Holy s#$%. I don’t know if I’m as crafty as I thought I was! I went into this project thinking it would be pretty easy and emerged hours later with a sore back and a new found respect for macramé crafters.
Nonetheless, learned a few tips about macramé that might save you some trouble that I inevitably ran into, and ultimately I’m quite happy about the end result.
For starters, macramé is actually pretty simple in theory. Once you understand the basics, you can design any sort of pattern you want; this door curtain was my own pattern that I thought of, so, considering it was my first macramé project, you can see that it’s not that hard to master. I’ll try my best to explain the knots I used here, but know that there are a ton of sites out there to help you out if I fail. All you need to get started is a long wooden dowel proportionate to your project, and macrame cord! (beads optional!)
The first thing you need to know is how much macramé cord– something you can find easily at any craft store– you are going to use. A little bit of research told me that there is no precise way to calculate this, but that a general rule of thumb is to measure each strand 3 1/2 to 4 times longer than the desired end length. THIS DID NOT WORK FOR ME! When you are designing something like a door curtain for an entryway up to 7ft tall, you can see how it got really messy. After much frustration, I risked going only about 2 1/2 times the end height: even with this cut-back, I ended up trimming a lot of extra (wasted) cord in the end! Moral of the story is, it really depends on your design. If you knot a pattern like this one where there are a lot of spaces and where a majority of it is going to be left as is, then you can easily start of with 2x the end length. HOWEVER, when I started to try and knot the free flowing strands into half-knotted spirals, I ran out of cord QUICK and had to back track. The best advice I can give is to use your judgement on how ‘knotted’ versus ‘spacey’ your pattern is going to be, and range between 2x – 4x the ending length to begin with (I can’t really speak for the knotted patterns). And keep in mind, it is easier to end up with too much than to fall short!
Okay. Now we are going to bind the strands on! Each pair of ‘two’ is actually one strand that is twice as long folded in half. We are going to use what is called a ‘reverse larkshead knot’. Lay the dowel on top of a folded loop, and pull the ends through the loop towards you. (So sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this! If you refer to the above photo, however, you can see it’s pretty simple)
The only other knots you are going to need to know for this pattern are square knots and a double half hitch knot.
Start with four strands. The middle two strands will never move. By the end of the square knot, it will look like the first strand is looped under these two middle strands, and the fourth strand is looped over them. Keeping this in mind, the first strand will always go UNDER the two middle strands, while the fourth strand will always go OVER. It gets confusing when the 1st and 4th meet at each end, and you have to figure out which goes over and which goes under.
So, beginning with strand #1, pass UNDER 2 and 3. Leave it horizontal so that the next step makes sense. Take strand #4, and pass UNDER strand #1 and OVER 3 and 2. When strand 4 meets strand 1 on the left side, pass it between the loop created by strands #1 and 2, front to back. Refer to the picture above on the top left.
You have just created what is called a ‘half knot’. If you keep going with this, you will end up with a spiral, kind of like the ones you see in macrame planters.
Let’s continue with the square knot. By now, the strand positions, from left to right, are 4 2 3 1. Take strand 4 and pass it OVER 2 and 3. Pick up strand 1, and pass it UNDER 4, 3, and 2. When it meets strand 4 on the other side, bring it through the loop between 4 and 2 from BACK to FRONT. This step is pictured in the bottom left photo above.
When you tighten the knot for this pattern, hold the knot down where you want it to be located. It’s up to you how far apart you want the loops to be!
The next knot you need to know is the diagonal double half hitch. This knot is what makes the definitive, raised lines across a pattern. I honestly don’t know if I’m doing this one right, but this is how I interpreted it. You have a holding cord which you are going to hold horizontal to your working cords. Take the first working cord and pull it over and behind the working cord. When you are going left to right, move this loop to the left a little and basically repeat it. Someone let me know if I am doing this wrong!?
Alright, now here is the pattern to this curtain:
Row 1: Reverse larkshead knots
Row 2: Beads to end
Row 3: Square knots, starting with first strand
Row 4: Square knots, starting with third strand (so the first two and last two strands will be left unknotted)
Row 5: Square knots, starting with first strand
Row 6: Square knots, starting with third strand. Leave 4 strands in the middle unknotted.
Row 7: Square knots, starting with first strand. Leave 8 strands in the middle unknotted.
Row 8: Square knots, starting with the third strand. Leave 12 strands in the middle unknotted.
Row 9: Square knots, starting with the first strand. Leave 16 strands in the middle unknotted.
Row 10: Square knots, starting with the third strand. Leave 20 strands in the middle unknotted.
Row 11: Square knots, starting with the first strand. Leave 24 strands in the middle unknotted.
Rows 12-13: You should be left with the ^ shaped pattern. String on beads, leaving the outer 2 strands on each side unbeaded.
Row 14: Diagonal double half hitch knots from left to right, following the ^ shape and using leftmost cord as the holding cord.
Row 15: String on beads, leaving about a 1 1/2 inch gap.
Row 16: Diagonal double half hitch knots from right to left, following the ^ shape and using rightmost cord (not the one you just used in row 13) as the holding cord. The holding cord from row 13 should be the first double half hitch knot, tied up by row 13.
THAT’S IT! After a bunch of adjusting and evening, mount your dowel up with curtain hooks, and trim the bottom accordingly.
All I can say is, actually working through it and reading about it are two entirely different things. As you get going, the more you start to get the hang of it, the more you’ll be able to improvise and even imagine new patterns when the opportunity comes.