I do not claim to be a macrame expert, I discovered macrame some time ago. But I became enthralled by its beauty and simplicity, and versatility.
I am still a novice to the craft, it is not second nature to me as crochet or sewing.
I hope this article answers questions that you might have such as: how do I finish off work, what do I do with the loose ends, how can I join one piece of knotting to another, how can I shape a curved edge? The answers to all these and many more problems can be found on this blog, as well as full and detailed instructions for knotting techniques and suggestions for both traditional and modern applications of knotting patterns.
Macrame is defined as the inter-knotting of yarns. The works is easier than it seems, a knowledge of knots is all that is needed to make the most difficult looking knotting patterns. Not like knitting or crochet macrame is for everyone, for men, women and children, for young and old. It is a satisfying, soothing and it has therapeutic qualities I am told.
Children love because it is easy to master, because there are not hooks or needles.
Two points, the names of knots and knotting techniques vary considerably from one source to the next. At the first mention of each term, I specify which name will be used throughout this page, but I also list some of the other versions which are out there and which you may come across elsewhere.
There are only two basic knots involved, the Half Knot and the Half Hitch, but it is the endless variations on these two knots that generate all the excitement about Macrame.
Secondly, the words thread, cord and yarn are virtually interchangeable, but in an attempt to clarify the particular usage of each term, specific meanings should be taken as follows: thread usually refers to the cut lengths of yarn before being set on; after the threads have been doubled and set on to a holding cord the resulting working lengths are termed ends; working ends are referred to as cords in pattern instructions; and yarn is a general term covering all working materials, natural and synthetic, from string and plastic through to wool and nylon.
Since there are so many items that can be knotted and such a variety of knots to work them in, it might be difficult for the beginner to know where to start. I am presenting a good cross section of projects from the practical to the decorative. Each project includes complete directions and diagrams.
I want to help you build confidence so that each idea will be a springboard to your own creativity.
Minimal equipment is needed for macrame, just a support for the work, pins to hold the work in place and a few accessories to measure, cut and bundle the working cord ends. Dime stores, craft shops and lumber supply carry just about everything you’ll need. Macrame equipment can be divided into three categories; working surfaces, pins and miscellaneous materials, depending on the project.
The type of working surface you’ll need will depend on the size of your project, the materials you’ll use, and the amount of working space you have available. Some surfaces are made specifically for macrame work, others cab be temporarily adapted to your needs from furnishings already in you home.
Specifically for macrame
Fiber Board and foam rubber slabs–lightweight and portable, with firm surfaces easily adaptable to most macrame projects. They are inexpensive and can be purchased in almost any size. Felt can be stapled to the fiberboard or pinned to the foam rubber to create an improved working surface.
Many victorian macrame pieces were worked on heavy, sand-filled, cushions, an idea that can be used today.
Sew a pillow liner of heavy muslin, stuff it firmly with dry sand and whip the edge shut, then cover it with a snug-fitting sleeve of felt.
The lap board is an easily made clamp and board frame for small macrame projects, such as belts and jewelry.
Cut an 18 inch long 1 X 4 board into 12 and 6 inch sections. With screws attach paper clamps at one end of each board, in the center. then join the twp boards lengths with a pair of offset hinges, the frame can be folded flat for storage.
Here is a couple examples:
Beadaholique Macrame Board for Braiding, 14 by 10-Inch
Pins for Macrame
you use pins to secure a macrame project to a working surface and to hold the shape of the piece while it is worked on. use pins, too, wherever an area needs reinforcing or securing. A selection os pins suitable for macrame work is shown below. Push pins, card pins and t-pins are available. Look for Hat pins, plastic-headed sewing/quilting pins, or upholstery pins in sewing stores or online.
Wrights 881428 Flower Head Multicolor Pins, 75-Pack
You will need basic tools for measuring, cutting and bundling cord length. Keep a scissors, tape measure and yard stick on hand, as well as rubber bands, tie twist and plastic or cardboard bobbins. Use paper clamps to hold cords out of the way while you work. To measure off cord lengths, use a pair of c-clamps set at a distance equal to the length needed and attached upside down on a table edge.
C-Clamp example there are many styles available choose what works best for you. Remember the depth of your table top
IRWIN Tools QUICK-GRIP Handi-Clamp, 4-Inch
Material for Macrame
First and far most you can use any pliable materials available in great lengths suitable for macrame work.
These can be of anything from kite string or sisal rope to surgical tubing or fine wire.
some very unusual materials have been used for macrame, they include bed sheet strips, leather thong, paper twine and rolls of plastic grocery bags.
The only absolute requirement are liable and strength without undue stretchiness, suitability for the ultimate use to which a project will be put and a surface quality that will enhance the design and the individual macrame knots.
Knotting materials can be divided into several categories; vegetable, synthetic and animal fibers.
Chemically produced fibers such as acrylic, polyester, nylon, rayon, and plastic.
Wool, silk and hair fibers are contributions from the animal kingdom. Of all types of yarns, these have the greatest color range, however, they have a tendency to stretch and break under tension, as well as to shed during knotting.
LINEN producers a beautiful surface effect when knotted, it is soft and supple yet well defined. an elegant material to work with, linen is relatively expensive and its color range is limited.
Jute is a colorful vegetable fiber that works up into a fuzzy, prickly-textured surface. In spite of a tendency to shed and fade, jute enjoys great popularity.
Nylon cord has a silklike surface quality and a beautiful appearance when knotted, through it’s slippery to work with and tends to unravel unless the ends are sealed with glue or melted.
Cotton cord comes in a variety of sizes, textures and colors. A strong, durable material, cotton cord producers well-defined macrame knots.
Wool enjoys a tremendous color range. It is the most versatile of knottong materials but not necessarily the strongest. A tendency to stretch and break under tension limits its use in macrame projects that must support weight.
Preparing the Yarn
The yarn is prepared for knotting by calculating the length of the ends and measuring off. An end is an individual length of yarn.
Things to Remember
Keep the holding cord in a steady position when mounting ends. Keep the knot-bearing cord motionless and taut when in use. Tie every knot close to the previous knot unless the design directs otherwise. Keep ends straight, in order, and not twisted, particularly when knots are being made over them. Ends are always doubled in half before knotting begins. When the number of cut ends is given in the projects, this always refers to measured-off ends and not to doubled ends.
This sinnet is a combination of left-right, right-left Half Knots.
2. Square Knot with Half Knot twist | Square Knot | Continue Half Knot, left-right, to make twist.continue Half Knot, left-right, to make
3. Reversed Square Knot with Half Knot twist continue Half Knot, left-right, to make twist | Reversed Square Knot | continue Half Knot, right-left, to make twist
The Square knot and the Half Knot
How to Mount ends on holding cord with reversed double half double half hitches. (A B C D)
Square Knot sinnet of leather made into handles adds new interest to old bureau drawers.
MORE TO COME…