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String (also known as Silk or Tripwire in its block form) is an item that was introduced to the game in Indev, the older test version of Survival. It can be received by killing a spider or cave spider, which will drop up to two string. String is necessary to make a bow and fishing rod and can be used to make wool as well, despite being much harder to get than wool from sheep. String can also be collected by shearing cobwebs off the walls of an abandoned mineshaft with a sword. This can be an excellent source of string, as abandoned mineshafts are abundant with cobwebs. Another, but slightly more difficult, location to find string is in dungeons. As of the Minecraft 1.3.1 update, String can now be placed on the ground as tripwire and can be combined with tripwire hooks to create a Redstone trap. It can also be used without a tripwire hook: it changes its state when an entity collides with it (for hook activation), but BUD switches can detect it.
As of 1.14, cats can also drop string when killed
As of 1.16, Striders also drop string when killed