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Ministry of Craft Blog

    Thursday, October 31, 2019

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    Macramé, why knot?

     

    Macramé, why knot?

     

    For those of a certain age, the word “macramé” might spark painful memories of fringed waistcoats, owl wall-hangings, and rope hammocks.

    More than forty years on you may feel it’s still too soon for a comeback, but macramé is having something of an extended moment in the sun. This time the overly fussy hangings and figurative designs have been ditched in favour of a more organic styling; recycled cotton in neutral tones, bleached driftwood and potted succulents reign.

     
     

    Macramé is the art of tying knots. It is an ancient art form that dates back to the thirteenth century, and is thought to have originated from Arab weavers. These artisans knotted the excess thread and yarn along the edges of hand-loomed fabrics into decorative fringes on bath towels, shawls, and veils.

    The Spanish word macramé is derived from the Arabic migramah (مقرمة), believed to mean “striped towel”, “ornamental fringe” or “embroidered veil.” The art spread through Europe and was introduced into England at the court of Mary II in the late 17th century. Queen Mary taught the art of macramé to her ladies-in-waiting.

    Sailors made macramé objects in off hours while at sea, and sold or bartered them when they landed, thus spreading the art to places like China and the New World. Nineteenth-century British and American sailors made hammocks, bell fringes, and belts from macramé. They called the process “square knotting” after the knot they used most frequently. Sailors also called macramé “McNamara’s Lace”.

    In Victorian times, macramé was extremely popular as a lacework, and was used for adornments on everything from sleeves to underclothing, curtains and jewellery.


    Though the craze for macramé faded, it regained popularity during the 1970s as a means to make wall hangings, articles of clothing, bedspreads, small jean shorts, tablecloths, draperies, plant hangers and other furnishings. You weren’t truly a free spirit unless you could knock out a macramé string purse. That was, until, like platforms and velvet kaftans, it disappeared into a vat of fondue and was gone.

    By the early 1980s macramé had again begun to fall out of fashion, but over the last five years the craft has been making a steady comeback. Thanks to Instagram, Etsy, Pinterest, and other social and e-commerce sites, modern macrame is a global trend that is knot going anywhere anytime soon.


    Rope, cord, string or yarn can be made out of natural materials such as cotton, linen, hemp, jute, leather or wool. These are ideal for indoor projects, home décor, jewellery, accessories, gift-wrap & textiles. They are also biodegradable, therefore making them a good earth-friendly option for crafting. Synthetic fibres include polypropylene, acrylic, nylon & plastic and are ideal for outdoor projects as they will hold up well rain or shine & not break down over time with the elements.

    Rope comes in such a wide variety of sizes/diameters, some more suitable for certain projects than others. Smaller ropes, 3mm or less work wonderfully for jewellery. Medium ropes, 4mm-7mm are perhaps most commonly used, perfect for plant hangers, wall hangings, furniture, lanterns, curtains, rugs, etc. Large ropes, 8mm-12mm (and bigger) make a visual statement and are so fun to work with particularly for wall hangings. 

    Introduction to Macramé is one of our most popular workshops, it's easy to pick up and once you get a rhythm going it’s very therapeutic and you can lose yourself. Customers who attend our workshop love the rustic feel to macramé and how the effects are so quick and immediate. 


    Happy Knotting!

     


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