Not long ago, nature was a grocery store, pharmacy and hardware shop all rolled into one. If a Native American needed a string for his bow, he couldn’t ride to the sporting goods store. He had to make it himself out of cordage. Cordage is rope or twine made from plant fibers. It’s really useful stuff. You can use cordage to make fishing line, rig a snare, lash small trees together for a shelter or make a bracelet like the one shown below.
Learn the basics here, then go to www.xplormo.org/node/9756 for detailed instructions.
Milkweed and dogbane grow in many places and make great cordage. Collect them in the fall, when their stems and leaves are dry and brown. Don’t pull up their roots. Instead, snip them off at the stem, so the plants will regrow next spring.
Lay the stems on a hard surface. Step on them so they crack open. Gently peel off the stem’s outer layer, and the fibers you’ll need will separate from inside the stem. Sprinkle water on the fibers to make them easier to work with.
Nichole LeClair Terrill