One of the Oldest Forms of Lace Making - The Materials Required - Methods of Work - Bars and Patterns this macrame, or knotting of string as it really is, was at one time - about the sixteenth century - used in Spain and Italy as lace on the ecclesiastical linen and vestments. The name was evidently taken from an Italian village on the banks of the river Macra, between Liguria and Etruria. The whole work consists of a series of knots made so as to form patterns.
Among other things it can be used for table and mantel borders, workbags, sachets, tidies, borders for towels and household linen. The work is very strong, and if done well and evenly is practically indestructible.
The materials for macrame are few and inexpensive - generally a special make of linen thread called macrame twine, costing from 6d. to 10d. a large ball, is used for the coarser work, such as bracket and table borders. This twine can be had in various thicknesses and in various colours, such as cream, porcelain blue, green, terracotta, old gold, and brown. Maltese thread, or fine flax thread, both costing a little more than the twine, would be used for the household linen, and if one wished to make dress trimmings crochet cotton or silk twist would be suitable.
A handsome design for a bracket in macrame work
Beside the twine, a cushion or board is necessary to work upon. Some workers advocate a shallow box about 20 inches long by 10 inches wide. In it must first be placed heavy leaden weights, then a bag made of strong unbleached calico stuffed very firmly with bran, and of the same size as the box in order to fit tightly into it. This bag must be allowed to come a little above the box, and can be covered with any bright-coloured sateen. There are, of course, frames already made for the purpose, and these vary in price from
21s. to 2s. 6d. each. But it is quite possible to use a smooth piece of board about a yard long and 8 to 10 inches wide, and screw small strong screws into each end to hold the thread. A few strong glass-headed toilet-pins are sometimes wanted to keep a thread in position, and, for beginners, it is as well to have a large size crochet-hook, as sometimes it is difficult to get the threads under each other. Also, a pair of sharp strong scissors will be required.
Sag when finished
As to the actual work it is best to learn the different stitches, bars, diamonds, etc., before commencing a piece of work. Great care must be taken in making all the knots firmly and evenly, otherwise the pattern - no matter how elaborate - will b e spoilt. The accompanying photographs show the method of starting the work, how to put on the first stitches, and how to work various bars and stitches. Macrame is worked from the left hand to the right - that is, on the board or cushion one starts the pattern at the left-hand side, and works onwards.
The threads that go longways across the board are called "foundation cords," the first of which is used to fasten the working threads to, and the others, whether second or third, are worked over with knots. When the vertical threads are used to work knots and stitches on they are called 'leaders," and then are worked into the pattern again as ordinary threads. All the threads do not work up alike. Some require to be much longer - this is because some are used more in the pattern than others; therefore, if uncertain of the length required - and the lengths are different in each pattern - it is better to cut them too long than too short, as joining is awkward. But experience will soon show, and, after working one scallop in the pattern, it is easy to judge the right length for the rest of it. If, however, it is absolutely necessary to join, place the new thread in working position, and with the long end make a single knot upon the leader or nearest strand, turning the short end to the back, and fasten it with needle and cotton.
To start the work the first thing to do is to measure the foundation cords for the length of work the student intends doing; having the right length, allow an extra half-yard or quarter-yard for fastening on to the cushion or board.
If using a fine twine, use all the foundation cords double, but, if a thick one, only a single cord is needed.
Fasten the first cord across the board lengthways by tying or knotting it firmly round the screws - the bought frames have special pegs for fastening it on to - I inch from the top of the board. Care must be taken to get this quite tight or the work will "sag" when finished.
To put the stitches on in the usual way, take a length of twine, fold the two ends together, pass them up and under the first foundation cord, bring the ends down over it and through the loop thus formed, draw them down tightly. Fasten as many in this manner as are needed for the length of work; then put another foundation cord just below where the threads are fastened on to the first one, knot them on to this by taking the first thread in the right hand, passing it over and under the second foundation cord and through the loop thus formed; then draw it up tightly. Do this to all of them.
Form a single knotted bar
Fig. 2. A and B show how threads are fastened on to the second foundation cord. C and D. how to
After this the working of the patten) begins.