Grow and Make Do It Yourself Blog

Crafting Kits for Every Occassion

  • Tutorial: Making Hemp Rope

    In honor of Earth Day next week, we're reposting some of our most popular articles on sustainability and green living. We're also giving 50% of profits of all kits sold on Earth Day to Portland nonprofit Ecotrust. Ecotrust has more than two decades of experience creating systematic change to help the environment, and we're excited to be partnering with them this week. 

    By Kristina Strain

    Knowing how to make rope was once a critical skill for survival and self-sufficiency on the frontier. Early settlers were able to make rope from a variety of materials, but the main thing they used was hemp.

    These days, growing hemp is illegal in the United States. Hemp has none of the intoxicant properties of its cousin marijuana, and has traditionally been grown for humble utilitarian purposes such as making hemp twine, paper, cloth, and the all-important rope. But it's guilty by association, I suppose, and off-limits to any would-be hemp growers in this country.

    Fortunately, it's perfectly legal to import and use hemp grown outside the country. And that's a lucky thing, because when it comes to rope-making, hemp is hard to beat.

    A rapid growing plant, hemp is perfect for making rope. Hemp grows fast. It produces up to 75 tons of dry matter per acre per year. It thrives in poor soil, needs no fertilizers or pesticides to succeed, and gobbles up atmospheric CO2, stymieing the greenhouse effect. It produces more fiber per pound than either cotton or flax, and these fibers are easily extracted in order to make hemp rope, twine, or cord.
    Hemp rope is easy to make. Some methods involve using a rope machine, but fortunately such an investment isn't necessary to the process. All you really need is some hemp fiber or hemp twine, and a short piece of wooden dowel. Our hemp rope maker, available in our shop, will really streamline the process for you if you plan on making lots of hemp rope.

    Make Hemp Rope

    Step one: Separate the hemp fibers or unwind the hemp yarn and cut into lengths approximately twice as long as the desired length of the rope. Continue cutting until you have a bundle of fibers approximately half the size of the diameter of rope you'd like to make.

    Step two: Grab the bundle of fibers and fold it in half, securing the fold by placing a dowel rod through the resultant loop and into the ground. Smooth the fibers of this bundle down by running your hand along the length of the cord.

    Step three: Divide the bundle in two, holding half the fibers in your left hand and half the fibers in your right.

    Step four: Twist each bundle clockwise until the cord you are creating begins to kink and loop. Pull as hard as you can while twisting.

    Step five: Twist the two cords together, wrapping one over the other in a counterclockwise motion, to form a rope.

    Step six: Secure the ends with overhand knots beginning with the end in your hands. Once the first end is tightly tied, slip the rope off the dowel rod and tie it as well.

    To make a cable, repeat steps 2 through 6 and twist the two ropes together. This process can be repeated as many times as you like, making thicker, stronger cables as you go.

    Enjoy making your own hemp rope! This technique can be used to make hemp twine, hemp cord. and hemp yarn as well. It all depends on the size of the fibers you start with. Need some ideas for what to do with your newly-made hemp rope? Try using a piece as a clothesline, for air-drying your clothes. Make a hemp leash for your pet, or keep your hemp twine petite for use in jewelry making.

    Making rope is a great way to be self-sufficient and eliminate the supply chain requirement. Everything you can make yourself is one less packaged product-- in this case, one less coil of synthetic rope-- that needs to be manufactured for you. Have fun!

  • Introducing the Vanilla Cupcake Soap Making Kit

    You asked for kits that are a little smaller, more inexpensive and perfect for someone who is just starting to experiment with DIY and crafting. We listened.

    growmakecupcakesoap

    This month we're rolling out a series of new, smaller, retail-ready kits, starting with the Vanilla Cupcake Soap Making Kit. The kit has everything you need to make four adorable cupcake soaps with our cocoa butter glycerine soap base. The smaller price point makes it a good starter kit or children's birthday present.

    The kit is also a fun and affordable option for Mother's Day. Instead of just giving her a present, give her a fun afternoon of DIY-ing with the kids. (We'll be providing you with more Mother's Day tips and ideas in the coming couple weeks, so stay tuned!)

    Have more feedback or ideas for products? Let us know.

    In other news, here are three articles we loved this week for your weekend reading:

  • You don't need kids to throw a perfect Easter party

    Your easter egg hunting days may be long behind you, but you can still have plenty of sugar-filled fun this Easter Sunday (no blowing out eggs for three hours required). We recommend starting with one of these pastel cocktails, and then passing up on the processed store-bought candy in favor of making your own.

    Better Homes and Gardens has over 20 recipes to make your own sweet treats. If you want to avoid stress and mess as much as possible, try using our complete candy and organic chocolate making kit. Our new smaller truffle making kit is also the perfect addition to a party. Have everyone bring their own kit, then meet up to make them together. growmakecandy2

    If you do have kids, keep your little chicks entertained by making candy together on Saturday, and then use the candy in an Easter egg hunt on Sunday.They'll be extra excited to find their own creation, and you'll feel better knowing your kids are enjoying goodies without consuming unnecessary chemicals and additives. 

    growmakecandy1

    We would also love to see your Easter DIY projects! Turn your homemade marshmallows into bunnies or dip them in chocolate? Share your photos with us on Facebook or shoot us an email.

    See the rest of our candy and chocolate making kits here.

  • Spice up your hot sauce

     Ever have a burning desire to smoke your own chipotle peppers?

    Chipotlestipicos

    Chipotle peppers are made by allowing jalapeños to ripen to a deep red on the bush, and then smoking the peppers for several days until they're dried. We include chipotle peppers with our hot sauce kits and larger mustard kits because we love the complex smoky flavor it adds to our recipes.

    growmakehotsauce

    We also think it would be fun to try smoking your own chipotle peppers for our hot sauce kits or your other recipes. Here's a great guide that will help you get started.

    Don't forget to enter our BBQ Sauce Kit giveaway - there's only a few days left! We're excited to hear what you think of the product. If you ever have questions or want to weigh in with suggestions on any of our products, our forums are a great place to do so.

  • Your BBQ Just Got Better

    We're thrilled to announce the launch of our new line of BBQ Sauce Making Kits. Create a savory or spicy tomato based BBQ sauce, a piquant mustard based BBQ sauce and a peppery vinegar mop sauce, just in time for grilling season. To celebrate, we're giving away one of the kits for free. Enter below.

    Let us know what you think of the kits after trying them out, and pass along any suggestions you have to make them better.

  • Think Spring: Homebrewing, Gardening and Wasting Less

    growmakebeer

    At Grow and Make's headquarters in Portland, OR, it already feels like spring. While we know that's not the case for those of you buried in snow on the East Coast, it is time to start planning for your spring garden. I rounded up a few of our best articles and kits to help you get started:

    St. Patrick's Day is also coming up soon. Celebrate by brewing your own beer, and let the kids get in on the fun by making their own soda.

    We are always looking for ways to cut down on our waste. Growing and making more of what you consume is a great start. This restaurant in NYC is taking it to another level this month by featuring a menu created from leftovers like stems and bones. Check it out here.

    Next week we are launching a new product, and we're so excited to share it with you! Make sure you're following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for sneak peaks.

    Happy Friday, folks!

  • We can no longer afford to waste food

    The problem of food waste is a little recognized problem of enormous consequence. The NY Times reports on how Food Waste Is Becoming Serious Economic and Environmental Issue

  • Thank you for your service?

    Great article in today's NY Times regarding when and if it's appropriate to thank a soldier for their service. I really enjoyed both the comments and the thought provoking article. Read Now

  • The nature of reality

    This is a fascinating story on physical evidence that reality may be subjective. Read about Quantum Weirdness in this New York Times opinion piece.

     

  • Chocolate making at home is the new artisan foodie passion

     

    The New York Times has an inspiring article on making chocolates at home. Read The Kitchen Counter Chocolatiers

     

    At Grow and Make we hope you might consider our chocolate or candy making kits if you are inspired.

     

    Home Made Chocolates

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