Previous: Rope vocabulary
Choosing your weapon
So you wanna tie your partner, or get tied yourself? You saw beautiful pictures on the internet, and the first thing that came to your mind is “I want to try too?” But to get started, you need to get some rope!
So what rope should I buy?
- Answer 1: Many things can be used to tie your partner: scarves, ribbons, you can have fun with any kind of rope!
Yeah, but what do you use?
- Answer 2: I use 12 jute rope, a little over 8m long, a little bit under 6mm diameter, with a loose twist, with thistle knot ends and treated to be soft and flexible with jojoba oil. I also have 7mm jute for ropes partners of greater stature.
Yeah, well that’s pretty specific!
- Answer 3: Rope is something very personal, each person has their preferences, and again, what a person prefers can fluctuate over time depending on the style.
Well, I’m just starting, I don’t really know what my style again is yet, what do I do?
- Answer 4: Go to the hardware store, take nylon or cotton rope 6mm (1/4 inch), then cut into several pieces there between 7-10m (depending on the length of your arm). The reality is that even if it is not perfect, nylon ropes and cotton are really cheap, and good enough to have a fun time.
Yeah! I’m out to the hardware store, see ya, thank you!
- Great, but don’t hesitate to come back here after, I will explain the characteristics of the rope, and how to maintains them, it might also interest you. It is interesting to have more options with the rope, do not hesitate to ask people who have other types to try, some websites also offer to send samples for cheap.
Japanese style rope
If you found yourself liking bondage enough to spend a bit more money, and you believe you want to explore further with Japanese style rope, you might want to shop for jute or hemp rope. Japanese style rope rely a lot on friction, and it will not work as well with slippery ropes.
Hemp is a bit more squishy and more soft than jute, it’s also a bit easier to clean. Jute is very light and doesn’t stretch which makes it the perfect rope for speed and precise tying. Jute needs to be stretched under tension when washed, and it’s also much more fragile than hemp.
- As a beginner I started with hemp, and loved it’s smell.
- Then I switched to double-ply, medium twist jute, I was amazed how much speed I gained.
- I now use single ply, loose twist jute. I do not recommend this for beginners as it’s a high maintenance rope that gives more speed, but is harder to handle because it has a tendency to highstrand.
A high twist makes the rope easier to clean, easier to handle, but make the rope less flexible. (This is an oversimplification, try many types of rope if you wanna feel it).
American style rope
If you find you really like the aesthetic of the damsel in distress and/or the techniques using a lot of knots, you might prefer to use cotton, nylon or MFP. They comes in wide variety of colors, nylon is also very slippery and will allow to tie complex knots much better than a high friction rope. These ropes are awesome to make first discoveries because they are cheap are easy to wash (makes it awesome for sex rope). But there are also some higher quality brands that will be more durable, and have a more even feel along the rope.
Regardless of the material of your rope, you have to choose how you will prepare it. The length, diameter, and termination are three things that have a lot of influence on how you tie, and how it will feel for your partner.
Some teachers will tell you “there are only two lengths of rope, too short and too long”, I prefer to say it takes some time getting used to a length. Adepts of macramé will prefer longer ropes to make it look more even, and opt for a 15m rope. My personal goal is to get closer to my partner, if I spend my time fighting with my rope, it is a failure to me. I use the Japanese method, ie when I have no rope left, I add a new one at the end and continue. For me a rope is too long if I spend my time pulling it through, it is too short if I spend my time adding new ones. What helps defines the length is the only thing that will not change in your bondage: the length of your arm. Small Japanese people use ropes of 7m, at 5’8″ I use a rope 8.25 meters, some of my peers prefer up to 10m ropes. The trick I was give is to bend your rope in half, make two turns around your partner, and then pull the rope through with two arm movements, if you need three movements, your rope is too long .
The diameter is another important factor. The smaller the diameter, the more the knots will be small, firm and stable, but also smaller rope bite into the skin. A rope with a larger diameter will be more comfortable, but more difficult to work with, and make big knots that can be problematic. I would use an 8mm rope to tie a voluptuous person or a very tall and bulky one, but in general 6mm diameter is the way to go. My husband prefers ropes of 5mm with lower weight for even more speed. Ropes of 4mm or less are used for decorative bondage, or to attach small body parts such as fingers, toes, or genitals.
Check out Day 43: Rope Size for more details on length and diameter.
The first goal of rope endings is to ensure that the rope does not fray. With synthetic ropes such as nylon, burning the tip will melt the cords and keep them in place. In all cases, we can use a whipping, a kind of stitching that hold the rope in place. Many, including myself, use knots, which allows them to extend their rope after a time, relying on this knot to continue. Overhands knots are popular because they are fast to make. I prefer thistle knot or the Matthew Walker knot, a little smaller, very pretty, just as effective, but longer to tie. There are several equivalent knots, the knots bible “The Ashley Book of Knot” is full of them!
Two ropes made of the same material are not necessarily equivalent. I try to avoid ropes that have a core because it tends to deform under stress unpredictably. I love the twisted ropes, they leave so beautiful marks! The most passionate will find details in how to braid the ropes that influences its quality.
The influence of the material
We often separate rope between natural and synthetic. For natural, jute or hemp are the two most commonly used, in synthetic, nylon, cotton and MFP. Yeah but cotton is a natural fiber! This is where the name doesn’t fit anymore, although cotton is natural, its characteristics are much closer to the nylon. And not to mention all the exotic strings that I would not be able to put in any category, mohair, coconut, bamboo etc.. Let’s get a look at the different characteristics of ropes.
The burn speed is probably one of the most important. Regardless of the type of rope, if you rub fast and hard enough on the skin, you can create a burn from the small red mark to the full big oozing scratch urgh! This can be completely avoided by always moving the rope below the burn speed, so we prefer, in general, a rope with a high speed burning like hemp or jute. The synthetic strings have a relatively low speed, so be careful. But you can also choose a rope for its abrasive properties, like coconut rope which is particularly bad in a good way.
Jute and hemp ropes are also known to have a good grip, ie the knots done with this kind of rope are less likely to slip. In fact, if the friction is good enough, in most occasions, no knots will be necessary, just wrapping the rope around itself will be solid. For nylon rope, being slippery means additional knots to perform the same form with equivalent strength. Also, rope that compress when tied in a knot will be difficult to untie, it is often the case with very soft materials such as bamboo and silk.
A very elastic rope has additional dangers, as it is difficult to predict its movement, it is very easy to create a tourniquet on your partner and create problems with blood circulation. We avoid climbing rope for this reason. Jute is very still and will create very equal, uniform and stable bondage. It’s not only the material that matters, the method of manufacture also has a great influence on the elasticity.
The price, materials used for other purpose, such as nylon, cotton and MFPs are available for really cheap. Jute and hemp have little non-sensual use, so they are harder to find and more expensive. Ropes in more exotic materials are even more expensive.
There so many other characteristics, such as, smell, visual appearance, strength, weight, sound, reaction in water. The bamboo is fairly unique, it is often used to make contact with the genitals thanks to it’s anti-microbial property. Hemp and jute are difficult to maintain, and will lose their strength with each washing (baking). Nylon and cotton can be simply daisy chained and put in the washing machine.
If you see someone with ropes at a party, do not hesitate to ask why these rope are special, and ask permission to handle them, this is the best way to discover the best rope for you.
Check out Day 44: Rope material for more details on the different kind of rope and their characteristics
Where to buy ropes?
Depending on the type of rope you want, the best place for rope shopping might be your local hardware store or the internet. Sex shop usually carry low quality rope for a high price unless they are specialized in BDSM. Get in touch with your local community. If you are lucky, there might be a local rope maker or some group order you can benefit from.
Rope I have tried!
The amount of people selling rope outmatch my capacity to maintain a complete list. I can at least list the ones I have tried. I’m always happy to describe the little details to help people find the rope that will fit their needs
- Bind me (Netherlands) Jute
- Boss Bondage (USA) Hemp – Jute
- De Giotto (USA) Hemp – Jute
- Esinem (UK) Hemp – Jute
- Knot head (USA) Nylon
- Knot Knormal (USA) Jute
- Jade Rope Hemp – Jute
- homebrewing.org (USA) Coconut (for the sadistics)
- M0co (USA) Jute
- Nawaya (Japan) Jute
- OmegaJute (USA)
- Raworganic (Canada) Unprocessed hemp
- Tension Montreal (Canada) Jute
- Twisted Monk (USA) – Hemp
Lists and other rope shopping guides
- List of rope vendors and price by Taijya
- Rope vendors list by Questioner
- Beginner’s Guide to Buying Rope by EpicRope
- Belle’s What is the best type of rope