Ropes are handy things to have around. My assortment never seemed to quite fit my needs.
I kept looking at my mounting pile of baling twine. Every bale of hay comes with two pieces of twine. Every winter the pile grew by 600 pieces of good useable pieces cut next to the knot. I hated to burn them.
Baling twine ties up gates. It makes temporary fixes in broken fences. It makes great tomato cages. It ties plants to stakes.
Then I needed a rope for a school demonstration for an anatomy/physiology unit on the senses. I braided that twine into a rope long enough.
The demonstration was from a children’s book called Follow My Leader. This is an excellent book.
In the story a boy has a firecracker blow up in his face leaving him blind. He learns how to cope finally being given the chance to get a guide dog.
Part of the preparation to getting the dog was to teach blind people to walk normally again. They also had to trust the one leading them.
The instructors had each person grab hold of a loop of rope. The lead instructor pulled the rope forward at a normal walking pace forcing those hanging on to walk faster than they had walked for a long time trusting the instructor to lead them around and past obstacles.
My students were blindfolded. Each grabbed a loop on the rope I had braided. We walked around the floor of the gym.
The feelings of those hanging on are mixed. They feel fear as they walk without seeing. They feel a thrill as on a roller coaster. Even a brisk walk feels incredibly fast.
When I stopped teaching this rope became a hay rope. It lasted for almost ten years tying down loads of hay. I now have a new hay rope again braided from baling twine.
Lead ropes are much easier to make since they are much shorter. The first step is to buy a hook. I get the stouter ones.
The second step is two fold. One is a decision about how strong a rope you need. Most lead ropes don’t need to be really strong so three strands of twine are enough.
The second decision is how long the lead rope needs to be. Usually one length of twine is enough as this will become about a five foot rope.
Cut the knots off the twine pieces. Braiding the rope is a standard three strand braid. Start the braid four to six inches from the end of the twine pieces. When the braid is four to six inches long, put the ends through the loop at the end of the hook and splice the ends into the braid to secure the hook onto the rope. Attach the hook so the rest of the braids can be pulled tight.
Every few cross overs, pull one strand loose from the others untwisting the loose ends. When the end of the twine is reached, tie the end. The lead rope is ready to use.
For longer ropes I start with twine cut to different lengths so the splicing of new pieces is staggered. A splice is simple. When a piece is down to four to six inches long, put a new piece with it and braid it in. If you must set the work down, make a slip knot to hold your work in place.
For stronger ropes, use two or three strands of twine for each of the three braiding strands. All of the strands for each braiding strand should be the same length so splicing is done for the entire strand at the same time. My hay ropes are double strands.
The actual braiding takes very little time. I often braid ropes while my dry goats eat during milking. Those ropes give me a sense of a accomplishment both for making a rope and diminishing the pile of baling twine.