In this article, I'll break down where macramé came from, supplies you'll need to get started making your own projects, and the different types of cord you can choose from to make the perfect project.
So Where Did Macramé Come From?
Did you know macramé originated hundreds of years ago with sailors? They would tie knots while at sea, making wares that they would barter when arriving at port. Macramé has been around for thousands of years, and has come in and out of style and the textiles that it creates has ranged from coverings for camels to keep pests off of them, to costumes, tapestry, and more recently hemp necklaces, friendship bracelets (yep, like the ones you made in summer camp!), plant hangers, and decorative boho wall hangings. It’s coming back, and it’s definitely Knot Your Momma's Macramé from the 70s. (click the link to go to my super rad Facebook group).
There are thousands of different knots but for the most part macramé uses just a few of them. The most common knots are the square knot, the half-square knot that makes that cool twisted pattern, lark’s head and gathering knots used for attaching and finishing pieces, and variations of the hitch knot. Lots of the super ornate macramé wall hangings are made with only these knots, but they’re patterned together in layers and designed in amazing ways to create eye-catching and one-of-a-kind fiber art.
Left to right:
Alternating Square Knot
Half Hitch Knot
Half Square Knot
(This isn't my pic)
Where Do You Start?
Well, first of you’re going to need some supplies. Here’s what I tell the folx that take my classes:
Scissors - sharp ones. Don’t try using those cheap dollar store kid scissors if you’re trying to get a nice cut. Macramé uses a lot of cord, and it’s a super pain in the butt if you can’t cut through them without doing the whole deal of putting the cord in the sharpest part of the blade and sawing around on it. The worst is when the cord gets stuck in the hinge. Take my word for it, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you start with a nice pair. I actually use commercial carpet-cutting scissors made with a titanium and stainless steel blade - but I cut a lot of cords so you probably don’t need to go quite that far.
Something to hang your work from while you’re creating it. I use an adjustable garment rack because I like to stand up and let gravity help level out my knots, but you can use a Command hook on the back of a door or wall, or if you prefer to sit, you can tape your work to the table you’re working at. S-hooks are a good investment, or those cheap shower hooks you can get at the dollar store. For smaller macramé pieces like jewelry, coasters, and the like, some people use cork boards and pins to hold their work down.
Macramé Materials - There's quite a few different types of macramé "cord" and lots of people interchange the terms, but here are the basics: Rope, String, Braided Cord, and then there are alternatives like Jute and polyester-based cord that do better in an outdoor setting. I'll get into these in more detail over here in this article (coming soon) along with different companies you can get some pretty nice product from.
Accessories - I’m talking about beads, charms, different types of rings, hoops, dowels, driftwood, deer antlers, and other random stuff you might have in your house that would look cool draped in fiber. Again, I’ll detail this stuff in another article (coming soon) along with some seller and product recommendations.
Your pot! No, not the herbal kind - unless you want to, no judgement here. I’m talking about the pot you’re going to use if you’re making a macramé plant hanger. When you make a piece for a specific planter, make sure you have it on hand. You’re gonna make sure it fits in the “basket” that you knot before finishing up the project and cutting the cords at the end.
A great attitude! Learning new things can sometimes be frustrating. Just know that your finished project will be perfect for you, and all handmade stuff has flaws in it (usually only you know it’s there!)
Now that you have some basic knowledge, keep reading my blog for some freebie patterns, cord recommendations, product tips and tricks, and other fun stuff.
Thanks for reading!