Feeling overwhelmed deciding on which cord to use?
I don’t blame you it’s like having too many flavours of cake to choose from – very much an anxiety provoking situation. Back when I started I was faced with a different problem – not enough cake flavours – just plain old sponge (how depressing!). But seriously, cake metaphors aside, we are lucky that there are so many options available now! A few years ago there really wasn’t much around – I used polypropylene rope from the hardware store and extremely overpriced braided cotton cord from the haberdashery shop. For the most part, good quality macrame pieces (especially wall hangings) are now made with cotton cord. This comes in three main types: three-ply, single twist and braided. 1) Three-ply is made with three groups of cotton fibers (for example the cord pictured has groups containing about 18-20 strands). I like three-ply because there are many ways you can work with it. You can leave it twisted, unravel it to create three individual strands or comb it out for a fringe. Have a look here for one of my wall pieces made with three ply.
2) Single twist is only one group of cotton fibers (as you can see the single twist pictured has 15 or so thicker strands). Single twist is good to use when you want a softer, less detailed effect. Click here to see a wall piece made completely from single twist cord.
3) Braided is robust and won’t unravel or fray due to its multiple groups of cotton strands that are tightly braided together (I don’t tend to use this much because I love a good fringe!). Click here to see a wall peice I made a long time ago using mostly braided cord. Then there’s width… you can get anything from 2mm to 10mm. I mostly use 4-5mm, but if you’re into super detailed, intricate pieces then 2-3mm is a good choice. These varieties normally come on 1kg and 2kg reels - it really does pay to buy in bulk - this is all very much the same as buying toilet paper.
Another factor that you might want to consider is how much length you need. There is a big difference between the length of 3 ply reels and the single twist reels because the 3 ply rope is much denser as it has many more fibres and is wound much tighter on the reel.
As a beginner you're probably best off with a thicker cord (I would say anything from 4mm up) just so you get used to handling it and then when you get the hang of it, the thinner cords won’t be so fiddly. If you just want heaps of rope to practice on, probably best to get the single twist as you get more length for your dollar.
Natural / uncoloured cotton is a definite staple – but if you're keen to mix things up a bit you can always try working with colour and metallics in 3ply. as well as in single twist. There are some gorgeous colours available.
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If you have any questions please either leave a comment below or message me directly.