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Carrying water at LARP is something I always harp on about, especially in the summer LARPing posts. However carrying your own water is now very important, and is something I will be encouraging loudly once we return to LARP after this ‘Long March’.

You don’t have to have a fancy leather bottle or canteen to have an IC looking water carrier – it can be as simple as a plastic bottle and some string. “A plastic bottle and string?” I hear you say incredulously – bear with me.

Here is a simple IC water carrier to add to your belt.

I was skimming through some crafts on the Lovecraft inspiration blog (they do a lot of knitting patterns and other handicrafts and sell wool and other haberdashery supplies) when I spotted a tutorial for a macramé bottle tote. I thought this could be something that could be turned to LARP relatively easily, and make use of plastic bottles that are easy to get hold of (as in you could pick up a pack of them at a petrol station / supermarket / services on the way to a game), so had a go.

Not everyone chooses to carry a bag as their character, so I think it’s important to make space for water on your belt – especially if you’re playing an armoured character, doubly so in hot weather. With everything that’s been going on recently, I would expect people to actively start carrying their own water to avoid the inevitable sharing of germs that comes with sharing water. Look after your health people!

Materials

  • Crochet wool / wool / twine / string / t-shirt yarn*
  • Scissors
  • Sellotape
  • Ruler
  • Keyring (optional)
  • Beads (optional)

* T-shirt yarn can be made from an old t-shirt using this method.

To clean up a plastic bottle

Having anything with modern labels is very jarring at a non-modern LARP, however prettily dressed up plastic can fade into the setting (or a least be overlooked). But as anyone who has peeled labels off a plastic bottle will know, there is always a band is sticky stuff on a plastic bottle that gets all gummed up / covered in fuzz or dirt or sticks to your clothes. Some people might not have an issue with using a plastic bottle with a label / a bottle with the sticky stuff still on, but I prefer to avoid it if I can.

I used some Isopropyl Alcohol to rub down the bottles when I made this project, which I purchased from B&Q as part of my fencing sword care. It works a treat and even removes the printed ink from some bottles which was a pleasant surprise when I was tinkering. A side note – it can dry your hands out awfully and should be used in small splashes to avoid the fumes that come with this sort of craft project.

“But we’re not going to have Isopropyl Alcohol to hand when we’re in the field, having picked up water at our last petrol stop” I hear you say. Well, having done some google-fu (you’re welcome) and talking with relevant people in the know, I am informed that vodka will do a passable job at clearing up the sticky stuff on your bottles. And I don’t think you’ll have much problem finding some vodka somewhere in camp if there is booze available.

Peel off the modern label and with a cloth / bit of kitchen paper rub some isopropyl alcohol / vodka into the sticky stuff on the outside of the bottle. This may take some elbow grease but eventually you’ll have a clean bottle to use in your bottle tote. Or if you’re not fussed, just use the plastic bottle as it comes.

Making the bottle tote (Version 1)

The tutorial I followed originally was found here, but I have modified it to better accommodate a plastic bottle, thinking that you don’t want the bottle to pop out of the top when you’re running around saving the day.

So I followed the instructions for the bottle tote, but slid a keyring ring onto the midpoint of the strands to clip the whole onto my belt. I like what I did for my macramé healer’s cup and I find being able to clip something in place makes me more likely to use it. I made the handle 2″ long from the midpoint and secured my braid with the special gather knot described in the instructions. I then continued by tying the strands into square knots at 2″ lengths, slipping the bottle in to check the fit of the bottle tote. When I reached the correct length I added another set of knots onto the end and secured it with the gather knot 2″ from this row. This was because I didn’t want the bottle to sit proud of the top of the macramé netting, and because I have made mistakes with sizing these sorts of things before.

This is where I make my LARP friendly addition.

I used three of the excess strands, braided together, to make a drawstring closure for the bottle holder, which I threaded into the strands above the first set of square knots before knotting the ends together. This allows me to close the holder around the neck of the plastic bottle and keep it from slipping out of the bag when bumping around in play / when drinking. Because it’s above the knotted net it can also ride up and down to accommodate different sizes of bottle (think how different a sports Lucozade bottle is to a sports top water bottle / Coca-Cola bottle / standard screw cap).

I made the first one out of thin crochet string, and whilst very pretty it feels a bit flimsy, and collapses and tangles really easily. So I made a few more to try out some ideas.

Make time: ~ 2 hrs

Making the bottle tote (Version 2)

Following the pattern again I used wool, tying the net knots at 1″ intervals. I found using a thicker strand and closer knots made for a better looking bottle tote, which led me to consider other materials and styles.

As an aside – You have to take care when working with wool as it stretches when put under tension (like pulling it), so if you want neat rows of knots you should keep an even tension when working your square knots.

Make time: ~ 2 hrs

Self-hanging bottle tote

Thinking about bottles on belts got me thinking that not everyone has an easily accessible hanging strap for water bottles. However, after a conversation with a friend, I realised that I could experiment with knots.

The Monkey’s Fist was used by sailors to weight the end of the leading lines that were thrown ashore and used to haul the big ropes onto the quay for tying up the big boats. It’s worked around a bead / weight so can be made as large or as small as you choose. I thought that maybe the knot could be left to hang freely as a weight, or jam up against your belt with the bottle hanging lower. I also found that if you give yourself enough length between the knot and the bottle tote to slip into the belt you could loop the knot back through the strap to secure it in place.

I used a 1 / 1.5cm wooden bead from my jewellery stash, cutting the wool into 12 x 2.1m lengths.

To start I braided the woollen strands together to form a cord, which I could then weave together like a rope without trying to keep all the strands in place. After a few trial runs (not helped by being distracted by my tv programme) I found that starting near the 1m length at one side allowed me to have plenty of ‘rope’ to work back and forth before tightening the knot in place. It could possibly have more work on the

After that I left a braided section long enough to comfortably loop through my belt and hang before I continued the bottle tote with the gather knot and square knot netting. I finished the tote again with a knot and short ‘tassel’ and the braided cord threaded around the neck.

Make time: ~ 3 / 4 hrs (a good chunk of this was getting the knot right)

Bottle tote with a strap

Not everyone wants to carry a bottle on a belt, and I can think of times when all I want is to carry a bottle of water on a strap rather than clagging up with the belt and bags. Therefore, since I was on a roll, I give you my final variation which is a bottle tote on a shoulder strap (like a handbag). I had some wool that shifts between a variety of purples down it’s length and decided I should have some fun with this bottle tote. It’s also a chunkier yarn which adds it’s own charm to the end product.

I cut 12 strands of 4.2m long wool because I wanted to have enough length to braid a shoulder strap before beginning the weaving and knotting. I braided the wool and checked the length against my hip and shoulder as I worked. I reasoned that if I got the bottle to hang to my hip it should be able to accommodate any armour I might choose to wear, and I reasoned I can always put a knot in the strap if it’s too long. I then followed the rest of the tutorial and made the bottle tote, finishing it with the knot and short tassel and braided cord around the opening.

Make time: ~ 3 / 4 hrs

Lessons Learnt

It’s rare that I do a set of options when making a project for you, so here are a few things I learnt in my many many hours of knotting and weaving.

  1. That wool sometimes is the best material to use rather than thin crochet string
  2. That the Monkey’s Fist is a really satisfying knot once you’ve got your brain wrapped around it
  3. That you could always add fancy bits to the macramé knotting (I’m thinking beads in the netting for a fancy party bottle tote, maybe some bling woven in elsewhere)
  4. That there is such a thing as too many bottle bags …

But most importantly …

5. You can make an IC bottle bag out of a plastic bottle and some string