kni’s Rope Materials Primer
- 0.1 I recommend a starting kit of:
- 0.2 “”Bad Rope””
- 1 Synthetic Ropes
- 2 Natural-Fiber Ropes
- 2.1 1-Ply Vs. 2-Ply, Tight Vs. Loose-Lay, 5 Vs. 6mm
- 2.2 Hemp (~450-650lb strength)
- 2.3 Jute (~200-350lb strength unless reinforced)
- 2.4 “”Maintaining Ropes””
- 2.5 “”Exotic Ropes””
I recommend a starting kit of:
3 to 5 – “”long”” ropes (20-30ft)
2 to 3 – “”short”” ropes (10-15ft)
I want to underline that there is perfectly good rope all around us.
Cheap $1 store rope is a great place to start before making any financial investment. I would never pressure anyone to buy when they could DIY, but if you want to – these are places I like to buy rope from. I bring samples of what I can to rope events so people can try out things they’re curious about. This guide covers rope that falls under my “”essential”” recommendations, but remember that you can have a whole lot of fun with dental floss or simple stuff from the $1 store. Rope is as flexible as your mind allows.
Most Sisal and Manilla rope are not healthy/body safe with most commercially available treatments. If you want a scratchy/rough experience, I recommend Coconut rope as an alternative. Aside from Sisal and Manilla, there aren’t any commercially available products I would explicitly avoid.
I can not recommend synthetics enough. They tie well, you can suspend with them, you can clean them in a washing machine, they’re waterplay safe, and you do not need to care for them like a natural fiber rope. They all tend to dye very well provided that you pick something that hasn’t been previously treated. Good dyes.[#1][https://www.jacquardproducts.com/idye-poly] [#2][https://www.dharmatrading.com/dyes/dharma-acid-dyes.html]
Polyester (6mm ~1200lb strength, 5mm ~825lb strength)
POSH is my high-friction synthetic material of choice. It is very useful if I want to work outdoors because I don’t have to stress about getting it dirty, and is fantastic for waterplay. It is also useful as an alternative to hemp for those with grass allergies. It is incredibly easy to wash and maintain. No conditioning is needed or recommended.
[I recommend 6mm POSH from R&W][https://rwrope.com/rope-by-use/sailing-rope/posh-polyester-3-strand-rope/]. I have not had the best experiences with the 5mm option as an upline material, but it is a personal favorite of mine for harnesses and ties.
- Hemp Beige is the closest color to your standard hemp rope.
- The dark brown option is very brown.
- If you buy one of the pre-dyed colors it does not dye well.
- White can be dyed, but it takes some effort because the “”white”” color is actually pre-dyed (it’s just the most cooperative to dye of the avaliable colors).
- The hi-viz orange is blacklight/UV reactive.
- Twisted Monk [sells it in RED][https://www.twistedmonk.com/collections/rope/products/copy-of-posh-spun-polyester]
Nylon (6mm ~1100lb+ strength)
My material of choice for lower-friction rope. It’s silky and slippery, and cozy. A lot of people get their start with lower-friction ropes and regret it because most of the learning resources out there for “”shibari”” rely on higher friction materials. Before you spend a lot of money on low-friction rope, make sure it’s something you’re comfortable working with. In order of stretch/friction, Solid braid<Single Braid<Double Braid<Twisted.
A solid braid tends to work very well as a general purpose line. Do keep in mind that this configuration is solid enough that it can kink if you store it in bundles. From a photography perspective, it is the least glossy of the nylon configurations.
- if you want a standard solid braid to possibly dye yourself: [KnotRite Nylon][https://www.qualitynylonrope.com/1-4-solid-braid-knotrite-nylon-rope/]
- if you want a pre-dyed solid braid: [Ropes By EDK][https://www.ropesbyedk.com/listing/555468381/shibari-rope-nylon-synthetic-rope-bdsm]
A single braid will have more stretch and be lower friction compared to a solid braid. It’s my favorite good-at-everything configuration. It’s slippery and flexible enough that it doesn’t kink with storage.
- if you want a standard single-braid to possibly dye yourself: [Knot and Rope][https://www.knotandrope.com/collections/nylon-rope-1/products/1-4-nylon-solid-braid]
- if you want a pre-dyed single-braid: [Chromaknotz][https://fetlife.com/users/8838877] Is my favorite vendor for UV or bright/vibrant-tones or [Knothead Nylon][https://knotheadnylon.net/nylon-for-sale] I feel does incredible deep colors and more moody tones.
I tend to recommend against double-braid and twisted nylon ropes because they stretch so much that I find them to be unwieldy. However they are very soft, and very pretty, especially for decorative harnesses.
MFP (6mm ~530lbs-1100lbs strength 8mm ~765lbs-1900lbs)
Multi-Filament Polypropylene is a Material many people confuse for Nylon at a glance, but it behaves very differently. It has about as much stretch as polyester, compared to stretchy Nylon and it compacts much better lending it to be more shibari-style friendly. Single-braid MFP is more “”slippery”” than single-braid nylon, and on average it weighs about 60% as much, while being about 50% as strong. It is a very non-reactive material – It can not be dyed after it’s been produced, and it does not absorb water. This allows it to float in water. MFP does have some weaknesses. It is prone to fray and damage with use and tends to require replacement more often than other synthetics in this writing. For photography it is also much more reflective than nylon can be, often requiring much softer light or a polarization filter. Unlike nylon, it can be created to better replicate a matte finish, and unlike any other rope material on the market, it can be dyed multiple colors within the braid to make truly unique color combinations.
All of this combines to make, in my view, MFP a very unique rope material to have in your kit. More slippery than nylon, but almost as fast as jute. As strong as hemp, but just as annoying to photograph. So what is MFP talented at? It’s a very affordable rope on, and the most Sadist-friendly! Torture ties with MFP are unlike anything you’ve regularly experienced. People enjoy coconut rope for bloody/scratchy experiences, while MFP is a king of pressure and constriction if you know how to handle it.
I tend to avoid MFP for uplines in self-suspension because hoisting+rope on rope friction+MFP’s low melting point can lead to failure.
- For most of your MFP needs, Agreeable Agony is my go-to recommendation. 6mm ~530lbs strength 8mm ~765lbs is their spec, but many manufacturers produce MFP to their own spec. Keep that in mind when shopping around.
- It is important to understand how MFP is manufactured, UV/blacklight glow colors other than white or pink are almost impossible to find.
Hempex (6mm ~650-1200lbs, 8mm 1500-2000lbs)
The OTHER Multi-Filament Polypropylene. Hempex takes a different tactic to its slippery sister, instead focusing on replicating the feel and experience of a Hemp rope as best it can. It has a few things in common with its sister. It’s still very affordable, lightweight, can not be dyed, and it does not absorb water. It floats! However it is not as slippery and replicates the feel of tying with raw hemp quite well. In practice I prefer POSH to tie with, because I prefer the feel of a “”finished”” hemp rope, to a raw one. It is important to note that unlike a natural fiber where you can burn off the fuzzies with a flame, you can not do that to Hempex. It will look fuzzy forever.
On purchasing Hempex, it is important to note that many manufacturers produce Hempex to their own spec. a 6mm line from one manufacturer may be graded for 800lbs, while another is rated at nearly 1200.
- For most Hempex I’ll recommend R&W as a good balance between price and strength.
Natural Fibers are a commitment much like owning a pet. You will need to take care of them and maintain them if you want them to last. I liken care for natural fibers to a human’s hair-care routine. [While you do not want dry matted hair, dry matted rope can be lethal][https://fetlife.com/users/592670/posts/5003076].
It’s tragic to see people spend $200 on a natural fiber kit that needs to be retired after six months because it hasn’t been cared for.
Natural fiber ropes wear and break down with use, but with proper care, many sets last 2-5 years before they need to be retired (many factors involved).
Natural fiber ropes are not water-play friendly. I do not recommend natural fiber materials for water play. Please keep that in mind.
1-Ply Vs. 2-Ply, Tight Vs. Loose-Lay, 5 Vs. 6mm
Pictures for comparison.
For the sake of brevity I will deal [in absolutes][http://knotknormal.com/2015/04/25/rope-the-great-compromise/]:
- 1-ply is less durable than 2-ply, and requires a finer touch to handle.
- 1-ply ties more free-flowing. 2-ply ties more like a wet-noodle.
- 1-ply MUST be dried under tension to maintain integrity. 2-ply should be dried under tension, but you can get away with not doing so.
- Tight-Lay is harder to high-strand and is more forgiving to tie with.
- Loose-Lay compacts better and creates a more flat and professional finish.
- The smaller the diameter of your ropes, the faster and more compact the knots.
- The larger the diameter of your ropes, the more comfortable and durable they will be, but the knots/frictions will be bulkier.
Hemp (~450-650lb strength)
Hemp has a very soft and comfortable texture, and it has a talent for the “”rope hug”” feelings. It’s a favorite among many self-suspenders and rope bottoms. It is higher friction than Jute, and it is a much more durable and strong fiber lending to less maintenance and upkeep. It has a tendency to fuzz with use, causing it to blur together in photographs – in a “”wet dog”” kind of way. If you are focusing on the rope “”experience”” rather than the rope performance, I strongly recommend heading in a hemp direction.
[Ropes By EDK – 5.5mm Hemp][https://www.ropesbyedk.com/listing/232283063/hemp-shibari-rope-beginnners-kit-bodnage]
[Twisted monk – 6mm Hemp][https://www.twistedmonk.com/collections/rope-kits/products/value-line-expanded-kit]
Jute (~200-350lb strength unless reinforced)
Jute is the material of choice for the large majority of rope tops. It’s very lightweight, averaging ~60% of what a comparable nylon kit weighs, and being lightweight, it’s much faster to tie with. It’s the most photogenic of the natural fiber ropes, as it self-polishes, it catches light beautifully. It gives a lot of auditory feedback – creaking with tension. Many consider that to be part of the appeal. Being a less durable fiber it does require an amount of conditioning, upkeep, and maintenance that can be intimidating.
For a beginner especially, I recommend a 2-ply jute, or a 1-ply that is tightly laid. Loose-lay 1-ply jute is a favorite for the experienced, but it takes finesse. Do not buy a sportscar when you are still learning how to drive.
[My Nawashi – 2-ply loose-lay jute ~$4-10/hank][https://www.etsy.com/listing/654174993/unprocessed-jute-bondage-rope-2-ply?]
[Ropes By EDK – 1-ply tight-lay jute/Dyed Jute ~$9-20/hank][https://www.ropesbyedk.com/shop/16985451/jute-bondage-rope]
[I list a number of other artisanal rope providers I recommend in my writing HERE][https://fetlife.com/users/7843387/posts/6085628]
I am still working on a writing for this, but it is honestly a very personal decision. You do not need to maintain synthetic ropes outside of de-stressing them, and Natural fibers like cotton/coconut/bamboo should not be oiled or waxed. Every material has considerations, and this writing is in-progress.
Bamboo, Silk, Coconut, Electro-Conductive rope, Cotton, etc. These are usually bought for an experience or with a purpose in mind. If you have something you’re planning, I can give a recommendation, but that’s outside the scope of this basic guide.
If you would prefer a more thorough list of rope suppliers, [this google document attempts to stay current][https://datastudio.google.com/u/0/reporting/1lEjWCtNzTDJ5niKndJKlEmy-TH937TGs/page/tF6e] as does [this fetlife writing][https://fetlife.com/users/796639/posts/1795461]”,Note,2019/05/15 22:15:45 +0000,2020/04/11 01:06:09 +0000,false,,,2019/05/15 22:15:45 +0000,