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All Tied Up: Tips & Tricks for Knotting With Irish Waxed Linen Cord

I must say I absolutely love Irish waxed linen cord (IWL) in my jewelry designs. I know I am not alone – just take a peek at the jewelry forums online, in popular jewelry/craft magazines and search in beaded jewelry on Etsy, and you will see a whole range of really beautiful designs containing Irish waxed linen cord. And I do in fact live in Northern Ireland, so the designs I create with these threads/cords are particularly Irish!

Colourful spools of Irish waxed linen cord

What is Irish waxed linen cord?

IWL is a beautiful fiber — strong, supple and available in a range of colors and thicknesses, with a protective waxy coating that helps to slightly stiffen the cord and aids with placement of knots when beading. The thickness of the cord is measured in plys. “Ply” refers to the number of twisted strands that the cord is made up of, so 7 ply is almost twice as thick as 4 ply.

Teal 4ply and Magenta 7ply Irish waxed linen cord

7 ply is my thickness of choice when I’m knotting bracelets, as they have to stand up to a little more wear and tear than necklaces or earrings. Otherwise I tend to work with 4 ply, as it is available in the largest range of colors and shades, although 2, 3 and 12 ply are also available.

And why am I referring to the Irish stuff in particular? Well, if you buy a range of waxed linen cord that is not the lovely Irish variety, you will be able to tell — not all waxed linen cord is created equal! It tends to be stronger, more supple and available in a wider range of colors than its non-Irish relatives.

If you haven’t knotted in your jewelry making before, then there are some general tips and tricks that will help you get started. But even if you have, there are some pointers that will help you with waxed linen in particular, as it is quite a distinctive material to work with as opposed to silk or cotton cords.

Tips and tricks for working with IWL

1. What you are aiming for when knotting is to get the knots really close together.

See the necklace below.

Close-up of knotted beads

You don’t want baggy beads wobbling about between the knots. This will not only create better-looking jewelry but also make your jewelry more secure for the wearer.

2. Following on from this, a good rule of thumb is that the cord should always as much as possible fill the holes of the beads that you are knotting with.

Just as you don’t want the beads to be wobbling between the knots, you don’t want the beads sliding OVER the knots because the cord is too fine, and the more they move about on the cord, the more pressure the cord is put under by the inside of the bead. Yes, IWL is strong, but it is a natural fiber and subject to stress. It can also be sliced by a jagged edge inside, say, a ceramic bead.

A bead with an appropriately-sized hole for 4ply Irish waxed linen cord


A bead with an inappropriately-sized hole for 4ply Irish waxed linen cord


 3. ALWAYS have clean hands.

And if you are knotting for a long time, keep some baby wipes or similar nearby, or get up and wash your hands at frequent intervals.

Soap for clean hands when knotting

There are two reasons for this. First, with the lighter colors especially, they can pick up and show dirt from your hands very easily. Secondly, if you are knotting over a period of time, the waxy coating can gradually transfer and build up on your hands, which can then pass onto your beads. It’s also not that pleasant for the hands of the beader!

4. Consider what beads you are going to knot with.

If you are using vintage/upcycled beads with the cord, it is especially important that you give them a good clean before sliding them up and down the cord. If you have some lovely vintage metal beads with a rich patina, you may wish to save them for a non-knotting project, as it is nearly impossible to seal the inside of beads.

 Nice vintage copper beads - not good for knotting with

Nice vintage copper beads — not good for knotting with!

Ready to try knotting with Irish waxed linen cord? Check out these inspiring examples to see just how versatile it is:

Simple knotted Irish waxed linen cord bracelets

A fun bracelet with lots of colourful Irish waxed linen cord

A necklace strung with Irish waxed linen cord

A bracelet knotted with Irish waxed linen cord

A necklace knotted with Irish waxed linen cord

Earrings made using Irish waxed linen cord

One last tip for you that may seem obvious: Practice! Knotting with beads is not necessarily something you’ll get the hang of the first time you pick up a length of cord and a few beads. Be patient with yourself and you will get there in the end. Make the process as fun as the destination. Irish waxed linen cord is a fantastic material to work with. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Have you tried working with Irish waxed linen cord? What did you make?


Rebecca Anderson

Hi Lison, I’ve only just seen your comment – I’m so sorry! You can plait, braid and knot this fibre with ease. The only thing that might make weaving tricky is the waxed coating on it which protects the linen and also makes the knots extra secure 🙂 Have a go is my tip!


Hi great post! What’s a good glue to use with Irish waxes linen?


Rebecca Anderson

Hi Ashley! Thanks for your comment 🙂 I actually rarely use glue with my waxed linen – the waxed coating makes the knots nice and secure most of the time, and as you can see from my jewellery examples, I often leave tails and embellish them. If you feel happier with a little glue on your end knots, then I recommend using some Hypo Jewelry Cement – it is designed specifically for use in such projects as it dries both clear and flexible. Good luck!

Rosaleen Carter

I would love to try using this! I’m in the UK, where is a good,place to purchase it from?
Thanks you for a very useful post!


I love your bracelets and am ready to give it a try!
I particularly like the one with the dark beads and orange circle closure. I’m trying to count how many threads you used – is it six or seven? Also, with this many cords did you use a smaller size, such as 4 ply instead of 7 ply? Thanks so much!

Rebecca Anderson

Hi Melody, apologies for the late reply! I normally get an email to say there’s a new comment but that didn’t reach me this time unfortunately. With the multi-strand wooden bracelet, I actually used around 12 threads! They were a mixture of 7 and 4 ply – it was one of those great projects that uses up tail ends. It’s really down to the hole-size of your beads – I kept adding strands of cord until I was sure that I had enough to fill the holes. Half of the threads went through the holes and half around the outside. Hope that’s a help!

Gillian Cunningham Wright

Hi Rebecca Great tutorial, I love it! I’ve got some of your purple iwl and can’t wait to use it.


Hello from the U.S. I have just discovered you and would like to purchase some IWL but I am not sure what ply to order. I use a lot of seed beads and smaller holed beads. What ply would think you suggest? Thank you and I look forward to learning more from you all!

Rebecca Anderson

Hi Sheree, thanks for your message! I would recommend 4ply as a good all-round starter, but I have some 3ply on the way which I think would work well for you. If you want to message me over at then I will be glad to help you further 🙂


Hi Rebecca,
Thank you for your interesting site. I am not a beader, but have a greenstone shepherd’s whistle which I use every day. Unfortunately it is strung on inadequate cord – waxed braided cord, I think – and it needs replacing frequently because it wears through quite quickly. I am wondering if your Irish Waxed Linen cord is suitable for this purpose? If so, what ply would be correct for a 1.5mm hole? Would a picture of what I mean be helpful? I would be happy to send you a photo… Thank you for your help.
Kind regards,


Thank you for the tips. Beautiful photos of your work!


Hi. What kind of glue do you recommend to connect the waxed linen bracelet to magnetic clasps?

Acel V.

I would like to know how much IWL cost , where and how to buy or order..


Cindy Brook

Hello from the U.S.!
l love Irish waxed linen and make lovely knotted necklaces with 4-ply where the waxed linen shows between beads. My question is sometimes a spool is vey waxy, almost sticky. Is there a way to remove some of the wax? My concern is, I don’t want a necklace sticking to a customer’s neck.
Many thanks

Rebecca Anderson

Hi Cindy, thanks for your comment! This is not something I would worry about, having worked with this material such a lot. The wax does start to come off as you work with it so I would say any excess would have left the cord by the time your piece is finished. I don’t think there would be a way to safely remove any of the cord without damaging it otherwise.


I wantcto know if this waxed linen is a good alternative to leather. I dont real or fake lesther. If not what do you suggest. Im making wrap bracelets. Thank you


Probably not. Try surfer cord if you don’t want to use leather.


Love, Love, Love the beads and the look of the IWL together Beautiful work!!!! Where do I get the beads and cord and is shipping really expensive to the US?

Thx for such a wonderful tutorial. I’ve been using Hemp and had a real hard time string it with the smaller beads hoping the IWL will make it easier and quicker. I like how vibrant the IWL is and such a great variety of colors.


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