Simply Tie Knots to Create Macramé

Macramé is an ancient fiber art that uses knots to create items that are both useful and beautiful. This activity inspired by Wall Hanging 3 by Tanya Aguiñiga uses only square knots. It is easy for beginners and for young children, with help from parents.


About the Artist:

Growing up in Mexico and California, Tanya Aguiñiga discovered a passion for making things with her hands. As a child, she got her start in fiber art by turning shredded palm fronds into jewelry and selling it to her neighbors! Today, she uses her artist/designer/activist voice to address social issues with creativity and compassion.

Tanya Aguiñiga. Mexican (active United States), 1978– Wall Hanging 3 2015, Cotton, wool, copper electroplated terracotta, Museum Purchase: Funds provided by the Board of Directors of the Mint Museum of Craft + Design in honor of Fleur Bresler.

Supplies:

• Scissors
• Tape
• Cardboard or clipboard for holding your work
• Macramé cord- this can be rope, twine or yarn cut to desired length (3 feet is a good length for beginners/young children)
• Support, something to tie your cords to- dowel, branch, straw or ruler (Your yarn will be attached to this)

Steps:

1. Start by cutting your cord or yarn.

Three foot pieces (3’) are a good length to start with. You will need at least two pieces to practice tying square knots. Tape your support to the cardboard then anchor pieces to it using a simple loop called a Larks Head.

You’ll need 4 cords or strands to make a square knot.

2. Tie a Knot

Bring the ends of each cord together to find the middle. Loop it midway over your support then feed the ends through. This is called a Lark’s Head knot. Repeat with each cord. You’ll be using the Left and Right strands for knotting; the two center strands don’t move.

3. Make a Loop

Take the Left strand and make a loop over the center strands, then the Right one goes over the Left’s “tail” and through the loop in back. Then tighten. Now you’ve made a Half Square knot.

4. Now do the reverse!

Loop the Right strand, Left strand goes over the tail and through the loop in the back. Tighten the Square Knot you just made. You can keep repeating the same knots to make a chain. Here is a little trick to help you as you work:

Left over Right, tuck under. Right over Left, tuck under.

Option:

Using just square knots, you can make a chain for a bracelet or keychain. Add a few more strands and you can make a wall hanging. You can even add beads to your work!

Simplify:

Even young children can experiment with freeform knotting. Get them started and let them go!

Challenge:

Try a more advanced approach using 5 cords. Start your knots lower and skip the outer cords after the first knot, then add them back. Then use all the cords to make a large square knot. Feel free to experiment, you can always untie and start again!

Learn More:

“Meet” the artist in this Craft in America video (13 minutes)

The Mint Museum From Home is Sponsored by Chase.