Have you seen the knotted jewelry, wall hangings, and even coasters popping up all over Instagram? That’s macrame, an ancient craft that you can try. But what is macrame? And how do you get started?
To help you unravel this handicraft's mystery, let's examine its history and explore some of the basics that crafters need to understand. And perhaps by the time you reach the end, you'll decide that macrame is just the hobby you’ve been looking for!
Table Of Contents
- What Is Macrame?
- Essential Knots For Macrame
- Macrame Tools And Supplies
- Macrame Tips For Beginners
- How To Choose Macrame Cord
- 7 Simple Projects To Start With
What Is Macrame?
Macrame is a type of textile craft similar to knitting or crocheting. But instead of using hooks or needles to create knots, you use your fingers to tie various knots in string or cord.
Since you don't need to know how to handle any extra tools, many people consider macrame an easier art form to learn than both knitting and crocheting. However, there is still a learning curve, so be patient with yourself as you get the hang of it.
One benefit of macrame compared to similar types of handiwork is that you can more easily undo a mistake. You don’t have to rip out entire rows of stitches, which can be a daunting task for even experienced knitters or crocheters.
Instead, you can remove the last knot you've tied and begin again. Since the cord you use is often thicker than crocheting yarn, it's easier to see what you’re doing.
History Of Macrame
Historians believe macrame has roots in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. Sailors from these areas used the technique to create ornamental pieces for their vessels and to form intricate clothing items.
Fast forward to the 13th century, and you can find evidence of macrame being used in what is now Turkey. Islamic weavers there began using macrame knots to decorate slippers and other garments.
Eventually, this art form spread throughout Europe and then made its way to the United States. British and American sailors practiced the craft making hammocks and belts throughout the 1800s.
It was also popular amongst the Victorians: evidenced by the spate of macrame tablecloths, bedspreads, and curtains that found their way into 19th-century homes.
In the 1970s, macrame became trendy again. Makers crafted plant holders and wall hangings, clothes, and even shoes out of macrame, though materials were often limited to jute and cotton twine.
Although macrame in the 1970s tended to be rough to the touch, today’s macrame is softer and even better to work with thanks to natural cords in cotton and wool. Instagram has pushed the craft's popularity sky-high over the last few years.
Now, thanks to social media and handmade commerce sites, like Etsy, macrame is a big part of popular culture.
Why are people gravitating to it today? It’s simple. People worldwide enjoy macrame for its versatility and the fact that it's super easy to learn.
Today, macrame is a popular hobby among craft enthusiasts. You can find many tutorials online that teach you how to use macrame techniques uniquely.
The GANXXET YouTube channel is a great place to start if you're curious about this art form. You'll find tons of videos with step-by-step directions to help you master a specific macrame knot or give you ideas for a new project.
It’s never been easier to learn how to macrame!
Essential Knots For Macrame
At the base of macrame is a handful of crucial knots you must learn to get started. These include the Square Knot, the Cow's Hitch Knot, the Gathering Knot, and the Clove Hitch Knot.
This video walks you through how to make six basic macrame knots. Hit pause as you watch, and practice each knot until you have them down. Once you feel confident, you can use these knots to create endless designs.
Macrame Tools And Supplies
If you decide to take the plunge into macrame, what will you need?
Basic supplies include a macrame cord, scissors, a measuring tape, and something to tie your project onto. Makers often use dowels, wooden rings, or hoops for this purpose.
The cord is at the heart of macrame-making, so select your material with your project in mind. We’ll dive deeper into this soon. But needless to say, no matter what you're crafting, GANXXET has the cord you need, so be sure to check out our large selection of string, cord, and rope.
Once you have the basics in your art arsenal, you can stock up on more advanced supplies. For example, beads, feathers, shells, and charms can give your pieces extra life. You can also purchase macrame looms to help ensure your knots all line up perfectly.
If you like the look of fringe on your projects, a Macrame Cord Fringe Brush is a must-have. When you brush this accessory over your cord, it helps you achieve a smooth, straight finish.
But when you’re just starting, don’t feel like you have to rush out and buy everything all at once. Instead, pick up a few different types of cord and a sharp pair of scissors and go from there.
Macrame Tips For Beginners
It takes time and practice to become a confident macrame maker, so don't get discouraged if your first attempt doesn't turn out as expected. Instead, use the following tips to help you gain confidence.
- Don't be surprised if family members or friends ask, "What is macrame?" when you tell them what you're doing. Though this art form has gained popularity in recent years, many people still don't know what it is.
- Find macrame makers to follow on social media for connection and inspiration.
- Practice tying knots until you don't even have to think about the steps anymore. This muscle memory will make it easier to work on larger projects.
- Take breaks if needed and come back to it with fresh eyes. It will help you to identify mistakes you may have missed.
- Watch YouTube videos. Seeing someone’s hands tie the knots can help you wrap your head around what a knot looks like when done correctly.
- Use high-quality macrame cord from GANXXET. You’ll experience less fraying and a better-finished product overall.
Finally, remember to start with simple projects and grow from there. Before long, you’ll be crafting amazing pieces with ease.
How To Choose Macrame Cord
When you’re ready to start a project, you’re going to have to choose your macrame cord. But there are so many choices! Macrame cords vary by material, stretch and twist, stiffness and texture, width, and amount.
As we said, you want to look at the specific project you’re doing first. Many times the optimal cord will be specified. The type of cord and number of knots are important in determining how much of a specific cord you’ll need.
There are several types of macrame cord you can choose from: Triple twist (3-Ply) rope, braided cords, or single twist cords.
Note that although the words “cord” and “rope” are often used interchangeably in macrame, both braided and single twist are properly referred to as cords, while triple twist is a rope.
Triple Twist (3 Ply) Rope
With a triple twist rope, many threads comprise three separate strands that are then twisted together. Because it’s made of three strands, it is strong and robust. Triple twist rope also produces a nice fringe.
Braided cords are just what they sound like. Hundreds of strings are braided together, resulting in an exceptionally durable cord. This is a great choice for a beginner because it’s really easy to see your knots. Our braided cords are recycled and come in a rainbow of colorways.
Single Twist Cords
Single twist cords use hundreds of strings twisted together into one cord. These can be more fragile and are also susceptible to unwinding. However, if it’s a nice fringe you’re after, they’re a great choice — but keep in mind they tend to be harder for beginners.
Waxed cord has a coating on the outside, making it stronger and water resistant. This type of cord is often used for jewelry.
As we said, choose the cord based on your project. The more robust triple twist rope and braided cords are commonly used for more hearty projects, such as market bags, wall hangings, and plant hangers.
Single twist cords, on the other hand, tend to be more fragile and delicate, producing lovely knots suitable for jewelry, coasters, and bags.
When you shop for macrame cords, you’ll find that they come in all different thicknesses, measured in millimeters. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll want to select thinner cords for smaller projects and thicker ones for bigger projects.
When choosing a cord width, consider whether you’re going to need to string a bead or shell on it as well. This will help you determine the best cord for you.
As a beginner, it’s best to start with cords 4-7 mm so you can really see and appreciate your knots. Most wall hangings, plant hangers, and bags will use this size cord.
When you’re confident enough to take on smaller projects, like jewelry, keychains, and coasters, you might opt for a 1.5-3 mm cord. This being said, cord width is entirely up to you — feel free to experiment.
But remember: the thicker the cord, the bigger the knot, the more cord you use up.
When figuring out the amount of cord you’ll need, you’ll first have to look at the project you’re doing and the thickness of the rope you plan to use.
Normally, you’ll want to have enough cord for four times the size of your project. However, if your project uses a lot of Lark’s Head Knots that require the string to be folded in half, make that eight times the size of your project.
Also, the more knots you have to make and the thicker the cord, the more cord you’ll need. Most projects will tell you the amount of cord you’ll need, but to be safe, you always want to cut a bit more than you think is necessary.
As for the cord itself, you’ll have to choose whether you want a natural or synthetic cord. Natural materials, such as cotton, wool, linen, or hemp, for instance, are biodegradable and eco-friendly. If you’re interested in playing with color, natural cords can also be dyed.
The one downside of cords made of natural materials is that they may not stand up to the elements as well as synthetic cords. You’ll want to use a cord made of synthetic material, like nylon, acrylic, paracord, or plastic, if you’re crafting a project for outdoor use.
7 Simple Projects To Start With
If you really want to know what macrame is, it’s best to try your hand at it and see. Ready to start? Here are three easy project ideas you can try:
1) A Macrame Plant Hanger
One of the most simple projects you can make is a plant hanger. Using only a simple Overhand Knot and a Gathering Knot, you can create a plant hanger that can accommodate any size pot.
Find the directions in this post: How To Make A Macrame Plant Hanger In 5 Easy Steps
While this particular plant hanger is simple, you can increase the complexity when you're ready. Use different knots and see what style you can come up with. No matter what you create, your plants will look great.
2) A Macrame Bracelet
Adorn your wrist with a handmade macrame bracelet. With just a few basic knots, you can make one for yourself or even as a gift for someone special.
Check out this tutorial: How To Make A Simple DIY Macrame Bracelet
Once you get the basics down, you can try all sorts of combinations to create a one-of-a-kind piece of jewelry.
3) A Macrame Wall Hanging
Wall hangings are the perfect way to add texture and color to your home decor. Since they come in various patterns and sizes, beginners or experienced macrame makers can find inspiration from the many tutorials available.
Start with one from this list: 5 Free Macrame Wall Hanging Patterns For Beginners
When you successfully create your first wall hanging, feel free to experiment and see what else you can make. You'll have your home decorated in no time!
4) A Macrame Coaster
Coasters can add a nice bohemian touch to the table at your next event. These can be all one color or several colors, and they can even be made in different shapes, like squares, circles, knots, or hearts. There are tons of tutorials for all different styles of coasters.
Here’s an easy one to start with, perfect for entertaining on a breezy summer evening. How To Make DIY Macrame Coasters: A Step-By-Step Tutorial
Once you make your first set of coasters, consider making this your signature gift when visiting a friend for a party or gathering.
5) A Macrame Dream Catcher
They say dream catchers will catch any bad dreams when hung over your bed. Whether they work or not, they are great for setting a boho-chic mood. The most fun part of it all: the tail and embellishments.
You can add feathers and beads, ribbon, or lace to your dream catcher. Ready to try it? We have a fun and easy dream catcher tutorial for you. A Step-By-Step Guide To Making Macrame Dream Catchers
When you have this simple dream catcher under your belt, you can try some other more complex designs and experiment with beads, varying colors, and more.
6) A Macrame Headband
Do you have a little one who loves new accessories? Try this sweet DIY headband tutorial to craft a special look using our soft cotton cord. You’ll only have to master a few knots, including the Lark’s Head Knot, Diagonal Clove Hitch Knot, and Square Knot.
Check out our DIY Headband Tutorial.
7) A Macrame Keychain
Making a macrame keychain is a simple and useful project for someone just starting out in macrame. You only need to know three knots for this tutorial: the Lark’s Head Knot, the Square Knot, and the Half-Hitch Knot.
Try out our easy-to-follow tutorial to fashion your first macrame keychain: How To Make A Macrame Keychain: Easy Tutorial. If you decide not to use it for your keys, it can hook on your bag to add some decorative flair!
After you’ve mastered our tutorial, try the wristlet keychain that doubles as a bracelet or, if you’re feeling ambitious, an adorable flamingo keychain.
What Is Macrame? Your New Hobby!
So what is macrame, exactly? It's a handcraft that uses knots to create beautiful works of art. And since tying knots can be relaxing, macrame could be the new hobby you've been searching for.
To help you decide if macrame is for you, pick up some macrame cords from GANXXET and give it a try. You never know; you might find your perfect passion in this fun and creative activity!