Materials for Making Hemp Rope
December 5, 2010 4:20 PM   Subscribe

Which hemp twine to use for making (laid) hemp rope? Where do I get it?

I am thinking of repurposing my BSA skills into making hemp rope for my naughty nautical friends, for, uh, *decorative ropework*. Think Twisted Monk, for those in the know :) I plan on making laid rope, with three doubled (two-strand) yarns. That is, there will be six 'strands' in the finished rope. I hope I got the terms right!

I think the final sizes I want are probably 8-10 mm.

Is hemp twine what I want to start with here? If so, what size, and who is a reputable shop? I have made plenty of rope with jute twine in the past, but haven't worked with hemp.

Also, any advice on dyeing?

(PM me if answering this outs you!)
posted by gregglind to Shopping (6 answers total)
The last time I did this (also in BSA), we used baler twine. A brief Google search shows that you can still get sisal baler twine. It's been 40+ years now, and thought it might all be plastic by now. Check with your farm implement dealer or feed and seed store.

PM me if answering this outs you!

If you're asking about cannabis hemp in particular, I don't understand what the euphemism and indirection are about. Why should twine or rope be any different from all the other 1.55 million hemp clothing hits I see in Google?
posted by Bruce H. at 5:10 PM on December 5, 2010

Response by poster: @Bruce H.
I forgot that people even associate hemp with marijuana!

I definitely *don't* want sisal or jute for this, but hemp, which is a much softer, holds knots better, and slivers much less.

Mostly I want to know what sort of products from say: HempBasics would make sense to turn in to rope.
posted by gregglind at 5:22 PM on December 5, 2010

Ooh, I feel special, I got the reference. Anyways, you might try looking for polished hemp twine, such as is used in the making of nets for certain types of hunting and trapping. I think it's big in the craft scene now too, if you want colors.

I made quite a few when I was younger, and I think the stuff would work quite well for your purposes.
posted by jellywerker at 7:49 PM on December 5, 2010

(Bruce H.: If you look at Twisted Monk, you'll see that the gregglind is hinting at tying folk up, not cannabis.)

If I recall correctly, Monk doesn't make the rope, but instead imports the raw rope (already laid), then dyes it and finishes it. Looking at his FAQ, "fiber reactive dye" is the key phrase you should look for when looking at dyes.

The other thing Monk does is conditioning the rope---making it softer, removing the fuzzy bits and splintery bits, and lightly oiling it. If you've felt raw hemp rope, it's much rougher than what he sells. If I recall, the process involves boiling the rope, running it over a corner under tension to help it bend, drying it on a stretching frame, "sanding" it with coarse cloth to bring up rough bits, singing off the fuzzy/pointy bits, and lightly oiling it with something like neem or mink oil. His blog indicates that he started from instructions in one of Midori's bondage books.

I know someone who went through that process with some rope from the store you linked and told me that it was quite a bit of time and effort. Even if you made your rope from twine yourself, you'd probably want to go through this process before using it on people.
posted by JiBB at 8:17 PM on December 5, 2010

OK, color me vanilla. :O I used to read a.s.b., but it's been years.

All my tying experience comes from climbing, and I've been happy with kernmantle climbing rope and 1" tubular nylon webbing. In a static situation, that is, with the rope not moving across the skin, the 1" tubular is smooth to the touch, and not difficult to knot securely. Also comes in lots of (garish?) colors.

If I had my heart set on organic, I think I'd investigate cotton or linen yarns. Or silk, if I had more money than good sense.

(Now I feel old. A Google search for a.s.b. didn't return a relevant hit in the first 200 results. I had to add usenet to get a hit. And Twisted Monk was #1.)
posted by Bruce H. at 10:26 PM on December 5, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice on usage, and I know my rope :) I will pop over to MeFi on FL and ask there. I do actually want what I want here, which is the semi-raw materials for making hemp laid rope :).
posted by gregglind at 6:59 AM on December 6, 2010

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