From One Little Knot
Many Micro Macramé Projects Grow
By Kris and Bob Buchanan of Aesthetic License
Yup it’s true! By mastering just one simple knot, which many of you may already know or remember from the macramé craze of the 1970 and 80s, you can create beautiful beaded necklaces and bracelets.
While it’s NOT 1970 anymore and the hemp knotted macramé of that era are now often found stored away in attics or trunks, or in my case in my mother-in-law’s house as a plant hanger collecting dust in a corner of her kitchen, all is not lost.
The same knotting techniques done with fine thread or cord is making a dramatic comeback in fine beaded jewelry. It’s a craze just taking hold. It is beginning to be taught at national shows, illustrated in magazine articles and published in how-to-books, like my recent book series titled The All New Micro Macramé.
And while beaded macramé jewelry often looks complex, and hard to make, in reality many only require mastering one simple knot, like the square knot or double half-hitch discussed below.
The Square Knot
A macramé Square Knot is basically simple. It is used to tie a knot around one or more other threads. This is a little different than just tying a square knot with two threads, as you may have learned in Girl Scouts. Think of the macramé Square Knot as under, over, over, under. Just grab three or four pieces of thread, any thread, and you can start practicing this knot using four simple steps.
Once you have mastered the knotting, you can add beads to create beautiful designs. One of the easiest and fastest projects is the Square Knotted, macramé bracelet as shown at right.
Many beaders using this bracelet design from my book have completed the project in one evening and some have even added their own unique twists, such as the dragon fly bracelet made by Bobbie Lee of Napa, CA. (shown below
Another project is the Leafy Garden Necklace (shown right), also illustrated in my book, which creates a completely different feel using the same basic Square Knot. In this project the knots are used in the strap to give it a “finer” beaded look as compared to its leaves, as discussed more below.
Then as you gain experience you can use the same knot to create even more enticing pieces. The Heart Above Your Heart Necklace shown here is a project featured in my second book, The 2nd All New Micro Macramé, It’s Back with a Vengeance. In this piece the focal bead is the center point for the necklace, and the use of square knots with fiber are more subtle than in the previous pieces and together create a fringe which accents the focal bead. Basically the knots take “second chair” to the lampwork bead.
These three and many other pieces all use the basic Square Knot, but each has its own unique character. And once you have learned the Square Knot, you can tie only ½ of the Square Knot (Steps 1 and 2 above). This is called a Twisted Knot and is used in a whole other series of beaded jewelry projects, as discussed in my book. For example the Coming & Goings Necklace, shown here, uses Twisted Knots in both the strap and fringe, which create a “rounded” feel as opposed to the flat look of the Square Knots pictured above.
The Double Half-Hitch (DHH)
Another widely used macramé knot is the Double Half Hitch or DHH for short. For example, the DDH is used in the Tantrum Cascade Necklace to create a free flowing diagonal fringe (right). While in the Leafy Garden the leaf shape and contours are made up of DHHs. In both pieces, the same knotting, as described below is used.
The DHH is created by basically “wrapping” one string (the black one) around another string (the red one) twice, as shown. Therefore a Double Half Hitch.
Other examples of projects done with DHHs are the Walk a Crocked Walk Bracelet or Necklace, from my second book, which is a basic design that can be adapted into multiple finished pieces.
And even though DHH knots may appear static and stiff, they work great in freeform designs, like my Freeform Macramé Necklace (right)
So as you can see from one little knot, many, many micro macramé projects grow, and you ain’t seen nothing yet!
A Few Other Quick Tips
First, you may have already noticed that the Leafy Garden Necklace shown above actually mixes the two knots we discussed. The strap uses the Square Knot and the leaves are formed from DHHs. As you get more into micro macramé you’ll find you can combine knots and even other knotting techniques, like Kumihimo, into your projects.
Second, use lots of beads, and lots of different types and sizes of beads, like in the Butterfly Necklace, shown here.
Remember we’re making beaded micro macramé jewelry and bead selection is a significant part of the project. In my instructions I always provide a complete supply list and lots of in-process pictures to help you visualize what the finished piece will look like. After all it’s NOT just the journey, but the raves over the finished piece by our fellow beaders that make this all worthwhile. Remember variety and contrast makes the world go around!
Third, thread color and quality are very important. New products like C-Lon and S-Lon provide a broad range of colors (over 60 at last count) to complement any conceivable focal bead or bead mix you choose. I really like color combination in my pieces, as you can probably tell, so thread color is very important to me. Previous macramé threads were limited in their color choices, but not anymore. And, these new nylon threads are very easy to use. Plus they come in smaller, less expensive spools so you don’t have to build a new cabinet just to hold all your spools of partially used thread.
Fourth, micro macramé is adaptable, in fact very adaptable, as illustrated by the above examples. You can combine different knots, materials and techniques in a single project to create heterogeneous, one-of-a-kind wearable art. The book cover shown, isn’t exactly wearable, but it does show how several different techniques (macramé, bead embroidery, and cold copper work) and materials can be combined in one project, which you’ll see more of in my future books on micro macramé.
If you haven’t tried micro macramé it’s about time you caught the latest beading craze! Trust me you’ll like it and it’s a good excuse for another visit to your favorite bead store. All you need are beads (which you probably already have), some good, appropriate color thread, and a few other supplies. The entry cost is small, but the results are huge. It’s not just knots, it’s so much more.
About the Author
Kris is an inter-nationally known teacher and the author of the hit book series, The All New Micro Macramé. Her first book, It’s Not 1970 Anymore, is for beginner micro macramé beaders. Her second book in the series of six, The 2nd All New Micro Macramé, It’s Back with a Vengeance, started shipping October 2006. This book is designed for beginner to intermediate beaders. Her third book is due out in June 07. The book series will illustrate increasingly more complex and artistic projects using micro macramé knotting techniques, multi-media materials and freeform designs. You can visit Kris at www.kristinebuchanan.com to get more information or purchase her micro macramé books, kits and jewelry.