Where short lengths only are required, say up to 20 ft., the straw hands or ropes are best twisted by hand. To do this, a simple twisting hook, as shown below, is needed. It consists of a piece of stout iron wire bent to form a handle, as in Fig. 1. Two pieces of ash, oak, or chestnut, 8in. long, are cut from a dry faggot and bored to take the wire. One of these pieces is pushed on the shorter end of the wire, which is burred over a washer, keeping the wooden handle in place. On the longer end put an old iron nut, a washer, and the other piece of wood; then bend the end to form a hook, as shown in Fig. 2. A hook clamped in the jaws of a carpenter's brace would answer the same purpose. To make a band, the straw must be well wetted and lightly tossed up in a heap; the operator, standing with the heap on his right, puts the bight of a wisp over the hook, which is to be turned by a boy. Some skill is essential in feeding the twisting band, which passes through the left hand while the right keeps adding fresh wisps. When twice the length required has thus been twisted, the centre is thrown over a stake previously driven in the ground; the boy, keeping a strain on it, gives his end to the man and takes up the centre bight off the stake, and with his hook twists in the opposite direction. When long lengths are required, a "jenny" is necessary; this is an arrangement of cog-wheele by which two, three, or four strands can be twisted separately and together as the outer wheels are thrown in or out of gear. The machines can be bought at ships' stores; they are used for making marline, spun yarn, and nettle stuff at sea.
Twisting Hook for Making Straw Bands.