What Is Macramé?
Macramé is the art of decoratively tying knots to make a textile. It’s done by hand, without needles, by weaving threads or cords together into simple or intricate, knots.
Macramé has recently made a comeback due to a recent spark in DIY tutorials on YouTube, Pinterest and personal blogger sites and people are going crazy for it! The reality is that it actually dates back centuries.
Whilst the first known account of Macramé dates back to 13th Century Arab weavers who used extra thread to create knotted decorative threads on handmade fabrics, it was the 70’s that really kicked off the trend.
The 70’s saw macramé become mainstream, with tassels, placemats, plant slings in the corner, picture frames, hammocks and wall hangings taking over the home.
Whilst macramé is still used for creating these familiar items, nowadays it’s being used to create much more too. This includes the likes of clothing, jewellery and candle decoration too.
First things first there are just two essentials to get started with macramé.
Basic Macramé Supplies
- Macramé Cord Or Rope
- Dowel or Hoop
There is a difference between Macramé Cord and Macramé Rope.
Macramé Cord is usually a 6 strand (or more) braided cord. Macramé is very, very tightly wound cotton and is also commonly known as "sash cord." Sash cord is a bit stiff to use, and very difficult to unravel, but it is extremely strong, so it's good for weight bearing pieces and if you're looking to add lots of structure to your work. Macramé cord, in my experience, is the toughest on the hands, but when you want a certain look or functionality, no pain no gain!
Macramé Rope on the other hand is usually 3-strand rope (sometimes called 3-ply) where the strands are twisted around each other. Macramé rope is still strong, but you have the ability to untwist it, which offers a fun, wavy fringe, so it is great for adding texture to your work.
Getting Started With Macramé
As a beginner, we would recommend using a dowel/stick or a curtain hoop to start your project on. This would then be attached to a surface to be able to start your project - we would recommend using some string to attach your project to a pin or hook.
For those that are more serious about macrame, you can invest in a macrame board, and if you want to go bigger you could even repurpose a clothing rail.
The Basic Four
There are almost hundreds of knots that can be used in macramé, but there are four basic ones that you need to learn to get start. Once you know these basic knots you can replicate them into a number of patterns to make different macramé designs.
The Larks Head Knot – this forms the foundation of many macramé designs.
The Square Knot – this is one of the most commonly found knots which is perfect for macramé jewellery and you can even add decorative beads in between knots.
The Single Half Hitch – a useful knot for any design, great for creating a multi stand weave.
Double Half Hitch – like the single half hitch only its doubled. This is an important decorative knot that is used in many designs.
Top Tips For Beginning Macramé
- If you’re a beginner, rope is the best material to start testing out your macramé knots with. It’s not as stretchy as wool or cotton yarns and is ideal for trying to master out tension and spacing.
- Most people find it easier to macramé standing up than sitting down.
- If you’re new to macramé, we suggest you start by learning just a couple of basic patterns and knots to get your technique on its way.
- Don’t give up – remember practice makes perfect. You must keep practising to perfect your technique and get all your knots looking the same. Spacing and tension are very important, especially when using the same knot to create a pattern as unevenness is obvious on the eye.
- While you’re learning it’ll take a couple of goes to get the right length of cord – this can often be your biggest obstacle. You don’t want too little cord since it can be complicated to add extra to your piece.
- To stop the ends of your cord fraying put some washi tape or masking tape around them.
- To keep your cords separate organise them using clothes pegs.
- It’s good to try an original design but if you’re looking for some patterns and inspiration why not use the likes of Pinterest for some ideas?
More Resources for Learning Macramé
This video by Chelsea Sadler is a fab go to for a how to on creating the basic macramé knots.
If you're looking for more inspiration, visit the Creative Rox blog here.