Friday, November 13, 2009

How to Make a Ristra

Okay, I’m totally late for Nancy’s “What We’re Working on Wednesdays”, but better late than never, right?

I, once again, had a hard time sleeping last night. I finally decided to get out of bed at around 4:30 this morning. I put on a pot of coffee and cleaned up around the kitchen for a bit (I was already miserable, so why not add to the pain!). Anyway, I noticed that the last huge pile of peppers from our chile harvest were ripening at an alarming rate, right there on the counter in my(now clean) kitchen. “Lazy Anne” thinks they’ll make a good addition to the compost bin. “Crafty Anne” knows she can absolutely do something fun with the chile. “Crafty Anne” thinks a lot faster than “Lazy Anne”. Guess who began making her first-ever RISTRA at 5:00am???

It was actually an easy project. Tying all the knots was strangely relaxing, and knowing I’ll have plenty of dried chile pods to use this winter made the process that much more satisfying.
Want to make one of your own?
Ready, set, go!
Gather your materials:
- Chile peppers
- Twine
- Scissors
- Raffia

Cut a long length of twine (l-o-n-g, about 10 feet or so.) Double the twine and tie a knot at one end. Begin making a series of slipknots with your doubled “rope”, as pictured above. Try to make the knots fairly close together, but don’t worry about the placement too much. You’ll fill in any “holes” later.

Begin poking the stems of your peppers into the slipknots. Tighten each knot as you add more peppers.
After about every third pepper, weave the twine around the stems several times and knot to make a cluster.

Continue the process until you have a “foundation” for your ristra. The length of your foundation depends more on your personal preference and the number of peppers you have. (I had a lot of peppers! My ristra is about 22 inches long.)
Cut more pieces of twine in lengths of about 6 inches. Begin attaching more peppers by simply tying double-knots to secure them to your foundation. Snip off the ends of twine to about ¼ inch. ( I have also tied in some raffia in the picture above.)

Hold up your ristra often to check for gaps. Add more peppers as needed, attaching to the foundation AND the stems of already tied-in peppers. (Always include the twine part of your foundation when adding more chile.)

We’re getting there, but you can still see “bald spots”. Add more peppers. As your ristra becomes more fuller, you’ll have to dig around a bit to get the ends of your string through your arrangement. Don’t worry. If your knots are tight, your ristra can withstand quite a bit of manipulation.
Tie in more raffia for decoration and texture.
Whew! We’re almost finished. We need to add a loop so we can hang our ristra.

Wrap and tie tightly the remaining end of your doubled twine around the pepper stems at the top of your ristra. Wrap until you are left with a loop about 2-3 inches long. Attach raffia to the top of the loop by knotting. Wrap the raffia around the twine, and finish by tying the raffia into a bow. Add additional raffia or other embellishments, if desired.

Here is my finished ristra. Not bad for a project I finished before the sunrise! Not too bad at all. (Okay, really. I totally LOVE it and am feeling very impressed with myself right now!) I’m thinking I may have to get an earlier start on making ristras next year. They’d make awesome and unusual Christmas gifts for family and friends who don’t live in the Southwest.

Hugs and blessings~


  1. That's fabulous! I've never seen or heard of a "Ristra", so this is such a treat for me! And I must say, I've never seen so many hot peppers together in one place! I don't know if I could handle the "harvest" but it sure is beautiful to look at! Love it!


  2. Wow Anne, That is incredible. Thanks for the tutorial. I am bookmarking it because what a great thing to do with my chili peppers next year. Gotta love frugal.

  3. That is totally COOL!!!! Awesome!

  4. Wow! I can't believe my eyes! I searched for hours looking for a really good tutorial WITH PICTURES for making a ristra. This effort on your part is not only badly needed in the blogosphere but very much appreciated by ME!

    Great Job! I couldn't make heaeds or tails of those "wordy" ones! I decided if I ever figured out how to make one, I would post a tutorial. Now I can just link to yours!! Thank you!

  5. Well, one of the few place where i see a detailed, pictured process !
    Thanks a lot.
    btw, i would cut all the protruding string moustache off.
    But is just my opinion. Cheers


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