What’s Old is New: Macramé Jewelry Making
My mom is a macramé wizard. Growing up, we grew spider plants in handmade macramé hanging planters (affiliate link). I remember combing through a stack of macramé books and a tub of jute cord and big wooden beads. When I started making friendship bracelets, Mom showed me to do interesting knots. Later, she helped me make macramé jewelry using hemp cord. It’s no wonder she enjoyed it so much. There’s something very meditative about knotting — and it’s fun to make something special from a few pieces of string. As the poet Jean Toomer says, “We learn the rope of life by untying its knots.”
Most people associate macramé with the 1970s, but it has been around a lot longer. According to Wikipedia, macramé comes from a 13th-century Arabic weavers’ word migramah meaning “fringe.” Macramé traveled from north Africa to Spain with the Moors, and as a result of this conquest it spread, firstly to France, and then throughout Europe. Queen Mary taught the art of macramé to her ladies-in-waiting and macramé became very popular during the Victorian Era. It has been used around the world to create adornments and decorations on household goods.
One of the beautiful things about macramé is that you can use the same techniques with different materials and get totally different results. So, you can use a square knot pattern with embroidery floss for a delicate bracelet or with leather cord for a thicker bracelet. You can also start out with a few simple knots and work your way toward more elaborate ones.
Macramé Jewelry Making and More
Here are some macramé ideas to get you started:
Hip to Bead
I made this macramé belt for my book, Hip to Bead. I was really into bell-bottom jeans and all things bohemian back then. If I’m being honest, I pretty much love the same things now! And, this belt looks great with 1970s-inspired fashions. You can make your own Knotty Hemp Belt using alternating square knots and beads. This project grew from a bracelet I made using the same pattern in miniature, which is one of the very cool things about macramé. You can size your knots, cords, and beads up or down depending on what you want to make.
How to Macramé by Dorothy Wood features elegant macramé jewelry and accessories. Dorothy is an authorized Swarovski instructor who enjoys mixing beads into her macramé designs. This guide includes all of the essential techniques in detail with clear step-by-step photographs and instructions, taking you from beginner to expert in no time. There’s a technique section so you can master your skills, and then try your hand at colorful jewelry projects.
Keep Macramé Mod
There are 25 trendy projects in Mod Knots: Creating Jewelry and Accessories with Macramé by Cathi Milligan. You’ll learn step by step the basic techniques of macramé as well as how to create projects from yarn, leather, cord and even wire. You’ll make necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and bags. Whether you’re a first time knotter or a pro at the craft, you’ll be inspired by the stylish projects in this book. One of my favorite projects is the square knot coin necklace — it’s simple to make and it looks so pretty!
Macramé Pattern Collection
Dive into summertime macramé projects with this inspiring collection. Knotty Beading: 10 Fun Macramé and Knotting Projects includes necklaces and bracelets that are fun to make and wear. These are simple, getting-started projects in a wide variety of styles — there’s something for everyone in this collection. If you make all of the projects, you’ll learn a variety of techniques and you’ll have a colorful wardrobe infusion when you’re finished, or you can pick and choose your favorites at a great value.
Macramé for Your Home
The beautiful projects in Macramé for Beginners and Beyond bring the current trend for hippy luxe, boho interiors into your home. The authors are Australian fiber artists who are leading designers in the world of macramé. Macramé for Beginners and Beyond features wall hangings, a chair, a children’s swing, and more. You’ll learn all of the basic knots, plus, decorative knots like the Chinese crown in a large, décor-oriented scale. Each of the boutique chic designs is totally pin-worthy.
It has made me smile to see macramé jewelry and home décor in stores this spring/summer retail season. I love it that one my favorite jewelry making techniques is back in style. The white cotton cording that’s prevalent now is a fresh, updated look for macramé. And, you can rock it old school with stone or wooden beads, or you can use crystals for an updated look. There are so many ways to make it your own.
Macramé is one of those techniques with multiple benefits: It’s relaxing and productive at the same time. I recommend starting out with repetitive knots and then using different knots together in the same pattern. When I was learning how to do macramé, I taped my cords to the back of a chair. When I wanted to be more portable, I attached my cords to a safety pin and pinned it to the leg of my jeans. These days, there are all kinds of different knotting boards to make it easier.
Macramé Jewelry Making and Other Throwbacks
Looking back can definitely jog our creativity. Throwback Thursday: High School Jewelry Box by Tammy Honaman is a fun read. If you’re like me and you’ve loved macramé for a long time, then I hope this roundup inspires you to pick up your cords and start knotting. If you’ve never given it a try, then choose your favorite project from this article and get started!
Interim Managing Editor of Beadwork