Twining with Jute

Published on Jan 10, 2023 | Last updated on Jan 11, 2023

I started twining with jute last September, and now I have no idea how I did not start earlier. I have always loved twined baskets and textiles and felt this desire to create with this technique but, for some reason, it took me a while to start. Maybe it seemed a bit too complicated to learn and I did not know where to start. Perhaps having so many ongoing projects made me think I would not have the headspace to focus on something new.

Everything changed when I watched this video about twined clothing in the Mesolithic. At the time, I was in the middle of my preparation for a Stone Age Immersion in the North of Spain, and was actively working on making some new leather clothing to use there. Time was very short though and I feared I would not be able to finish the outfit on time. I started wondering what alternatives I could try (yes, I am great at procrastination) and ended up researching about prehistoric plant textiles, which led me to the video above. And suddenly, I was so-very-inspired! What if I’d try to make a twined skirt? And so it began.

Twined Jute Skirt

I am always excited about making everything from scratch. However, there was no way I could possibly prepare all the plant fibre necessary for a project like that in such a short time. So I fought all the silly perfectionist thoughts, got myself some store bought jute and went for it.

The next step was all about learning the technique itself and researching about prehistoric and traditional twined textiles and clothing pieces. Caroline Spurgeon’s YouTube was an amazing and helpful resource, filled with lovely tutorials about twining and other techniques (highly recommend it!). Ötzi’s cape and sheath, the Portuguese Croças and Pre-Columbian Eastern Woodland Textiles were some of my favourite real life examples to study. After practising twining on a test piece for a while – with a lot of trial and error -, I finally decided to start working on the skirt.

It took me several days to finish this skirt. No idea why I thought twining a skirt would be quicker than just finishing my leather outfit, ah! It was definitely a lot of work (lesson learned), but definitely so worth it! After I finished this project, I was completely in love with twining. And the good news: I also managed to finish my suede outfit in time for the Stone Age Immersion! Take that, procrastination 🙂

Twined Foraging Bag

After finishing the skirt, I was hooked and immediately started another twining project: a medium sized jute bag that allowed me to carry some of the dried food I had prepared for the immersion. The making process went smoothly, though I admit it took me much longer than I initially expected. I ended up finishing the bag on the trip to Burgos, attaching the leather straps on the very last moment (no pressure!). Gratitude to my friend Pedro Cura (Prehistoric Skills) that allowed me to make a mess in his car while I crafted nonstop! The bag was super useful to carry and store eggs and water canteens during our time in that magical Oak forest.

Back home, I decided to improve it and strengthen the leather straps as well as create an adjustable system for them, and this is the end result. A cute jute bag that is the perfect size to take with me on my foraging walks!

Jute Pouch

My next project was another jute bag (shocking, I know), but this time a smaller one to carry my everyday items with me. Even though this bag was the smallest project of the three, it actually took me longer to finish (or so it seemed), most likely due to the fact I used a thinner thread and wove tighter. For the strap, I used a big crochet needle and created as many jute chains as necessary until it was long enough. Then, I simply sew it to the pouch with the help of a tapestry needle and it was done! In the video below, I quickly show the twining process and how I made this particular pouch.

Twining with Jute

I am completely in love with twining and will definitely complete more projects in the future. I am also grateful for jute fibre for allowing me to learn so much in such a short time. Jute is a pretty decent fibre when it comes to sustainability and, even though it is always lovely to gather the plants locally ourselves and make everything from scratch, that’s not always possible or accessible to everyone. Personally, I believe skills like these are important and should be shared widely with everyone interested in learning them. So if you have access to jute fibre wherever you are, know that this is a wonderful plant material to work with.

Wrapping up

I would certainly love to create a piece from scratch though, starting by gathering the plants, processing the fibres and then twining. Would you be interested in seeing that process from start to finish? What about a step-by-step tutorial to learn how to twine? Let me know if you’re interested in the comment section below! I would be very happy to share more ❤️ Have a lovely day!

Hello there! My name is Ana Filipa Piedade and I am a portuguese hide tanner and ancestral skills student, practioner and teacher who finds a lot of joy in sharing about traditional living skills with others. I hope you enjoy this space!

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