What is Macramé?

Unlike knitted or woven textiles, macramé is fabricated by meticulously knotting cords into intricate patterns, resulting in exquisitely detailed designs with a lovingly handmade aesthetic.

Macramé comes from a 13th-century Arabic weavers’ word migramah meaning “fringe”. This refers to the decorative fringes on camels and horses which help, amongst other things, to keep the flies off the animal in the hot desert regions of northern Africa.

One of the earliest recorded uses of macramé-style knots as decoration appeared in the carvings of the Babylonians and Assyrians. Fringe-like plaiting and braiding adorned the costumes of the time and were captured in their stone statuary. Macramé traveled from north Africa to Spain with the Moors, and as a result of this conquest it spread, firstly to France, and then throughout Europe.

In the Western Hemisphere, macramé is believed to have originated with 13th-century Arab weavers. These artisans knotted the excess thread and yarn along the edges of hand-loomed fabrics into decorative fringes on bath towels, shawls, and veils. The Spanish word macramé is derived from the Arabic miqramah, believed to mean “striped towel”, “ornamental fringe” or “embroidered veil”.

Though the craze for macramé faded, it regained popularity during the 1970’s as a means to make wall hangings, articles of clothing, bedspreads, tablecloths, draperies, plant hangers and other furnishings. By the early 1980s macramé had again begun to fall out of fashion as a decoration trend. Today however Macramé has re-emerged and become more popular than ever.

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