How to practice mindful macramé and make your own placemat

The rhythmic knotting of macramé makes it the perfect path to calm, says Isabella Strambio

How to make a DIY macrame placemat

The ancient art of macramé is believed to have originated in the Middle East, when 13th-century Arabic weavers knotted rope into decorative fringes for their camels and horses, designed, in part, to keep off the flies in north Africa’s desert heat. The name ‘macramé’ is thought to come from the Arabic weavers’ word migramah, meaning ‘fringe’.

Macramé resurfaced as a craft trend in Victorian times and again in the 1970s, when hanging plant holders were all the rage. In the past few years, macramé has experienced another resurgence, this time with a fresh, modern twist. I started making macramé over three years ago. As a birthday present, a macramé artist friend taught me how to tie two knots – the same ones I am going to teach you in the tutorial that follows. I got hooked straight away and I’ve been knotting ever since.

What I love about macramé is how simple, yet versatile it is. With just two knots you can create beautiful and intricate patterns; moreover, it’s relaxing and therapeutic too. For me, the repetitiveness of the knotting is like a mindfulness meditation. It brings a calmness to my movements and slows my breathing. I find that if I’m stressed, the simple, rhythmic act, and the feel of the natural cotton strings between my fingers, gives me the time to think calmly while I am making, rather than flitting, unfocused, from one task to the next.

Often, just 10 minutes of macramé is enough to help me completely relax. If you haven’t tried macramé before, the placemat (pictured left) is a simple, beautiful project to help you learn the basic knots, while enjoying the mindfulness of your actions.

Have a go at this project while listening to music, sitting outside in your garden on a warm day, or simply enjoying the silence of your home and letting your mind focus on the task in hand. Read on to try our free macrame placemat pattern.

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You Will Need

  • 3-4mm thick cotton string (20 x 3m lengths)
  • Metal clothes hanger (1)
  • Sharp scissors (1)
  • Comb (1)

Total time:

How to make a lark's head knot

Step 1

Fold a length of string or cord in half to create a loop, then place it over a hanger or wooden stick which will accommodate all of the strings in your project.

Step 2

Pull the string up and around the stick and, without twisting the strings, pull both ends through the loop, as shown.

Step 3

Pull the ends tight to secure your knot. Repeat this process with all of the strings for your project, spacing them according to your pattern.

How to make a square knot

Step 4

Square knot step 1

Create two lark’s head knots close together on the metal hanger or wooden stick which will accommodate your project.

Step 5

Square knot step 2

Numbering the strings 1-4 from left to right. Take ‘working string’ 1 over strings 2 and 3 and under ‘working string’ 4, as shown.

Step 6

Square knot step 3

Take working string 4 and pass it under strings 3 and 2, then over working string 1. Pull on both working strings to tighten the knot.

Step 7

Square knot step 4

Working string 1 is now on the right. Pass this to the left over 3 and 2 and under working string 4.

Step 8

Square knot step 5

Take working string 4 and pass it under 2 and 3 and over working string 1, as shown.

Step 9

Square knot step 6

Pull on the two working strings to tighten the knot, while holding the middle strings steady.

To make your DIY macramé placemat

Step 10

How to make a macrame placemat step 1

Tie 20 3m-long strings onto a metal hanger using the lark’s head knot shown above. Leave 2-3mm between them.

Step 11

How to make a macrame placemat step 2

Leave a space of about 5cm below the lark’s head knots and, starting from the left, take four strings and make a square knot. Make another with the next four strings. Continue until you have a row of 10 square knots.

Step 12

How to make a macrame placemat step 3

Next, make a row of nine square knots. Starting from the left, take strings 3 and 4 from the first knot and strings one and two from the one next to it to make a square knot. Continue to the end of the row. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have five rows of square knots (the last row will have 10).

Step 13

How to make a macrame placemat step 4

Next, leave a space of 2-3cm and follow step 3 to make a new row of nine square knots. Then, leaving a space of 2-3cm, make a row of 10 square knots.

Step 14

How to make a macrame placemat step 5

Repeat step 4 until you have 12 rows, finishing with one made of 10 knots.

Step 15

How to make a macrame placemat step 6

Now make a row of 10, nine, 10, nine and 10 square knots without any gaps between the rows to finish your design.

Step 16

How to make a macrame placemat step 7

Cut the lark’s head knots, as shown, to remove the placemat from the hanger.

Step 17

How to make a macrame placemat step 8

Fold your placemat in half over the hanger and cut the strings on each end to the desired length, making sure they match. Comb the ends to create a soft, feathery fringe, to finish.

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This article was first published in In The Moment Magazine issue 23. Discover our latest subscription offers or order a back issue.