Going Loopy!

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by OrienM, Mar 25, 2018.

  1. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I've been on a serious cordage kick lately...:p

    SUNP0077.JPG

    SUNP0084.JPG

    These are some efforts at making another string-bag backpack, using yucca cordage and a 'looping' or 'knotless netting' weaving technique. Native people in my area (and many other places worldwide) used this technique to make stretchy fabrics for bags, hats, shoes, and other items. It's fairly simple to do, if time-consuming; each bag is made of one long piece of cord, with the same looped stitch repeated over and over in an interlinked pattern.

    I've made similar bags in the past, but wanted a larger version that could hold more gear for day hikes. I finished up the striped bag in the first pic a few weeks ago, but was dissatisfied :rolleyes:...it turned out too small, heavy, and irregular-looking. As soon as I finished it I immediately started this new one, using finer cord and a looser, more open weave. I also began using a net gauge (the ruler in the pic above) to keep the loops more uniform. I'm much happier with this new version :)...when complete the pack will have a drawstring top, and woven or flat-braided shoulder straps to match.

    Some links about looping/knotless netting/needle hitching/nalbinding, for those who may be interested in trying it:

    http://www.donnakallnerfiberart.com/looping/looping-links/

    https://anthrosource.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1525/aa.1935.37.1.02a00110

    I started my own tutorial on looping here at BCUSA, too, but lost the pics when photobucket held my account hostage :mad:. Still need to finish it up, at some point.

    Thanks for looking!
    -Orien
     
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  2. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    That's pretty cool.
     
  3. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Thanks! It's slow going, but I find the repetition pretty relaxing, too. Definitely great practice for making long, consistent cordage.
     
  4. wvtracker14

    wvtracker14 Hardwoodsman #9 Supporter Hardwoodsman

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    That's neat thanks for sharing! Curious how do you process the yucca down, all of it looks so uniform?
     
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  5. Jim L.

    Jim L. Guide

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    You know @OrienM, you've set yourself up for completing a tutorial on not only the crocheting of different things, but the incorporation of new fibers as you progress. :D
     
  6. Primordial

    Primordial MOA #40 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Awesome! Great work!!
     
  7. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17-MYOG #71- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Outstanding! Good to see how knotty you are again...
     
  8. central joe

    central joe Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Ya done well young fellar. Gave me an idea too. joe
     
  9. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Thanks y'all...really appreciate the comments! It's a nice morale booster, this project is taking me crazy amounts of time to finish.

    I'm just pounding up the leaves with a hammer on a wooden surface, then scraping off the cortex with a cabinet scraper; they get rinsed and wrung out, and I comb the hanks with a wire-toothed dog comb to get the last of the chaff out.

    I've tried out quite a few processing methods in the past; IMO there are better ways to go for bulk processing (boiling, retting, etc), but pounding and scraping works great for making small batches of fiber quickly. The really slow part is twisting up all that cordage...;)

    I'll take some more pics as I go along here, and I hope to finish up a more thorough tutorial sometime soon. Changing colors is easy! Just start using the different-colored fiber, splicing in as normal. For a quick transition, cut and taper the working ends down to only 2-3", and add the splices in quickly to keep the diameter constant. For stripes, switch materials after every pass around the bag.
     
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2018
  10. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Thought it might be interesting to work through the math on this project...the bag is now 22" deep; each loop requires 3" of cordage, there are 50 loops per course, and 19 courses. Adding it up, each course takes 150" (12.5 feet) of cord; the whole bag has 237.5 feet of cordage in it, in 950 individual loops. That's a lot of cordage, lol...

    It's not quite done yet, either :rolleyes:...I still need to add one more round of loops and the drawstring; the straps will also require an estimated 200 feet of slightly finer cord.
     
  11. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    A bunch of loopy pics :30:

    Sizing a loop:

    SUNP0093.JPG

    Starting the last row of loops; the cordage gets thicker, and the loops get larger. Note that each large loop now links to two smaller ones on the row below, halving the total number of loops so the bag can close tightly.

    SUNP0095.JPG


    The final loop! To complete the bag, the working end of the cord will be eye-spliced back into itself, and the ends trimmed.

    SUNP0097.JPG


    Twisted up a yucca drawstring, and made a little antler slider as well, which will hold the bag closed. Now I'm starting on the straps...each strap will be a flat braid of 16 strands, in yucca and dogbane. Lots more cordage still to make!

    SUNP0104.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
  12. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    I was wondering how you gave it that nice green color, but I think that must be the natural color until it dries out. I see that your finished product is changing from green to yellow.
     
  13. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I wish the green color would stay...after a while the fiber bleaches out to a pale yellow/white. I may actually use some black walnut dye on it, just so it won't stand out so much in the woods.
     
  14. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Got one strap braided up...I ended up using 14 strands (including two of dogbane to make a nifty chevron pattern), and adding some twining to the bag to reinforce the attachment points. I'm still working on cordage for the other side, but the end is in sight! It's a good thing, too; my fingers are getting pretty tired of twisting, lol...

    SUNP0118.JPG
     
  15. IzaWildman

    IzaWildman Grey Dog Supporter

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    Amazing- beautiful work!
     
  16. Winterhorse

    Winterhorse Supporter Supporter

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    Really nice.
     
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  17. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    How resistant is this looping to runs? If the cordage gets cut in one spot are you left with a small hole, or does half the bag fall off cartoon style?
     
  18. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    One of the nice features of looping, it doesn't run like knitting or crochet. An adjacent loop might pop out, but a cut won't take out the whole bag.
     
  19. DarrylM

    DarrylM Supporter Supporter

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    That's great.
     
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  20. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Yeah, it's kind of reassuring; as much work as these bags are to make, it would be pretty rough to watch one disintegrate...:56:. I actually haven't had one get damaged yet; I'm sure it will happen at some point, though.
     
  21. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    I've loved watching your work-but I didn't think about it until today. do you have a really huge area that your harvesting all of this? just harvesting and processing seems like so much work above and beyond the twisting and weaving!
     
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  22. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Harvesting is usually quick and easy, actually; I live in a very rural area, and yuccas are incredibly common here! To avoid over-harvesting I cut from different spots all the time, and never take more than 10 or so leaves per season from a particular plant before moving on. For fiber projects I prefer banana yucca (Y. baccata), which produces much more fiber per leaf.

    A good proportion of the yucca in this particular project came from a vacant lot behind the local wal-mart, lol...;)

    Processing is always a bunch of work, the cortex-scraping step in particular gets pretty old after awhile. I tend to process only a few leaves at a time, twist cordage for a while, then work up a few more.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  23. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Coming into the home stretch! I have the other strap braided up now, so I took the pack for a little hike yesterday to see how it carries. Not at all bad so far :)...I need to shorten the straps a bit, and then deal with the loose, hanging ends somehow (bind/whip and cut off, I think). Otherwise, it fits me well, and carries quite a bit of gear comfortably. I'll get a few pics later today, once I'm back from town.
     
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  24. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Finished! I still need to take close-ups of construction details, but here's a pic of the pack in use:

    bag2.jpg

    This was only a small load-out for testing purposes (a water bottle and a sweatshirt), but it will carry quite a lot more. Quite comfy, too :)...it should work great for day hikes.
     
  25. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    how do those straps feel on the shoulders? yucca always seems to be so stiff and harsh to me, but that could just be my plants, or my technique.

    i was wondering, 'cause i've seen that each of your bags has been in the round-have you ever done anything more square, or haversack style? would your technique work off of a chain, and go around, and then have a shoulder strap? 'cause i keep thinking of PNG bilum bags when i see your work, which is something i've wanted to try using and preferably making. [​IMG]

    especially since this is the stitch i've seen that i used on these, and i think its similar to your stitch.
    [​IMG]

    but then how to make the chain.....i wanna try making one of these-and you keep giving me the encouragement and the drive to do it! i started one once, and started second guessing the size, and my technique......maybe i'll share pics of it at some point, sad and small though it is.
     
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  26. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Close-ups (or attempts at close-ups...new camera not really cooperating, lol).

    Inside/strap side of the pack:

    SUNP0119.JPG

    The outside:

    SUNP0123.JPG

    The straps are attached to the side, rather than the top of the bag; the braid elements were folded double and lark's-headed to loops on each side, then twined over to lock them in. I also twined a row connecting the two straps, so they would stay a set distance apart.

    SUNP0121.JPG

    At the base, the straps are tied to eye-spliced loops on each end of a short length of thick cord/rope. This rope was also the starting point for weaving the bag; the first 50 loops are attached directly to it, running up one side and down the other, until they reach the beginning again and start slowly spiraling up the sides of the bag.

    Note the graduated loops at the starting point (the center of the base), forming a 'ramp' of sorts to begin the spiral.

    SUNP0124.JPG

    The shape is basically cylindrical, but flat at the bottom due to the straight-line start. The looped material stretches a lot, making it hard to define the size of the bag; unloaded, it tends to be about 13" wide and 23" tall, but will easily stretch out 2X in width.

    Words fail me a little bit, trying to describe this stuff...:rolleyes:. Hope the pics help!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  27. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I know what you mean, yucca can be a bit bristly! The straps and woven stuff are pretty comfy, but the loose ends at the bottom have poked me a few times. I hope they'll soften up with use, but if not I may have to deal with them some way or other.

    These are such cool bags :)...I've not delved much into New Guinean looping techniques yet. If I understand it correctly, they start these on the drawstring at the top, open end, and work their way down. The figure-8 loops seem related to the double twisted (360-degree) loops I've been using, but linked together in a different way.

    This latest bag is actually the first time I've gotten away from fully cylindrical shapes. I've not tried a haversack-shaped bag yet, but learning some bilum techniques would make a great excuse...:dblthumb:

    Please do post a pic of your looping project!
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
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