THE ART OF making knots should have originated with a sailor, some ancient Phoenician plying the Mediterranean, but historians contend that Arabian weavers first devised the decorative knots as edgings for shawls and veils. When the Moors conquered Spain, they took the knots with them and the craft gradually spread, reaching England in the 17th Century. British and American sailors tied knots all over the world, selling what they’d made during long months at sea.
Macrame reached its peak of popularity in the Victorian era, when middle-class houses were decorated with tablecloths, doilies, window treatments and antimacassars, all trimmed with intricate knots by women who also wore at-home and fancy garments edged with macrame. There was a resurgence of interest during the 1960s, when macrame belts and headbands were popular, but by far the most common use for macrame was--and still is--as plant hangers. It’s difficult to find a plant hanger that isn’t macrame.
It doesn’t take long to learn how to make beginner’s knots: square, lark’s head and clove hitch, plus reverses of the latter two. The hard part is keeping the strands separated, which is accomplished on a knotting board of cardboard or another material that can hold the pins that keep the cords apart. Aside from board, pins and cord, the only equipment needed is scissors. Knots can be made around rings, dowels, beads, almost anything; the cords range from rough hemp to silky threads for necklaces.
Macrame materials and classes are available at the Knot Garden and Planteriors Macrame in Sherman Oaks; Dianne’s Crafts in Granada Hills; Rainbow Crafts in Burbank; Parradee Imports & Crafts Warehouse in Manhattan Beach; C&G;'s Workshop in Canoga Park, and Craf-T-Mac’s in La Habra.