A SLIGHT HITCH: MACRAMÉ vs WEAVING
I often find myself starting out with one idea and then after a little research I get carried away and end up somewhere completely different … hence the lateness of this blog post.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you this month’s ‘Meant to be Macramé, Much Prefer Weaving Project’. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed the Macramé part of this month’s challenge – I’d chosen it as I thought it would be a sensible sized project to take on holiday with me as all you need is some rope and a stick – but once i’d started my Macramé project I stumbled on this amazing woven wall hanging by Natalie Miller, and that was that!
It turns out it was lucky we drove the car to Italy, a large homemade frame loom doesn’t easily fit into a suitcase.
PART 1: MACRAMÉ
Imagine being able to make something like that!
Macramé is an ancient craft that was used by fishermen to practice their knots and pass the time. Since then it has enjoyed a number of revivals … one in the 70’s:
It has recently made a serious come back and there are loads of great online tutorials. I chose this lovely Dip Dye Macrame Wall Hanging Tutorial and duly ordered my rope … the only problem was that I was too impatient to wait for the rope to arrive and decided to give it a shot using the left over wool from my crochet project.
It started off beautifully. I learnt the square knot, and then the double half hitch, and then I decided to go off piste … not such a good idea. I knotted and unknotted, and knotted and unknotted, and knotted and unknotted until the wool started to break, and the wall hanging got too fat in the middle. It was pretty frustrating but entirely my own fault. At least the beginning and the end were fun – specially the dip dying part!
If you’re going to try Macramé, wait for the rope!
You can buy beautifully coloured rope on Etsy here. There’s also a great looking book ‘Macramé: The Craft of Creative Knotting for Your Home’, coming out very soon, and if you’re in London on the 24th or 25th June, don’t miss Emily Katz’ Macrame workshops. Do any of these things and I reckon you could make something amazing.
Since then, I’ve redeemed myself…
PART 2: WEAVING
To get started, you’ll need to build a loom. Don’t let this bit of DIY put you off, it’s easy and very satisfying …
I followed ‘Fall for DIY’s’ Giant Loom Tutorial. It’s super easy to find the materials and put together. You’ll just need four x 1 metre lengths of square dowel and a few bits of building kit; saw, sandpaper, drill etc. When we came to drilling the screws in, the wood split a little but this was easily saved with some wood glue and masking tape.
To learn how to warp my loom I turned to the The Weaving Loom. This website has been an essential discovery and without it I would have been lost. For the warp threads, you’ll need a strong cotton thread/yarn (I used this stuff). I’d never really thought about it before, but you’ll see the warp threads in your weave, so choose a colour that you love – one that complements the colour of the yarns you’ll be using to weave with.
Now for the fun bit … weaving!
Again, Kate’s brilliant weaving blog teaches you everything you need to know. I’ve had a shot at the plain, twill, soumak ‘braid’ and pile ‘loop’ weaves and have also hashed out a ‘molly variation’ of the rya knot.
A word of advice … weaving is REALLY fun as long as you have the right kit. Having made my ‘giant loom’ I quickly discovered that it was clearly going to take forever to weave in each row of wool using my fingers. To speed things up I used a large plastic embroidery needle, which took even the chunkiest of my wools. A fork and heddle bar (tutorial here) also come in handy!
A heddle bar (far right photo) sits under your warp threads and as you turn it, it lifts up every other warp thread making it really easy to whip your wool through from right to left and left to right. If you give weaving a shot, the helpfulness of the heddle bar will make a lot more sense once you get started. It definitely took me a little while to figure it out, but I got there in the end.
I’ve loved this project so much – it’s not quite finished yet, but it will be soon!
If you want to have a go too, there’s loads of Macrame and weaving inspiration over on our Pinterest Board:
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As always, I’d love to see anything you make. Share pictures of your warped success using the hashtag #MadeWithMolly and tag us @mollyandthewolf. Also, if you have any Macrame or weaving tips, workshops, kits or anything else you’d recommend – let me know!