The Knotty Goods...on Cord and Rope
Cord, good old cotton Cord. Trusty, versatile, durable, and dependable. It used to be a fiber I steered away from when weaving thinking it was dull and boring. It wasn't flashy enough for me. If you don't know what I mean, take a dive back to Orchard Weaves circa Spring 2021 and you'll see what I mean by flashy. It DID NOT fit the vibe.
Fast forward to today and cord, more specifically macrame cord, has become a staple in my work. Now before we dive in to my favorites, let's define string because you'll hear people call the fiber I'm referring to either cord, strong or rope as these terms are often used interchangeably and we need to break each down and make sure we're defining each correctly.
First, let's start with string. To be EXTREMELY technical, this is that single strand of thread you might use for embroidery. It refers to a fiber that isn't plied which refers to two or more strands of fiber twisted together.
Cord is made of several strands of string twisted together to form a thicker strand which is softer and more flexible than other fibers. It comes in varying diameters and can elicit so much texture and versatility to a piece. When using cord in fringe, you can brush out to create silky smooth and consistent texture. Cord is also better used for more intricate work due to its flexibility.
Next, let's take a gander at rope. This is a cord that is spilt in to equal parts and then twisted on itself to form a thicker and stronger rope. The number of times the cord is split is referred to as the "ply." You will see ropes come in 2-ply, 3-ply and 4-ply. Rope comes in so many different diameters and has a beautiful winding landscape to it when used in big knots and varied sequences. I have a visual love affair with it. It is also great to use in fringe- by separating the strands apart you get a beautiful wavy texture to each ply.
Braided rope is sturdy, woven cord that is made by braiding together 8 to 10 strands of fiber in to a tube like shape. It is often made of synthetic fibers or cotton. It is extremely sturdy and great for items that get a lot of use like bags, placemats, plant hangers etc. as it will not fray or unravel like the other fiber listed previously.
Now that you have an understanding of the terminology I'm referring to, let's take a look at some of my favorite suppliers.
I bought my first cord from Ganxxet in 2017 and to this day stand by their products. What I love about Ganxxet is that they use fibers recycled from waste from the garment industry to create their unique and beautiful cotton cord. It is smooth, flexible, sturdy and durable. The color assortment is outstanding as well. Ganxxet also partners with One Tree Planted and 1% for the Planet to give back to the environment which is so very important to my business. Ganxxet also offers several options that do not use cardboard cones making them zero waste products. Lastly, Ganxxet offers a vegan cord option made of Viscose. It has a beautiful sheen and is so soft and luxurious to work with. Here are a few of my favorite fibers from Ganxxet.
- Ganxxet 4mm Single Strand Cord
- 3mm 3ply Cotton Rope
- Soft Cotton Cord Zero Waste Single Strand 2mm
- Cotton Viscose Roll 4mm
Northwood & Pine
As I started exploring more fiber in my time weaving, I turned to Northwood & Pine because of the well priced, small parcel, variety of fibers that are offered. Allison curates a spectacular repertoire of products and helped introduce me to my love of chunky cord. Northwood & Pine is a curated fiber art supply shop that was formed out of a passion for creating fiber art using premium and one of a kind materials. With over 20 year's of experience as a maker, Allison tests all shop items to ensure quality, usability, and design for making fiber art of varying materials. Here are a few of my favorites from Northwood & Pine.
- 100ft Single Strand Cotton Macrame Cord
- Vintage Silk Velvet Ribbon
- Vegan Roving
Once I wanted to dive in to larger diameter cords and ropes I wandered over to Niroma Studio's website and immediately my heart leaped. Another supplier for high quality cord with a splendid offering of recycled product was too good to be true! Cindy, the owner, is a fiber artist herself as well and curates her supplies to offer variety and quality to artists everywhere. Cindy is a co-founder of the 13,000-strong Macrame Movement community on Facebook and the creator of the fiber artist podcast. I'm hopeful that one day I have the joy of being featured on that! Here are a few of my favorites from Niroma Studio.
- 12mm Super Soft Chunky String
- 5mm Recycled Supersoft Minis
- Meridian Cotton String and Rope
I hope you enjoyed this in depth dive in to the difference between cord and rope and my take on a few of my favorite suppliers.