When some crafters hear the word “macramé” many have flashbacks to large rope pieces designed for holding plants and neutral colored wall hangings. What I didn’t realize until Anne created her ornament here, was how I have been watching the technique being worked all summer long. One of Anne’s resources was Weldon’s Practical Macramé Lace. Current PieceWork magazine subscribers can enjoy a sampling of the ebook, now available in our All Access library. —Katrina
Macramé work, or knotting, is of very ancient origin, and dates as far back as the sixteenth century, when it was much used in Italy and Spain for beautifying ecclesiastical linen and priests’ vestments. The word “Macramé” is of Eastern derivation, and signifies “a cloth with an ornamental fringe;” it, therefore, was applied by the Italians in the neighbourhood of Genoa to a kind of huckaback material, the ends of which were fringed and knotted in various fanciful devices. Macramé work has lately revived in favour and is certainly both a pleasant and a useful occupation; it is easily and quickly executed, and is so strong that once done it lasts almost forever.
The term “knotting” is very appropriate, as the whole work in its modernised form consists of a series of knots so interwoven and combined one with another as to form a “pattern” more or less elaborate, according to the skill of the worker and the purpose for which the work is required.
Uses of Macramé
Many useful articles can be made in macramé work, such as table and mantel borders; brackets, fringes for household linen and towels, nightdress cases, handkerchief sachets, wall pockets, tidies, work-bags, shopping-baskets, cosies, insertions for antimacassars, and fringes for dress trimmings.
Borrowing a page from Weldon’s and some of my daughter’s thread, I had fun working some macramé.
The materials for macramé work are quite inexpensive. Linen thread, otherwise called Macramé Twine, is generally preferred, and is now manufactured in several lovely shades of cream, ecru, brown, green, porcelain-blue, terra-cotta, and old-gold, both course and fine.
Maltese thread and fine flax thread are used for ornamenting household linen, and crochet cotton or silk twist for costume trimming. A skillful worker may commence knotting by looping the threads into the material itself, and in some instances the work can be executed with the same threads of which the material is composed by drawing out the threads one way of the fabric and leaving the others to be knotted.
Requisites for Macramé
An oblong cushion or some kind of frame is absolutely necessary to work upon. A useful cushion can be made at home: procure a piece of strong unbleached calico, and make a bag about 18 inches or 20 inches long and 8 inches wide, stuff this firmly with bran, and place it in a shallow box of corresponding size, which box must be heavily weighted with lead or sand. The bag should stand an inch above the level of the box, and be covered on the top with bright ingrain cashmere or cloth.
Much good work is done upon a plain deal board, a bar being nailed on either end to raise the threads slightly above the surface of the board.
Another requisite is a box of steel toilet pins with round glass heads, as now and then a pin will be wanted to keep a thread down in place. A crochet hook, too, is useful, especially to a beginner, to insert under threads where the fingers cannot go. And a pair of strong sharp scissors must not be forgotten.
Details of Macramé
The great beauty of macramé consists in manipulating every knot tightly and evenly; every knot must be drawn in place before the next knot is worked, and great care must be exercised to preserve the same distances when repeating the pattern, and to retain the threads in the same consecutive order in which they were first arranged. Some of the threads being used more than others will work up very quickly—experience will determine these; and as joining is rather awkward, if uncertain of the length required, cut more than necessary rather than not sufficient, and when one scallop is finished it is comparatively easy to estimate the lengths for the next.