Like many people, the first time I had been exposed to anything rope related outside the garden shed was when “that book that shalt not be named” came out. A little Googling and I stumbled across the Two Knotty Boys website then on to Midori’s. From that moment on, my interest in the artistry of rope was well and truly piqued.
I bought both the Knotty Boys books, as well as Midori’s, plus a few others. Believe it or not, it was to learn how to make these creations and not simply to ogle semi-naked women. That’s what Pornhub is for -although I’ll admit to spending a fair amount of time there for, ‘educational purposes’.
Originally, I’d purchased some lovely, soft, purple cotton rope from Lovehoney. It’s a fantastic rope for sensual play, but it soon became clear that run of the mill, off the shelf rope, wasn’t good enough to produce anything more than a basic chest harness, I’d need a lot more of it. Then a chance conversation with the irrepressible Zak Jane at Smut Leeds, got me to thinking and me being me, I promised to prepare a little extra for my good friend WrigglyKitty -Time to try preparing my own hemp rope.
You can follow WrigglyKitty’s adventures with the rope here. and Charlie’s words on their adventures here.
I searched around, looking at various websites at both pre-prepared and raw rope, and the costs totally blew me away. Whilst pre-prepared rope would be the best, I just simply couldn’t afford it. So, time to make my own.
Eventually, I found a company on Amazon (not my first choice for such supplies) called Kanirope. There, I bought 100m of 6mm, 3-strand, twisted, grade-A, hemp rope for around £35. Lucky me, it was on offer that day and the price has since gone up to £50! Must have been kismet.
I’d decided to give Tied Out West’s rope preparation tutorial a go. Sadly, the website has now gone, but at the time of writing this, you can currently see an image on here on Wayback Machine.
One thing about hemp rope. Raw, it stinks like a farmyard on a hot summers day. I wasn’t quite prepared for the smell. Neither was my significant other. I did, however, discover that rope preparation is a great way to ‘encourage’ house guests to go home. My own preparation differed slightly from Tied Out West’s, in so much that I lost track of what I was doing, owing to the fact that this is not a quick process. The time and effort put in, is definitely reflected in the end result.
The basic steps that I used are as follows:
- Cut your rope to lengths a few inches longer than you want to use and wrap the cut ends with tape to stop them fraying.
- Singe the fuzz. Tied Out West had the fuzz burning nearer the end. I did this on the first batch of rope that I prepared, but I found that I got a nicer finish if I did the majority of the burning prior to the boiling and multiple washes -and then did a lighter singe before the final wash. There is another reason for doing this early on. there is a lot of excess material that comes off in the early stages and this will either end up as a matted mop in your drain or stuck inside the seal on your washing machine.
- Presoak in a bucket of hot tap water several times to rinse off the worst of the grass and dirt and soot. I did this many times. The rope that I bought had a lot of crap in with it. Plus, it smells like cow shit. My S.O. wasn’t too keen on it going into the washing machine without getting rid of the worst first.
- Wash. I put mine in the washing machine on a 60°C (140°F) Cotton cycle with a small amount of biological detergent. Don’t use any fabric softener as its a complete waste of time. Wash again. Same settings but without detergent. Don’t forget to put the machine on a cleaning cycle afterward. I got grief over that.
- Boil for 8-9 hours. On my first attempt, I used our crockpot, as it’s designed specifically for boiling over a long period of time. whilst this did work reasonably well, the pot was fairly small and I could only boil 10m of rope at a time. Not ideal. For the next attempt, I bought a much bigger pot and boiled on the stove for 9 hours, making sure to drain away the dirty water, refill and top up as required. Over the 9 hours, I must have drained and reboiled three times.
- Another wash in the machine. Same settings as before and don’t use conditioner.
- Dying. I’ve used the bucket of dye method a few times, with varying results.
I don’t know if it’s that the water wasn’t hot enough or that I didn’t use enough dye, or that I hadn’t stirred enough. Dying in the bucket just doesn’t get right into the fibres enough. Time to put it in the washing machine again, this time with a dye in the wash pod. The only thing I have against this is that it’s more difficult to control the colour saturation. I used two pods (as per the instructions on the pods) but I feel it was too much as the colour came out a little too dark once the rope was oiled.
- Stretching. I pulled my rope out over a frame that I’d made up years ago to keep the baby inside the french doors. a chair or bed frame will do. I used an old towel here as the wet rope will leave some dye on whatever it touches. Pull as tight as you can and lock off.
- Second singe. Just a light singeing just to get off the loose bits. This is optional.
- Once dry and stretched out, chuck it in the tumble dryer for half an hour. This will further soften the rope. Once you’ve oiled the rope you must NOT tumble dry again unless you wash the rope again. You don’t want any fires.
- Oiling. Oiling helps to preserve the rope (it’s a natural fibre) and it also helps the rope to ‘bite’ as you’re making a knot, but more crucially, get the knot undone. I followed Tied out West’s recommendation on using Jojoba oil that I’d purchased at a local health food store. I have read that mink oil is the best, but I wouldn’t use it even if I could afford it. Don’t use vegetable or coconut oils as they go rancid after a while. Using an old piece of leather, apply the oil liberally to the leather and draw the rope through your hand, gripping it tightly in the leather. I did this several times back and forth along the length of the rope. You don’t want the rope dripping with oil, just lightly impregnated.
- Last but not least, you need to stop the ends from frying. you could leave them taped but I prefer to ‘whip’ them with silk cord of the same colour. There’s a great video here on YouTube showing you how to whip the ends.
Now all that is left is to tie it up in a bow and give it to your intended victim.
Various ropes, poly cotton in pink, cotton in purple and hemp in dark purple and red. Don’t forget your safety scissors!