Learning to string a hop garden is pretty straight forward once you learn the basic pattern and if you can knit this could be an advantage. Our mystery stringer this year is Rosie.
It is unusual for us to have a lady hop stringer but not for any sexist reason. On farms traditionally the men went to work and the women had the main responsibility of looking after the children. Women could not put in a full day’s work but when they went banding this was perfectly suited for flexible working. It enabled them to be in the fields within school hours.
Now things are different, times have dramatically altered and there are no longer several men permanently working on the farm. For seasonal hop work we have help from family and friends, some friends from far afield. This year Rosie asked to come hop stringing. At first you need to concentrate but the picture below shows how to hold the string and goad perfectly to achieve the right tension.
The main difference? There were none other that the men put half-hitches on the top hooks to help hold the tension and Rosie as she was learning to string a hop garden put in twizzles! Identical yes but twizzles are self explanatory and I think more picturesque.
The hop gardens may be strung for this year but banding continues. Who knows, maybe we will see a man banding one year? This Pathe news clip shows the stringing and banding competitions that used to be run.
After all it’s where beer begins!