The terms “string” and “cord” are used to describe the joiner (string, cord, or chain) connecting the two beads. What type of joiner a slinger uses when “stringing” their beads, like most aspects of begleri, all comes down to preference. Almost all begleri manufacturers ship their beads with Paracord, although chains and braids of other smaller strings such as nylon, hemp, etc. can be used too. Here’s an overview of the most common joiner types:
95 (1.85mm) Paracord
Uncommon, formerly used by Monkey Fist Begleri to make a lot of his monkey fist sets. They have since closed their shop. This cord is uncommon because it is extremely thin and not easy to use for begleri.
275 (2mm) Paracord
275 is still common today, though it was much more commonly used in the 2016-2017 era. Aroundsquare developed their original beads for 275 cord and it’s what they included in most of their offerings. I’d say next to 550 and custom braided kumi joiners, 275 is the arugably most common at the moment. It’s thin, but usable and comes in many different colorways. Generally more rough than most other cord types, but nice soft batches can be found.
325 (3mm) Paracord
325 isn’t that common. It’s a softer middle ground between 275 and 550. Usually pretty soft and flexible, reminds me of a little thinner shoelace. Despite being the same size as 425, I find it to be softer and easier on the hands.
425 (3mm) Paracord
425 is what TGP Begleri includes with all of his beads and monkey fist sets. It’s softer than 275, but not as soft as 325 or 550. Very flexible, great for beads that you can’t fit 550 into, and fits perfectly in TGP beads with magnets so that the knots don’t interfere with them.
550 (4mm) Paracord
550 is by far the most ubiquitous size of cord. Most beads are designed to accompany at least 550, but that means it will fit all other smaller sizes of cords as well. It is widely available and comes in a TON of colorways. It is generally made with 7 inner strands and a nice loose sheath around them, allowing 550 to be among the softest of the major paracord types. Manufacturing is pretty inconsistent though, so the feel of the cord can change drastically between batches of the cord. Some can be cushiony soft, and some can be rough and scratchy, even in the same colorway from the same company. The softest, most flexible colorways are usually the horizontal (zebra) striped or diamond colorways, but that is completely anecdotal with no hard data to back it up.
MonkeyFinger Designs Monkey Chords
MonkeyFinger Yoyo has their own cord made to include with their begleri sets. Their cord is made to imitate 275/325 and 550. Their smaller cords are usually slightly stretchy, which adds a unique feel when in use. Their larger cords are usually kind of rough and flatten more easily than most standard 550, making them really nice if you like flatter 550s. All their cords, in typical MonkeyFinger fashion, come in an array of fancy colors, some I haven’t seen in typical paracord. They usually sell them as add-ons to their begleri sets, or some third party sellers may sell them separately.
The first time most people in the begleri community saw this type of cord used as a joiner was when a small instagram seller named @Custom_Begleri_Cords (more details about them below) introduced it as being specifically made for begleri. They have since closed up shop and lots of people make their own now. Kumihimo (“kumi”) cord is a hand-made braided joiner made by braiding together many smaller pieces of string into one. This method is also commonly used to make friendship bracelets and a device (moreso a childrens toy) exists to semi-automate the process. Most commonly, embroidery floss is used with a foam disc to make braiding easy but it’s still time consuming, most taking more than an hour to make, depending on the desired length.
There will be a blog post in the future about kumihimo, what it is, what is needed, and where to begin making your own. There are numerous online resources to help find different patterns to fully customize your cord.
If you can’t find a kumi disc, or want to start right away, there are a bunch of tutorials online for how to make your own DIY kumi disc. One example here. Here is a resource to get started on finding your favorite patterns (no affiliation, this was a site recommended by people in the begleri community who are more familiar with making their own joiners 🙂 ).
@Custom_Begleri_Cords on Instagram was one of the first people to start using and selling braided cords. They have since shut down, but should be remembered as one of the people who started the braiding trend for begleri. They used different materials to make their braided cords such as nylon and polyester, combining colors and offering custom colorways. @wm_begleri was another seller that made their own braided cord, but they used two strands of 275 for theirs.
Chainge is the joiner made of chain links sold by PlayExcess with their Belo line of begleri sets. It’s a specific size of chain sized to match 550 cord bores. Other chains can be used as well, readily available at craft stores and elsewhere for jewelry applications. This gives beads a slightly better fidget factor, makes them easier to clean, and (probably) reduces how often you have to change your joiner due to wear. Just keep in mind the sizes for the different cord bores of the beads you’re using. Also be careful to check if the chain will make your hands smell like metal, or if you’re allergic to certain types of metals.
Choosing your joiner can be an extremely personal part of begleri. It’s another tool in your customization toolbox, and something that can help you stand out, but it is also a very important aspect that can make or break a set by changing how it feels on your fingers. It can help you match your beads to your personal aesthetic and making your own can provide another avenue for sentimental attachment to your set. Take the time to see which type is your favorite, but keep in mind that this opinion can shift during your begleri journey. I wouldn’t invest too heavily in one type of joiner until you figure out exactly what you like.
There will be a future post for measuring how long to string your sets, since there are a few different ways that require photos and explanations. That will be linked here as soon as it’s posted.3