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Estimating Macrame Cord Length

Written by Krystle Linton

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How much cord do I need for my project?

First up, I have a video on this - watch it here 

This really depends on what you’re making... Ball park though? Plant hangers I would say you need about 20m for a simple hanger that’s approx. 1m long. Wall hangings - this varies a lot because of size and design elements. I would say start at approx. 30- 35m for a small and basic piece (for example - a wall piece thats approx 60cm long may use 16 x 1.5m lengths). The more knots and density to your pattern, the more cord you need!

 

ANSWERING THE AGE OLD QUESTION – HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING?

There is no absolute answer for this - just an estimation method!

Now there are some very general sayings that you should use 3-5x the length of the desired length of your finished piece if the pattern is fairly open (meaning lots of gaps between knots) and approx 4-6x the length if the pattern is dense and closely knotted. 

Here is how I work mine out with a little more detail when I am trying to achieve a particular length.
I have found with cords that are approx 3-5mm thick, each knot usually takes up about 10cm of cord. To work length out, I estimate roughly how many knots I am going to need to tie on one piece of cord and multiply that by 10cm.
If you're attaching your cords with a larks head – remember each cord will need to be doubled over to give you two lengths when attached, so you'll need to double your calculation. Also, If you're looping it around an extra thick piece of wood make sure you account for that too.
In addition, I account for any length of cord that will remain straight within the piece, if there is any (i.e. any gaps between knots) and length of the fringe I want at the bottom.

See an example estimation at the end of this section.

NOW HOW MANY CORDS SHOULD I CUT?

When figuring out numbers of cords it’s not only about cutting enough to fill the space on your mounting. You will find that most macrame knots need an even number – particularly if you’re using a lot of square knots in your piece, its best to work in multiplications of four. Same goes with plant hangers as these are mostly made with square knot or spiral sinnets that need four cords. To work out how many cords you need, simply cut and add them to your mounting in groups of four.

In order to continually improve on your measurement estimations skills, keep a simple record of the length and number of cords you use for each piece as a reference. 

Example Aim | A wall hanging (above) approx. 60cm long and 40cm wide with 12 knots on each cordKnots | 12 x 10 = 120cm
Larks Head | 120 x 2 = 240cmLength of piece | 60cm + 240 = 300cmTotal length per piece | 3mTotal cord used | 3m x 16cords = 48m

 

 TIP 1: Always cut longer cords than you think you'll need

TIP 2: Estimate how long your cords need to be by multiplying by 20cm per knot

TIP 3: Cut and attach cords in multiplications of four

TIP 4: Keep a record of cord used for each piece as a reference

TIP 5: Don’t get too bogged down in the maths, if you're not working to a specific set of dimensions, just wing it!

If all of this is making your head spin, don't worry! It still trips me up sometimes too. If you're new you might want to gain some confidence by following a pattern where all the measurements provided for you! (you'll find them in the shop section 👍🏽)
Happy knotting!
Krystle x