I would recommend googling a reverse wrap technique), therefore I make a simple loom to use as a guide which forms a basic hand spun result. To be brief here is how to do it.
Cut a piece of cardboard into a circle, I used a water glass as a stencil for this. Using a pencil make one hole in the middle and draw eight little lines along the circle’s edges. Make cuts along those lines.
Tie your fibers into a knot at one end and feed it through the center hole made. Bunch your “threads” evenly and place each section amongst seven of your eight cuts.
Now comes the fun part. The non-used cut will become your starting point and after placing your thumb on it, count three cuts to the right. Take that set of strings and move them to your empty starting point. Place your thumb on the new empty cut and count again, too moving the third sets of strings away to your new empty spot. Your rope will be forming on the opposite side of your loom. Continuously do this until your rope is a desired length.
Once completed simply take your new rope off of the circle loom and tie a knot at the open end. Your natural DYI rope will be ready to be used on any projects you may encounter.