After cleaning out my local hardware store, I expanded the search a bit to a neighboring town. And wouldn't you know, they were cleaned out of clothesline rope too! Who knew how far rope fever had spread? Either that, or there's a flood of people setting up an actual clothesline these days. That would be swell too.
Yes, the rope vessel making continues. I'm thinking that these baskets would be a fabulous holiday gift, and therefore have the lofty goal of doing so now. Can you imagine? Holiday gifts done by May? But the trouble is that each one that I finish, I find a perfect place for, and a perfect reason to keep it, and thus the holiday pile is not growing very rapidly. Because surely, I need a hand painted rope bowl for holding all the found antlers and bones my kids bring in from the woods, right? I mean, really now. What else one would one store such things in? Geesh. I have SO many more baskets to make....
The fun with the rope is that there seem to be endless possibilities. Each vessel can be entirely different than the one before, and though I'm learning how to manipulate them more as I go, there is always an element of surprise to the finished object. I like that.
I did some experimenting (below) with natural dye. I used tansy which gave the rope a really lovely soft yellow. I also used alkanet root which didn't take very well (I think I should have raised the ph with some soda?), but no worries. Inspired by the incredible work of Gemma Patford, I decided to paint the rope with acrylic paints before stitching. I love the effect that it created and can't wait to play with that process more. The kids want in on that action too.
Lots of you have asked for more details about the rope sewing. I'm not the one to give a tutorial on that, but there are so many great ones out there. The CreativeBug by Nicole Blum as I first mentioned, plus Gemma Patford, who I mentioned above, also has an instructional video on rope vessels. For rope, I'm mostly using 7/32 in x 100ft medium weight clothesline rope. I would LOVE to find a USA made source that's 100% cotton (the clothesline rope has a poly middle), if anyone has direction on that, do pass it on! As for the machine, I'm using my regular sewing machine (I have a Bernina Aurora 430), and this project isn't at all taxing on my machine so far as I can tell. I am using a regular foot, and a slightly bigger needle (I think it's the same you'd use for denim). I use a wide and tight zig zag stitch most of the time. And let me tell you, this project really and truly sucks up some thread. I think I'm going through a 876 yard spool in just two baskets (most of the baskets I've made are using 100 feet). It's a lot of thread.
As surely happens in your house, we often quote our favorite children's books, completely out of context but with great pleasure to us all. Annabel has a bit of a thing going for Eloise right now, particularly Eloise in Paris (and truth be told, my baby girl has a touch of "Eloise" in her). She loves it when I ask "You know what else you have to take [to Paris, France]?" and she can respond with a very dramatic Eloise/Annabel-like flair, "EVERYTHING!!!!"
It's just like that, these baskets. When the rest of the family teases me about the multitude of rope vessels piling up around them, I ask Annabel. "Annabel, you know what else you can put in a basket?" to which she wisely responds, "EVERYTHING!"