Macramé is an Arabic word, signifying an ornamental fringe or trimming, which has been adopted as the term for a certain kind of hand-work, known also as «knotted fringe» or «Mexican lace» and produced by the knotting, interweaving and tying together of threads.
We have given the preference to the Arabic name because of its less definite meaning, seeing that not only fringe and lace, but trimmings of all kinds, in the shape of bands and stripes and headings, can be worked in macramé.
Until its revival about ten years ago, when it was regarded by many as a new invention, the art of macramé making had for centuries become almost extinct and save here and there in the convents, was quite unknown.
The multitude of uses to which it can be turned as a trimming, the infinite variety it admits of and its great durability and strength, make macramé well worth a study; the difficulties that repel many at first sight are only on the surface and any one who carefully follows the instructions given in the following pages, will soon overcome them and be able without pains to copy the charming designs that accompany them, which remind us of the wooden lattices in the windows of Eastern houses, doubtless familiar to many of our readers, under the name of moucharabieh.
Materials.—These may be of almost any kind; silk, gold thread, cord, wool or cotton, can all be employed with good effect. Almost any of the D.M.C cottons can be used for macramé; but the ones especially to be recommended are: Fil à dentelle D.M.C[A], Cordonnet 6 fils D.M.C[A] and Coton à broder D.M.C[A] for the finer kinds of work, and for the coarser, Fil à pointer D.M.C[A], Coton à tricoter D.M.C[A] and Ganse turque D.M.C[A]. The twist in all these is so regular as to admit of a high degree of perfection being attained with them: they are moreover very agreeable to the touch, a great recommendation considering how much they have to be handled by the worker.
Macramé cushion and other accessories (figs. 513 and 514).—The only really important requisite for macramé work is the cushion, which should be well stuffed, and weighted with lead (fig. 513). It is convenient to have it made to screw on to a table like the Swiss tambour frames. There are other kinds of macramé cushions but none, in our opinion, as practical as these because any pattern can be worked upon them and patterns that have a heading or a border of picots can not be worked on any others. The pegs at the ends of the cushion are for fixing and winding the long threads upon, which carry the knots, and which we shall in future call «cords».
Fig. 513. Macramé cushion.
For making long lengths of macramé fringe, metal clamps, with round-headed pegs attached to them top and bottom, to fasten the cords to, as represented in fig. 514, will be found far better than a cushion, as any number of threads can be knotted on to them at a time by pushing them more or less closely together on the cord.
Fig. 514. Clamps for macramé fringe.
Besides the cushion and clamps, you will require, some big glass-headed pins, made expressly for the purpose, a crochet needle for pulling the threads through the stuff when they have to be knotted on to an edge, and a French mètre or yard measure to measure the threads with; to these implements may further be added, scissors and a metal comb and ruler for cutting and straightening the ends of the threads.
The length of the threads must depend on their substance and size; that is to say, that a knot will take up more of a coarse stiff thread than of a fine pliable one, on which account, to avoid the necessity of preliminary trials, the right length of thread, for the quality and size of material, is given with each pattern. If, for any reason, our workers should not follow the directions given, they must bear in mind that the thicker and stiffer the material, the more they will have to allow for the knots and vice versa.
Formation of the knots.—Beginners must be careful, in macramé as in tatting, not to move or slacken the cord, or horizontal thread that carries the knots. The knots made by the «knotting-thread», as it will be called in future, consist of loops formed over the cord and then tightened. The knotting-thread and the cord are constantly changing places, as you work, loops having to be made now with the one and now with the other.
Knotting on the threads (fig. 515).—Excepting when you work with the threads of a material obtained by unravelling and drawing out the cross threads, you must knot on lengths of thread on to a cord; cut them double the length the fringe is to be and fold them in half, so as to form a loop by means of which you attach them to the cord, in the following manner. Put the loop over the cord from the front and bring it back underneath, put the ends down through the loop, detail a, and tighten it, detail b, as shown in the engraving.
Fig. 515. Knotting on the threads.
Knotting on the threads on to a stuff edge and formation of a flat double knot (fig. 516).—Push your crochet needle through the edge of the stuff from the right to the wrong side and catch hold of the loop, formed by the folding in half of the thread that is to be knotted on; pull it out to the right side, put the ends through, and tighten the loop, detail a. Detail b shows two double threads, knotted on near to each other in this way, and the first tying together of the two outer threads for the flat knot which is formed as follows: you take the two outer of the four threads hanging down and cross the right hand one under, and the left hand one over the two centre threads. Whilst doing this, hold the inner ones tightly stretched out on the 3rd and 4th fingers of the left hand, detail b. The manner in which the two threads are brought back and tied together again is shown in detail c; the drawing up of the threads completes the so-called flat double knot, detail d. Detail e, of the same figure, shows two flat double knots, side by side, and the first step towards the formation of a third, connecting together the two right threads of the one with the two left threads of the other.