What is macrame

Macramé Art

History, Origins, Knot Types

and Popular Macramé Patterns

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Macramé has been popular for centuries as a method of crafting a textile or various decorations that use several types of knots to form a basic shape. It is an easy and affordable way to add personality and decorate your home. With an infinite way of combining various types of knots, you can create both aesthetic and functional pieces. Macramé is usually either tied on a wooden frame (a macrame board) or hung from the ceiling.

Macramé is done without any tools, just using your hands. You can use macrame to create plant hangers, clothing, wall hangings, dream catchers, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, curtains, tablecloths, coasters, tassels, keychains, bookmarks, belts, etc. - the possibilities are endless. You can accentuate your pieces by adding beads, charms, seashells, etc. Once you have mastered the basic macramé knots, you can research more complicated ones or make up your own. You can use different cord sizes and colors. Material options include leather strips, cotton rope, yarn, jute, ribbon, nylon cord, and a popular hemp cord.

Table of Contents:

Macrame Definition

Macrame History

Macrame Variety: Chinese Knotting

What Is Macrame Made Of?

Types of Macrame Knots

Types of Macrame Cord

What Can You Make With Macrame?

Macrame Patterns: Project Ideas

FAQs

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Macrame Definition

Macrame is a technique of tying different kinds of knots to produce decorative items. The true beauty comes from the fact that it is done by hand, not the machine. It can be very detailed, and anyone can do it with a small initial investment and a little practice. It can be a great way to relax and create beautiful pieces for your home or offer as a gift.

If a piece includes at least one macrame knot, it can be considered macrame art. The projects are pieced together with several knots or joined with other techniques, usually knitting or weaving.

Macrame History

When was macrame popular? The origins of macrame date back to the 13th century, when Arabic decorative weavers used knots to secure the loose ends of woven, hand-loomed textiles into decorative fringes. However, some resources even say that macrame origins can be traced further than we think, back to the Assyrian and Babylonian civilizations.

The macrame meaning and name itself are considered to come either from the Arabic word 'migramah,'meaning ornamental fringe or from the Turkish word 'makrama,' meaning towel or napkin. Either way, it regained its popularity nowadays thanks to YouTube, Instagram, and other social networks.  
Macrame history and origins
Macrame history and origins
Macrame was extremely popular in the 1970s. From macrame vests and belts to macrame wall hangings that looked like animals, macrame was everywhere!

Macrame Variety: Chinese Knotting

Chinese knotting is a decorative handicraft that dates back to the Tangand Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) in China. These knots were then popularized in the Ming and spread to Korea and Japan. They acted as good luck charms for Chinese marriages and to ward off evil spirits. Dragons, fish, butterflies, birds, and even shoes are the most popular Chinese knits. During the Chinese New Year festival, these decorations are used to add some festival feel to the doors and walls of homes and shops. Interestingly, those decorations are red, which is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture.  

What Is Macramé Made Of?

Materials that can be used for macrame include cotton twine, linen,jute, leather, yarn, nylon, and hemp.

The criteria for choosing theright material for your project are based on the following qualities youshould consider:
  • Strength: The cord's strength largely depends on the manufacturing process – whether the individual thread used to create the material was twisted or braided. Some of the strongest are hemp, jute, leather, and nylon.
  • Texture: You do not want a rough material on the skin, especially if you make macrame jewelry. Hemp is an excellent material as it tends to soften with use. Cotton and leather are also good options.

  • Stiffness: The material you use should be flexible enough to bend. Thinner cords are usually more flexible, while thicker ones tend to be stiffer. If you make jewelry, hemp and cotton are both soft and very flexible. If you plan to use leather, make sure to use less than 2 mm in width.

  • Diameter: When buying a macrame cord, you will find the thickness indicated in mm. Choose the thickness carefully, especially if you use buttons, beads, and other decorations.

macrame timeline

  • Medieval Times: It is a widely accepted theory that Moor sailors contributed to the popularity of macrame art during their voyages from North Africa to Europe. They needed ways to stay busy and avoid going crazy on long days at sea. Since they already had the skill by trade, they used a lot of junk rope lying around to make beautiful pieces of art; they also made belts and hammocks. Over time, they invented more and more complex knots. Traveling to different ports helped to spread skill and knowledge across the world. Then they introduced macrame first to Spain, France (in the 15th century), and Italy (in the 16th century).
  • Victorian Era: During the reign of Queen Victoria, macrame was extremely popular and reached its peak. It was a well-received hobby for women of all classes, from ladies-in-waiting to middle-class housewives, which homes were adorned with beautiful pieces of tablecloths, doilies, and curtains.

  • 1970's America: As a symbol of rejection of mass-produced and unethical manufacturing, macrame found its way to home décor, sweaters, purses, and even flip-flops. The massive hippie movement in this decade created the perfect base for the macrame popularity explosion. It was an obvious, effortlessly chic choice for many people. The artists experimented with various techniques to create different products, including clothing, accessories, plant hangers, home textiles, and more. Still, moving till the end of the 1970s and during the 1980s, the art became outdated and seen as kitsch.
  • 21st century: With the emergence of the new bohemian style, macramé became more and more popular and made a steady comeback. Fiber arts with a feminine tradition like macrame sparked the interest of women whose lifestyle was focused on personal growth and self-care. Thanks to Instagram, Etsy, Pinterest, and other e-commerce and social networks, it has become a global trend. Experiencing some kind of renaissance, macrame is considered trendy formost people and does not show any sign of stopping. What is more, youhave many amazing places and YouTube tutorials where you can master the art of macrame for free and decorate your home with some awesome modern pieces!

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Types of Macramé Knots

There are more than 50 types of macrame knots. Basically, a macrame consists of a series of knots called patterns. The best way to start macrame is first to master some basic knots and then move on to the more complicated ones. Here are some of the most popular:

Types of Macramé Cord

  • Rope: The most common option for macrame projects is rope. Several strands are twisted around one another, giving it extra strength and thickness. There are several types available, including twisted three-ply and braided six-ply ropes. Macrame rope creates distinctive and thick knots and will not easily start untwisting.
  • String: A string is composed of many thin fibers that are twisted into a single strand. As a result, it is much softer than macrame rope.
    With string, you can create tighter and much smaller knots. 
  • Yarn: Typically used for weaving or knitting, yarn can also be used for macrame. It is usually made of wool and industrial hemp (but not always) and can have several strands twisted together.

  • Waxed Cord: A waxed cord is usually used for macrame jewelry and is typically smaller in diameter. It is covered in beeswax to make it water-resistant and stronger; the cord can be plied or unplied. It comes in various colors, although wax tends to make the shades darker.
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What Can You Make With Macrame?

Possibilities are almost endless. Some of the items you can make with macrame craft are:
  • Boho feathers
  • Keychains
  • Wall hangers
  • Macrame garland
  • Plant and jar hangers
  • Hammocks
  • Necklaces, bracelets and
    earrings
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Produce bags
  • Belts
  • Watch bands
  • Curtains
  • Bouquet wraps
  • Coasters
  • Headbands
  • Bookmarks
  • And More – you are only
    limited by your creativity.
simple macrame knots

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FAQ

What's Macrame?
Macrame is a knotting-based ancient textile art that has become morepopular in the last few years. You can make almost anything using onlyone type of knot. No tools are necessary other than your hands to createbeautiful string art.  
Is Macrame Easy to Learn?
The answer is Yes. Even though it looks very complicated, it is a simpleand easy craft that anyone can master. With only a few basic knots, youcan create great macrame art.
What Do I Need to Start Macrame?
Some basic materials you will need to start a macrame project include aHemptique hemp cord that comes in various colors and widths, so chooseone that matches your project and décor. For the base of your DIYproject, a wooden dowel or a piece of driftwood would be perfect,depending on the look you want to achieve. Tape measure and scissors arealso needed to measure and cut the cord. Optionally, you can add somedecorative items like wood or glass beads or different metal parts. Youcan create unique and stunning pieces with low initial investment andlittle practice.
What Cord Size Should I Use?
It largely depends on the project you want to do. The knots will besmaller if the cord is of a smaller diameter. Wall hangings and plantholders require sturdier rope, so opt for 4-6mm diameter rope. Choose aflexible and soft cord less than 2mm in diameter for smaller pieces likebracelets or earrings. For outdoor projects like hammocks or patiochairs, you can choose synthetic cords or durable hemp cords.