Do-It-Yourself Macramé

Learn how to make macramé projects using a few simple knots to create macramé jewelry, wall hangings, belts and more.

| September/October 1971

Macramé, or the art of creative knotting, may look difficult but it's really about as easy as tying your shoes and as inexpensive as a ball of twine. All you actually need to join the growing ranks of macramé addicts are your fingers, some string and the mastery of a few simple knots.

Knotting has along and rich history. No one knows for certain just how long and how rich but macramé was probably most popular among nineteenth century British and American sailors who often whiled away off-duty hours by knotting bell covers, screens, nets, pipe covers and other useful items. As those sailors must have known, the tactile pleasure the craft has the additional appeal of requiring only the most nominal of investments. What could be more satisfying than to personally create bookmarks, sashes, belts, lovely wall hangings or even rugs . . . for the price of a ball of string from the five and dime? Or for nothing at all if you can find used twine!

You won't need any of the ex pensive macramé books now flood ing the market to get in on this good thing, either. Creative knot ting is so simple that this one short article will give you all the basics you'll need to know to make countless macramé patterns of you own. The most costly book on the subject can give you little more in the way of instruction. Instead, such publications are filled mainly with photographs of various museum pieces. Granted, these pieces may be lovely and even inspiring . . . but how much better to take the time you'd spend admiring them to create your own designs! The particular beauty of this craft is in knowing that its only real limitation is the imagination of the individual.

The tools needed to work most macramé projects generally include nothing more elaborate or expensive than a pair of scissors, a knotting board and some straight pins. A knotting board (the only item I've named that you prob ably didn't recognize) is simply a piece of flat, sturdy material to which a project is pinned while you knot it. Some folks get fancy and use cork, Celotex or foam but I find that heavy cardboard—the bottom of a box, for instance—works just fine. The size of the work will determine the size of the knotting board . . . a bookmark "makes" easier on a smaller holder than that needed for a placemat. If you like, you can mark the board off into measured squares to help you keep the project's growing pattern symmetrical.

As you become proficient with the craft and begin reaching for more complicated effects, you may want to add a few embroidery needles and crochet hooks to your macramé working equipment. They'll allow you to give some items a more finished look by working the loose ends of string back into the project . . . and that's about as heavy an investment in tools as you'll ever need to make.

One of the best ways you'll find to dress up your knotting won't cost you a penny. Just add any junk you've saved and stashed in jars and sewing chests over the years (beads, polished stones, rings, feathers, what-have-you). The final piece is almost sure to have a richer "found art" appearance than you'll have dreamed possible. Consider a piece mounted on driftwood with seashells in the pattern for a wall hanging, as a possible starter.

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