Macramé sampler

          Once the decision to stop making Macrame to sell to other people was made, my mojo came back enough to feel like making something for myself. I rummaged around in the inevitable boxes of crafting supplies which every crafter gathers and found myself some 9″ square rings to play with. I acquired these when I spent a day wandering around Weymouth on my “Lampshade shenanigans” and came home with the rings from two matching square lampshades, amongst many other different shapes and sizes.

          I had a good stash of beads, and charms galore, a choice of green or brown twine, or natural cotton string, and a selection of a few little favourite trinkets that I’d saved especially for myself.

          I chose the cotton string and some small wooden beads, and started by breaking the square shape into two triangle sections with berry knots on the top left, and some twists decorated with the small beads in the bottom right.

          As with most things I make, when I started I had no idea what I was going to do next or how it would end. After placing the second square frame below the first a few times, I decided to move it over to the right instead of directly below, using half of the remaining strings in the new frame, and leaving the other half over to the left for later.

          As it turned out, once the square was tied on, the next pattern didn’t present itself in my imagination so I actually made the little left panel first. I had a selection of butterfly charms I’d acquired for using on various other designs and after tying off the strings securely at the base of the top square, I knotted the butterflies into a simple panel with an edging I’d used for making a bookmark previously.

          There’s a nail on the wall in my living room where most of my Macrame hangs while it’s being made. I sit drinking my coffee and just smile at it, or I walk past it day after day until the inspiration hits me. Whilst I was happy enough with the butterfly panel, and was looking forward to starting the next square, I couldn’t bring myself to pass further until I had made a decision about the top right section.

          Gravity wasn’t impressed with my idea of knotting from the lower square upwards and I wasn’t happy leaving it empty. Eventually I hit on an idea to defy gravity – I would knot around a length of wire. I used the strings I was knotting onto the top of the next square to secure one end of the wire, then knotting just two pieces of string around the wire, I threaded heart-shaped charms on at regular intervals as I went. Eventually I was suitably satisfied and ended up with a result vaguely resembling a climbing vine.

          Meanwhile, the inspiration arrived for a tree of life in my second square. Not the standard plain symmetrical one though, this was to have dark brown beads, representing leaves, knotted onto the branches, and the trunk was to be way over to the right instead of near the centre, creating an empty space in the design … Where I hung a single long bead on two strings, and made my first swing.

          The knotting of strings is not an exact science. If you were to make the same design over and over again, you could work out roughly how much string to knot onto your start, but since I very seldom know anything in advance, I have to use a great deal of adjustments to the amount of string I use. Adding extra strings to fill a gap is easy, it just needs something to knot onto, taking strings away, or extending them took a bit of working out, and is most easily achieved during a twisted pattern.

          During the making of the tree, I had added long fresh strings to make the branches on the right, these were pulled out for the roots on the right at the base for the outside panel, and the rest were used in the next square where my fingers put together a suitably spiralled design to incorporate any string changes needed.

          In my little stash of charms just for me, I had a lighthouse. Two anemone shapes and a couple of starfish. I used the sea anemones to decorate the spirals and went in search of a few more charms to add to a seaside design.

          I was looking for some clouds and a bit of sunshine for the sky but in the end I settled for a nighttime picture and added stars to the sky instead. The lighthouse was to sit on some rocks made out of Berry knots, and I found a couple of small sail boats to sit on the horizon. The stars turned out well in the sky, because I wove some silver ribbon in between the knots to make the sea, and added a seahorse to the starfish, and a crab and shell on the beach.

          This is how the sampler stayed for many months. My mojo had disappeared again. I busied myself with some “Patchwork“. It didn’t need any thinking and was very repetitive, but that was good. It kept my fingers busy while my brain took a couple of months off.

          All this time, the almost finished knotting just hung on the wall waiting for inspiration until one day I picked it up and tied a few more knots.

          This was to be the bottom square so I had a plan to sort of mirror the top one to draw everything together into one piece instead of lots of little ones. I had a box of large beads, including two with a zebra-like pattern and so I gathered the strings together into thick twists, which again helped me to extend some of the strings which weren’t going to make it to the end.

          I threaded the large beads on and knotted below them to keep them in place, and then secured the twisted knots to a diagonal piece of cotton.

          I took a while to think over the next bit. I wanted the twisted strings to sit vertically, but when I spread them out in place, they left gaps on the diagonal string. At times like this if I had made a plan I would have to change it, but instead I just knotted another two strings into each gap and tied the next knots really tightly, then made a line of spirals to tie the ends in securely so that I could just cut them back off again.

          Happy with the result, I tied everything off at the bottom of the square and combed the single strands out of the cotton to make a fringe.

          I had just one little panel left, this could either make or break the whole thing. I had too many strings so I separated them and set half of them into twists cutting them off… But didn’t like it. They sat for a while until I decided to undo the twists. Undoing knots takes just as long as knotting them, but since I liked the fringe on the bottom of the last square, I made a fringe to match along the top of the panel and brought the remaining strings down behind it…

          I’d had the idea if adding a tiny dreamcatcher here, I dug a tiny ring out of the craft supplies, the top ring from a small lampshade and gathered some feather charms. I decided to use the silver ribbon for the Web and was ready to go.

          I had made a couple of dreamcatchers to sell, but didn’t make many because I didn’t really like the result. I wanted to add just a ittle one here as everything else I’d made was represented but when I came to it, I had to go back to Mr Google for help because I’d forgotten how. I stitched the middle end over and over to secure it. I had always put something in the middle of my others to cover the centre and I think this was my problem. Once the Web was made I knotted it into the remaining strings, wrapped them all tightly around the outside, and freed them at the bottom to be twisted.

          Once I started adding the feather charms I knew I’d cracked it and my fingers finished it off bt themselves.

          The whole caboodle has taken months and months to complete, not sheerly because of the number of knots, admittedly. It hangs at three feet long and just over a foot wide. It’s been good, I’ve enjoyed making it and I’m very happy with the result.

          This particular piece isn’t for sale, maybe one day it will be, but not for a while … In the meantime, I’ve already got a few ideas arriving in my head to play around with next.

          More from before: A little peek further into the world that I’ve “Created“.

4 thoughts on “Macramé sampler

  1. Absolutely phenomenal! I remember when macrame was a thing that so many of us did, way back in the 70s…but we made plant hangers at best. Nothing nearly as exquisite as what you just made! Thanks for sharing it!

    • Thanks Dawn, back in the 70’s was my first time around with Macrame too, I think I made a few belts, but didn’t quite aspire to a knotted waistcoat. My sister made a plant hanger, but even now I don’t enjoy making those.
      Traditional Macrame has been making a comeback, but I’ve never quite fitted into the traditional category so my knotting is a little different. 😂

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