There has been an explosion in the type of material, size, and color of cords available for jewelry making over the past few years. When I first started macrame, hemp was the standard, in dull earthy shades of beige, brown and rust. Waxed cotton suitable for jewelry was available in similarly simple colors. Eventually, braided synthetic cords were introduced, but only in larger sizes. To get color in a piece of braided jewelry meant using embroidery floss - pretty, but not very durable.
Today, there are so many options, it's hard to know where to start. Refer to this list of commonly used cords in jewelry making before you purchase materials for your next project.
01 of 06
If you started macrame using hemp, be sure to give it a second look. New production techniques have resulted in hemp cord that is softer and available in an array of bright colors. It still maintains it's earthy appeal though.
Hemp cord is available on cards or spools and comes in .5 mm, 1 mm or 1.5 mm thicknesses. Hemp cord is good for macrame, crochet, knotting and other jewelry making techniques. The cord size may be listed by weight in which case 10 lb cord is approximately 1mm and 20 lb is approximately 1.5mm. Hemp cord is available finished with a wax coating or unfinished for a more natural rustic feel.
02 of 06
Bamboo has emerged in recent years as an eco-friendly alternative to cotton and synthetic fibers. Bamboo is known to be strong and regenerates quickly - all of which are good for the planet - but it's fibers are also silky and durable, making it a perfect textile fiber. Available in a large variety of colors and sizes, bamboo cord is widely available at craft stores in pre-cut lengths on cards or in spools.
Bamboo cord is often waxed giving it a slight sheen and also used to smooth stray fibers. The texture holds macrame knots well, but the cord is also flexible enough to be used with bead crochet and kumihimo. Typical cord size is 1 mm or 1.5 mm.
03 of 06
Cotton Braiding Cord
Cotton braiding cord is similar to bamboo and hemp cord. It is frequently sold in craft stores on cards in pre-cut lengths, suitable for macrame or other braiding crafts such as kumihimo.
It can be wax finished or left naturally unfinished, with finished cord having a more substantial weight and is easier to hold knots. It is available in a wide variety of colors and common sizes including .5mm, 1mm, 1.5mm, and 2mm.
04 of 06
Linen is made from the flax plant and while it shares many similarities with cotton and hemp, it is a different material. In my area, waxed linen is less widely available, but can be used in any project where cotton, hemp or bamboo cord would be appropriate.
Linen cord has a look that is earthy and rustic - similar to hemp. Some people swear by Irish Linen Cord instead of other linen cords.
The size of linen cord is indicated by a ply number - which is the number of strands bundled together. The most common sizes used for jewelry making are 3-ply (approximately 0.55mm), 4-ply (approximately 0.7mm), and 7-ply (approximately 1.2mm).Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
Chinese knotting cord is a synthetic braided nylon cord that is silky to touch but holds knots well. It is available in a wide variety of colors and sizes including .8 mm, 1 mm, and 1.5 mm. Chinese knotting cord is often used for Shamballa style bracelets.
Finishing Chinese knotting cord is different since it can be slippery. Burning the ends with a lighter will melt the synthetic fibers and prevent fraying or knots from untying.
06 of 06
C-Lon is hands down one of the best choices of knotting thread on the market simply due to the vast array of size and color choices. C-Lon is a 3 ply nylon twisted cord about .5mm in diameter. The original is called C-Lon and is available in 108 colors from bright to muted to fluorescent. This size works well for beading, micro-macrame, bead crochet, and kumihimo.
C-Lon Tex 400 is a slightly heavier weight cord approximately .9mm in diameter. It is suitable for the same purposes as regular C-Lon. C-Lon has several other sizes of cords and thread too - all with the same range of colors and silky, easy to knot characteristic.
S-Lon is a similar product which may be developed to imitate C-Lon. It is available in similar colors and sizes and can be used interchangeably.