Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Chapter 5 : Cord Making

I have just loved making cords! Although I don't play the piano I imagine it's akin to playing scales. I've amassed a wonderful collection of yarns and thread: there's the thick, the thin, the matte, the shiny, the man-made and the synthetic, all in my colour scheme (some self-dyed).  There's cling-film and wire, strips of fabric, ribbon and raffia.  What to choose and combine.  Which thread on the top bobbin, which below -- the adjusting of tension and the cording foot.  Perhaps the joyeousness comes from worrying less about machine control which caused me so much concern in Chapter 4.

Machine Stitched Cords


1.    Tubular yarn (self-dyed), stuffed with knitting yarn and ruched by pushing together at intervals.
2.    As above, the tubular yarn stiffed and zig-zagged with matte and shiny bronze thread.
3.    Sari waste (self-dyed) and zig-zagged with fine and multi thread silk in ice-blue.
4.    Gimp (self-dyed) and velour yarn zig-zagged with matte and shiny bronze thread.
5.    Torn strip of fabric (self-dyed) and zig-zagged with fine and thick self-dyed) thread.
6.     Silk slub and cords (hand-dyed) with thick grey crochet thread.
7.     Herdwick wool zig-zagged with shiny bronze thread.
8/9. Another shade of sari waste (hand-dyed) zig-zagged with two thicknesses of grey silk.
10.  Grey tubular yarn and several strands of Herdwick wool zig-zagged in surges with fine thread  
       and thick silk.
11.  Cling film zig-zagged in surges with shiny and matte bronze thread.
12.  Cling film and wire zig-zagged in surges with thick and thin ice-blue silk.

Even within such a controlled palette the range of effects is considerable, and these are only a selection of the cords I've made.  It's fascinating to see the effect made by contrasting colour or texture or limiting the materials by one quality.

I've possibly drawn attention too often to the fact that certain threads and yarns are self-dyed, but I have been very taken by the subtlety of colour that's possible, especially the creation of space-dyed effects and the luminosity it's sometimes possible to achieve.  It's quite addictive!  The record of the materials I've used is also useful.

Finally, I've found the way in which yarns are manipulated when stitched in this way, creating thick and thin, flattened and bunched, even split areas throughout their length, interesting.  The insertion of wire in the set of threads to be corded also has plenty of possibilities.

Twisted Cords

The range of twisted cords below starts with the most simple -- a collection of  yarns and threads -- to more complex examples which twist existing cords with other materials to create new cords.


1.   Sari waste (hand-dyed), linen yarn and thick silk thread.
2.   Existing silk zig-zagged and fabric cord and two textures of silk thread.
3.   Herdwick wool and synthetic yarn enhanced with small sequins.
4.   Sequined yarn, as above, and sari waste (hand-dyed).
5.   Silky yarn and synthetic yarn of varying colours and thicknesses.
6.   Silk ribbon and hazy mohair yarn.
7.   Two existing cords: thick strip of tights zig-zagged with thick thread and strip of fabric again
      stitched with thick thread.
8.   Sari wasted (hand-dyed) and synthetic yarn used in (5) above.
9.   Tubular year and bronze zig-zagged cord, ribbon and velour yarn.
10.  Silk strip and existing cord of matte fabric zig-zagged with thick matte thread.

As I've made these twisted cords I've become aware of their additional properties.  The softness, for example of (1) but how the soft yarn can be given more robustness with the addition of Herdwick wool.  How the softness of some synthetic yarns might be appealing to the eye, but would wear poorly.

Two ready made cords twisted together are not only very attractive, having subtlety and interest along their length, but made of the right materials are robust enough to be made into something else and withstand wear.  (7) is such a twisted cord.

I like the properties of (10), the strip of silk with its sheen adding a very lovely quality to the existing rather matte cord.  It had a lovely irregularity about it with the silk more obvious in places.

Knotted, Plaited and Wrapped Methods


1.   Grey tubing zig-zagged with thick bronze thread with pairs of knots at intervals.
2.   The above cord combined with sari waste (hand-dyed) wired and zig-zagged with bronze glitter
      thread. The two are knotted together at intervals.
3.   Two strips of sari waste (as above) and grey tubing knotted together with half knot.
4.   Gimp (self-dyed) and grey tubing zig-zagged with storm grey silk knotted together with half
5.   Looped braid edge/Pawnee braid using materials in (4).
6.   Plait using brown organza ribbon, velour yarn, cord with stuffed grey tubular yarn as in (3).
7.   Double ridge using cord made with grey tube (3) and brown cord, six strands of brown cord
      knotted round.

These techniques have great potential especially with the addition of wire, for instance (3) would make a lovely bracelet, as would (4) and (5).  The double ridge in (7) would be equally attractive if the cord were wrapped with brown sari waste.  The addition of beads is another possibility... but that's a whole different chapter.


  1. A lovely collection, Lesley. I found it quite addictive too once I got started.

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  3. What a wonderful range of exciting and lovely cords Lesley!