I have had several people ask me how to find more info about making tumplines lately.

If you want to weave a native tumpline there are two or three techniques you need to learn: twining the brow band, fingerweaving the straps, and possibly braiding the ties (you can fingerweave them too). The problem is there’s not a single set of instructions for all of this.

I would start with this page I wrote for prisoner ties (in many ways a tumpline of sorts). Then learn to twine straps and fingerweave the ties (oblique weave is the correct weave here). One online source for both is on the NativeTech Site.

There is a good page on fingerweaving simple stuff by Rebecca Jordan Cubbison here: http://www.concentric.net/~rowenna/WIRpages/oblique.html. practice it with the chunkiest string you can find first, maybe even several different colors.

Then learn to twine straps. Two sources of info on this: (Thanks to Chuck Hudson’s suggestion for the SPT article) One is a relatively new book on twining available via this website (http://twinedbags.com/index.htm) or from Susan Wallace at Silver Shuttle (maybe other places; I’m not sure). The other is “Tumplines, carrying nets and belts” by Alice Tulloch in Bulletin of the Society of Primitive Technology, Fall 1991: Vol 1, No. 2 and reprinted in Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills: The best from the pages of the Bulletin of Primitive Technology. 1999. 248 Pages. Cost $25.http://www.primitive.org/sptbook.htm

As far as materials, jute works okay, but isn’t very comfortable on your skin. Hemp twine would be more comfortable and is a little stronger. Use a quality twine, since you’ll put hours into this project, and your time is worth what might be a little more cost.  Tom Conde and others have hemp twine available, or try http://hemptraders.com/. Don’t use the Wally World and craft store varieties – they are uneven quality and have slubs that are weaker.  They may even cost more per foot than the higher quality options. You don’t want to have to patch in a new piece half way through.

Speaking of patching in, one hint — start with your strings really, really long — 10 or 15 feet longer than you think; the twine is cheap and having to add length really is problematic.

Someday soon I’ll post more on the “how to” side.

If a native style tumpline isn’t correct for your portrayal, because you are a long hunter or a military type, start with these two drawings we did for the Georgia Rangers: http://georgiarangers.org/equipmentdrawings.htm.

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