If you want to get into macrame but feel a bit confused by the vocabulary crafters use, we get it. With terms like macrame string, macrame cord, macrame rope, and macrame yarn, it can be hard to tell exactly what type of material you need for each project.
So, if you are here, you’re not alone!
In the fiber art world, these terms can be used interchangeably, and sometimes they’re all referred to simply as “yarn.” But we took these terms and really evaluated how they are made and differ from one another when we chose our products’ names.
Once you are through this blog post, you will have these differences down so you know which one to use for your projects.
Let’s start with the basics!
Table Of Contents
- What Is Macrame?
- Macrame String
- Macrame Cord
- Macrame Rope
- Braided Cord
- Which Material Should You Use
What Is Macrame?
Macrame is a knotting technique that has been used for centuries. It involves forming knots in various lengths of string, cord, or rope to create beautiful works of art or practical products.
Tools For Macrame
You don't need a lot of tools to get started with macrame, so it's a pretty budget-friendly hobby. You'll need:
- Macrame string, cord, or rope (depending on the project)
- Sharp scissors
- A measuring tape
- Something to anchor your project (like a clipboard or dowel)
Of course, you’ll want to read the supply list for any pattern you’re trying to recreate, too. Sometimes, you may need additional materials, such as a keychain or beads. But if you have everything on the basic list above, you’ll be able to create hundreds of different patterns.
Now that you have the basics down, let’s talk about the differences between macrame string, cord, and rope.
When you think of the word “string,” what comes to mind? Something thin, lightweight, and stretchy? That is the string we’re talking about.
In more technical detail, a string is a thin single strand of fiber, more like a thread, and isn’t plied. “Plied” refers to two or more strands of fiber twisted together. So, since string doesn't fit this description, it's often described as being a single strand.
A string can be made of various materials, but cotton is the most common. Cotton String can be used for a variety of projects in knitting and crochet: making a blanket for your baby, a summery tank top, or a cozy sweater for those cooler fall days.
In addition, it is used in weaving projects, especially for the warp. And it can also be used for smaller macrame projects, although it is not the most common.
Compared to string, a cord is made of several fibers twisted together to form a thicker strand. It is also more flexible and easier to use when creating larger projects, such as plant hangers or wall hangings.
Our Macrame Cotton Cord is a number of threads put together at the same length and twisted continuously in the same direction for a specific number of times. You can find 3 mm, 4 mm, 6 mm, and 8 mm size macrame cords within the GANXXET selection.
Did you know that the secret to our macrame cotton cords’ recipe is the number of times our cord is twisted in a continuous forward motion with all strings synchronized?
This is what gives the GANXXET cotton cord extra smoothness and evenness, which allows your intricate knots to shine on a beautiful macrame wall hanger without any fishbone — threads out of place.
Macrame cotton cord is softer than rope and is very gentle on your hands and super smooth-looking on your projects, with no pulled strings in-between and no uneven twists affecting the way your project looks.
Our 4 mm single-strand cord is great when you want super detailed tapestry-style pieces. But if you're making a larger and chunkier wall hanging, we recommend our 6 mm or 8 mm cord. It fringes out beautifully, straight and fine!
A cord is sturdier than a string, and a rope is even sturdier than a cord. In other settings, ropes are used to tie down heavy objects. But in macrame, you use this material to create robust and heavier pieces.
A Macrame Cotton Rope is a group of cotton cords separated into sections and then twisted around each other to form a thicker and stronger rope.
It can be twisted in 3 strands, which is called 3-ply. Or it can be twisted in 2 or 4 strands, which makes them 2-ply or 4-ply, respectively. The more ply it has, the rounder the cord.
A macrame rope also has a fun, wavy-like fringe when unwound. You can leave it that way or straighten it up. It is great for pieces that will need to bear significant weight — think plant hangers, lamp shades, hammocks, and for adding texture to any of your work!
Macrame Braided Cord
Braided Cord is generally woven. Braided Cotton Cord is created by braiding together 8-10 fibers into a tube-like braid and is also much more difficult to unwind for creating a “fringe.”
This type of cord is really robust and won’t unravel or fray, so it is great for sturdy structures. It can be softer, like our GANXXET Cotton Air, or more robust, like our Braided Cord. No matter what project you decide to take on, you will find the perfect product to use!
Which Material Should You Use?
Now that you know some of the most common materials used in macrame, it's time to discuss when to use each. Here are some questions you can ask yourself to ensure you pick the perfect material for your project.
What Are You Making?
The type of project you are creating will determine the best material to use.
For example, a macrame cord or rope would work great if you make a wall hanging. But a string might be your ideal choice if you want something more detailed and intricate, such as jewelry or small hangings.
If following a macrame pattern or tutorial, check the materials list carefully. Creators usually specify the type, size, and color of material needed for their design, which can save you some guesswork.
How Experienced Are You?
While you only need to tie a few basic knots to create elegant macrame pieces, not all material ties the same.
The thicker the material, the more difficult it can be to tie knots. If you're still a beginner or don't have much experience, we suggest starting with a string or macrame cord. These are both flexible, and the thinner material is easier to secure.
Braided cord is also a good choice. Since it doesn’t unravel easily, you can untie your knots and try again and again without worrying about damaging your cord.
As you gain more experience, move on to other materials. You never know. You might discover you love creating macrame projects out of thick rope. So don’t hesitate to try new things. It’s how you improve as a creator.
What Is the Intended Use?
What are you planning on using your finished piece for? Will it just be for decoration? Or are you hanging something from it?
If you're making something decorative, then any type of material can work. If you're planning to hang something from your piece, such as a plant, we suggest using a thicker material, like macrame rope or braided cord instead.
These materials are more robust and will better support the weight of whatever you’re hanging from them. Otherwise, you might come home one day and find that your plant hanger frayed from the weight, and your room is now covered in dirt from where the pot fell.
Do You Need Fringe?
Many macrame projects include fringe along the edges. If you want to add this bit of texture and movement to your design, we suggest using a macrame cord or string. These materials are easy to unravel and create a wavy-like fringe on the edge of your project.
Speaking of fringe, here’s a quick tip: If you’re trying to get the softest, straightest fringe possible, you’ll want to comb it out with our Macrame Cord Fringe Brush. It’ll take your fringe to the next level.
What Type Of Knots Do You Need?
The Square Knot is a staple in macrame. And since it's also known as an Anchor Knot, you can imagine that people have been tying this type of knot in rope for centuries. After all, it's a great way to secure heavy items, such as sails and tents.
But if you're trying to tie a delicate Josephina Knot or a Shell Knot, you'll have much more success with a thinner material, such as string or cord. These more flexible materials make it easier to tie the smaller, detailed knots without worrying about your piece fraying.
Is Cotton The Only Option For Macrame Fibers?
As mentioned earlier, cotton is the most common material used in macrame. It’s durable, reasonably inexpensive, and easy to work with. But it's not the only option.
Alternative materials, such as hemp, linen, and jute, are also great for macrame projects. They all have unique properties that make them ideal for certain styles of knotting.
Hemp is strong, versatile, and known for its durability. Linen is soft, light, and easy to tie knots with. And jute gives a rustic feel with its sturdy fibers and earthy color. We also have a line of specialty fibers you can use to create stunning, one-of-a-kind projects.
However, not all fibers feel the same on your hands when knotting. For example, if you're used to the smoothness of cotton, the rough texture of hemp or jute may take some getting used to.
You may even need to wear a pair of thin gloves to help protect your hands from the abrasiveness of these fibers.
Try A Little Bit Of This And A Little Bit Of That
Choosing the best material for your project is often a matter of trial and error. But with a bit of research, you can pick the right material to create beautiful pieces without any issues or stress.
We hope this helps you know exactly what kind of cord is best for your project. But if you still have doubts, we have a sample bundle with all the different cord sizes and formats. Check it out here!
With a bundle, you can try several different materials at once and discover which ones you like best. Because, after all, that’s the most critical factor when deciding which material to select.
How it looks matters, so pick one where the finished product makes you say, “Wow!”