As most know, I can be a real PIA about technique and proper respect for traditions, but when it comes to materials, seem willing to try pretty much anything
Not unlike the new spinner who is willing to try everything including at least one shot at Dryer Lint.
Non-Standard disclaimer, although I have sold and still do sell most of these, that has little to do with anything beyond if I did not like them, I would not sell them. These are tools and techniques I use and have in my personal stash.
Hemp can be very iffy – IF the hemp you use is intended for Macrame, then likely it was too stiff. You will want to find a finer thread and may need to treat it like linen, which does require some additional preparation and finishing to soften it a bit. There are some hemps for weaving and knit and crochet which are softer, but not something I use very often for braids.
A popular Practice product is Satin Cord – there was a time when all Satins were find silks, now they are most nylon. The core is usually a cotton or cotton poly or poly piping.
The smallest and almost impossible to find is “bug tail” which is .5mm and when you do there is almost no color selection
Petite – Size 0 – aka/ mouse tail is also less available than other sizes,
and approximately 1-1.4mm (don’t ask me why it varies so much – it just does
Light Weight – Size 1 – sometimes called Rat Tail is about 1.5 to 1.9mm usually “listed” as 2mm because when flattened it is closer to that. More available than Bug or Mouse, but still often limited colorways.
Heavy weight, size 2 – “true” Rat Tail – is near to 3mm – the most commonly available, including often in stores that sell sewing supplies “by the yard”
With very rare exceptions I do not like the look of varigated which, since that range is always either non-existent or limited – I rather like the way BeadSmith’s new product is set up – 4 solids in 3yd pieces in a package.
S-LON (BeadSmith) – C-Lon (CLon)
These are not my personal favorites but they do have a place and depending on your project may be the most suitable.
Like so many yarns and threads, these are the same product with different names and in this case, produced in the same factory in China – just being offered by different distributors – If you think this is confusing, don’t ever try to keep track of yarns
S-lon/c-lon may or may not have and identical color line and what is often not clear it is that both brands have different “weights” one is similar to a #18 Mastic and the others are like D or E Nymo
S-Lon and C-Lon are primarily beading thread/cords. They will not have a fine a hand as either cotton, rayon or silk but are somewhat flexible.
Many seem to like this thread when the braid involves beadwork…
Personally I prefer either FlexRite or SoftFlex in the 7 strand/.007 diameter when working with beads or when a braid is planned for jewelry.
Most bead shops and many fiber business carry both – sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t
Another fiber I like is Asian Knotting Cords. These are braided cords, in diameters similar to the Satin Cord – although availability and colors are often a problem. I prefer the .8 but kept a supply of the 1.3 for knotting purposes particularly 6 of the 8 Clover Asian Knot templates seem happier with the thicker cord.
RAYON BUNDLES/aka BIRON
Biron is a wonderful Japanese product, about the only current importer for Biron would be Braidershand
As possible substitute, many of us use Rayon MACHINE (its finer) embroidery thread – You can find these in sewing and fabric stores, there are many brands and which will best suit your needs will be determined by “trial & error”
For quick warps – I personally like Presencia’s El Molino which is a
multi strand 100% Rayon divisible floss with a really soft hand in the finished braids.
For fine threads to make bundles similar to Biron, i prefer Presencia or Robison Anton Rayons and YLI’s Metallic threads when there is a greater need to satisfy the magpie in us all.
When Wools seems to be called for and as I continue to work my way thru Makiko-san’s 2nd Treatise -n Andean Braid,I have been using several different lace weight yarns, most recently Ella Rae Lace Merino and am looking forward to the new Juniper Moon yarn, Findley which is a Merino/Silk blend. The other wool I have been using is Araucania’s Ranco Sock
Probably ideal would be Madeira’s Lana 12 is lovely 50/50 wool acrylic blend and offers a huge range of colors. BUT since so few braid with wool, it was not “in the budget” for my personal stash
For Cottons, I have been using Sullivan’s or Presencia Floss (pretty much opposite ends of the price spectrum – Since Sullivan’s got the production issues settled nicely, even with only a bit more than 400 colors it is a good and economical choice –
For making up a quick and thick warp for practice, I was really please when KFI decided to bring back my favorite cotton – was King Tut (not to be confused with Superior’s cotton thread) under the Ella Rae brand as Phoenix.
Hopefully it will do well and they will expand the colors. Meanwhile for Braid Anatomy its 24 colors is adequate and there are several shades of each primary/secondary so interested visual can effect.
I have used a lot of pearl cottons in all the sizes (3,5,8,12,16) but just don’t like the hand of the finished braids and they are not thick enough – guess I will just have eBay what is hanging about,
Sullivan’s new metallics floss really stunned me with its gentle hand and I am rather liking the samples of their new perle/pearl cotton line – so looking forward to seeing it in person at the trade show next month.
I wish my personal budget allowed for the Silk bundles but it does not. Instead I have been, for very special projects, been using Clover’s Tire Silk Thread somewhat limited in available colors, but enough to make me happy and dream about special ordering the one’s not currently offered in the US.
Braiding with yarn and wire are, for the most part, a topic for another day and at least so far as the wire is concerned, I am sort of waiting to see what happens now that Beadalon bought Artistic.
Now if I could just remember who borrowed my day stretcher so there would be enough time to both get stuff into the catalog AND spend more time with pretty stuff running thru my fingers….
Enjoy the Making.
P.S. Carol Franklin’s Braidweaver.com, has some really excellent tips for Braiders, my favorite is to use multiple spools and then warp many threads with each pass.