Macrame is a hobby that utilizes the tying and connecting of knots in order to make decorative items. Today you will find this craft used in plant pot hangers, decorative wall hangings and even jewelry. This is a great hobby for those with a small budget as there are almost no tools and materials are inexpensive.
Macrame is believed to have begun around the 13th century in Arabia where nomads used the techniques to finish the edges of their blankets and other clothing articles. From there it spread to Spain and then the rest of Europe by the early 1700’s. The popularity of macrame reached a peak in the 1970’s with back to nature movement. Since then, there has been a slight decline in its popularity while at the same time has been introduced into jewelry making giving it a new breath of life.
The craft does not use a huge number of knots. The beauty comes from how each of the knot types are combined with others. Here is a list of the basic knots used.
Square Knot – this consists of two overhand knots in succession with each going in a different direction (Left over right and then right over left)
Larks Head Knot – Usually tied horizontally like at the beginning of your project when you connect the cords to the ring or rod.
Clove Hitch or Half Hitch – Used in both horizontal and vertical situations.
Josephine Knot – Sometimes called the double coin knot.
There are subtle variations of each of these that could be listed.
Supplies You Will Need
Some type of cording or rope. Often made from jute, hemp or cotton.
Tape measure of some sort to measure out your cords.
Scissor to cut the cords.
Rings, rods, sticks or some other rigid item to tie the cord to.
Straight or T pins used to hold your larger projects in place as you work the knots.
Thick cardboard, foam or padded board so you can pin down your large works in progress.
Cord Types Used
Most any kind of cord material can be used provided it is not too stiff or too stretchy. Traditionally cords used in macramé have been fairly thick. But, there is nothing to stop you from using embroidery floss or any number of other fine to medium weight threads. In fact, an offshoot of traditional macramé is now called micromacrame.
The most common cords used include:
Jute – Thick and stiff but makes great plant hangers.
Hemp – Scratchy and stiff but gets softer with wear and frequent washings.
Rattail – Really smooth and slippery but makes up into beautiful pieces.
Leather – Great for that old west look.
Elastic Cord – An exception to the stretchy rule provided it is thick enough and carefully tied.
Starting A Project
Measuring out your cord can be a bit of a challenge if you are not using a pattern. As a rule, cut your cord lengths at least six times the length of your finished creation. Depending on your project, it may be possible to add on cord if it comes up short but the best situation is to have plenty to start with.
As a beginner, it will be best for you to start with a pattern. The pattern will give you cord size and length taking away some of the concern about being short.
If your cords are rather lengthy, you may find it a good idea to wrap the excess cord around a small piece of cardboard. This will keep from getting a tangled mess. Another technique for controlling the extra cord is to wrap it around your hand and then slipping a rubber band over it. Doing it this way, allows you to pull out just what you need.
Feel free to add beads or other small items to the cordage as you build your project. This can really dress up your creation. Just add them wherever you like.
Projects You Can Make
Most beginner projects usually involve making a pot hanger as these are easy and good looking when finished. You can also make wall hangings, picture frames belts to wear, pet leashes and handbags. The list is nearly endless.
Most recently macrame is being used to make jewelry. Bracelets and necklaces made from hemp or even cotton cord has become popular. Knots have also been tied in thin jewelry wire to create works of art.
The uses of macrame are only limited by your imagination. If you are looking for something new to try and test your creativity this is the craft for you. Get wild and crazy and have some fun!
Other descriptors include knotting, kids crafts, craft ideas and crafts for kids.