Macrame, the ancient craft of knot tying, has been around for many centuries. Having gone through periods of extreme popularity, the craft also goes into periods of dormancy. Macrame is taken from Arabic and means decorative fringe.
Sailors have tied knots since they began sailing, and used the craft to pass away the many long hours spent at sea. Rope and twine was used to create knots which were turned into decorative pieces such as picture frames and lamp hangers. Sailors also used their macrame items for bartering goods while on land in China and India.
It is believed that macrame was first introduced in England in the late 1600’s when Queen Mary, wife of William of Orange brought the craft to the ladies of her court after having learned it in Holland. Later, during the reign of King George III, macrame had grown into a favored pastime of the ladies at the royal court. His wife, Queen Charlotte enjoyed preferred macrame for herself and her ladies, and this helped spread its popularity.
Over time, macrame faded away as other trends took prominence at court. Over a hundred years later, macrame made its way back. It’s first known major reemergence into society took place during Victorian times. While it had been around for ages already, people took to it like it was a brand new craft, and so it became all the rage among Victorian ladies.
The French had already discovered macrame long before England. It appears to have been well established in France towards the end of the fourteenth century. While the exact date of “Le Macrame” by Therese de Dillmont was printed but it is believed to have been created sometime in the early 1800’s. The book is filled with exquisite examples of delicate macrame lace & knotting techniques that still inspire today. Due to the wide range of knotting techniques she wrote about, we can tell that the art form was well established in France at the time.
Macrame once again went out of style at the start of the 20th century, and had been forgotten about until the early 70’s. Macrame was once again in the spotlight, as people began to create plant hangers, owl wall hangings and purses and other accessories. After 30 years of dormancy, macrame is once again all the rage as fashion designers embellish their 2011 spring lines with macrame clothing, shoes and accessories.