Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Welcome Back Macrame!

I've followed a number of the crafty trends during my life: crocheting granny squares into afghans and vests in the early 70s; needle pointing medevil scenes of unicorns and princess later that same decade. Moving to cross stitch when the monotony of filling backgrounds on needle point wore old. Quilting when cross-stitch lost it's challenge. Knitting when quilting finally stopped developing new things to try.

Crafting, like fashion, ebbs and flows. One obsession gives way to another. Since really there are no new crafts -merely new ways to look at them- it's not surprising that eventually every old craft is new again. With quilting slowing down, knitting apparently holding it's own as the current juggernaut of the crafting world, I was wondering what crafts will emerge soon from the past to become the shining star of the future.

And how will those old crafts be re-interpreted?

About this time, ebogie shared some jewelry she'd made and reminded me of old times when she said: Hemp Is Back!
With the anniversary of Woodstock, and more people going green and natural, I've noticed that hemp jewelry is being worn more. In the college town where I live, I see it on many of the students.
What struck me about the pretty bracelets she'd made was NOT that they were made from hemp -very pretty, BTW- but that they were made by macrame. According to Wikipedia,
Macramé or macramé is a form of textile-making using knotting rather than weaving or knitting. Its primary knots are the square knot and forms of hitching (full hitch and double half hitches). It has been used by sailors, especially in elaborate or ornamental knotting forms to decorate anything from knife handles to bottles to parts of ships
Thank goodness this definition says nothing about the thick nylon and acrylic cords tied into owls and plant hangers in the 60s and 70s. Anyone who lived through that is probably running in panic from the word. The definition places macrame in it's wider context. With knots, one can manipulate tension and shape in strands of fiber. This change in tension lets knotted textiles undulate and flow in ways that are difficult to achieve through weaving or looping (knitting or crochet).

Futuregirl admits that she is Under the Sway of Macrame Owls. She'd seen mention to macrame projects on blogs and websites in the recent past (come to think of it, so have I), and vaguely thought she should do something. It wasn't, however, until she hit upon some vintage crafts books that these vague feelings turned into an obsession:
Well, I had ignore the bee for most of the week because I had zero time to devote to macramé owls. But then Friday night I was able search around and try to find a macramé owl pattern. I'd decided to make one with embroidery floss as an homage to friendship bracelets. I was a little surprised (and a lot crestfallen) to find out that making a mini macramé owl wasn't an original idea (this one is cute and these are amazing). But after a couple moments of "aw shucks," my initial enthusiasm came back.
Note her word: mini macrame as that seems to be the way that macrame is manifesting itself this time around. Rather than the super-thick huge decorations I recall from the past, knotting is now being done with hemp, cotton crochet thread, embroidery floss. Thin, small, delicate fibers that make for charming delicate accessories. Craft offered a pattern for an IPod Cozy, there are several online tutorials for making friendship bracelets similar to ebogie's. Micro macrame jewelry-adding the curving, softening nature of knots to beads and other harder jeweled items- appears to be a growing accessory field.

Celtic Dream Weaver is tapping into the growing macrame vibe as Something Different:
I had been thinking awhile about trying my hand in micro macrame'. I might even do some designing on my own eventually once I start to feel more comfortable in doing this work and maybe marrying it to tatting. We will see what will happen with that as time goes buy (sic)...
Autumn Wiggins, at Crafting A Green World, points out why it's important to overlook macrame's unfortunate presence several decades ago, and why we should Tune In, Turn On, and Tie Knots:
Yes, I know what you’re thinking…plant hangers and googly eyed owls…haha. Make fun all you want, but you’ll be overlooking one of the most sustainable, inexpensive, and meditative craft techniques out there.

...Imagine cutting, then arranging thirty two 12ft lengths of hemp cord in front of you. As you begin to follow the pattern of knots, it becomes familiar and rhythmic. Much like a knitting groove, only more exotic. Your arms gracefully fling from side to side as they pull the knots through, while your fingers flutter about the strings. It’s like ballet dancing and playing the cello all at once from the waist up. I prefer to sit Indian style, and on the ground if possible. In the right setting this craft can be an introspective alternative to fidgety meditation. (Hey, yoga is not an option for people who drink as much coffee as me.)
I have a feeling that knots are building as a force in Craft. I noticed that last week two designers on Project Runway used the word "macrame" in describing parts of their design. Will you be jumping on this wave?

also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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