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Macrame Cord: Which Is Right For My Project?

Updated: May 26, 2022

Confused on the different types of cord out there and which one is best for your project? New to the craft and hoping to avoid buying the wrong type and ending up with blisters, a less than sturdy plant hanger, etc? Look no further, because all of your questions will be answered in this article!


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First, let's talk about the different types of cord used in macramé.

Technically, you can make macramé with any type of cord under the sun. From T-shirt yarn to jute to yarn itself, as long as you can tie a knot with it you can macramé with it. If you're a beginner you certainly don't need to buy the highest quality, most luxurious string in order to just start practicing and learning the knots. However, there are certain materials and types of cord that tend to be preferred in the macrame world for their ease of use and for their ability to elevate the overall look of a macramé piece.


Cotton tends to be the preferred material for macramé artists around the world. It's soft yet strong and leads to beautiful final results. There are several types of cotton cord out there, so let's break them down.


ROPE


Rope is a plied cord. That means it is composed of more than one strand of fibers, and those strands are tightly twisted together. It most often comes in a 3-ply, meaning is is composed of 3 separate strands of fibers that are then twisted together. It can also come in other plies though, such as 2 or 3 ply. The separate strands can be unraveled at the ends if desired, and they form a wavy fringe.


This type of cord is great for beginners, because it holds its structure well even if it is tied and untied multiple times. It has a clean and precise look to it, and it is also a sturdy option that works great for functional projects that are weight bearing.


Some of the less ideal aspects of rope are that is can be tough on the hands, so if you're new to knotting or are working on a very large project using only rope it can be more prone to causing blisters! It also is more difficult to comb into a fine fringe, as the separate strands need to be untwisted before it can be brushed out fully. Some people also may not prefer the wavy fringe look that rope provides as well, and extra steps to straighten out the fringe would be needed such as steaming or ironing the fringe.


Use rope for:

  • plant hangers

  • beginner's projects

  • structured wall hangings

  • modern/geometric wall hangings

  • large scale projects (like installations)





STRING


String (often referred to as single-twist string or cotton twine) is a non-plied cord. That means it is composed of individual fibers that are all tightly twisted together.


My personal favorite to work with, string is usually favored for its soft feel, gentleness on the hands while working, its ability to be combed into fringe, and the soft, organic look it provides when knotted up. Using string results in that classic effortless boho look that we all know and love.


Some folks may find string challenging to work with in the beginning of their journey. That is because string unravels or snags more easily than any other types, since the individual fibers are only twisted together and not plied. The more string is worked with, the looser it becomes and more prone it is to snagging. That means if you are creating a large piece and untie entire sections of it, you have to be very gentle to preserve the integrity of the cord!


Use string for:

  • Wall hangings

  • Jewelry