In my family’s house Valentine’s Day rivals Christmas. Actually, in my book, it beats it by a mile because the preparations are sweeter and less stressful. Let’s keep that between you and me (i.e. don’t tell my kids). Part of what makes it so much fun is how my husband starts the day for the rest of us. He sets the kitchen table with flowers, the perfect card, sweets and something to eat for each of us. My part, through the years, has been just to add a little gift (usually handmade) for the kids and him. It is really the best gift to think about; how to let them know how much I love them.
This year (2018), I have to confess that I can’t stop thinking about macrame. It cracks me up to think that I have fallen in love with the very craft that had fallen to the lowest rung on the craft ladder for these past 30+ years. We used to give one of our professors at the RIT School for the American Craftsmen (textile department) loving grief for his enduring passion for the art of macrame. We’d tell him that he had to enter the 80’s one of these day. Truth be told, he had done some amazing work. Another example of “It’s not what it is; it’s what you do with it!” (you’ll read me saying that many times).
Enough said…let’s make!!
- A stick of your choosing (I used a 12” branch with about 10” working space for the knots)
- I used a small twisted cotton twine (the tighter the twist the less the unraveling that will occur).
- Measuring tape and ruler. If you like to be precise you can measure your initial lengths of cord with the measuring tape and the fringe with the ruler. I typically measure in the style that my mother taught me years ago; either hand to hand across my chest with arms extended fully out to each side (a body length), or nose to hand with arm extended out sideways (a half body length, approximately a yard)
NOTE: the nice thing about macrame is that it is easy to scale up or down. If you use a bigger cord or rope, you will need to work off of a bigger branch or dowel. Much like every textile process; it is always best to do a sample or a test piece to be sure that you achieve the look that you are after
Larkshead Vertical Knot
Sailor’s Knot (sometimes called a Lover’s knot)
Cut 24 body and one-half lengths of twine and after folding them in half, use the center point to tie a larkshead knot around the stick or dowel that you are using; repeat this with each string placing the larkshead knots close to one another. Once completed, this will be the 48 ends that you will use to create the hanging. The next step will be to create 3 rows of alternating square knots. For the first row use the first 4 strings to tie your first square knot and complete the row from there. On the second row, start your square knots by skipping the first 2 strings; this will stagger your square knots and create a wonderful pattern. The third row starts as the first row.
After completing the 3 rows of alternating square knots separate the 48 strings into 8 sets of 6 strings each (trust me, I had to check my math on this one). Separate the first 6 strings into two groups of 3 . Using the two sets of 3 strings as if you are just working with 2 strings, complete a sailor’s knot which you tie tightly up against the completed rows above. This is a very satisfying knot to complete, just take your time, being careful to lay the 3 strings flat as you complete each knot. The knot should be bold, wide and flat showing off its beautiful curves. Complete 8 sailor’s knots in all as the next layer of the piece.
This photo shows the basic knot that makes up the body of the heart. It is comprised of 6 strings with a square knot using the center 4 stings at the top. After completing the top square knot, separate the 6 strings into two sets of 3. Using the left 3 strings complete a Larkshead vertical knot with the outer left string creating the knot around the two strings next to it. After this knot is completed, do the same with the 3 strings on the right using the outer most right string to create the knot around the 2 strings next to it. With these two knots complete, you have done the center of the diamond shape. Below this tie another square knot using the center 4 strings.
I’m going to try to explain the creation of the heart in plain terms. Basically the heart is created in a similar fashion to the alternating square knot method often used in macrame. If you think of the diamonds as the building blocks of the heart, basically you will stack the rows in an increasing and decreasing pattern to create the heart shape. The first “row” uses the strings which come down from sailor’s knot #2, #3, #6, and #7. On the second row, you will skip the first 3 strings and start creating the second “row” of diamonds with these strings and 3 strings from the second knot. The lower square knot of the first row will basically line up with the top square knot of the second row. This is how the diamonds fit into each other.
- Top of heart: 2 diamonds on each side
- 2nd row: 3 diamonds on each side
- 3rd row: uses all strings, 8 diamonds across (widest part of heart)
- 4th row: 7 diamonds across, starting with 4th string
- 5th row: 6 diamonds across, starting with 7th string
- 6th row: 5 diamonds across, starting with 10th string
- 7th row: 4 diamonds across, starting with 13th string
- 8th row: 3 diamonds across, starting with 16th string
- 9th row: 2 diamonds across, starting with 19th string
- 10th row: 1 diamond in center, starting with 22nd string
Final edging: Using the right string that hangs straight from bottom square knot of the diamond cluster of knots and starting with the upper left bottom edge of the heart, tie a vertical larkshead knot around the next 2 strings dangling along the edge of the heart. After this move to the next 2 strings hanging below the next square knot and do the same thing. Continue this pattern along the left and right lower edges of the heart until you are at the bottom point. Create a vertical larkshead knot from the left and then one from the right. Trim the remaining strings to the length that you desire. I trimmed my pieces to approximately 2 inches because I had shorted myself in my original measurements and didn’t have a lot to spare. I think the next time I do this pieces, I will plan for longer fringe (the body and a half length that I listed above should give you plenty to work with).