Macrame is a textile project made by creating knots. You’ve probably seen it around at some point, even if you didn’t know the name of it. Macrame art is big right now, from wall hangings to plant hangers and even jewelry! Let’s dig a bit deeper into this amazing craft and find out, what is macrame?
With boho fashion coming back in trend and the rise of the “warm minimalism” style of interior decorating, macrame crafts take center stage as a great DIY skill to help you decorate both yourself and your home.
A gorgeous macrame wall hanging can make you feel like your humble closet is really the dressing room in a trendy store. Macrame plant hangers can lend your room a cozy, homemade vibe while freeing up precious window space. Macrame can also feature on your dining table in so many ways: coasters, placemats, a table runner, napkin ties, pot holders, and the list goes on.
Simply put, you’d be doing your home a disservice by ignoring the homemade beauty and utter genius of these simple little knots.
Let’s take a look at the humble beginnings and historic uses for macrame crafts to give ourselves an appreciation for how far it’s come. Then, we’ll dive right into how you can add macrame to your skillset and create incredible, envy-worthy projects with this art of knotting.
A brief history of macrame
To understand the history of macrame, it’s important to think about what kinds of people would have spent their time inventing and tying lots and lots of knots. The word itself comes from Arabic, and in the 13th century, the master weavers in Arab nations used macrame to finish off their projects.
Sailors, too, spent time learning macrame. With plenty of time on their hands at sea and a vast knowledge of knots, they created items both practical and decorative. Macrame knots could save their lives during a storm or form a secure hammock to help them fall asleep! Selling their macrame crafts at ports was how macrame art spread to the rest of the world.
Macrame crafting remained popular for centuries in Europe because it was a simple way for noblewomen to pass the time and create textiles for their homes.
Macrame has always been a way to create practical pieces of gorgeous, woven art. Looking at the history of macrame gives us an appreciation for its many uses and an understanding of how we might use its techniques, too.
Macrame ideas for beginners
Alright, so you know you want to try your hand at creating macrame projects, but you’re not sure how to start. Good news! Macrame is as simple as you make it, and there are so many different crafts to try. Just type “macrame ideas for beginners” or “macrame projects” into Pinterest, and you could scroll for miles.
Think about how you would like to use macrame crafts. Will you display your macrame craft in your home, or do you prefer to wear macrame designs?
Since you’re a beginner, you’ll want to pick an easy macrame project so you don’t get frustrated. We’ll talk a little bit more about that later, but for now, here are some simple macrame ideas for beginners to get you started.
- Key chain
- Friendship bracelets
- Wall hanging
- Plant holder
- Produce hammock
- Strap for a handbag, camera, etc.
- Hand sanitizer holder/purse accessory
How to start macrame as a beginner
Luckily, macrame crafts are totally accessible for beginners. There’s not a whole lot of set-up involved, and after you gather your supplies and learn a few knots, you’ll be making magic. We’ll give a few helpful tips at the end to make your first few projects go more smoothly.
The most important rule of thumb for any beginner crafter is: start small.
The last thing you want to do when learning a new skill – like macrame – is to do too much, too fast. Let’s stick to two or three of the simpler macrame knots first and master them before moving on to more ambitious ones.
There are three basic macrame knots you’ll need to learn to get started making macrame crafts. They are:
- Lark’s Head Knot – Fold your piece of twine in half. Position the fold behind your mounting ring. Fold the curve over the front of the mounting ring and pull the ends through. Pull to tighten.
- Square Knot – Make an “x” with two pieces of twine. Cross each end over once more, creating a twist. Repeat this by making another “x” and twisting again. Pull to tighten.
- Double Half Hitch Knot – Create a “t” shape by wrapping a piece of twine once around another piece from behind. Take the bottom of the wrapped twine and wrap it again, this time around the front of the cross. Pull to tighten.
Watching videos on how to do these knots is really the best way to learn. I recommend browsing YouTube for some great visual references on how to tie macrame knots. Here’s a good one to get you started:
Not only is macrame easy for beginners to pick up, but it’s also pretty cost-friendly! The supplies for macrame crafting are simply:
- Measuring tape
- Push pins or sewing pins
- Mounting ring (or something to anchor your project)
As you become more familiar with macrame crafts, you may start to incorporate beads and other baubles into your designs. You may also pick up new techniques, like using a brush to fan out your twine, which is how macrame crafters make fringe and feathers.
Tips for macrame projects
Aside from knowing how to answer the question, “what is macrame,” you need to know how to get started creating macrame projects. To make sure your macrame crafts are easy, fun, and as gorgeous as possible, here are a few helpful tips to start you out.
Best Cord for macrame
Cotton is the best fiber to use for macrame crafts. At the store, many products will be labeled specifically for macrame crafts and macrame projects. Pick something with a good thickness. Tying knots is easier to do with a thicker gauge macrame cord, so until you get the hang of it, a thick cord is best for macrame.
Setting up your macrame work station
Your macrame workstation will look different depending on your project. For smaller macrame crafts or horizontal projects, your desk will do just fine.
If your project is larger, you’ll want to go vertical and hang it up to work. You can hang it over a door or on a doorknob, for example.
Either way, tension is key. Keeping tension in your twine will make it easier to work with and knot.
Measuring macrame twine
Measure your twine before you do any cutting!
Save yourself some twine by doing a good, precise job during this step. You’ll only need to measure the first length of twine you cut, and then you can use that piece as a guide for the rest of them, but be patient and don’t rush.
Think about the knots you want to make when you go to cut your macrame twine. Since the lark’s head knot, for example, gets folded in half, you’ll need twice the length of twine to get your desired length. Thick twine will also need to be cut a bit longer since the knots will have more surface area.
You’ll get the feel for macrame crafts and macrame projects in no time, so don’t worry if your first attempts look a bit strange. Like with anything, there’s a learning curve to making macrame crafts. Be patient with yourself, and you’ll be knotting like a professional in no time!
Here are some answers to some frequently asked questions about macrame.
Is macrame a craft or an art?
The difference between arts and crafts is essentially one of interpretation. Art is an expression of emotion. Craft is a showcase of skill. Therefore, macrame is a craft.
This is the technical answer, but we call macrame “art” more than a few times in this article. Any craft has the potential to express and inspire emotion, and the word “art” implies beauty!
Can you make macrame with yarn?
You can’t make macrame with yarn. Technically you can, but you shouldn’t. Yarn is so much harder to work with than macrame twine. It’s thin, will unravel easily, and worst of all, it stretches like crazy!
Macrame crafts made with yarn won’t be durable even if you do manage to work with the flimsy string. Skip yarn and go for soft, cotton rope and twine instead.
What do I need for macrame?
As we explained above, you really don’t need much to get started making macrame crafts. For macrame, you need twine and some simple tools from around the house – that’s it!
Do I need to know how to knit to do macrame?
Absolutely not! This is a common misconception, but it couldn’t be further from the truth. While macrame and knitting or even crocheting can all look similar, macrame is the easiest of the three for beginners to learn.
Where to find free macrame patterns?
Not all macrame patterns are free, but so many are! Lots of makers publish tutorials on their blogs.
What is Macrame – Wrap up
Macrame is a versatile, practical, and beautiful craft with a storied past and a bright future. It has never gone out of style for very long and has remained relevant for literal centuries.
With all of the things you can do with macrame crafts, it’s little surprise why. Jewelry, wall art, rugs, curtains, clothing… The list of things you can make with macrame seems endless.
What are some of your favorite macrame designs, whether you’ve made it yourself or seen it in a store?