Macrame really can make getting all tied up in knots fun, whether on a rainy spring weekend or a summer's day, and will occasionally allow even the youngest artisan to earn a little cash reward from the sale of an original, handcrafted, one-of-a-kind work of art.
Considering Mother's Day and Father's Day are not in the too distant future, picking out a macrame item to craft as gifts for each will be fun to do and will not have to push budget boundaries.
Rest assured, any parent - or for that matter adult - who finds themselves on the receiving end of a handcrafted gift of any type is, almost without fail, grateful for what is literally a gift of love and represents an investment of a person's own time they deliberately set apart from the other ventures of their life at that point.
No belt for your tunic, jeans, or maxi dress? Using lace square knots, make one your choice of color in under 30 minutes, no hardware required! This is a very basic example shown above could be easily ramped up in additional colors or have beads and other materials added.
A lark’s head knot is used to connect the cord to an object. Slide the loop around around an object such as a dowel rod and pull the tails through the loop. Can also be called a reverse double half hitch.
A square knot is the most popular basic macrame knot and is the basis of many designs. Can also be called a reef knot or a flat knot.
A half knot is created by completing only one side of a square knot. Tying a half knot over and over will create a spiral.
Like many art forms of the type easily enjoyed and practiced by the average person, macrame has its roots in an ancient civilization, as it is recorded by historians as having originated in 13th century Arabia.
The most straightforward explanation of exactly what macrame is to most people can be summed up in just a couple words: the ancient craft of tying decorative knots.
But for those who choose to give it a try, it can be an emotional outlet to help lift the burden of a stress-filled day from your shoulders. It can be the avenue that gets you and a friend sharing a cup of coffee while figuring out exactly how long you want that planter to be and where you plan to hang the piece when it's complete. It can be an exciting avenue for a grandparent to learn from a teenage grandchild. It can even be a means of developing a specific artistic identity, often a solid means of getting your works entered into juried or non juried shows and sales.
The bottom line: macrame is usually one of those art forms which can easily be boxed up, bagged up, and even taken along with you without too much fuss.
After all, in its most recent uptick of popularity, making macrame items is often seen as a way to spend time relaxing alone or with a few friends regardless their age or innate artistic skills. If they can follow a simple instruction when it comes to tying a knot a certain way, they are able to get at least a little involved in your macrame project of the moment.
Whether you decide to make a door screen, a plant hanger, a belt, a purse, a fancy decorative knotted or a small beaded bracelet or anklet, the art of macrame will always seem to have something to offer.
No one is going to recommend you take any project expected to yield a six foot long plant hanger or something of similar size along on a family vacation. However, if you are new to the craft and are enjoying practicing tying various knots, then make yourself a "go bag" stocked with the basics for practicing macrame: medium or short lengths of cord of varying thicknesses and finishes.
If, while working in any environment, you do not want to create a mess of materials falling to the ground just by the friction of moving the cord around or through your hands, it might be better to consider working with cord which is not prone to "shedding" threads the more they are pulled through working knots and your fingers.
Using materials such as jute or sisal will result in materials falling to the floor.
Choosing materials such as waxed linen, cotton, or some clean finishing cord such as polyester cable over jute or sisal will allow for a much smoother movement of the cable through a pattern - and it will even be easier on your hands when it comes to establishing consistent tension throughout the entire crafting process.
If you are using cotton cord, check to see if has been pre-shrunk, and if not wet it and let it dry in a dryer or in the sun if possible.
When practicing your macrame techniques with knots that are new to you, consider putting a board under it that will allow you to anchor the cords in place lightly with a pin, a piece of tape or a small tack.
When it comes time to cut cords for use in an actual project, one basic will never change: don't be in too big a hurry to cut any of the cords to a particular length for working with them until you have actually checked and double checked your pattern.
If you are trying to match the colors of cords being used in your project with something specific, make certain the cord type is color-fast as well as pre-shrunk. If you do not see it noted on the cord bundle wrapping, ask your retailer's personnel to help you confirm the nature of the cord.
It is important to understand that the recommended measurement for a cord length will take into consideration the thickness of the cord, how many cords you plan to use, and the open or closed nature of the knots you plan to use. Essentially, the thicker the cord or the knots, the more length will be consumed by the process.
So, how do you make some of the basic knots?
The square knot
This is one of the most popular basic macrame knots and is considered very versatile. To make a single square knot, four cords are needed - the two center cords are the filler cords, and the far left and far right cords are the knotting cords.
- Take the right cord and place it under the two center cord pieces and over the left one.
- Take the outside left hand knotting cord and place it under the right hand knotting cord. Holding the right hand knotting cord in place, bring the left hand knotting cord up over the two center cords and through the space between the right hand center cord and the right hand knotting cord. Take hold of the two outside cords and pull snuggly into place.
NOTE: the designation of right and left cords refer to the cord in that position at a particular time. It does not refer to one specific cord throughout the patterns.
- Now you will reverse the step.
- Take the right hand knotting cord and place it over the two center cords and under the left knotting cord. Hold it in place. Take your left hand knotting cord and place it over the right hand knotting cord, under and behind the center cords, and up through the space between the right hand center cord and the right hand knotting cord. Grasp the two outside knotting cords and pull snugly into place, forming the completed square knot.
This pattern will result in a thick, flat row of knots.
The half knot
A technique twist in this knot pattern will literally result in a simple and easily maintained twisting appearance of the finished item. This is done by using a half knot, which means you will use only one of the steps for making a square knot, and will not execute the reversed move.
Another variation of the technique used to craft a square knot is a wonderful way to craft drapes, a room divider or stylized "door."
These sinnets are tied with groups of four cords. With the left three cords of the group, tie a square knot using one filler cord, leaving the right hand cord free. Then tie a square knot with the right three cords (using one filler cord), leaving the left hand cord free. Two of the four cords in this knot were not used in the previous knot. Continue reversing sides in this way until it reaches the length you want it when finished.
The lark's head knot
A lark's head knot is a very popular starting knot to use when your pattern calls for tying lengths of cord onto a horizontal piece of dowel rod, a buckle form, ring, or even a twig.
To make a lark's head knot, fold a length of cord in half and place it over your holding cord or dowel rod. Bring the loop created downward behind the holding cord or dowel rod and pull the two loose ends through the loop. Pull the knot tight.
As with many classic knots used in macrame, a particular item can be recognized by several different names. The lark's head is also known as a reverse double half hitch, a confusing name for one of the simplest knots to tie.
Here are some basic, favorite macrame tips to help get you started:
- Working in groups of four cords is a timeless favorite whether beginner or expert.
- Measure one cord for your project and cut all others you need that length by using the first cord you cut as your measuring guide.
- When you are lining up square knots, let your artist's eye tell you when they are aligned correctly.
- When making loops or curves with square knot sinnets, you will only need to use your fingers when molding or flattening them. (A sinnet is the word used to describe strips of the same type of knots, each placed below the other. They are tied using the same knot.)
- Consider handling excessive lengths of cord for a work in progress by shaping it into a "butterfly bobbin" which is easily done by wrapping the cord around your thumb and pointer finger, wrapping it in a figure 8. (Keep about a foot of cord available to work with easily.) Wrap the center of the loop with a rubber band to secure it.)
- Have you tried a small bracelet or necklace macrame project, but are unsure how to finish it? Using beads at the end of such pieces is a practical, decorative and easy way to complete your project. It can also be a great way to use spare beads left over from earlier sewing or crafting projects, and to put your special finishing touch on a project.
To make a bead ending for your macrame project, finish making the item, and then pull all cords at the end of one side through the center of a bead of your choice. Tie a square knot under the bead and an overhand knot over a square knot. You will then clip the cords close to the knot and secure the cord end with glue.
A wrapped loop ending for macrame jewelry begins to take shape after the rest of the item is finished being knotted. Take the longest cord and wrap it around the other cords beginning at the last knot. When the cords are wrapped enough to form a loop that will accommodate the end bead on the other side of the item, separate the cord and tie a square knot around the knots at the item's end. Then take the two outside cords and tie an overhand knot over the square knot.Clip the ends close and add a drop of clear glue to secure it.
Better yet, register for a local class or visit local craft stores and ask about basic instruction classes or programs. Many of the chain craft store also have web pages that offer free online instruction and directions for increasingly complex patterns. By finding ways to expand your basic macrame skills, you'll be on your way to creating many unique, easily customizable piece to share with family and friends.