The making of textiles using knotting techniques.
|Historic area of significance|
|Area currently practised||UK wide|
|Origin in the UK||17th Century|
Macramé style knots date back for many thousands of years to the Babylonians and Assyrians. Fringe-like plaiting and braiding are also found across the Middle East and northern Africa, and are thought to have arrived in the UK, via Europe, in the 17th Century.
Macramé is said to have been carried out in the court of Mary II in the late 17th Century, but was most popular during the reign of Queen Victoria. It was also popular amongst 19th Century sailors who would have made hammocks, belts etc. using knotting techniques.
The popularity of macramé faded but had a resurgence in the 1970s in the form of wall hangings, plant hangers, clothing, jewellery and other accessories. It is also currently enjoying a revival and has seen a resurgence driven by social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest.
Macramé uses a series of knots, primarily based on the square (reef) knot and various combinations of half hitches. Ornamental knots can become very elaborate, particularly those used in nautical rope craft.
Cavandoli macramé is one variety that is used to form geometric and free-form patterns like weaving. The Cavandoli style is done mainly in a single knot, the double half-hitch knot.
Micro-macramé is used to describe small macrame items such as knotted jewellery.
The friendship bracelets commonly made by teens and children also use macrame techniques.
Issues affecting the viability of the craft
- For some time (before the more recent revival) macrame was a symbol of the 1970’s and in the following decades was seen as somewhat passé.
- The rise of mass-produced, cheaper items made macramé less popular as a functional craft – it is easy to purchase similar items for less money
- When considered alongside crafts like crocheting and knitting, macramé felt less relevant but it is now enjoying a revival as a craft due to platforms such as Instagram and Tiktok.
- Lack of professional training programmes
Craftspeople currently known
Harvey, Virginia, (1967) Macrame: the art of creative knotting (Van Nostrand Reinhold), pp. 9-30. ISBN 0-442-23191-1. OCLC 948758577.
Buck, Stephanie, (19 September 2017) ‘Macramé is the knotty trend millennials Instagrammed back from the dead’, Timeline.
Pawson, Des, (2016) Knot Craft and Rope Mats: 60 Ropework Projects Including 20 Mat Designs