Loop-netted Bag Tutorial (and GAW!)

Discussion in 'Other Skills' started by OrienM, Apr 2, 2017.

  1. OrienM

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    Hi Folks,

    Here's a little tutorial on making a loop-netted bag. Loop-netting, AKA looping, knotless netting, needle hitching, or nalbinding, is an ancient form of weaving, somewhat of a precursor to knitting. It uses a single piece of cordage in a spiraling chain of interlinked loops to produce containers, hats, socks, and other tubular items. It's fairly easy to do, and only really requires a couple simple tools, patience, and the ability to make cordage.

    ***Also...since I'm pushing 900 posts and have never done one before, I've decided to make this a giveaway as well as a tutorial. GAW is open to all; just post "I'm in" or similar for chance to receive the finished bag/water bottle carrier I'm making here. I'll select a winner at random from those who post.***

    Before you get started, get a good supply of raw fiber together. The material used in this project is raffia, a natural fiber taken from a palm tree and sold commercially for craft use. I've never worked with this stuff before...it's pretty nice, softer and less wiry than yucca, and lighter in weight. Check out those long, 3-4' fibers!

    loop1.jpg

    Tools required are very minimal: scissors or nail clippers to trim loose fiber ends, and a large needle with an eye that suits your cordage.

    Begin by twisting up about 4-6' of cordage, 1/8" or so in diameter. Leave the working ends loose and tapered, so you can easily splice in more length later.

    Nail clippers are great for trimming loose splice ends:

    loop2.jpg

    The looped weave begins with a foundation knot, a simple slip knot. Note the slip knot is 'reversed'; pulling on the short end tightens the loop. The end of the cord has a single-overhand stopper to prevent it pulling out.

    loop3.jpg

    Tighten the knot up as shown. Then thread the needle, using the other, loose end of your cordage.

    loop4.jpg

    Showing the very first loop, the basic unit of this style of weaving. Each loop is simply a half-hitch, made going from left to right (viewed from inside the bag), and hitched to the loop directly below itself in the previous row. The size of these loops is up to you; larger loops result in a looser, stretchier weave. In this project I'm making fairly small loops, just large enough for the needle to pass through.

    loop5.jpg

    Starting the second loop.

    loop6.jpg

    Cont'd...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  2. OrienM

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    Once five loops are formed around the foundation knot, draw the slip knot as tight as possible, and tie another stopper knot up close to keep it tight. This 5-loop 'button' will form the start of your bag. Now, "step up", beginning the spiral weave by by hitching the next loop to the first of the five you've just made.

    loop7.jpg

    Add a second loop into the SAME foundation loop; then, proceed around the other four foundation loops, adding TWO new loops to each. This "bumping up" doubles the number of loops each time you go around, increasing the final diameter of the finished bag. In this case, I "bumped up" for two full rotations, so ended up with a base of 20 loops (5-10-20). This will make a bag about 4" across. Another time around would produce 40 loops, and a bag diameter more like 8".

    loop8.jpg

    The first complete "bumped up" row (10 loops), shown from the back. Note that the weave appears to go to be going from R to L!

    loop9.jpg

    As weaving continues and the cordage gets shorter, it becomes necessary to pull the loose ends through by hand; this is your cue to pause and twist up more cord.

    loop10.jpg

    Splice into the free ends to extend the cordage another 6' or so. After cleaning up the new length, you can put the needle back on and continue looping. Switch back and forth between adding loops and making new cordage as needed.

    loop11.jpg

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  3. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Here's the base with a new length of cordage after two "bumped up" rounds, 20 loops in circumference. At this point the weave switches from 2:1 to a 1:1 ratio, where each underlying loop gets only one new one hitched to it.

    loop12.jpg

    After going around the base a couple times, the weaving is now beginning to cup a bit, as it transitions to what will be the tubular sides of the bag.

    loop13.jpg

    I guess that's probably about it for the next couple days :(. The wife took the phone (aka camera) with her somewhere tonight, and I have to go back to work tomorrow. I'll start where I left off once I get a little more time. Weaving projects are always slow...

    Thanks for watching so far! :dblthumb:
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  4. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    OK! After some delay, I've gotten a bit more done on the bag. I forgot how slow these go once full diameter is reached...takes a lot of loops to build up the sides!

    Here's the bag-to-be now, after six rows of 1:1 loops...shaped kind of like a little bowl. It's sitting on a larger looped bag/backpack, which is made of yucca and dogbane, and is 40 loops in circumference. Changing colors, as shown in the large bag's stripes, is easy; just cut your working strands in short (2-3") tapers where you want the change to occur, and immediately begin splicing in fibers of the new color, using either natural or dyed material. Switching back is done the same way.

    loop14.jpg

    Another nice decorative technique is to use rows of different types of loops. I've decided to experiment on the little bag by adding a few rows of double-twisted loops. These are very similar to the half-hitch loops we've been using, except that the cord passes through the loop twice each time.

    The first double-twisted loop:

    loop15.jpg

    To keep these larger loops evenly sized I'm wrapping each one around my thumb...

    loop16.jpg

    ...then adding the second turn to lock the loop in place.

    loop17.jpg

    Four double-twisted loops...these will be continued all the way around the row.

    loop18.jpg

    To be cont'd...
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
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  5. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Also, please take note that this tutorial is now also a giveaway! :4: Open to all BCUSA members, just post "I'm in" for a chance to receive the finished bag.
     
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  6. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    i'm in, i guess-it'd be great to see the final piece in person! i'm definitely going to have to try this new skill.....AFTER i get some other items off my personal "to do" list. i even have a hand carved wooden needle from a friend that would be perfect!
     
  7. Younghunter3030

    Younghunter3030 Scout

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    I'm in man is like to try something like this after I get several things off my Bushcraft List looks amazing I'd like to see the final project :dblthumb:
     
  8. NWPrimate

    NWPrimate Supporter Supporter

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    Great tutorial @OrienM ! I checked in on it last night and just came back to find that that there were more parts added. I'm looking forward to the next segments when you get the time.

    Oh yeah... and I'm in! :)
     
  9. isme

    isme Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Very impressive skills my friend.
    I'm in. Love hand crafted items.
     
  10. NattyBo

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    Did you wet the raffia first?
    I have some from other craft projects and I know you can separate it pretty finely, but are your strands two "regular strands" reverse twisted to get he 1/8"?
     
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  11. OrienM

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    Yeah, I have been wetting it a bit, just a spritz from a spray bottle now and then while working. To get 1/8" thickness is taking maybe 3-4 strands of raffia per side; occasionally I'll split an extra-thick strand in half to make splicing smoother. I can see why this stuff is popular; it splits great, and is easy on the fingers while twisting, too.
     
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2017
  12. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Wow, I am in. Cannot wait to see this finished.
     
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  13. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Not in, but that looks like a great start and good on you for the GAW!
     
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  14. Youcantreadinthedark

    Youcantreadinthedark Amphibian. Supporter Bushclass I

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    Excellent post as always. I'm with you so far, but I'm curious as to how you'll reduce the number of loops and then create a mouth/throat for the bag. You'll take it back from a 1:1 to a 2:1?
     
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  15. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    Great post @OrienM! This is a skill I have been wanting/needing to learn. Count me in!
     
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  16. OrienM

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    It's certainly possible to "bump down" like you describe...you'd hitch each new loop into two foundation ones, so yeah, a 1:2 ratio. On this bag I'm probably going to make the very top row in 1:2, with big oversized loops to take a drawstring. So far most of my bags have just been cylindrical all the way to the top...this works OK too, but all those loops at the edge tend to prevent the bags from closing completely.

    Thanks for all the questions, comments, and "I'm in"s so far! :)
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
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  17. DKR

    DKR Scout

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    I'm in and wanting to see more. Love to see this first hand.

    if I win, I'll pick up the shipping as I live in the great white (right now) North.
     
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2017
  18. Badey

    Badey Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    I'm in! Thanks for doing this tutorial and GAW!
     
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  19. bo'sun carl

    bo'sun carl Scout

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    I am in.
    You have some great cordage skills bro! All of mine has thick and thin spots but I keep working on it. I do some needle hitching, thankfuly I have a form or bottle to help keep things even.

    Carl
     
  20. chris67

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    ive been curious how to make a bag like this thanks for doing this tutorial!
     
  21. OrienM

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    Made a little progress, which I've edited into the posts above. Thanks for the continued interest....:dblthumb:
     
  22. SmilinJoe

    SmilinJoe Supporter Supporter

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    Great tutorial and I really like the backpack you made. Takes patience and hands without Carpal Tunnel.
     
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  23. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Orien, excellent work.

    Is the needle plastic or bone, and where can it be bought?
     
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  24. Tennessee

    Tennessee Guide Supporter Bushclass II

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    Thanks for showing this @OrienM . I really liked the original post you did about the making of the backpack bag.
     
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  25. Myr1ad

    Myr1ad Scout

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    I'm in. I'm still working on some of the other tutorials you have made. I will not get to this one for a while. It would be cool to have the example in hand when I do.

    I may also try this with plastic bag cordage, that would be a cool survival skill.

    @OrienM I started a bamboo patch on my property just so I could make a pack basket using your triaxial weaving post. My wife will be happy to simply buy the raffia instead of me trying to grow something else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2017
  26. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    This one is bone; I made it from a bit of bone scrap left from another project. They can also be purchased, and are usually listed as 'nalbinding needles'. Any big-eyed needle will work, pretty much.

    Plastic-bag cordage would be excellent for this! Looking forward to seeing your bamboo basket, too.
     
  27. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    so, i was just pondering-how much "give" does a bag like this have? we talking more stiff like a basket or soft like cloth? and can you adjust that via different stitches, or tension or.........i'd imagine you change the stiffness somehow, but would rather ask than have to learn by try, try , trying again!
     
  28. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    I've pondered whether this is a type of basketry or a textile myself. It's fairly stiff when done in tight, small loops, but always has some flexibility and stretch to it; the larger the individual loops are made (or the finer the cord is relative to the loops), the more soft and floppy the structure gets. The different stitches do have an effect, as well, for instance double-twisted loops are more stretchable than half-hitches. I need to experiment a lot more with different loop types and ways of connecting them; there are quite a few options I've never explored.
     
  29. chris67

    chris67 Guide

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    I've carved them out of plastic for a quick needle
     
  30. Keyser Söze

    Keyser Söze Usual Suspecto Lifetime Supporter

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    That Is A aLot of cordage !!!
     
  31. Schwert

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    This looks like fun... I have never made cordage as I go for any project. All my twisted leather work has been with the full length made ahead, so this splice as you go approach will be a new thing to learn.

    I am first going to make a needle...that should keep me busy for awhile :)

    @OrienM how long is your needle? It looks about 3 inches or so. Any tips about dimensions and shape? Flat, slight curve, with long oval eye looks both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
     
  32. OrienM

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    It's just about 4" long, 3/8" wide, and 1/8" thick; the eye is 1/2" x 1/8". Exact size isn't crucial, I just based it on the size of material I had, and what felt comfortable to hold onto. Wood works great if you don't have bone, or as mentioned above, you can also use plastic (yogurt-container lids will work, etc). Thanks for the nice words, and I look forward to seeing what you weave up!
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  33. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    For awhile now I've been collecting photos off the net of looped artifacts from around the world, and I thought it might be useful to post a few here. Since the technique has been used by many cultures over a huge amount of time, a dizzying array of variations on basic loop weaving have developed.

    An Anasazi 'shoe-sock' from Northern NM, made of yucca fiber partly wrapped with feathers:

    3efa02abb6375c67142ad68abdee6ca9.jpg

    A pair of Aboriginal 'dilly bags' from Australia:

    dillybags.jpg

    Another pair of socks, these are from Coptic Egypt. The complex loop patterns are typical of nalbinding.

    coptic socks.jpg

    Kind of an unusual one; looped weaving done in rattan vine, on a pack basket made by the Dayaks of Borneo. The stitch is an interesting variation, two units forward, then one back.

    tambok.jpg

    A 'bilum' bag, from Papua New Guinea, done using another interesting variety of doubled loops:

    bilum.jpg
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2017
  34. Bitterroot Native

    Bitterroot Native Indigenous Skills Junkie

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    GREAT examples! Amazing the length of cordage that some of these would require. Can't wait till I start learning this! Really like the "dilly bags", once I source enough cordage I'm going to make something similar on a much smaller scale.

    Any idea how they incorporated the feathers on that shoe sock? Feathers would probably make it much softer and also warmer depending on how they were used.
     
  35. Schwert

    Schwert Guide

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    Amazing diversity of uses. I found a pair of wool mittens on the web nalbound then felted, I want to try getting to be able to do something like this.

    Thanks for the needle dimensions. I may start with wood then try antler.

    Here are the mitts, from:

    http://lappone.blogspot.com/2011/07/nalbinding-2011.html




    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2017
  36. wa_medic

    wa_medic Scout Bushclass III Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Great stuff here! Thanks for posting!
     
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  37. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Yeah, crazy amounts of cordage going on, lol. Sorry to say, you might have problems using purchased or pre-made cordage for looping...since each stitch goes through a loop, you end up spending all your time pulling through enormous lengths of cord, and keeping it un-tangled. Much easier to just make short lengths as you go along. Crochet or knitting are better suited for using pre-existing cordage in long lengths, which I suspect is why they were invented, and why they are much more commonly used these days.

    I actually have seen feather-wrapped cord made...the process used turkey body feathers, and involved sticking the quill of each dampened feather between the plies of the cord, spirally wrapping it for about 1", then capturing the tip end underneath the start of the next feather. The demonstrator had about 10' of wrapped cord to show; it was incredibly warm and soft stuff. They also mentioned that it took about 15,000 individual feathers to make enough wrapped cord for a blanket...:eek:
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  38. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Oh man, those are amazing! Never seen that before; they look super warm and comfy. Nalbinding makes for thick, dense material already, and it must be even more so when felted.
     
  39. Schwert

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  40. Schwert

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    Last edited: Apr 11, 2017
  41. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    @OrienM any progress lately? I've been curious how you've been coming along. definitely going to be trying this, but living through you on this at the moment! what kind of uses do you use these bags for?
     
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  42. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    @OrienM I am sorry to say that you have been hit by photobucket and your wonderful tutorial is now photoless. :15: any chance you'll be able to repost them, pretty please?
     
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  43. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Photobucket strikes again...man, I lost a lot of pics! I do have the photos for this one backed up, so I will be able to repair it (and finish up the project and tutorial as well...I'm so easily distracted!). I'll try to get it finished up pretty quick here... :dblthumb:

    A lot of my older stuff may be lost forever, though...:(
     
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  44. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Pics are back up! Thanks BCUSA for hosting the photos here on-site. Now to finish this project, and give it away :cool:
     
  45. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    glad to see those back up. and just in time-I'm giving a bilum bag a go from yucca cord I started a long while ago. I'll try for pics soon...even though I'm only one round in. and I've got to add that I'm trying this all because of your inspiration!
     
  46. CivilizationDropout

    CivilizationDropout -MOA #17- Supporter Bushclass I

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    Still bagging it?
     
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  47. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    [​IMG]
    i remembered i said in the old thread i'd show you my progress. trying the bilum style stitch with some yarn.....means i've had to tie knots every time i need a new thread added in, but that'll go better with the homemade cordage. i also have the tendency to make cordage projects too tight when i first do them and you can see how this got narrower in the middle (i started at the bottom and worked up) i have gotten some plastic strap i'm going to use for the next attempt to make the stitches more regular in tension. it does stretch nicely!

    @OrienM any more progress on your bag?
     
  48. OrienM

    OrienM Guide

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    Wow! That looks great @CowboyJesus, awesome job! It's hard to see the knotted splices, and the stitches look very even...did you use a spacer or your finger to size the loops?

    I haven't made any more progress on mine...I twisted so much cordage this year, I apparently gave myself arthritis of the thumbs :confused: so I'm currently taking a little break from fiber work.
     
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  49. CowboyJesus

    CowboyJesus Supporter Supporter Bushcraft Friend Bushclass I

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    i had considered a spacer of some sort, but didn't use anything. i will say though, with pulling the needle through, that sorta self spaces them when i pulled them too tight (which was quite often-hence the fine polish on the needle now!) i did save some plastic strapping from a pallet recently that i will use to make even spacing in my next attempt, though i'm not sure when that will be...
     
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