We use it to craft macramé, weavings, artwork, dog toys even. It comes to you in the mail, in a brown cardboard box. But where does our rope really come from? How is it made? We wanted to share the process of making our rope, from how it is dyed, to how each type of material is made. So, in 2017, we traveled to Turkey to visit our factory and get a first hand look at the process.
The 100% cotton raw material is purchased in bulk, and spun into string.
Much of our raw material is grown in the USA. we know, it is crazy to think about it traveling all the way across the world and back, but in order to keep costs down and quality up, our partner in Turkey often buys overstock material in very large quantities. It's a global world! So sometimes our cotton is USA grown, and sometimes it comes from elsewhere. We always wanted to also be able to provide Organic cotton rope, and now we do! Our rope and string is 100% GOTS certified and comes from a family owned factory in Sweden.
The individual strings, as thin as sewing string, are taken off pallets and arranged on these large circular forms that are then dipped into the large dye pots.
The dye house we work with uses only Oeko-Tex certified dyes. This process certifies that the material is safe for use around children, and since you are touching it all day with your hands and bringing it into your home, it was important to us that the manufacturing process was not creating any harmful reside. You can read more about it here.
Then each reel of cotton is taken off the circular form, and un-spun. So that all the string that was on the OUTSIDE is now on the inside and it is then re-dipped to achieve overall color uniformity.
Then we decide what kind of final material the string will be turned into. If it is 5mm 3ply rope, we use these heavy cardboard/wooden reels, if it is 1 ply cord, we use recycled paper cones. We try to be sustainable in as many steps along the way as possible.
We recently updated our offerings and now only use cardboard cones. Often the cones are also repurposed, and so look different each time we order.
Each cone of string is arranged and threaded through a machine that turns it into thicker string. Our 1ply cord is all made this way. It is much faster to make this than our 3 ply rope, since essentially, making string is the first step in the process of making plied rope.
Each thread is threaded by hand. Here is Fatima, checking to make sure the cones are the correct size as she works.
Then, the string is put into a larger machine, where it is spun into 3 ply rope. The final dimensions of the rope depend on how thick the string is to begin with.
Watch the videos below to see how bundles and rope is made!
This is the process of making bundles. First the rope is wound onto large spools, and then each bundle is prepared by hand.
Watch here the process of our rope from string to well, rope! It starts out as many many very thin strings. The videos are a little dizzying, they were sent to us from our factory partner! Then it is threaded into our 1 ply string. To make our most popular 3 ply rope, it is then threaded again into these large machines and spun into huge spools. Each spool is then divided up into smaller spools, or made into bundles which are each weighed at 328 grams.
Next up, the rope is labeled and arranged into boxes and onto pallets, and then our freight company picks it up in a truck. It is loaded into a shipping container, and then onto a cargo ship that carries a boatload of shipping containers. When we began, we filled one 20' container and now we generally fill a 40' container with 20 pallets.
When it lands in the USA port, the shipment is delivered by truck to our office in Portland where it is organized and stored. From there, we receive your orders, and our one woman shipping department packs and ships your orders so the rope can make it's way to you, to be turned into something beautiful.
We hope you have enjoyed learning about where our materials come from, we always love seeing what you make with them. Don't forget to tag us in all your photos on Instagram, @modernmacrame