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Nettle String and Rope

To make string from nettles, wear stout gloves, and gather your nettles. Having gather a good supply of nettles you rub the leaves and the hairs off the stem. The hairs contain the sting. Any person particularly sensitive to nettle sting should find plastic medical gloves more protective.

Next, you lay your nettle on a flat piece of wood or a stone and bruise it with a stone or piece of wood. Then, open out the nettle stem, so that it lies flat. Bend the stem throughout its length and seperate the inside from the bark. Divide the bark into strips. Fold a strip into unequal halves and start twisting the two halves together. When the first strip is getting close to the end of the shorter half add in a further length of bark and continue twisting. Continue adding further lengths and so on until you have the length that you require. A helpful tip is this, as you progress it progresses faster if you roll the string you are making upon your thigh.

Cord and Rope Making

Cord is of great value to the survivalist. Twined nettle string has been used to make a strong thread. The string can then be twisted together to make a stronger thread. I f you have twisted your string clockwise, when making thread, twist anti-clockwise. When making cord, twist three lengths of string together. You can then continue to twist to make a thicker cord and then rope by twisting more cords together. Remember that each stage you need to do by alternating Clockwise and anticlockwise.

Swiss and German archaeology has shown that neolithic man used string thread and rope and they spun flax.

Cut poles from a lime tree in the Spring when the sap is rising. Scrape the outer bark off and rett it. (Retting is a process whereby you lay the poles in water allowing the fibres to come apart from the softer material). After several weeks seperate the fibres from the retted material and twist into a strong rope, using the above process.

Willow trees too, can be used in the same way either retted as above or the very thin withies can be used and twisted into rope as they are.

NOTE: You can if you wish, rett Nettle.

4 comments to Nettle String and Rope

  • half

    To rett nettles its best to dry rett as the high sugar content in nettles makes them ferment with wet retting. To try wet retting place in a bath tub for about 12 hours(strip all the leaves first). For dry retting lay the stalks out on the ground and wet with a hose(let dew do the work was the old way) and leave for about 5 days, turn the stalks over and leave for a further 3 days. Let them dry when ready and treat as flax to get the fiber. Nettle produces a smoother silkier fiber than flax.

  • Kenneth Eames

    Thank you Half, Yes wet retting does make them ferment and of course, it is very messy, nasty and slimy. Dry retting is a good way, but if you are in a hurry to use the fibres the beating method is the quickest. However, you have explained things very clearly for other preppers viewing the site. I added retting at the bottom of the piece for those who would like to try it. Kenneth Eames.

  • Skvez

    While any stores will run out eventually, making string from nettles is a lot of work. A ball of string is just a few pence. Buy a couple of balls and add to your preps, you don’t need military quality paracord for every task.

  • Skean Dhude


    Agreed but when it runs out it is nice to know we can produce something.

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