Hemp Jewelry Basics

Knotted hemp necklaces

What You'll Find on This Page

This page covers these hemp jewelry basics:

Hemp Twine Sizes: What does Lb. test mean??

How much do I need?: A useful list of types of projects with some twine estimates. 

Why does my hemp break when wet? Some ideas on what the problem might be

How to wax your hemp cord: Make your twine stronger with some wax.

Other Materials for Knotting : Here are some alternatives to hemp that you can use with my hemp jewelry patterns.

Hemp and Beads: What you need to know about buying beads for hemp jewelry making.

Bead Alternatives: Some cool alternatives to beads that you may not have considered.

Hemp Twine Sizes | Hemp Jewelry Basics

Hemp Twine comes in a number of gauges or sizes.  The most common are:

  • 20 lb. test (about 1mm thick)*
  • 45 lb. test (about 2mm thick)*
  • 80 lb. test (about 3mm thick)
  • 170 lb. test (about 4mm thick)

*In my instructions I use 20 lb. test but you can successfully make jewelry with 45 lb. as well. Your jewelry will just be chunkier and faster to make (thicker twine, less knots). :)

Note: Keep in mind that the thinner the twine, the more length you'll need because you can make more knots per inch.

How Much Hemp or String Do I Need? |Hemp Jewelry Basics

Well, that depends on how thick your twine is, how tightly you make you knots, how "lacy" they are, and whether you are using beads or not. 

Here's an estimate of how much you'll need using 20 lb. test (but depending on the project, these estimates may be WAY off):

Necklaces: 2 lengths of about 10 feet (folded length 5 ft)

Choker: 2 lengths of about 9 feet (folded length 4.5 ft)

Bracelet: 2 lengths of about 7 feet (folded length 3.5 ft)

Anklet: 2 lengths of about 6 feet (folded length 3 ft).

Why Does Hemp Break When It's Wet? | Hemp Jewelry Basics

Your hemp twine isn't supposed to break when wet.  If it does break, maybe you are trying to use an inferior twine, or maybe it's just not thick enough to last through rough handling.

You can make your hemp twine sturdier by waxing it. This won't make really inferior materials last through vigorous use, but it's something you can try.

How to Wax Your Hemp Twine | Hemp Jewelry Basics

I like to wax thread when I'm sewing and twine when I'm knotting because it makes the thread or cord stronger and easier to work with. 

I use a piece of beeswax that I believe I bought from a health store but I've also used a handy piece of candle in a pinch. 

You can find beeswax at craft stores and sewing stores and I'm sure it's easy enough to find on the web.

Other Materials for Knotting | Hemp Jewelry Basics

Any type of cording can be knotted.

Some great alternatives to hemp include cotton cording, waxed linen, and nylon cording. Cotton cording can be found in sewing stores, waxed linen in craft and jewelry supply shops, and nylon can sometimes be found in hardware stores.

Try this: After you master the hemp jewelry basic techniques, try experimenting with materials. Ribbon, specialty yarns, and mixes of different kinds of cording can all be knotted, and will produce interesting and unexpected results.

Hemp and Beads | Hemp Jewelry Basics

The only requirement for beads is that you're able to string them onto the cord or twine.  When buying beads, look for 2mm or 3mm holes. 

Wooden, ceramic, and glass are usually your best bet, but you can also find metal beads that fit the bill too. 

For a hippie chick look, find some polymer clay cane beads with hippie dippy images like mushrooms or happy faces.

Bead buying tips:

  • Bring the cord or twine you plan to use with you so you can test the hole size.
  • Another alternative is to bring a bunch of toothpicks with you and try to fit 2 or 3 of them through the hole of the bead to check sizing.
  • Remember that you often need to pass not one, but two thickness of twine through the bead.

There's more to Bling Than Beads | Hemp Jewelry Basics

Have you ever thought about trying shells or even hardware store materials? 

You can create interesting effects using different materials like shell beads for a summery tropical look, washers and bolts from the hardware store for a punk rock or industrial look. 

Try to mix it up by using charms or jump rings and stringing them directly on the cord in between your knots.  You can be really creative with hemp and what's hemp about if not fun?

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