by Brittany Ketcham First Edition: Threads and Cords for Macramé and Laddering With so many threads and cords on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose; what thread or cord to use for what and when and even knowing what the difference is between a thread and a cord! (A thread is made up of fibers that are twisted and a cord is made of fibers that are woven together.) We hope our Stitchionary sheds light on this fascinating topic as you journey into the world of macramé and laddering. Below is a photo-chart comparing each visually using both a square knot and spiral knot. Please Note: Chinese Knotting Cord is not interchangeable with other cords in projects which call for Chinese Knotting Cord.
From Left to Right:
Tuff Cord 1-5, C-lon in Micro, Fine Weight and Regular, Superlon 18, and Chinese Knotting Cord in 0.4, 0.5 and 0.8mm. Also available but not pictured, Tuff comes in Size 0 and 6.Note: We did not include KO Thread or Superlon D, which are both extremely fine weight. KO is recommended for laddering very fine gems and pearls. Both can be used for seed bead weaving and fine-gem knotting. Neither is suitable for macramé, so we did not include them.
Tuff Cord certainly lives up to its name. It has a distinctive crispness to the fiber that creates a very unique knot. Unlike the C-Lon Family of cords and Chinese Knotting cord, Tuff Cord has a well-delineated knot. We recommend Tuff Cord for laddering the famous Chan Luu-style wrap bracelets, as the tight weave of Tuff Cord allows for the passing of two threads through the bead without the use of needles. One of its greatest attributes is that it will not stretch! Also available but not pictured, Tuff Cord comes in Size 0 and 6.
Compares to Micro C-Lon in thickness. Great for laddering Tila Beads, small glass beads and other beads with fairly fine holes. It is extremely strong and does not stretch.
Slightly thicker than Tuff #1 and Micro C-Lon, Tuff #2 is commonly used to ladder and macramé Swarovski Crystals, Czech Glass and other beads with small to medium holes, where the hole sizes of the beads will allow for the easy passing of two threads without the use of needles. It is extremely strong and does not stretch.
Comparable in thickness to Fine Weight C-Lon and very close to 0.4mm Chinese Knotting Cord in size, Tuff #3 has a distinctive feel and texture from the other two materials; it has a stiffness that creates a more angular knot. You will notice a difference in feel when knotting. Tuff is not as soft and pliant when knotting. Tuff #3 is commonly used to ladder and macramé stone beads, wood beads and beads with medium to large size holes. It is extremely strong and does not stretch. Please note: Although Tuff #3 is similar to .04mm Chinese knotting cord in thickness, it cannot be used as a replacement in projects that call for Chinese Knotting Cord.
Not available. We can not understand why Eurotool does not make Size 4. We have requested it!
Comparable in thickness to regular C-Lon and Superlon 18, with Tuff #5 you will notice it is stiffer than C-Lon and Superlon 18 and can be used without needles. In Size #5, Tuff really begins to feel like a cord to most of us. For macrame and laddering, it can be used with beads with large holes, including our 6/0 Miyuki Seed Beads. It is extremely strong and does not stretch.
Members of the C-Lon family include, but are not limited to: Micro C-Lon, Fine Weight C-Lon, and C-Lon. These threads are silky, strong, and come in a wide variety of colors. We love using these for macramé projects, silk wrapping, stringing, and laddering.
Similar to Tuff #1 in thickness, it is silkier in texture and made in 36 colors. We use it in micro-macramé and to ladder 8/0 seed beads. We recommend using a flexible eye needle (for laddering, you will need two needles).
Available in 24 colors, it is similar to 0.4mm Chinese Knotting Cord and Tuff #3 in size. We recommend Fine Weight C-Lon for laddering beads with more generous holes, like small-medium semi-precious stones and medium size beads. To help create stiffness to the ends of your Fine Weight Con thread, run some of our Beeswax along it. This will aid in creating a needle-like end, keep threads from tangling, to ease the weaving process and in sliding beads onto the thread. If you want to use a needle, we recommend a flexible eye needle (for laddering, you will need two needles). Please note: Although Fine Weight C-Lon is similar to .04mm Chinese knotting cord in thickness, it cannot be used as a replacement in projects that call for Chinese Knotting Cord.
Similar in size to Superlon 18 and Tuff #5, C-lon comes in an extraordinary range of colors; the most of any thread or cord we offer. Many people ask what the difference between Superlon 18 and C-Lon is, and the answer is very little except Superlon 18 is a copycat of C-Lon, made by a different manufacturer. We carry both as some projects call for one or the other, but we really think they perform in similar ways. In our Ladder Stack Bracelets, Brittany used both C-Lon AND Superlon 18. Go for color when choosing. We also recommend this thickness for silk wrapping. C-Lon and/or Superlon 18 are used in Herringbone Wrap Bracelets, Nicole's Five Stitch Wrap Bracelets, our Stackable Ladder Bracelets. In essence, we use it everywhere! And we have a color for every occasion.
The hardest to source, manufacture and keep inventory on, Chinese knotting cord comes in a variety of weights from very fine(0.4mm) all the way up to heavy (2.0mm). It is related to the much-heavier nylon paracord used by mountain climbers and outdoorsmen. We carry 0.4, 0.5 and 0.8mm. We may carry 1.0 and 1.5 in the near future.
Used for centuries to create intricate Chinese Knots, 0.4mm is now available from limited sources to American beaders. Much to our delight, we were able to find a steady supply so we can carry it consistently. Although the numerical difference is close between 0.4mm and 0.5mm, the resulting macramé knot made in 0.4 is much finer than 0.5mm. We recommend trying all the sizes of Chinese knotting cord for our Bollywood Bracelets and then mix and match them as stacking bracelets. With its smooth and silky texture, this cord is great for stringing 8/0 beads and beads with a similar hole sizes.
Our most popular size of Chinese knotting cord, 0.5mm is luxurious for macramé, and is also great for Bollywood Bracelets, Herringbone Wrap Bracelets, and as a cord that stands alone. It's silky texture and array of color choices make it a fun material to work with. Since this is a synthetic cord, we recommend using our thread burners to singe the ends to a taper to create 'self needles' when stringing on 8/0 seed beads or small to medium glass beads.
One of our more recent additions to the Chinese Knotting Cord Family, 0.8mm is one of the thickest macramé materials we currently offer. It is a great thickness as a stand alone cord with a simple pendant hanging from it as a necklace. We recommend using this thickness for the increasingly popular Shambala-style bracelets and for our Bollywood bracelets. We also recommend the 0.8mm Chinese knotting cord for our Herringbone Wrap Bracelets.