Friday, June 27, 2008

Climbing Rope Rug

How to Make Your Old Climbing Rope Into Furniture:
Seven Hours of 'Art' on a Saturday

Well, I've made my fifth (?) rope rug out of an old climbing rope, this one out of a length of 100 feet of half-inch static line.

Making a rope rug somehow seems to be an envious skill, but I don't think it demands all that much talent, just patience (and not much of that either). Still, Roy walked in and commented that he hopes everyone I give them to knows what a supreme act of love the making of a rope rug for them is. Sure, I'll take that, but half a Saturday is also not much to give for a cool rug and a nice gift.

There are many ways to make a rope rug or rope mat, as well as a few good instructions out there on how to do it. The more complex square pattern of a rope 'mat' can be seen, complete with instructions, on There are of course other spinoffs, either professionally made or otherwise - some examples and discussion can be seen here (plus an old mosaic) and here, with a whole variety of designs.

The easiest way to make a rug would be the spiral rug, either taped on the bottom, or sewn into the spiral. These form cool mats as well, and can be seen on the discussion board posts above.

Other possible designs are outlined in knot books - as pointed out by Tradgirl - or by ornamental knot patterns found online or elsewhere, because in the end rope rugs are just big beautiful knots.

My knot of choice for making a rope rug is the Prolong Knot. Here are a few reasons:

  • It makes elongated mats that are good for putting in front of doors, desks, etc
  • It has a low 'weave-to-length' ration (i.e. I have to go over and under less per rug than other woven designs - what can I say, I'm lazy)
  • The design can be extended or shortened for differing rope lengths and widths
  • Detailed instructions are available online in PDF format
  • Other online instructions are readily available

But of course there are a few disadvantages:
  • The rug loops at the edges aren't glued or sewn so they can get mussed when moving the rug. This will happen for any woven rug, but less weaving = more room for looseness.
  • As with any weave (as opposed to a spiral) it's not so obvious what to do with the ends (in reality, you just weave them in so they end up underneath).
At any rate, here is a picture of my newly completed rug:

The black rope served me and others well as a rigging (anchor) rope for many years, but it is getting quite old (more than ten years, I forget the actual amount) and I never bring it with me anymore because it is so...darn...heavy! But since it is still in okay shape after all that abuse, I'm sure it will be a fine taker of foot traffic for years to come.

For comparison, you can view a rug I made a while ago, out of a 10.2mm 50m dynamic rope. You can note that it's much longer (six loops on the side instead of three):

The black mark on the orange rug was the middle marker on the rope.

All in all, if you're just starting to make rope rugs, be patient. If you do the same pattern more than once, it gets easier and faster every time.

Over time, I've even learned to wear gloves to prevent rope burn as I pull the rope through the weavings, and to sit on the already woven parts of the mat to prevent them from being tugged out of shape as I work. You'll probably discover your own tips, and having your silent partner be always at the foot of your bed after so many adventures is well worth the effort!


Stormdrane said...

They look great.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing. These look just like the ones being sold for lots of money online. The pdf link is the icing! You rugs are great. The tips are very helpful, too.

Anonymous said...

Great looking rugs. And thanks for sharing the instruction links. Looking forward to weaving and stepping onto my old rope.

JustRopes said...

Thats a great looking rug. Good idea. Have you ever tried making anything else?

Chris said...

I just made my first rope rug!!! It turned out awesome. It took me about 3 hours. It looks very similar to the orange one posted. I followed the "detailed instructions" in the article doing 6 loops instead of 3. (Just like the orange one) It worked out great. I used a 60m 10.2mm rope and had about 15m left over. If you keep you pattern proportional to the guide you will be fine. The best way to tighten the pattern (assuming you don't run out of rope) is you just add another loop (trace it through again) I only had room for 6 or I would have added a 7th loop and used almost my entire rope. I suggest using the leg of a coffee table for the initial "peg or hook". Wear Gloves!!! You will be pulling a lot of rope through your hands.

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