This is a blog about the pursuits of Naturalist Alan Russo to incorporate all things Natural, especially Plants, into his daily life. Living close to Nature has always been a passion of mine and I try, with natures help, to live a Healthy lifestyle for myself and for the Earth.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Milkweed Cordage

  One of my patches of milkweed was at the point I could harvest it for cordage. The stems of the Milkweed plant has fibers, which when extracted, make a nice fairly strong piece of rope.
 After collecting the stems, I cut off the dirty bottom end and the seed pods and look for the least damaged stems. After deciding which stems to use, I take the stem and crush it between my fingers continuing the full length of the stem. If the stem is too thick you can crush it with piece of wood. Now, rotate the stem 90 degrees and crush it again the full length. It should now be broken into 4 pieces. Open the stem so the inside of all the pieces are facing up and let about an inch hang over one finger. With your other hand press down on this part till the stem breaks over your finger. The hard brittle part of the stem will break but the strong subtle fibers should stay intact. Now peel the hard stem from the fibers. Continue this till all the fibers are extracted. If you want to make a soft, pretty looking rope, you will need to "buff" the fibers to remove the chafe. This can be done by rubbing the fibers between your hands or rubbing them on your pant leg. I didn't do this very well with this fiber because it didn't matter to me if it was soft. When the fibers are ready I start a technique called a "reverse wrap". I learned this technique in Tom Browns standard class but it is hard to explain in writing, its something someone has to show you. This piece came out kind of crude but the basic idea is there and it would be fine in a survival situation.
Milkweed with seed pods
Breaking stem into 4 pieces
Breaking over finger
Removing stem from fiber
Fiber removed
Reverse wrap
Finished cordage

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