Saturday, February 1, 2014

Better than a poke in the eye with a hot stick...

A lot of us have one of these right? The ever expanding pile of baling twine. 

For those who haven't had the pleasure, it's used to bind up bales of hay. It takes about 10 feet of twine to secure one bale, if you're talking about the square bales used to feed horses and small livestock.

Of course, useage varies. My lot goes through about 4 bales a day, give or take. That's 40 feet of twine a day. Every day. Day in and day out. Fourteen thousand six hundred feet a year. Nearly five thousand yards. My neighbor friend with the boarding stable goes through more like 12 bales a day, for a cool 120 feet of twine a day or 14,600 yards a year.

Sadly, it seems like most hay farmers around here use plastic twine these days. A little bit of it gets re-used around the barns for fast and dirty fix-it jobs, but most of it goes straight to the landfill.

My current hay guy, bless his heart, uses sisal (or jute  - not sure which it is). Since switching to this guy, I've been re-inspired to finally find a reasonable way to re-purpose it. I say finally, because who among us hasn't looked at that pile and thought, there must be something...

My first attempts consisted mostly of trying to get the 12-year-old to think of something. Not surprisingly, that was a bust. Too cumbersome, too scratchy, too unconstrained, and frankly just too much like work for a kid to enjoy.

sorted baling twine
Nonetheless, when it started turning up made from sisal, I started sorting it out and saving it. I also started training myself to cut it close to the knot when I open the bales so that I preserve as much of the 5 foot length as possible.

Then two unrelated happenstances occurred one upon the heels of the other. The onset of winter  brought dirty, wet, messy boots to a household whose only doormat is still at the house next door and the completion of my first weaving project brought the need for another.

As happenstance would also have it, I was slated to use a different loom in my weaving class this term. I volunteered to take over a loom that a non-returning student had abandoned. She gave up, I gather, because somewhere along the line she messed up the process of threading her heddles and sleying her reed (sorry, just had to use the words heddle and sley in writing). Anyway, she'd chosen a nice pattern, but some of the threads were out of order or threaded backwards (oy). Some of the them had outright broken. It was a mess. She'd also chosen a blue cotton I would never have picked.

Still, I was looking for experience, so I volunteered to try to fix the warp and in return was given it to do with whatever I chose. Win win, right? Except that I could think of absolutely no kind of clothing, scarf, blanket, dishcloth or anything else that I wanted in blue... why not a sisal doormat? 

The other day, I fixed the warp. Not too hard it turned out. I'd brought a handful of twine with me, just in case I got that far.

I kinda like the blue.

Still smelled of fresh hay


  1. Oh, if I only had a loom! That is looking beautiful; I think the blue & brown go together nicely. I tried crocheting the bailing twine (the green icky stuff, not your good jute stuff) to make a door mat, but it just didn't work out. And it was really nasty on the hands.

  2. At the first picture of the rug started on the loom, I gave an audible "Oh!" and got a big smile on my face. Could that be more attractive?! Love it! Boy howdy, if we would all could come up with a fantastic idea like that for recycling . . . well, anything! Please be sure to post a picture of the finished product.

  3. Holy somkes, who knew? That is beautiful! The best I've ever managed is to braid lead ropes. Twine also works great in a smoker if you ever happen to take up bee keeping. I am truly impressed!

  4. I LOVE it and the blue is perfect! :)
    I wish our hay came tied with jute instead of that nasty plastic stuff...

  5. I use bale twine to macrame plant is tough and looks nice and it is a good way to recycle the stuff. I love your use of it.

  6. You know, your post might be the push that I need to get into weaving! I just happen to have miles of baling twine, as I hate to throw it out and am always trying to think of ways to reuse it. And how fortunate the blue cotton was there - it is PERFECT with the natural hue of the twine. You will have to show us the finished product.