So, as a person who collects craft skills rather than sticking with a single craft, I’m about to pick up another one.

So what craft skills do I currently have? Well lets see here:

  • Crochet
  • Perler Bead Work
  • Basket Weaving
  • Pine Needle Basket Weaving (different enough from standard basket weaving that I count it separately)
  • Cross Stitch
  • Wood Working
  • Sewing (rudimentary at best, but I can put a piece of clothing together or fix something)
  • Electric circuit design and building
  • Origami
  • Plaster Block building
  • Bread Baking (baking is complex enough that I count it as a craft)
  • And a general craftiness that can manifest any time I want to build “something.”
  • I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few that I’ve picked up, played with for a few days, and got bored with.

There are also many crafts that I’ve always wanted to try, but haven’t yet had the opportunity for various reasons, such as gourd work, wood carving, clay turning, and knife forging. I’m almost always up to try a new craft, or revisiting an old one for a new project. So what am I about to do now, you might ask? If you looked at my tags, you probably already know.

Macrame.

Now I’m not actually a stranger to macrame, indeed I played around with knot work in my distant youth. I never really got excited by it because the uses seemed so limited. However, my only exposure to macrame at the time was using jute for planter hangings. Jute is hard on the hands, and planter hangings aren’t really needed all that often. So, at the age of 12, I decided that it was a craft that I had no interest in. Fast forward 17 years to the present, and my eyes have been opened to a whole world of knot-work craft that I never imagined existed.

It all started in late fall this year during our yearly hunting prep. One of my friends has just bought a new rifle and wanted a handmade rifle sling. To that end he bought a 1000 foot roll of black Type 3 Commercial grade “550” paracord. He brought it with him to our hunting prep weekend and asked my other friend and myself if we could give him a crash-course in crochet (indeed there are more males out there who crochet than you might think). We were delighted to give him the basic instruction in crochet to help him on his way toward a crafted rifle sling.

All the pretty colors!

After spending some time working with the paracord, I slowly became rather green with envy. As it turns out, you can snag one of those rolls of cord for around $45-60 and it’s actually rather high quality stuff even at that price, it was certainly high enough quality that I liked it quite a bit (though I was teased quite a bit by both friends for never having used 550 cord before).  And since said friend spent some time in the military, I trust that when he told me that, “This stuff is very good, but not quite military grade,” that he knows what he’s talking about. Seeing a 1000 foot roll of ~500+ pound rated cording really weighed on my psyche after that weekend. At the local hardware store, a decent quality 100 foot hank of 3/8″ diameter 250 pound poly-rope runs around $12-$14; I could spend less for 100 feet of rope, but you start getting things with paper cores or plastic fibers that wear quickly.  If there is one thing I like to generally buy with some quality behind it, it’s rope.  1000 feet of 500 pound cording of a good quality for $45 sounded nearly a steal, thus I began churning the idea of such a purchase over in my head, justifications building up within me:

  • I’m always running low on rope, and I hate spending a lot of money on rope and then discover that it’s crappy rope.
  • Paracord can be cut to length and then sealed with a lighter, so I could pull ideal lengths off the spool for whatever job I needed to do around the house.
  • I also need a rifle sling, and a handmade one out of paracord would be way nicer than any nylon strap I could buy for $30.
  • It crochets rather nicely, I could make things!
  • $45 is a great deal for 1k feet of rope/cord, and there is no such thing as too much cording.
  • Paracord comes in many colors, yay!
  • You like rope!  Buy it!

Anyway, the weeks passed as I kept thinking about the paracord.  As the hunting cleanup got further away I eventually plateaued on the justifications and my yearning for the cording started to fade away.  Then hunting season arrived, and with it my friend and his paracord again.  But he also had two rifle slings with him.  One was macrame strap by a friend of his that was absolutely beautiful.  It made the crochet strap we had started on during hunting prep look like amateur noodling in comparison.  I was immediately envious of it and my desire to buy and play with paracord came storming back to me.  And then he showed me his other strap.  It was a woven strap that he’d done himself, and it was gorgeous.  I had to have some of this stuff!  But any large project requires quite a bit of cording, around 100 feet for a 36 inch sling, so I didn’t feel right begging some off of him.

Not one of the ones my friend brought, but still awsome. Made by JohnCutt87 over on the FirearmsForum.

The desire burned in me once again and I began hunting around online for more information about 550 paracord.  It wasn’t long until I stumbled upon StormeDrane’s Blog. The things this guy does with paracord macrame is breathtaking.

This is a Carrick Mat made by Stormdrane with olive drab 550 paracord.

Once I’d taken a tour through Stormdrane’s blog (and by tour, I mean looked at every post he’s ever made) I was sold. Once the holidays had settled down (December 26th) I ordered myself a 1000 foot spool of emerald green commercial grade type III 550 paracord (I like green but am not a fan of the more accepted military color of olive drab). It was just under $45 and there were many testimonials attesting to the seller providing good, high quality cord so I figured I’d take the chance at a big spool of the cord. It should be arriving before the end of the day and I am practically giddy with anticipation. I’ve already lined up my first two projects, one with crochet and one with “true” macrame.

I’m also considering building a jig to test the actual breaking strain of the cord since, unlike military grade paracord, commercial grade paracord is made without extensive testing and is only estimated at 550 pound breaking weight based on the materials and construction, which are generally inferior to true military grade cord.  But, one thing at a time.

My wife also wants me to build her a paracord hammock.  That might turn into quite the project right there.

Let the knotting begin.

-Confusion is a state of mind, or is it?

Late night update: I started the crochet project with the paracord this evening.  Man, that stuff is hard on the hands when you crochet it!  Very stiff and you have to use a lot of force to push under loops and pull loops through.  That said, it’s very nice when crocheted.  Single crochets are pretty solid and stiff and double crochets have a very nice elasticity to them.  I like this stuff.

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