Picture of Sylvias book of macrame lace from 1865

What is the purpose of macrame?

Macrame is the relatively modern term for a craft that has been done in one form or another for millennia. Macrame as we know it, is essentially knotting fibre together to form both functional and decorative items.
As such, the most obvious origin and ‘purpose‘ would likely have developed from sailing communities and fishing villages. When knotting nets by hand, and weaving ropes from different fibres, then it would be natural to create useful things for the home and your daily life.
An early term for this knot work came from sailors of the 19th Century knotting decorative items on ships to sell at various ports. The name they gave this knot work was ‘McNamara’s Lace’


Who invented Macrame?

It’s unlikely that the art of macrame can be attributed to one ‘person’ or group. As humans would have knotted fibres from tree bark, plants, and animal products for millennia. Wrapping fibres around metal or stone blades and wooden tools is an obvious way of making them easier to handle. The natural step would be to weave a holder for the weapon or tool.
Many cultures have beautiful examples of knot work that are purely decorative, however the term ‘macrame’ did not appear in print until 1865 with the most famous example being ‘Sylvia’s book of Macrame Lace’ in 1882. The etymology of Macrame is likely to be Turkish macrama or Arabic miqrama which mean napkin or coverlet.


What material is used for macrame?

Basically, any type of cord or light rope can be used. As macrame is all about the knot-work, then it might be best to let your knots speak and use a plain coloured, natural fibre such as cotton, hemp, or t-shirt yarn. T-shirt yarn can be eco-friendly as it often comes from the unused selvedge from rolls of cotton textiles.

Can I teach myself macrame?

Macrame is an ideal craft to teach yourself.  The Orry Mill have a range of books to start simple projects





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