Ah, macrame. I’ve always had a strange fondness for what Wikipedia calls “a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting.” I can’t crochet or knit, but I sure can tie a square knot! Popular throughout the 1960s and 70s, macrame is often associated with hanging potted plant holders, wall hangings of various size and shape, jewelry, and sometimes clothing (see above). Rope made from hemp or jute is most often used in macrame, although any other kind of string works depending on the piece.
Projects like the delightful ones above are most often made by attaching lengths of rope to a dowel or rod and then connecting varying series of different types of knots until the desired wall hanging, spice rack holder, or other design is complete. Jewelry such as necklaces and bracelets can be made by attaching the beginning knot or loop of a piece to a pushpin or T-pin and anchoring it to wood or corkboard. I once made a choker out of hemp cord complete with a clay bead that looked like the planet Earth in the middle. That hippie phase probably lasted only as long as it took me to make the choker. Beads are an important component of many macrame projects, though, as they can add stability as well as increase the level of tacky appeal (obviously).
From late 2006 through 2007 I lived in a house out in the suburbs with some close friends of mine. One day, not too long after we moved in, I started noticing hooks in the living room ceiling, mostly in the corners of the room. At first I thought it odd, but then I realized that since the house was built in the late 1960s that the hooks were most likely for indoor hanging potted plants. I sincerely hope that the original owner resembled the lady below and that she proudly festooned the living room with her macrame creations.
Macrame has also woven its way (see what I did there) back into popular culture in recent years, too. Anthropologie used macrame to dramatic effect in their store displays, and it even has a place in more respected design thanks to Marcel Wander’s Knotted Chair that was designed in 1995 for the Droog Design collective. So if anybody tries to give you crap about macrame you can just let them know that it IS in MOMA’s permanent collection, thankyouverymuch!
If you’re at all curious about giving macrame a try yourself, this WikiHow tutorial includes some basic instructions and videos. The step-by-step tutorial by Stone Brash Creative als has good photos of knot types and sequences. Vintage macrame creations of various origin and pattern books abound on etsy, and your local thrift shops are also a great resource.