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Macrame for Beginners: How to Choose the Right Macrame String, Rope, or Cord

  • 6 min read

The popularity of macrame died down for many years, but it came back sometime in the 1970s, wherein it symbolized the Bohemian style and was used to create beautiful wall hangings, clothing, accessories, and even plant hangers. The hype around macrame has been going up and down throughout the years, and now it is once again making a comeback as talented crafters come up with new and more exciting patterns using proven techniques.

New to macrame art? No worries, it's super easy to learn. It's best to gather all the supplies you would need before getting started. This will make it easier for you to start your project and understand how macrame is done. With a little patience and practice, you'll be able to make your own beautiful piece of art!

What is the Difference Between Macrame String, Rope, and Cord?

There are three types of Macrame: string, rope, and cord. These terms are often used interchangeably in the fibre world, but it's good to know how they are actually different from one another.

Tools and materials for macrame weaving
Tools and materials for macrame weaving over a white surface

Macrame String

Macrame string is a single twist string. It's well-loved for its soft texture and is considered the best type of material to use if you are a beginner wanting to explore the art of macrame. It's quite comfortable on the hands and easy to cut and tie into knots, so it would be a great option to start with. If you're planning to make a medium-sized wall hanging, you might want to use a 4mm string. This size works up quite fast and has a nice tight twist to it.

Additionally, you may also use cotton slub string to create projects with fringe and tassels with texture, cotton/linen macrame string to provide more strength and crispness, or a metallic string to add some sparkle to your project by using a 5mm metallic macrame string!

Metallic macrame strings by Ada Fibres
Metallic macrame strings. Available in 2mm and 5mm.

Macrame Rope

Macrame rope is usually a 3 ply rope in which the three strings are twisted around each other. It is stronger and firmer than macrame string, so it doesn't have the same softness. However, macrame rope knots have more girth. As you untwist the macrame rope, it would give you a wavy fringe that adds texture to your work. A material that is constructed similarly to a macrame rope is the Molla cotton twine from Suomen Lanka.

Macrame rope is often used for weight-bearing projects such as plant hangers.

Suomen Lanka Molla cotton twine
Suomen Lanka Molla cotton twine for warping and macrame.

Macrame Cord

Although this term is often used interchangeably with macrame string and rope, the macrame cord actually has six or more strings braided together, making it roust and highly durable. Sash cord, which is a type of macrame cord, is a lot stiffer than string and rope, quite difficult to unravel, tougher on the hands, and can't be combed out to create a fringe. However, it makes up for all those with its superior functionality and strength.

What Materials Do I Need for Macrame?

There are many questions that new Macrame makers are overwhelmed with, but there is no need to worry. The supplies needed for this project vary depending on what type you want it to be, so make sure you read carefully before buying anything else!

Macrame project leaf  in natural colour
Macrame leaf in natural colour string

Basic Macrame Tools

Gathering the basic tools is one of the first things to get started with macrame. The good thing is that you won't really need a lot if you're only starting to try your hand at macrame. Aside from your chosen macrame rope, cord, or string, you'll only need a measuring tape and a pair of scissors.

When you start working on more complex projects, you might want to add a few more things to your arsenal, such as a macrame board to hold your work securely, pins to hold heavy cords to your macrame board, mounting cords with rings to hold them, and an embroidery needle and crochet hook to finish off a pattern with fine details. The Incredible Rope Machine by Schacht is a great addition if you are wanting to experiment and create your own ropes.

Eco-friendly Macrame Supplies

There are several macrame materials to choose from, such as cotton twine, linen yarn, jute string, and organic hemp cord. One of the most common types being used is cotton. It comes in many different colours and sizes and is eco-friendly as it is made from renewable resources like plant fibres, cellulose, or recycled materials.

Cotton macrame string is a good general-purpose rope because it's soft, resistant, and forgiving for knotting newbies. This makes it an ideal choice of yarn for beginners who are learning to tie knots as well as those with less experience in the industry. It also stays strong on its own without having to be reinforced by other materials like polyester or nylon which can cause stiffness and discomfort when they're used by inexperienced users.

Natural vs Synthetic Fibres

The most important difference between natural and synthetic fibres is the properties associated with each. Natural fibres are biodegradable, eco-friendly, and easy to dye, but not suitable for outdoor projects. Synthetic fibres are durable and strong with a high-performance option that is perfect for outdoor use.

Ada Fibres Jute Macrame String
Ada Fibres Jute String

Why Use Recycled Cotton for Macrame Projects

Recycled cotton is a great resource for macrame projects, as it's eco-friendly and 100% natural. It is a great option for macrame projects because of its natural fabric quality, which provides both comfort and durability. It's also comfortable to work with because of its softness and colour variety.

With recycled cotton string, you can make multiple creative things such as wall hangers, curtains with fringes, dream catchers, gift wrappers, craft projects, jewellery, pet toys, and many more. It's sturdy enough to withstand impact from pets or children who might accidentally step on it without causing any damage.

Recycled 4mm cotton string for macrame making
Recycled 4mm cotton stringfor macrame making.

How Do You Choose the Right String, Rope, or Cord for Your Macrame Project?

Decide on the aesthetics of your project.

Do you want a smooth-looking wall hanging or a heavily textured one? A single twist string would give your project a different look compared to the 3 ply rope or braided cord. Decide on what you want your art piece to look like.

Cotton slub macrame string by Ada Fibres
Add texture to macrame with the cotton slub macrame yarn from Ada Fibres.

What type of project are you making?

The supplies you would need would also depend on what type of macrame project you will be working on. As previously mentioned, durable macrame cords are best used for weight-bearing items like plant hangers. So, be sure to buy the appropriate materials before getting started.

The best size of string, rope, or cord for macrame will really depend on what style and look you are trying to achieve. For small, complex patterns, like macrame jewellery, you'll want to choose between 1mm to 2mm strings. You might also want to look into macrame yarn. For your regular wall hangings, you can choose between 3mm to 5mm. Lastly, for larger macrame pieces, you'll want to use anything 5mm or thicker.

Check the macrame yarn material for strength.

The strength of the macrame rope, cord, or string depends on its composition. For example, jute strings are considered to be very strong. It is important that you choose a strong material for your macrame projects especially if the output is something that will be used regularly or undergo some wear and tear, like a macrame bag.

Are you following a pattern?

As a beginner in macrame art, it is most likely that you will be working off a pattern. This is good because most patterns would already tell you what type of string, rope, or cord you would need for a certain project.

Make sure the yarn texture is appropriate for your macrame project.

Some macrame yarns may be rougher than others. For example, the rough texture of hemp strings and cords can cause irritation to the skin. For this reason, this material shouldn't be used when you are making macrame necklaces or bracelets. It would be much preferable to use cotton, silk, nylon, or satin yarns for these types of projects.

Cotton slub macrame yarn by Ada Fibres
Macrame, cotton and hemp ropes in skeins. Crocheting, netting handicraft objects in a basket made of jute

What is the Best Macrame Material for Beginners?

It depends. However, we recommend the 4mm cotton string. The reason why we recommend using single-strand string is that it will enhance your macrame experience. What's great about this size, is that you can easily tie knots and unravel the string a few times before it loses its integrity. Be sure that you're always careful as you do so. You'll also find that with macrame string, cutting and fringing won’t be too difficult. Your macrame projects will surely come out aesthetically pleasing. It's the perfect size to create a beautiful medium-sized wall hanging.

Get Ready to Start Your First Macrame Project

Now that you have an idea about what you need to get started with macrame, it's time to take the first step into the wonderful world of macrame by gathering those essential materials. Thread Collective offers a range of macrame and knotting supplies that will suit macrame artists of all levels. Browse our collection of macrame yarns and start planning your first macrame project today!

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