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Method to Your Madness

Written by Krystle Linton


If trying to make unique macrame designs is making you straight up mad or you're just scrambling to make sense of the simplest patterns, don’t worry, I've got your back. Let’s make you and your macrame mad in the cool kinda way. 

Coming up with the overall design is by far the most important part of creating the aesthetics of a macrame piece and in my opinion, is the art of macrame. The knots are more like the science; anyone can tie them with some simple guidelines but it’s how those individual knots synthesize together to make the final pattern that makes a piece truly stand out. 


You will find even the most extravagant wall hangings will only use 2-3 types of knots (WHAT? I see you mouthing at the screen). It’s true; it’s not what you’ve got, it’s how you use it!  


If you’re just starting out, these variations will give you an insight on how to create patterns using simple knots. If you’re already making macrame and/or selling it, you would likely know the magnitude of how much macrame is out there today and how hard it is to keep your designs original (no one likes a copy cat!). These technique variations are great little prompters that will hopefully help to refresh creative thinking and encourage you try different things so that your designs remain relevant and unique (and also fun to create!). The examples are probably nothing new to you but the principles are pretty universal so could spark some new thoughts when you're stuck for inspo even if you are a regular maker. 


Besides the type of knot used, there are a few other key variations in patterning technique; 


  1. Sequence How many knots tied going across or down 
  2. Tension How tightly you pull your cords into a knot
  3. Spacing How much spare cord is left between knots  
  4. Cords Number and direction of cords used 


These variation possibilities apply in some form or another to most macrame knots so the sky really is the limit in terms of how many patterns can be created. Kind of like music - working with chords intsead of cords but the principle is the same - ever seen this video of 40 really popular songs with the same 4 chords? It's so worth a watch and it might give you hope that there is ways to make different things out of the same building blocks! (They drop the F bomb a few times at the start so beware if you've got little ears listening).

I digress, let's look at the good old square knot. There is so much you can do with this single knot once you apply all the different variations. For example, to make a flat sinnet, just repeat square knots on the same 4 cords; to make alternating square knots, repeat them in rows; to make webbing tightly knot the rows together and to make netting leave more of a gap between each knot.



Another way to create different looks with a square knot is changing how many cords you use.



You can also mix things up with changing your cord direction/swapping your cords in between knots. For example, The Switch Knot swapping your inner two cords for your outer two cords when tying square knots sinnets (great for avoiding running out of length for long sinnets like plant hangers!) or if you’re trying alternating square knots, swap your cords with the neighbouring square knot as shown below.


I hope this helps clarify a few things for all the beginners out there and for all the regular makers I hope this helps to clear any creative blocks that might be in your way at the moment. Challenge yourself to try something different - the worst thing that can happen is you'll untie the knots and start again - there is nothing better then creating a design from your own experimentation!


 Krystle :)
Still looking for some guidance? Check out the Macrame Beginners tab in the menu above!



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