My next discovery in the life of a medieval woman is how to use the plants I already have in my garden to make string, rope and baskets.
I went to a great basket-making workshop at Ceres and it opened my eyes to a whole new world of sustainability-type things I can do. For example, did you know you can make string from a corn plant? I haven't tried it yet, but I've picked some corn leaves and hung them up to dry. Once they are dry, I can soak them in water, split the fibres, and twist them into string.
The teacher brought along some flax. I've always wondered what a flax plant looks like. Now I realise I must have seen it around plenty before - it looks very familiar. You use a pin to split the fibres into fine threads, and then twist a few threads together to make string. Jesse and I have been madly making string ever since. I don't know if I've enough patience, but I'm hoping to make enough string for my garden use next year, so I don't have to buy any. It should last about two years, out in the rain, then it'll turn to compost. In the photo below, on the left you can see a flax leaf (a bit curled up and dry now), in the middle are strands from the leaf which I split off with a pin, and on the right is the start of my ball of string.
The best thing about the workshop was that I made a basket for my bike! It's a weird hodgepodge of vines that our teacher brought along to the workshop, but most of it is made from a vine that was growing outside the wall of the room our workshop was in. Every time I needed some more I wandered outside and pulled a bit more off the vine. Now that's what I call natural and sustainable!
I'm going to experiment with the vines I have at home, but apparently I can make baskets with grape vine, jasmine, passionfruit and black berry, all of which I have. I'll try string from corn. And I'm going to see if I can buy a flax plant somewhere. Flax makes really strong thread.