How to Knit With Rope

Updated February 21, 2017

Apply the knitting skills you already have to a large scale project by working with rope and oversized needles. The knitting process is the same; you are simply working with a different fibre medium. Look for rope in the hardware store or use a cotton clothesline for your project. Natural hemp or cotton rope works best for knitting; you can use nylon or nylon-covered cord but it is slippery and difficult to keep on the needles.

Uncoil the rope and check for knots or flaws. If you find a knot or flaw, use scissors to snip it away, then tie the cut edges of the rope into a square knot. Leave about a foot of rope hanging and then weave in these ends later. If the flaw is near the end of the rope, just cut it away and discard.

Roll the rope into a ball to prevent tangling.

Cast on 10 stitches with the smaller needles. Knit for 3 inches.

Switch to larger needles without casting off. Knit an additional 3 inches.

Cast off.

Examine your knitted sample and determine which section you prefer. Depending on the thickness and flexibility of the rope and the project you want to make, one section will likely be more suitable than the other. Use the corresponding needles for your project.

Make a small rug or mat using rope to master working with this unusual medium. Cast on 24 stitches with the needles you chose from your gauge swatch.

Knit in garter stitch, knitting every row for 48 rows.

Bind off. Use the resulting rope rug indoors or out, depending on the material you chose for the rope yarn. A cotton clothesline rug makes a wonderful bathmat, while a rough hemp rope rug is an ideal doormat.


Wear lightweight gloves to prevent rope burn. Use the same techniques for knitting with fabric strips, ribbon or other oversized yarn substitutes. Follow a doily pattern to make a large rug using rope instead of yarn.


Work in short sessions; rope is not as elastic as yarn and you could end up with sore hands and wrists.

Things You'll Need

  • Rope, at least 10 yards
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Size 50 knitting needles
  • Size 30 knitting needles
  • Measuring tape
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About the Author

Sarah Emerald is the author of books and magazine articles specializing in crafts, family, business and the home, including Create and Decorate, Hilton Head Monthly and Crafts magazine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from a small private college in the southeastern U.S.