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 ropes, a little over 8m long, a little bit under 6mm diameter, with a loose twist, thistle knot ends and treated to be soft and flexible with jojoba oil. I also have 7mm jute for rope 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 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 around 8m (between 7-10m). The reality is that even if it is not perfect, nylon and cotton ropes 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 afterward, I will explain the characteristics of the rope, and how to maintains them, it might also interest you. Rope preference is a personal choice that is often discovered by trying things out, 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 relies a lot on friction, and it will not work as well with slippery ropes.
Hemp is a bit more squishy and softer than jute, it is 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 its smell.
- Then I switched to double-ply, medium twist jute, I was amazed by how much speed I gained.
- I now use single ply, loose twist jute. I do not recommend this for beginners as it is a high maintenance rope that gives more speed, but is harder to handle because it has a tendency to high strand.
A high twist makes the rope easier to clean, easier to handle but makes 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 come in a wide variety of colours, 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 and easy to wash (which makes it awesome for sex rope). But there are also some higher quality brands that will be more durable with a more even construction that will make it feel more smooth.
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 to get used to a length. Adepts of macramé will prefer longer ropes to make it look more even, and opt for a 15+m rope. My personal preference is to feel closer to my partner, if I spend my time fighting with my rope, it gets in the way. To make handling easier, I extend my ropes if I need a longer one. For me a rope is too long if I spend my time pulling it through, it is too short if I spend my time tying an extension. The length of your arm is an important factor in what will feel right. Smaller people will prefer ropes around 7m, at 1.73m (5’8″) tall I use a rope 8m, some of my peers prefer up to 10m ropes. A trick I was given 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 more 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 great for decorative bondage, or to attach small body parts such as fingers, toes, or genitals.
Check out Day 43: 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. For all types of ropes, we can use a whipping, a kind of stitching that holds the rope in place. I like to use end knots, which allow me to quickly extend my rope and tuck my ends in place. Overhand knots are popular because they are fast to make. I prefer the thistle knot or the Matthew Walker knot, a little smaller, very pretty, just as effective, but longer to tie.
Check out Day 45: End for more details on the different ending techniques.
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 on how to braid the ropes that influence its quality.
Check out Day 46: Construction for more details on the different types of rope construction and braiding.
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 fibre! 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 run 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 burning speed like hemp or jute. Synthetic ropes 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, for most purposes, 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 compresses 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 which can create problems with blood circulation. We avoid climbing rope for this reason. Jute is very stiff and will create very equal, uniform and stable bondage. It is not only the material that matters, but the manufacturing also influences the elasticity greatly.
The price: materials used for other purposes, such as nylon, cotton and MFPs are available for really cheap. Jute and hemp have limited use outside of bondage, 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, the reaction in water. Bamboo has great anti-microbial properties which makes it a great rope for the genitals. Hemp and jute are difficult to maintain and will lose their strength with each washing. Nylon and cotton can be simply daisy-chained and put in the washing machine.
Check out Day 44: Rope material for more details on the different kind of rope and their characteristics.
If you see someone with ropes at a party, discuss why these ropes are special to them and ask permission to handle them, this is the best way to discover the best rope for you.
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 shops 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 number of people selling rope outmatches 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. Don’t hesitate to put your questions or recommendations in the comments.
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
Or return to Resources to explore different knowledge sources.