At Hot Pink Haberdashery, we’re always checking out different forms of haberdashery, giving it a go ourselves and swatting up on all the different ways people create their own household items, clothes and gifts.
This month, we’ve been doing some research on macramé, a form of textile-making. Whilst we knew of macramé before delving into our research, we found out some pretty cool stuff about its history that we didn’t know before and that we want to share with you.
What is Macrame?
Macrame is a form of textile-making by creating and using ‘knotting’ as opposed to knitting or weaving. The primary knots used are square knots as well as forms of ‘hitching’ and half hitches.
A style called Cavandoli macramé is a type of macramé which is used to create interesting geometric and free-form patterns such as weaving. This style is mainly created using a large single knot and a double half-hitch knot and reverse half hitches are often used to maintain the careful balance when working right and left halves one at a time.
Where did it come from?
Here in the Western Hemisphere, macramé is believed to have its origins with 13th centenary Arab weavers. These talented artisans used to knot excess thread from hand-loomed haberdashery projects such as shawls, veils and towels and turn them into decorative fringes.
Adding to this theory, is that the Spanish word ‘macrame’ is derived from the Arabic word ‘migramah’ which roughly translates to either ‘striped towel’, ‘ embroided veil’ or ‘ornamental fringe’ (quite a variety we know!). This made its way over to Europe after the Moorish conquest when art was taken over to Spain and then on to Italy before spreading through the rest of Europe and ending up in England in the 17th Century. It was then introduced to the court of Mary II and she then taught macramé to her ladies-in-waiting.
Slightly less royal but equally as awesome, is the fact that sailors made macramé objects too whilst at sea. In the nineteenth-century, both British and American sailors made hammocks, bell fringes and belts, decorative pieces such as knife handles or bottle covers and then sold the items they made when they landed back at shore, which is how places such as China got in on the macramé trend.
Who uses it?
These days, anyone who wants to create and use macramé can do. It is a style used by people all over the world, of many demographics and sold onto as equally diverse group of buyers.
Originally, we know that it came from 13th Arabic artisans who used macramé pieces to use as decorative pieces on animals such as camels, and to keep flies off them too. However, there is also a theory that the termonlogy came from the Turkish ‘makrama’ meaning ‘napkin’ or ‘towel, used in the same way to decorate the end of loomed pieces.
Despite macrame’s popularity through the ages up until today, it peaked in the Victoria era. In fact, most Victorian homes were decorated in this way and used to make homewear, garden party items, seaside blankets, tablecloths, bedspreads, curtains and to create party decorations for balls. After this period, the popularity of macramé fell and only regained its popularity back in the 1970s as a way of creating clothing, bedspreads, wall hangings etc. However, as early as the 1980s, it fell by the wayside again.
What does it make?
We've mentioned quite a few things that macrame has been used for and is currently used for, but there are so many uses for this lovely stitching that we couldn't possibly name them all. Belts are often made from Macrame along with friendship bracelets, jewellery found at fairs, beaches, individual vendors etc.
Coming into the more modern day, macramé jewellery has become incredibly popular amongst American neo-hippie and grunge crowd as well as British teens where square knots and granny knots ares used along with glass beads, bone, shell and other natural elements to create beautiful anklets, necklaces and bracelets.
We'd love to see any macramé jewellery, garments or home decorations you've made, or if you're a macramé guru, give us some tips in the comments below!