Materials: twelve times your height, or full arm span
which for most is the same, in cordage. For a sling
which has the pocket starting at the shoulder this will
be slightly too much. Jute and nylon masons line are
both excellent, I expect many other materials are too
but can't recommend what I haven't tried. For this guide
I used household cotton string, this stretches too much
for my liking but I had it to hand, it was white, I
had a dark background and wanted photos.
the middle of the cord and mark it with a slipknot.
Working away from the middle wind one half of the cord
around the hand into a small skein, when all but a foot
or so is wound tie a slipknot in the end of the cord
with the draw string being the end. Put the loop of
this knot over the middle of the skein and pull it tight
with the draw cord. Do exactly the same with the other
half of the cord.
stage is not essential but the little time it takes
saves a lot of time later. As you work you will generate
twist in the cord which if allowed to build up will
tangle the unworked material. So allow the two skeins
to dangle and spin occasionally to get rid of it. When
you need more working cord simply pull a couple of feet
from the skeins then tighten the slipknots which hold
slipknot in the middle was only a marker so back up
from it to about two and a half times the length of
loop you want. Tie a new slip knot there and pull out
the marker knot. You start by working towards the middle.
Put a bight through the loop and use it to pull the
first loop closed. I have left it loose in the picture
so you can see how it works, in practice one doesn't.
bight will become a new loop shorten this loop a little,
then put a bight through it and repeat until the finger/wrist/toggle
loop section is done.
is chain hitching. If you always put the bight through
the same side you will get a chain which on one side
looks similar to braiding and on the other has bobbles
down the middle.
first hitch is best closed but not tightly, all others
should be as tight as you can manage. This is because
the next stage is to unpick the first loop possible
from the starting end.
section is then folded on itself with the flat side
on the inside. If you prefer a simple cord ,either as
it is or with a view to tying a knot in it, then do
a very small loop anyway as it is a more durable start.
Closing The Loop and Starting The Retention Cord
up the two loops and pull both bights through them,
this closes the loop and is also the first hitch of
the retention cord. As an aside one can use this method
to put a comfortable loop on any cord.
in the same way the loop was done only with doubled
loops and bights. Keep the hitches the same way round,
bobbles all on one side, as if the entire sling is made
this way there will be no problem with twisting. The
tighter you pull the hitches the less the sling will
stretch. So the tighter the better, slings don't work
like slingshots, elasticity and stretch is to be avoided.
Keep testing the length of the retention cord, no need
to measure; just hold it exactly as you will when slinging.
When it's long enough you are ready to start the cradle.
the loops and put one to each side along with its associated
draw cord, if you are not sure which loop is joined
to which cord just pull a cord slightly to check.
expect you can guess what's next.
are a couple of optional refinements, however, which
aid balance and stability. The first is that it helps
if the two sides are done in opposite ways. Meaning
that both bights are brought up from either outside
or inside the gap between the two sides of the cradle,
it will feel like one is doing one side from the right
and the other from the left. The other is to stretch
each loop open, so each side of it is tugged at nearly
ninety degrees to where it emerges from the knot, before
shortening and pulling the next bight through it.
the two chains in the same orientation, flat and bobble
side the same as the retention cord, also take great
care to make the transition neat. Test it under slight
tension; hold the retention cord flat and the cradle
cords parallel and flat and pull you will be able to
tell if you have got it right, the transitions from
cradle to cords are the most delicate and important
parts. The length of the cradle is a matter of preference
but as long as from the tip of your middle finger to
the first crease below your wrist, give or take an end
pinky joint is about right. You will often find, especially
with jute garden twine, that uneven cord thickness means
that an equal number of hitches does not mean an equal
length. It is the equal length that matters so if one
side needs extra hitches do them, test it, again under
slight tension, before closing the cradle and starting
the release cord. Again take care doing the transition.
The Release Cord
here on it is plain sailing, just keep chain hitching
the double cords until the release cord is long enough.
finish is simple, pull the last bight all the way through
the loop and pull the ends locking the knot you started
at the beginning, the entire sling is a single knot.
This sling doesn't need an end knot as a good grip can
be had anywhere on the cord. Leave a thumbs worth of
the two cords sticking out so it won't slip back through.
Occasionally it may need a tug to tighten. It will also
turn into a thin tassel.
are some alternatives finishes. You can tie any preferred
end stop, this will prevents the two cords slipping
back through the last loop if you want to cut them very
short. Blood knots are used in whips and can cope with
the high speeds the end of the release will move at
so one of them is good. For a larger knot pull the last
loops long and tie them and the two cords together.
This is useful for rapid fire techniques as it helps
bring the release cord back to the hand after casting.
you can pull the last loops long and tie them and the
two cords together, then cut the loops to give a tassel.
A figure of eight knot, which is good enough, keeps
the tassel in line better than a blood knot. This will
make a large knot and tassel.. If you do want big tassel
but not a big knot, use one of the strings to tie a
constrictor knot around the rest. This will hold. If
you wish you can untwist and separate the strands of
the cord but it isn't necessary, just use the sling
and it will do it for you.
big tassels make a louder crack when slinging.
Extra Information and Some Tips
hitching is very forgiving so don't worry if you get
one wrong, just slip a needle ( or something similar
) beneath the bobble one back from the mistake and pull
the working ends of the cord, the hitch will unravel
back to the needle which on being pulled will give you
a loop to carry on from. This trick can also be used
to hold the cradle shut while you do something like
weaving or netting, with it. Slip something in the loop
of the hitch which closes the pocket, pull tight, do
a couple of extra hitches just to be sure, you can even
tie it out under tension and it will be secure.
is easy to add and remove extra threads. To add simply
hold the cord you want to add next to the chain you've
already done and include it, after three or four hitches
it will be locked in and you can snip the end you don't
want off, To remove just snip it off as soon as it has
a few hitches behind it. This can be very handy if you
wish to weave. The loops can also be used to hold threads,
as soon as a couple of hitches have followed them they
are locked, if you use this technique in the cradle
remember it will twist under load and use it to the
advantage of your design.
is very easy to have a whipped release cord, lose one
cord where ever you wish, continue hitching with the
other and, if the cord is strong enough and you want
three stages, finish with single unhitched cord.
can also put holes in the cords in the same way one
makes the cradle, this can be useful if one wants to
lace rather than stitch a pouch on as it helps one to
lace for longitudinal tension. I've seen long splits
in the cords of some traditional Tibetan slings, I don't
know why they are there but it is such an ancient slinging
culture I'm sure there is a good reason, it would be
easy to imitate this with chain hitching.
only downside of a chain hitched sling is shared by
any sling of this shape. Most throwing styles cause
a wear point on the release cord next to the cradle,
sometimes the end of the cradle itself, as it is a single
string sling this is more of a problem than for multiple
string types. If you've spent hours on an elaborate
weave and expect to use rough ammo it is sensible to
take precautions. One way is to whip this area so one
changes whipping instead of having to make a new sling,
do the retention cord too for balance. When whipping
take care not to crush the two sides of the cradle together.
a chain hitched sling as a frame for a solid pouch sling.
type of sling works very well for this. Here are two
of my favourite alternatives. Please forgive the tatty
look, I made them a while ago before I had worked chain
hitching out, the neat finger loops for example..
can do no better than refer you to L. W. Forsyth's excellent
to Build and Use a Traditional Apache Sling,"
which is on this site, use his instructions substituting
a chain hitched frame for a braided one. It is also
a good idea to extend the leather to cover the wear
point. A small sleeve would be better and is what I
shall do next time. Attach the leather to the flat side
and use the bobbles to help lock the stitches. I used
upholstery thread. This sling has thrown a lot of rocks.
simple way is to darn it as you would a hole in a sock.
Better is to weave. This one I call a gripper weave
as that is what it does, centring and gripping the stone
as the square pouch elongates to a diamond. Most of
this happens on loading the stone, the rest in a foot
or two of swing so the stretch has a negligible reduction
on power but a big increase on spin. It is easy but
takes a while as all the pocket is one thread so has
to be pulled it all the way through each time.
the loop and retention cord, about four or five hitches
before the cradle incorporate the weaving thread, when
you get to the cradle put this thread to one side, it
may help if it's colour is different. Then finish the
cradle and close it using a nail in the first closing
loop, do a couple more hitches to secure it. Tie or
pin the cradle out tightly to make it square, two corners
being the release and retention cords and the other
two being the mid points of the cradle. I used a picture
the weaving thread to an adjacent corner, then go round
the cradle cord, not the one the weaving cord is parallel
with, or the corner itself but close to it. with a weavers
knot. Then back to the cradle cord on the opposite side
of the square and go round that with a weavers knot
too. Keep going back and forth like this finishing in
the corner opposite the first weavers knot. That is
the weft done. The weft will shrink a little as the
warp is done so not too tight. Next go round the cradle
cord closest and at right angles to it, this will be
a very short distance. The weft thread now becomes a
warp thread. The warp is done the same way, at right
angles to the weft, going under then over each thread
it passes. You should finish near the release cord.
This weave is designed to move so it doesn't have to
be tight, just keep it fairly close. One can use a ruler,
lollipop stick or anything that sort of shape to tamp
down the weft.
the sling from whatever you fixed it to. Pull the cords
and unravel the the hitches you used to hold it closed.
Pull the nail, or whatever was used, to regain a loop,
then continue with the release cord incorporating the
weaving thread for a few hitches, then snip the weaving
thread off and finish the sling.
the pocket is not attached to the cradle it there can
be a tendency to a drawstring bag effect. There are
two ways of dealing with this depending on what sort
of pocket you like. If you like a slightly cupped pocket
let it happen until it is almost as you like and then
tack round the cradle to stop it going much further,
it will move a tiny bit more. This looks less tidy but
is the method I prefer, I like to let a sling settle
to its natural shape. The sling below has thrown maybe
a hundred so far and is not quite there yet. But be
careful when slinging before the final tack, a sudden
slip can cause a bad miss throw or even turn an untacked
gripper weave sling into a mace mid cast. Greek overhead
is safest as the mace will miss... probably. Even then
only use this method well away from others, damageable
objects and at your own risk. Should you use this method
it is entirely your own responsibility. You have been
If you prefer a flatter pocket, or happen to be sane,
either tack round it before use or feed the weaving
thread through a loop every time you are near one during
the weaving. If you choose the second method leave the
first loops after the retention cord and one at each
midpoint of the cradle long and pull the next bobble
along into a loop to tighten after you have been through
it with the weaving thread. This is a necessary fiddle
as each loop tightens the next and if you don't allow
for that you will soon find the bobbles are too tight
to penetrate. You will still end up with a slightly
cupped pocket after some use.
much cord you will need for the pocket will vary according
to cord and how tightly you do it so I can't say accurately.
Certainly less than twice as much as was used for the
frame. If you do find you haven't allowed enough use
a sheet bend to join some more on.
Chain Hitched Pouch
can also use chain hitching to do a solid pocket, or
a pocket with a centring split. The principle is easy,
swapping single loops and associated draw cords from
a double chain to make a hitch either side with another
thread, and then back again to be hitched together.
A good way to add threads for this is through the loops
as one effectively adds two at a time. I like the threads
which started at the beginning to continue to the end.
Adding the extras inside gives a slight concavity. When
it comes to losing them again; last in first out.
help keep track one can prepare the threads to be added
in the same way as the frame thread, then tie a small
marker knot in the draw string which holds the skeins.
None in the frame thread, one at each end of the first
added, two at each end of the second and so on. Chain
hitching could probably be used, and varied, to make
many other types of fabric object. Time consuming for
large areas but needs no tools. Slings are small. The
one below had two threads added and lost for the pocket.
It took around an hour and a half and I was inventing,
or rediscovering, how to do it as I went along.
hitching seems to have a lot of potential and mixes
well with other techniques; finger knitting, just use
one of a loop pair to lock the other and carry on, and
crochet, if done loosely. There are many other alternatives
such as netting, various guides both in the site and
on the forum will give you ideas that can be applied.
The forum is huge by the way! Full of good advice, not
only relating to sling making, use and history but also
has a lot on other crafts, primitive skills, weapons,
survival, fire making, etc etc more in fact than many
sites dedicated to such things. I recommend it highly.
I said earlier I only made the string one for the sake
of some photos, so now it will live in my backpack as
an extension rope, another use for chain hitching, in
case the trees are too far apart for my hammock. Until
I need some string when I shall simply unpick the end,
pull the two cords and have what I started with back,
bar a few inches of tassel and the half hour I spent
making the thing. Which is something else I like about
it, the process is reversible.
S. A. Baldwin, 2007