Monday, February 8, 2016

What's old is new again, just smaller (and prettier)

Remember those large hanging flower baskets we made with macramé in the 1970's? Macramé is back again, and it's much finer looking now.  I have seen several books on 'micro macramé,' with beautiful jewelry designs.  Several years ago, at the big bead show in Tucson, I purchased several spools of C-lon thread, which I used to start a macramé project in the Cavandoli technique, but I didn't like the way it looked (a different thread would look better).  C-lon, which is a nylon thread, comes in lots of colors!
I recently purchased a book, 'Micro Macramé Basics and Beyond,' by Raquel Cruz.  The book has many lovely jewelry designs in it.  So I was inspired to get the C-lon out and give it another try.  While the book is colorful and inspiring, I found it a little difficult to use.  There are only six pages of basic knot illustrations, and they are photographed in a single color.  Using two contrasting colors would have made the diagrams easier to follow.  But no matter, I'm inspired, and I have another book, a really excellent book with wonderful diagrams for many, many knots, basic and advanced.  (The book on the left, below, 'Decorative Knots for Jewelry and Accessories,' by Boutique-Sha).
I like the way the book, on pages 6-9 has a visual index of all the knots covered in the book (practical and decorative): 

The diagrams, shown in contrasting colors, are very easy to follow.  I also like that the author gives several uses for each knot, as well as approximately how much thread you will need for a six inch sampler.  (My wrist is 6", so that is handy because I like to make bracelets.)

Both books are available at Barnes and Noble online.  The third book in the picture above was probably purchased at Kinokuniya, my favorite book store in NYC, behind Bryant Park.  They have an amazing craft book section, most of the books entirely in Japanese, but the photographs and illustrations are usually so excellent that an experienced crafter can figure out how to make the projects.
Here is what I have been making with the C-lon thread and colorful beads found at Joann's.  (Displayed in front of my Betsy McCall house).
It looks like I have made eight bracelets, but it is only five bracelets.  One of the very clever ideas from 'Micro Macramé and Beyond' is to make a bracelet that is 12" rather than 6".  You change to a different design after the first 6", either adding new threads or switching the core and knotting thread placement.  (If you right click on a picture and open it in a new tab or window, you can see it in close up detail.)
This is one bracelet, two different knotting techniques:
Since I cannot copy directions or illustrations from any book to put in my crafty blog, I created my own directions for square knot and alternating half hitch both, both of which make nice cords for bracelets.  It is easy to add beads to the square knot to dress it up.  Bracelets 4,5 and 8 (above) were made with the square knot.  I like to use two or more different colors in most bracelets.  In addition to the thread you will need a clipboard and a binder clip.
Make an overhand knot with the core thread (core threads will be inside the square knots). 
Attach the knotting thread to the core thread with a square knot. 
Switch one of the core threads (pink) with one of the knotting threads (maroon) for a two color finished cord.
SQUARE KNOT.  Core thread is held taught at the bottom of the clipboard with a binder clip.  Take the thread on the left and lay it over the two core threads.  Lay the thread on the right over the thread from the left.  It will look like the number 4. 
Bring the pink thread on the right under the core threads and up through the loop made with the thread on the left.
Repeat the process in the reverse, with the number '4' facing the opposite direction.
ALTERNATING HALF HITCH.  Makes a nice, bumpy type of cord.  Switch the threads again so the two pinks are together and the two maroon are together.  Holding the left threads taught (you don't need to use the binder clip), wrap the right (pink) threads over and under the taught threads and through the loop you just created.
Pull the knot up and tighten it.
Repeat the process in reverse, holding the right thread (pink) taught, and wrapping the left thread over, under and through the loop.  This cord works up very fast, and looks nice in a bulky thread.
The square knot and alternating half hitch detail.  These are very easy knots to teach to children.

I think the C-lon thread (used in the bracelet samples above) looks sophisticated enough for anyone to wear!