Cordage: A Very Useful Prepper Supply

This blog post is going to be about prepping, in a roundabout way. Years ago I took an interest in kumihimo when I worked at Walmart as the department manager of the fabrics and crafts department. Around stores you often see merchandise, mostly impulse purchase items, hanging from plastic strips, which we called clip strips. We had a clip strip of small, round foam kumihimo looms, that cost a few dollars. I kept looking at these looms, because I knew nothing about kumihimo. So of course I bought one, because who can pass up learning another craft or needlework technique, right?

There are crafters who make beautiful beaded kumihimo jewelry, but with my ever-growing list of crafts and needlework hobbies, I just learned how to do a few different braids, using various types of embroidery floss and yarn. I haven’t really gotten into kumihimo, but I’m glad I learned a few simple braids. Please excuse my terrible photography, but here’s the foam kumihimo loom with a few of the braids I made.

In my last blog post Sensible Prepper mentioned how it’s good to have how-to books, in case of, for instance, the power goes out or the internet’s down. He also mentioned how it’s good to have cordage, like paracord.

Cordage has been something that’s interested me for years. When I make small counted cross stitch projects, often I need to make a hanger out of embroidery floss to hang the finished piece and the most common finishing instruction is to use a technique of twisting 6-strand embroidery floss, which I’ve done for over 40 years, but then I saw a needleworker online recommend a cordmaker, that looks similar to a fishing reel. You can make yards of twisted cord in only a few minutes. I bought a cord maker, but haven’t used it yet. I will use it eventually, because I have several cross-stitched Christmas ornaments done and need to finish them into ornaments and they’ll need hangers.

Both the cheap foam kumihimo loom and this cord maker could be useful at making rope and cordage for more utilitarian purposes, I think, if you couldn’t buy any at the store. Even if you don’t have a ton of craft and needlework supplies like me, it’s simple to take apart a piece of old clothes, like a sweater and reuse that yarn or to even cut thin strips out of all sorts of materials – like an old bed sheet or t-shirt or even try cutting strips from black trash bags and making cordage in a pinch.

If you are a prepper and you don’t watch Townsends, I highly recommend their YouTube channel. They do a lot of 18th century cooking there, but so much more than that, as they explore early American life. They built a cabin, they have someone who does blacksmith work like they would have in 18th century America – to include making their own nails. A few years ago they had a guest, Dan from Coalcracker Bushcraft, which is located in the Appalachian Mountains of PA and part of the Appalachian Trail runs through the Pocono Mountains, not far from my childhood home. Dan showed how to make cordage from tree bark using a simple twisting technique:

One of my favorite YouTube homesteaders is Patara at Appalachia’s Homestead. She’s feisty and opinionated like me, so even when I disagree with her about something, I know her heart’s in the right place from watching a lot of her other videos. She did a video a few days ago with her husband, James, who is very quiet, but in this video he talked more. They both came up with their own general category type lists of prepper supplies to think about having and I found it interesting how different their lists were. James thinks outside the box. He’s like me, with his “well, I could take this and repurpose it to do X, Y, Z type thinking.” At minute 16:52, James lists twine and string and I was sitting here, going, “YES!” Patara’s facial expression cracked me up, but hey, I’m on Team James with the twine and string, but I’d add ropes, fishing line, various strength threads and needles, like having curved needles to repair heavier materials and leather needles. A pack of homecraft or home repair needles is a good thing to have or several, because often when working using heavier materials, I’ve had to use pliers to pull the needle through and I’ve had needles break.

A lot of preppers have mentioned acquiring reference and how-to books. I’ve got a whole bunch, even an old Yankee Magazine book on olden days stuff, that explains everything from how to make your own paint from scratch to how to manage a small woodlot. With cordage in mind, years ago I picked up this book on knots and ropework, thinking it would be good to learn some of these knots sometime.

Learning as many skills as you can really matters as much as stockpiling supplies, I think. A few years ago I came across this interesting effort by some crafty people to cut plastic shopping bags in strips and turn them into “plarn,” a plastic yarn of sorts, which they make into mats to donate to homeless people.

Back in the 1970s, my great-grandmother saw some crochet project in her Workbasket magazine, using plastic bread wrappers to crochet rugs, so this “plarn” sleeping mat idea isn’t new. I remember those bread wrapper rugs, because everyone in the family was saving bread wrappers for her to crochet those rugs and also, because I found the rugs fascinating and my mother was not impressed with them, lol.

Before I end this long string (or yarn)… there’s a bad pun there, about cordage, I’m going to add this link to a YouTube channel devoted to rag rugs. Erin Halvorsen is absolutely the queen of rag rugs and has loads of information and tutorials on her channel of how to create your strips for various rag rugs to step-by-step instructions on how to make the rugs. Erin has loads of videos preserving many unusual and old-fashioned techniques. In this video she makes a unique twine rag rug, where she shows you how to make the twine, using a similar twisting technique as the cordage from bark that Coalcracker Bushcraft used in the Townsends video, then she crochets the rug together:

I hope I’ve “tied” together all of these interesting ways with creating and using cordage and I hope that more people start learning to “shop” their home first before rushing out to buy more prepper supplies.

Have a great day!

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Filed under American History, Emergency Preparedness, General Interest

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