Learn the basics of Macrame!
I have been finding all these amazing Macrame creations on other people’s Instagram and Pinterest accounts, and I’ve been loving this comeback! I became quite curious, and wanted to learn more. Macrame is the art of knotting string in patterns to make decorative articles. It is believed that it originated in 13th century Arabia, in North Africa, which quickly spread into Europe and Asia. Since then, it has gone in and out of fashion, particularly in the 1970s, as some of you may be old enough to remember. And now it has made a big comeback, using the same techniques in modern patterns to create beautiful items to decorate our homes.
While researching Macrame, I was so surprised by the simplicity of it. The knots used are really easy to learn, and you only really need to know two or three of them to create something. That sounds like my kind of craft. All I needed to do was learn a few basic knots, and I could just do my own thing, without following a pattern, and see what I ended up with. I was very happy with my first project. It was very simple and small, but it looks great, and it motivated me to try more complicated or larger designs. And this is what I would like to help you do.
In this post, I’ll go through some of the basic knots, for you to learn and practice, and give you what you need to make your own creation. At some stage, I’ll post a pattern for you to follow if you wish. It makes for a lovely gift idea, so this is just in time for Christmas! But for now, let’s get started on these knots!
What you will need:
- String of some kind, I found some beautiful hemp string at Merrypack. The thicker your string, the larger your knots will be. So it depends what you would like to make, use thick string for a wall hanging or thin string for a bookmark.
- Scissors. Fabric scissors are your friend.
- A straight stick of some kind. I bought some dowel sticks from Builders Warehouse, they are quite affordable.
- A saw. If you bought dowel sticks, you need to saw them into smaller pieces, or you could ask the guys at Builders to do this for you.
- Optional: A craft cutting mat. This is useful to have, but you don’t need it as any sturdy hard surface should suffice. I did most of my macrame while sitting on my bed, so the cutting board came in handy, but you could just as well sit at a table.
- Tape. Any tape to tape your dowel/stick down onto the surface you will be working on. It is very helpful because otherwise the stick will move in all sorts of directions and frustrate you to now end.
The basic knots!
- Larkshead Knot
This sounds a lot harder than it is. This is the knot you will use to attach your string to the dowel stick. Cut your string to a desired length, if you are just learning, it doesn’t need to be very long, but keep in mind that you will fold each string in half and use that length.
Fold one of your strings in half. Place it loop down beneath your dowel, with the cords facing up away from you.
Pull the loop over the dowel. Pull the cords down through the loop, it ends up looking like a pretzel.
Pull the two cords together to secure the knot at the top.
2. Half knot
This is used to create a twisted look if done multiple times. It can look quite striking. You will need 4 cords to work with, so add another cord onto your dowel using the larkshead knot you just learned.
The two outer cords are used for knotting, and the middle two are the knot-bearers.
Start by bringing the left cord over the two middle cords, and underneath the right cord.
Then take the right cord and bring it underneath the middle cords and over the left cord. Pull to secure.
If you keep going in the same way, starting left, and then right, you will end up with a spiral.
3. Square knot
This knot is basically two half knots done in opposite directions. This is a very common knot used in macrame, I used this to make my first project.
You will need 4 cords again. Start off by making a half knot by following the instructions above.
Now do the same steps in reverse. Bring the right cord over the middle cords and underneath the left cord.
Bring the left cord underneath the middle cords and over the right cord. Pull to secure the knot.
4. Double square knot
This is basically the same as a square knot, but instead of using 4 cords, you use 8. But use 2 strands as each ‘cord’ and follow the same instructions as above.
5. Half hitch
There are a few variations of the half hitch, mainly depending on the direction you wish the knots to go. Either vertically down, diagonally or horizontally across. The diagonal half hitch is especially useful to end off your macrame design when you have a diagonal end design like a triangular or zigzag ending.
Vertical half hitch
Bring the left cord over the right cord.
Create a loop by bring it under the right cord and back over itself.
Pull to secure the half hitch.
Repeat this step several times to create a spiral if you would like.
Diagonal half hitch
Your knot bearing cord needs to be in a diagonal position, you can either pin it in position or hold it, it’s up to you. For the purpose of the instructions, this is a left to right diagonal, if you wish to do it the other way, you need just to do the opposite.
Secure the furthermost left cord in a diagonal position, to the right of the other cords. If you can pin it, do so, it will make knotting easier. A good suggestion is to knot the cord temporarily to the last cord on the right, and just undo it once you get there.
Start with the first left cord, loop it over the knot bearing cord and under itself.
Use the same cord and loop it again over the knot-bearing cord and then through the loop created between itself and the first time it was knotted. Pull to secure.
Repeat the previous two steps with each knot-bearing cord from left to right until you reach the end of the diagonal.
If you wish to do a right-to-left diagonal, simply use the furthermost right cord over to the left of the other cords, and repeat the steps above from right to left.
Horizontal half hitch: You won’t do this often, but you would basically do the same thing as you did with the diagonal half hitch, except you would pin the knot bearing cord in a horizontal position.
By learning just 5 basic knots, you can make some really beautiful creations. All you need is a little bit of creativity. I hope you enjoyed reading this post, let me know if you have any questions or comments, I love hearing from you!