Oh that is So cool I just love it! The new life would work great for that.
Not sure about the holes I couldn't see handle holes but did see the little spot on top. You may try getting a string of Rapha I think it's called you know it's kind of like a thick grass twine. And throw a little stain on it and weave in there. may not be a perfect match but probably wouldn't be noticeable either. Have fun with your project