Rope mats - beautiful and useful

several sample designs

Why not take home a reminder of Skye that will last for years and also makes a small contribution to improving our environment?

At Shore to floor we collect waste rope and reuse it to fashion beautiful mats based on classical Celtic-knot designs

sample knot mat design

Reusing rope

marine litter on Loch Caroy

Discarded rope, whether hemp or synthetic, is a major, long-lived pollutant of our oceans. Such marine litter is mostly lost overboard from boats. Hemp rope can take a year to break down; polyester rope lasts almost forever. And rope doesn't settle reliably to the bottom of the sea; it can be transported for many miles to endanger marine animals.

Shore to floor is based near Loch Caroy, on the beautiful Isle of Skye. But sadly Skye's beaches are less beautiful then her mountains and cliffs. They are not immune to the pollution menace affecting our seas and oceans.

Local beach cleans, gathering and disposing of waste plastic and rope, make a short-lived contribution but reusing the rope converts a problem into a lasting reminder of the loveliness of the Hebrides.

salvaging waste rope

Mats from marine litter

donated waste rope

(Left) Some commercial operators (like fish farms) are happy to pass waste rope on to craft workers to avoid paying for its disposal. Such donations are very welcome

(Right) However, most of our rope is washed up in tangle of seaweed.

It needs to be painstakingly disentangled and sorted. Then the usable lengths must be scrubbed before they can be reused.

ready to untangle

The process

the process begins

First, the washed and sorted rope is inspected. The length will determine which designs are feasible and also the number of turns that can be incorporated.

Small irregularities may remain: these reflect the rope's previous history, especially wear and splicing. Most mats have from three to six strands following the same pattern.

Once the finished mat has been pulled taut, the rope ends are spliced. Wear will gradually flatten the mats, which can be cleaned occasionally by scrubbing with washing-up liquid, if necessary.

Sometimes, a saintly patience is required >>>

the gordian knot
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Standard designs

The first three designs are standard -- a six-strand ocean mat; a three-strand thump mat and a three-strand kringle mat from black rope -- and were derived from Des Pawson's book Knot Craft & Rope Mats. The fourth was discovered on the packaging of Argo's Bakery's excellent Orkney beremeal biscuits!

But not every Celtic knot design can sensibly be converted to a mat that will hold together. For example, the fifth design (from a Bulgarian wine label) is intriguing but actually comprises not one continuous length of rope but three separate ones. Neverthelss, We would be interested to hear of alternative designs, and grateful for donations of usable lengths of clean rope (at least 15 metres and at least 7 mm thick, please).

ocean mat thump mat kringle mat
bisuit box design not really practical
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For the first season (2019), our mats were available only to callers from Skye Makers Gallery in Dunvegan, which sadly closed in 2020. However, we can now offer online sales via Highland Hiddle

To be kept informed about further availability, or indeed to donate rope or suggest designs, please email us:

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