Macrame Basics

Macramé Owl image by April Killingsworth/


If you can tie shoelaces, you can make decorative and practical macramé items. The main skill that you will need to learn is how to make a few special knots. Material choices range from embroidery floss and twine to hemp, polyester or silk ropes. The Chinese invented this craft centuries ago. Today, popular macramé creations for children and adults are friendship bracelets, key chains, plant holders and wall hangings.

Macramé Materials

Before you start a macramé project, you will need to assemble some craft materials and select your cords. You will need scissors, a ring or dowel for hanging projects or a mounting board for small knotted projects. Most craft stores sell special macramé mounting boards that support your starter or base strings. However, a sturdy piece of corrugated cardboard will work as a good substitute. You should invest in a few macramé cord holders. Use these T-shaped pins to secure your project to a mounting board. They are also handy when you are working on projects that use dowels and rings. You can substitute tape or straight pins for thinner cords, but T-pins are usually necessary for heavy cords. Stitch N Save suggests that when a macramé project does not specify how long the cords should be, you can calculate the finished length of your project and measure four times that length for your cords. You may need to cut eight times the finished length for projects that use thicker cords. For best results, cut all the strings for your project at the same time; use the first cut string to measure the others.

Simple Knots

The square knot is a popular choice for simple macramé projects like bracelets. Try your hand at one example from Girl Scout Troop 1379; it uses three 30-inch different color cords. Place your three cords together and put any kind of knot in one end of your cord bundle. Use a pin or tape to anchor the knotted end of the cords to a mounting board. Put a clothespin or binder clip at the end of the middle cord. Position this cord so that it stays taut while you work with the other cords. First, put the right cord under the center one and over the left cord. Next, place the left cord over the center cord. This creates a loop in the right cord. Put the left cord through the loop to form the first half of your square knot. Pull the left and right cords snugly. The original left cord will now be on the right side of the center cord and your right cord will be on the left side. To complete the square knot, repeat the three steps that gave you the half square. To make a bracelet or belt, continue making square knots under the first one. You can put a decorative bead on the center cord, then alternate between square knots and beads, if you prefer.

Keywords: macramé projects, knots, cord

About this Author

Carol Luther has more than 25 years of business and technical writing experience. A world traveler and foodie who loves hot stuff, Luther also writes about food, health and travel. Her work has appeared in "Diamond" magazine, Global Progress, Mahalo, Trazzler and Wcities. She has a master's degree in public and international affairs from the University of Pittsburgh.

Photo by: April Killingsworth/

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