Tell Tales, our blog from the rope locker.

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Category: Thoughts on Ropes and Knots.

  1. Caring For Natural Rope -Jute

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    How to care for Jute, 'The Golden Fibre' 


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    Jute is a fantastic fibre, sustainable, 100% bio-degradable and recyclable.

    I love using Jute rope for my baskets, it is stiff enough to keep its shape, but flexible enough to knot, and it has a pleasant smell that reminds me of warm brown paper.

    No pesticides or fertilisers necessary for cultivation, which means it is possible to be grown by small family concerns in Bangladesh and India, usually selling through co-operatives. It can be planted quickly in flooded areas, such as the Bengal and Ganges deltas, and harvested in 4 to 6 months.

    The coarse outer fibres are used for firewood, the leaves for food and the stems for fibres that are then used to make rope, hessian or burlap cloth and many yet to be discovered uses.

    Being a natural plant fibre, Jute is affected by its environment. It will shrink a little when damp or wet conditions (5 to 10%), and will loosen when dry.

    It is best kept indoors or in a dry place, it isn't suitable for exterior use. (Poly Hemp would be a better choice for outdoors).

    Jute is best kept clean primarily by vacuuming.

    It is possible to wipe down with a damp cloth or sponge, and leave to dry naturally out of direct sunshine.

    If very soiled, agitate a little detergent in a bowl of warm water, until you create bubbles, then dab the jute with just the lather, and wipe the foam off with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Leave to dry naturally out of the direct sun. 

    Our mats should be reshaped gently and left to dry flat.

    Baskets can be gently reshaped if necessary, by placing a bowl or ball inside, and patting the edges around.

    Do not use a washing machine or tumble dryer, and of course no harsh chemicals, like bleach, as these can break down the natural fibres.

    I make many knotted items from jute rope, such as flower girl baskets, fruit bowls and door knot mats.

  2. Caring For Natural Fibre Rope - Manila, Manila Hemp, Abaca

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    How to Care for Natural Manila Rope

    Manila Rope

     Manila was used on ships in the past

    Manila rope is otherwise known as manila hemp and it is created from the abaca plant, which is closely related to the banana plant.

    It was highly prized in the days of sail, it has been replaced by synthetic fibres on boats nowadays, but a lot of traditional knot tyers still like to use it to make fenders and door stops.

    It is a sustainable crop that can stop soil erosion and help to regenerate deforested areas. Our manila comes from the Phillipines, as does 85% of the world's production, the name itself comes from their capital city.

    This rope is a natural plant fibre, which is very durable, but doesn't like to be kept damp, best kept in a dry place to prevent mildew. It isn't really suitable for outdoor use.

    Being a natural fibre, it is affected by environmental conditions. When wet, it shrinks and tightens,(5 to 10%), and when warm and dry it becomes loose.

    Vacuuming is the best way to clean manila.
    If necessary it is possible to wash the rope gently by hand with a mild soap agitated in warm water, using just the lather to clean the rope, then wipe any dirt off with a clean damp cloth or sponge. Dry naturally on a dry day, out of direct sunshine.
    I like to use manila for brushes or deck swabs, and fenders.
    It can have a too strong aroma for my baskets or mats, as oil is often used to make the ropemaking easier if it has been a dry growing season. A lot of people like the smell, especially if they remember it from when it was used before modern ropes. It is stiffer than jute, I prefer to wear gloves when using manila, as any splinters can get infected.