The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

June 18, 2014

Milton Vos shows people the ropes

OSKALOOSA — The Nelson Pioneer Farm reveals an important lesson in making ropes during its Knots, Loops and Other Twisted Crafts event Saturday.

Milton Vos, who has been making ropes for the last 26 years, gave a rope-making demonstration. Vos said that he usually participates in 3 to 5 events a year in different locations.

“I have done events in Pella, Oklahoma City, Knoxville, West Liberty to name a few,” Vos said.

In order to make the ropes, one would typically start with twine, which is the material used in the rope-making process.

When constructing the rope, one will notice a box-like structure at one end and two rods spread far apart on each side where the strings, or twine, would be placed. From there, this ball that looks like a weight, creates the tension. On the box, one turns a handle that brings the ball closer to the other rod, and as it does this, the rope is formed.

“In order to start the process, it is important to spin the rope clockwise. Once it gets enough tension, there is something called the self-traveler, which allows the rope to counter twist,” Vos said.

Vos added the movement of the traveler allows the tension to build.

He said it is important the ropes have a certain tension, depending on what one would use the rope for. There are some ropes that are tighter and thicker because they might have to pull more weight. For example, if one were to pull a horse carriage, the rope would be significantly stronger than if one were using it to pull something that is lighter, or less heavy. During one demonstration, Vos showed a rope that was made from 46 strands.

“This is enough to pull a horse and carriage,” he said.

In a given day, Vos spends a great deal of time working on putting ropes together. Since he is used to the process, he explained that he makes about 150 ropes in one day.

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