1. Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us.

Making rope?

Discussion in 'Research' started by Ireth, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    I've been toying with an idea for my Hunchback of Notre Dame adaptation. Without going into too much spoiler-filled plot detail (though I will if people need it), it involves the female lead character (the bellringer) using yarn to make a long rope, which she uses to climb down the side of the church from the belltower. She has lots of yarn because she spends much of her spare time in the belltower weaving tapestries, and she has a LOT of spare time to fill. The rope is a secret, which she hides from the villain (her captor) so that one day she can escape from him.

    Logic says that she should use whole skeins of yarn for this, but I was thinking she might be forced to mostly use leftover scraps so as not to end up using unusually large amounts of wool per day, which would make the villain suspicious and might prompt him to stop letting her weave altogether if he thought she was wasting it. She'd gather the scraps over a period of up to six years (haven't quite decided how long she's been shut in the tower yet), and knot them together to make longer strands, which she'd then braid or twist into a very long rope. She'd likely use some whole skeins to reinforce the scraps, but too many would look suspicious.

    So, to the point: How much yarn would it take to make a suitable rope, and would that rope hold up to stress if it were made mostly out of knotted scraps rather than long strands?
     
  2. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,598
    1,518
    163
    Mythbusters did a segment on prison escape where they used different materials to make a rope. I tried to get a link, but couldn't get a good one. If you have netflix you can watch it for free there. Season 7 ep 9 I think.
     
  3. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    Oooh, I've seen that episode! :D They didn't use yarn though -- just bedsheets, hair and toilet paper. So I'm not sure how helpful that would be. Hair would be the closest thing to yarn, probably, since that was all in smaller segments too. But there's things like texture which would also affect the ease of making and, more importantly, climbing with the resulting rope.
     
  4. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,598
    1,518
    163
    it's just a place to start. I think the toilet paper would be more yarn-like actually. It has lots of stretch and when wove, qhite a lot of tensile strength too. I'd probably model it after the toilet paper one
     
  5. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    That could work... but again there's the length issue. The toilet paper was all in very long strands when it was twisted, and it wasn't knotted together nearly as much as the yarn in my story would be. I imagine the knots would be a huge factor in the strength of the finished rope, whether positive or negative.
     
  6. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,598
    1,518
    163
    hmm... you could try it on a small scale. Make a small rope about three feet long and hang something heavy from it and then sort of guesstimate what the properties of the finished product would be. Knots are tricky because they can come undone. If i were knotting something, i'd do little hangman knots which tighten maybe. could she not weave a rope? I have friends who do finger weaving, perhaps that would be an option for her to make a long knotted string of scraps into one long strip and then those could be twisted together.
     
  7. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    3,598
    1,518
    163
    It just occurred to me that if she had fabric at her disposal she could combine the two materials for strength (because yarn is pretty stretchy). What if she had old dresses which she ripped into long strips or curtains or sheets. Those could be twisted with the yarn strips she weaves and that might make a really sturdy rope in a short amount of time.
     
  8. Kit

    Kit Maester

    603
    101
    28
    Stephen King's _The Eyes Of the Dragon_ used a very similar plot idea in great detail; the guy in the tower made a rope from threads of napkins. You might want to read it for ideas (as well as to make sure you make yours different enough!)
     
  9. Butterfly

    Butterfly Auror

    1,766
    386
    83
    As long as he sees the final product, I doubt the villain would know how much yarn actually went to each tapestry. I'd suggest she is able to blag more out him than she'd need, say one or two balls a week. Over a period of time it would build up considerably.

    Where is she hiding it?
     
  10. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    Oooh, good idea! :) Dunno if there would be curtains in the belltower, but old dresses or sheets are quite possible.

    I'll check it out if I see it. :) I've never read Stephen King before, though I've seen movie adaptations of a couple of his books. I'm not usually a big horror fan though. Is that a strict horror or a fantasy?

    She has her own room up in the belltower that the villain never enters. It's where she transforms into a wolf every full moon. It's possible she could hide it in there; she'd just have to make sure to hang it up out of reach of her wolf-self so she wouldn't accidentally shred it while in wolf form.
     
  11. Kit

    Kit Maester

    603
    101
    28
    It's fantasy. Stephen King being one of the most widely-read authors there is, it might be worth checking out if only to make sure your story does not parallel it too closely. It's a safe bet that a large portion of your potential audience would be familiar with King.
     
  12. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    Alrighty. I'll take a look for it next time I'm in a library or bookstore. :)
     
  13. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    501
    135
    43
    Being a rock climber I am going to say an emphatic NOOO, It's a horrible idea, and not all the money in the world would get me to trust my life to a rope made of yarn. But that's just the climber dangling from a cliff face, and not the hopefull writer in me.
    That being said it is plausible, LOVE MYTHBUSTERS, but I see two problems. 1. How high is the tower. When climbing their are two types of rope, static and dynamic. A static rope does not stretch so, meaning that if someone falls their fall is arested harshly. If the fall is short, say six feet the rope will hold, but if the fall is long the rope will snap, even steel cable will do this. A dynamic rope will stretch absorbing the weight of the climber gradually, this also prevents the rope from snapping allowing for very high falls, and by the way it is not fun. Yarn is static, it will not stretch but snap if put under to much stress ie a high fall. Test it if you like, get a weight, five pounds maybe, and drop if from somewhere high, it will snap and not stretch. Keep this in mind, if she accidentally falls from the top of the tower she will die, unless the rope is very thick.
    2. for static ropes longer the rope gets the more strain it is under with the same weight. So if you have a weight suspended five feet on a rope the stress is relatively low. However if you have the same weight suspended one hundred and fifty feet that rope is under a lot of stress meaning it is much more likely to break.
    As someone else mentioned knots are the biggest weak point. another thing to note is moisture, water can actually weaken a rope, special ropes are used for wet enviroments where the rope will get wet. The water causes the rope to become even heavier increasing it's load, rope weight plus climber, and making it more stiff.

    All is not lost. First if yarn is going to be used twine it. meaning get one strand and twist it all along it's length, then another doing the same. Then twist those strands around each other in the opposite direction of the individual twists. Twining can make a weak rope very strong allowing a greater load than an untwined rope,and as an added bonus it will stretch a little bit. This will also allow a for a smaller rope, and lesser quantity of yarn. Another option would be to braid it, or use seven smaller twisted strands, or what ever number you choose, though 100 strands might be excessive.
    Another option is to do the decent in pitches, multiple steps. She climes from a window to a lower ledge, then climbs from that to the next. This will reduce the stress on the rope of doing 150 feet in one go.
    She could also make the rope thicker but you are going to have to decide on that. For reference climbing ropes are 7.4 mm to 11.0mm in diameter, but remember the thicker the rope the more weight it has to carry.
    Another option is to include strips of cloth into the rope at it's core. again remember that cloth is going to be very static and not stretch at all thought.

    Also I wouldn't use a hangmans knot, I would use the figure eight bend, double fisherman's, or alpine butterfly. Another important aspect is the anchor point and setting it up, the tie off point to a post or whatever. for instance having the rope run straight to the climber from the anchor will cause the rope to absorb all the shock from a fall at it's weakest point the anchor, where it is tied off at. By having a two ropes meet at a forty five degree angle to the weight bearing rope will lessen the stress to the anchor on a fall. Also abrasion of the rope as it rubs against another object can significantly weaken the rope to the point of failure.

    Some of this information may not be useful, like if she doesn't fall then the static or dynamic rope bit isn't important, but I figure more information is better. I am writing this from my point of view if I had to use the rope. My biggest concern, and most important, is I want the rope to hold if and when I fall. I think the biggest problem is going to be how far from the room she is in to the bottom. How much is useful to you is up to you.

    By the way, I remember in your other post that you needed something for her to do. This might be an idea, learning how to make a rope that will hold her weight, or which knots to use. just an idea.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2012
    Ireth likes this.
  14. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    Thanks for the information, ascanius. This will come in very useful. :) I do imagine the climb will be in stages, not one huge drop. There are probably some sort of outcroppings on the outside of the belltower that she could tie the rope to every so often on the way down. I was planning on having her use cloth in the rope as well, and possibly pieces of old ropes that had been used for ringing the cathedral bells.

    Moisture could be trouble, however. The story takes place in England, and from what I know England is very rainy. Even if it's not raining when she tries to use the rope, it could be problematic in general.
     
  15. ascanius

    ascanius Inkling

    501
    135
    43
    Moisture is only a problem if the rope gets completely sodden, a few drops here or there wont effect the rope much. Climbers use wetropes when they know the rope will get very wet, like when people go canyoning. Most likely if it is not raining, or right after it rained it won't have that great of an effect on the rope. One thing I forgot to mention though. climbing down is much harder than climbing up, I think most climbers would agree, and I find it to be a lot more scary. Glad I could help, good luck. :)
     
  16. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    *revives thread* Wooo, necromancy.

    I have another question, regarding the scraps of yarn and/or fabric used to make the rope. Would knotting or splicing be the preferred way to get all the bits and pieces together? Which one would be stronger?
     
  17. psychotick

    psychotick Auror

    1,824
    714
    113
    Hi,

    What I know of rope making is little, but as I understand it it's made through a process of twining and platting. No knots at all, the fibres hang tightly together out of friction. This can make it very strong compared to its original fibres just laid out straight, but it comes with the problem that it shortens them. Take a piece of wool, twist it in your hands and you'll see what I'm talking about. She really needs a lot of fibre to work with, and in order for them to be able to grip they have to be of a reasonable length. I would have thought at least a foot each. My thought would be (and purely a guess) that if she unpicked a dress carefully, she might get maybe ten to twenty feet of useful rope out of it. Also, without some sort of mechanical assistance, it'd be a slow process.

    However, if she's a werewolf and she changes in her tower every month, maybe when she'd changed, she shreds things like her bedding. That would give her plenty of material to work with once a month and an explanation for constantly needing more.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  18. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    Hi Greg, thanks for the input. :) Diana is a weaver, so her rope will be mostly made up of yarn as well as strips from her old clothes or bedding. Since she'll mostly be using the trimmed yarn ends from each finished tapestry as well as a few whole skeins for strength purposes, I do think there will be a lot of knotting or splicing necessary to make longer strands. The long strands will of course be then braided or twisted into a thicker rope. She's been working at this for about six years all on her own, so even without mechanical aid, she's bound to have made quite a bit of progress by now, particularly if she works at it every day.
     
  19. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

    4,519
    1,578
    163
    If I remember right - big time 'if' - Olde time sailors, who did a *lot* of rope splicing and mending, used to go with twisting the strands together and using what they called 'oakum', a sort of tar-glue to keep them together.
     
  20. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    11,095
    1,562
    313
    That does ring a few bells, Thinker. Pun not intended. :) I'm not sure where Diana would get her hands on any oakum, since I don't think Leeds is anywhere close to the sea, but she might be able to come up with a substitute.
     
Loading...

Share This Page