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Cape Cod Kindling: Newspaper Knots

Cape Cod Kindling: Newspaper Knots
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Cape Cod KindlingUseful stuff from 75 years of Yankee. Edith Hunter of Waitsfield, Vermont, submitted this in January 1991.

One of the most vivid pictures of my father that I have in my mind is of his making newspaper knots in the living room before laying a fire in the fireplace.

He called them “Cape Cod kindling” in honor of the region’s famous parsimony. For people like us with an ample supply of newspapers and an almost insatiable need for kindling (our woodstoves are our primary source of heat), the Cape Cod solution is ideal.

To make newspaper kindling, take a section of about six pages, hold it by the centerfold, roll it, and tie it in a knot. We keep ours in the kitchen in an old wooden tub. That tub of knots is a great conversation piece. Visitors constantly ask us, “What are those?”

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8 Responses to Cape Cod Kindling: Newspaper Knots

  1. Jenifer Lewis February 24, 2009 at 4:40 pm #

    This story reminds me of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Long Winter” in which she describes twisting hay into sticks to make them denser so they would burn longer and keep the Ingalls family warm during that bitterly cold and snowy winter. Inspired by that story, I often twist newspaper the way Laura described, but I never thought of knotting the twist. We live in a 210-year-old Federal in central Maine with a lot of fireplaces, and we read a lot of newspapers, so we will be making Cape Cod kindling now. Thanks for the idea!

  2. Angela Bird February 26, 2009 at 11:31 am #

    Great idea. We use a lot of newspaper also, but our kindling is running low right now.
    I’ll start tying hte knots! Thanks for another great Yankee idea.

  3. Joyce T. Holway March 26, 2009 at 8:18 pm #

    I was tickled to see the newspaper knots. I come from a long line of Cape Codders and can remember seeing just about all the adults I knew making these to get the fires started in stoves, fireplaces, even campfires. I just thought that was the way everyone did it. I can remember my father teaching us the “right” way to make them (and my mother teaching us the “easy” way). Then my Dad got a newspaper log roller and what was left over made great logs and helped to stretch the wood pile and keep the newspapers out of the town dump (no recycling plans in those days). In the Spring, the newspapers made pretty good landscape fabric to keep the weeds down in the flower and vegetable gardens.

  4. Graham Hunter January 27, 2010 at 8:25 pm #

    Edith Hunter lives in Weathersfield, VT. She just celebrated her 90th birthday. She heats her home with wood, and every morning restarts the fire in her soapstone wood stove with four knots of newspaper.
    GCH II

  5. Not Me September 9, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Growing up in Milwaukee, in the 60′s, my father taught me to make these, too. We called them “Cape Code logs”. Started many a barbecue and fireplace fire with them, most recently this month! From an old Wisconsin family tree, too — no Northeastern relatives that I know of.

  6. Stewart Caldwell January 24, 2012 at 4:40 pm #

    I ,also burn on average 10 cord .get lots of wood from Craig’s List .Built a hydaulic splitter myself ( retired welder ).Kindling gets low as the chilly weather lingers longer .Thanks ,tryed them on tonites fire ,they worked great .

  7. Georgia Trathen February 24, 2012 at 7:29 am #

    I’m going to try these. I’ll have a lot of time before firepit season!

  8. Irenehewlett@comcast.net January 8, 2013 at 10:21 am #

    This is a great solution! Tired of spending money on firestarters. Wish I knew about this sooner. Thank you so much !

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