Macramé and Its Chunky Charm

The art of the knot is making a comeback, and it looks better than ever

Creativity 5 min read Sep 25, 2019

When you hear the terms “square knot” or “clove hitch”, your thoughts might go back to summer camp, where you’ve had to learn about the kinds of knots and how these could help you set up a tent, secure boats to wharfs, even save lives.

But did you know these same knots can also breathe new life into your living room or patio? We mean by décor, through the lesser known art of making textiles called macramé.

Macramé is done by tying thick cords into knots to create form and patterns, no needles or shuttles required. The thicker and chunkier the better. All you need are your choice of cord and a rod or thick twig to ‘anchor’ your knots.

If you know how to do a lark’s head knot (which, despite its name, is quite easy to do), a square knot (also called “reef knot”) and its variations, a clove hitch, and an overhand knot, you can do macramé.

The relative simplicity of doing macramé is making it an increasingly popular alternative to knitting, crochet, and certainly, tatting. It is not the first time macramé made the charts, so to speak: It was quite popular in the 1970s, a time when jute, a common cord material, was popular and seemed to provide a balance to the swing to synthetic fabrics of fashion at the time.

But like glossy makeup from that era, macramé is making a comeback. And with more materials available now to knot into art, modern macramé pieces are now more sleek and self-assured, not merely rebellious. (Scroll down to our Instagram picks below and see exactly what we mean.)

The term macramé comes from either migramah, a 13th century Arabic word for “fringe,” or mikrama, Turkish for “napkin or “towel.” In the old days, macramé had a mainly utilitarian purpose, such as covering for knives or bottles. Today, it is used mainly to create home decor, as well as articles of clothing, accessories, or even shoes.

Some designers, such as Salvatore Ferragamo, have dipped into the old art.

Here’s more of our favorite macramé pieces on Instagram.

From funky home furnishing…

and wall décor…

To bags…

clothing and footwear…

and trinkets…

…to these dreamy dreamcatchers!

As you can see from some of the pictures, macramé has been used with finer cords to lend its nonchalant charm to smaller items such as earrings and necklaces, or to make macramé lace using even finer thread.

But the appeal of macramé owes a lot to the fact that, if you do it with the traditional thick cords, you actually use your fingers and hands, and can thus arrive at a large-size piece in far less time than by crochet or knitting. Macramé is also very much an option even to those suffering from joint pain or a simple lack of dexterity.

Does this sound like something you want to try doing right away?

Together now, “I can knot!”