For some reason many of us have a fascination with string. Whether it is rope, jute, or garden twine we just can’t get enough of it. When we see it in a cute holder or on a primitive looking spool we just have to have it. What is it about string that makes us happy?
String has a long history. In 1940 four boys hiking found what is thought to be the oldest string ever found. Estimated at around 17,000 years old. String like material has been around for a long time. If you think about it, without string, we wouldn’t have the great pyramids of Ancient Egypt, the conquests of the Roman Empire, or even the rosary beads of the Christian faith.
Rope and string are made from natural fibers, primarily hemp of the cannabis plant and sisal from the leaves of the agave plant. The rope making process begins when fibers are twisted into yarn then several yarns are twisted to make strands, then several strands are twisted to make rope. Each twist is in the opposite direction of the previous twist. For hundreds of years a ‘rope walk’ (a long open space) was used to make ropes. This allowed the rope maker to slowly walk backward from an anchored end twisting the strands into the rope. This process changed dramatically in 1807 when the first rope making machine patent was issued.
Fun fact: The US Navy required continuous ropes to be 120 fathoms long or 720 feet at a minimum.
There are dozens of different types of string from yarns to cooking string, and garden twine to jute. We use string on an almost daily basis. So the next time you are tying up a gift with string or wrapping a roast to put in the oven remember that there is a long and interesting history of string that has impacted human society for millennia.
Check out some of our great string and twine holders.Information for this post was sourced from Adam Hart-Davis’ book String Unraveling the History of a Twisted Piece of Twine.