I’ve tried two ways of making string.

I’ll tell you how I “processed” them to get them into a ready-to-make-string state

Willow: I took a fresh, young branch from the tree and split the bark down one side (using a knife, sharp stone etc). I then gently peeled it off the stick until its all off. Folded the bark together (like you would with paper) and this split it on the opposite side, it gave me two thin long pieces of bark.

You could choose to soak it at this point for a while, or go to workwith it right away. (i was in a rush and decided to work with it right away)

I smashed a rock to get a piece that had a relatively sharp flat side.
I put one of the pieces of bark on a large stone and begin scraping the hard bark off the outside, once the thick outer layer stuff was gone and its looking very fibery I split it long ways to make thinner strips (about 3 of them, by processing the otherpiece of bark I would make 6 strips).

From there the basic string making process was done and it turned out ok.
Willow was a littleweak, maybe due to my own haste and lack of knowledge in the area.

Blackberry bush…

After the willow not turning out so great I looked for an alternitave method…

I hunted around and I saw that blackberry bushes’ runners seemed to fit a good model of what you’d turn to string: they were long(1-2 meters), thin (2-3mm at the most) and very soft and flexible.

First matter of business was THORNS. Had to get rid of them.

Using a stone chip i lightly skimmed it across the runner and removed the thorns.

Then i placed the runner on a large flat rock and pounded it with another flat stone, i did this lightly,justto breakup the internal woody bit (which I found if you get a runner any longer than 1meter the woodyness after the 1meter mark is really too woody to even be processed)

Once the pounding was out the way, standing I hal one end and kinda rubbed my hands together, this helped remove the husky layer that was still there.

I wet the fibres and began twisting it into string.

Blackberry = very good for rope making, I tested some other methods but this was my 4th and best attempt using blackberry.

So any vine berry plant should work really well.

The best runners are found in bushes that are overhanging water, they grow out and down and they are very easy to access… were I in the wild I would make sure I have these things lining alot of my rivers

I hope that wasnt toomuch rambling and gave you some idea of some of the things you can try :smiley:

I wish I had some flax around to try… but flax is PERFECT for string and is like cheating :stuck_out_tongue:

i hadn’t thought of blackberry for cordage.
thanks for this, anti. i think i know what i’m going to do with my day today. :slight_smile:

I hadn’t thought of blackberry either, great idea! But for people in the Pacific Northwest, it has to be clarified that what you are (must be) talking about is the native Trailing Blackberry, not the invasive Himalayan Blackberry.

Trailing Blackberry is very flexible and strong, and its tiny thorns would help minimize slippage in situations where that matters, so thanks again for the excellent idea.

Do the himalayan blackberries work as well?

I’m pretty sure that Himalayan Blackberries would not work well at all. They are too thick, they are not flexible enough, they dry out to hollow brittle canes, and they are covered with big nasty thorns.

I just had to add the clarification about native Trailing Blackberries because most people in the Pacific NW, when they hear “blackberries,” think of those big monster thornbushes that cover all open spaces they can.

Yea I’m not too sure on what exact type, but they dont tend to have small thorns… and these fuckers grow everywhere >.>

i diddnt bring my phone or camera with me so can’t get a shot

Where I am, there’s actually some hemp growing in inconspicuous areas. I plan to make some cordage with it. How’s that for convenient?

I don’t like you anymore.



[quote=“anti_, post:8, topic:1131”][quote author=Number3Pencils link=topic=1195.msg12844#msg12844 date=1223926834]
Where I am, there’s actually some hemp growing in inconspicuous areas. I plan to make some cordage with it. How’s that for convenient?

I don’t like you anymore.


Ditto. But at least ai gots me lots of yuccas for fibers. :slight_smile:

Anti do the blackberries you used have big thorns?We have crazy amounts of these everywhere in Cascadia.

If someone managed to make string from Himalayan Blackberry (the crazy big-thorned monster found all over western Cascadia) I would be very amazed and impressed.

Native Trailing Blackberry;init:.JPG

Himalayan Blackberry

I’ve only helped make string with nettle…I was amazed at how strong and soft it is! Especially since I’ve sort of come to really dislike nettle, since my skin reacts really bad to it’s sting, and it always sort of jumps out at me somehow when I’m walking on trails…Making string with it maybe gave me a different relationship with the plant. I’d love to try the same thing with blackberry. String is so incredible because there’s so much you can do with it! I’ve been wanting to try to crochet some nettle string into a basket or something.

I’ve mostly been working with yucca leaves for string. It’s not too bad, somewhat brittle and on the coarse side, but I have plenty of it available. My biggest problem is that my splices aren’t consistently strong. Not sure what I’m doing wrong.

Actually the blackberry around here looks more like Himalayan than the other one…

It can be worked to string but takes some work… I cant compare it to anything else since I havnt tried other types of bushes.

You dont use the thick pieces, just the new green ones, they’re about a meter long and a few mm thick

I’m going to have to try that, I didn’t think the new green growth of H. B was that strong.

But, even if that was not what you were talking about, I totally owe to you the great idea of using Trailing Blackberry for string. That should work fantastically well. Trailing Blackberry is very strong and very flexible, as I have discovered a few times when getting tangled in it. Several of them braided together would probably be really strong. The tiny thorns might be an asset in some situations (like when you need a lot of friction or hold), otherwise they could be removed. (Take a look at the photos of the Trailing Blackberry and how well it could adapt itself to making string.)

i tried using himalayan black berry today and it really didn’t work very well. it wasn’t very flexible at all. maybe the pieces i used weren’t young and green enough but i didn’t have any luck. i also tried separating the fibers (using bigger pieces) to make into cordage and that didn’t work very well either. i’m going to use some trailing black berry tomorrow so we’ll see if that’s any easier to work with.

I went out and tried some Trailing Blackberry today. TB is strong and pretty flexible, but when it gets actually bent, as in folded over, it becomes breakable in that spot – if I yanked it hard, it would not break unless it had been folded over, then it would break at that spot.

Then I tried braiding three pieces together and that resisted folding over and was strong, seemed like it would be usable as “rope” for some purposes.

Stinging Nettle used to be used for string and fiber purposes. It used to be used for making fishnets, in fact. It takes some processing (can’t just use the stems as is) and I don’t know just what the process is. I don’t have Stinging Nettle growing where I live, either, so can’t experiment. Hope Selkie can tell us more about this.

I tried the himalayan bb today to no avail.I used the new growth and it just did not hold up.I did find some of the old dried up stems broke up into what seemed like good material for a tinder bundle.Ill try that out soon.

If you or a neighbor grows Japanese honeysuckle, ai found that to make a decent cord all by itself, or the bark can be twined together. Also, if you happen to live in a warm area and have banana trees available, the leaves and “bark” of this make a better than average quality rope. Also hops and pretty much any milkweed and flax species, plus the commonly grown American Century Plant (Agave americana). (too list-ish for you? or would a list of all the good fiber plants be a good addition to this thread?)

yes a list would be good and appreciated