Our spider plant has been a bit prolific recently, sprouting shoots and putting on a great deal of growth. Each time I’ve watered it, I’ve thought that it was looking uncomfortable on the side table where it normally stands and perhaps I should get my act together and make a macramé hanger for it.
Macramé plant hangers are one of those things that take me right back to a specific place and time. Picture the scene, Kitbridge Middle School, Newport, Isle of Wight. Autumn term 1977. Miss Boyd, as I was then, was just starting her teaching career with a class of 30 x 13 year olds, many of whom were keen to join in the huge range of after school activities on offer. Many of them lived just across the road, on the development of houses built for the staff of the adjacent HMP Parkhurst, so staying after school was no problem for them. I was sharing a flat just up the road with an Occupational Therapist and our common interest in all things crafty meant I never went short on ideas. One of the first projects we made in the craft club I ran was a macramé plant hanger. Over the next few weeks, with Christmas on the horizon, I think we must have made fifty or more - for the Christmas fair and taking orders from parents and staff for what seemed to be the gift of the season.
After all, they’re not difficult! (Are they?)
It took me a while to buy the materials, to decide how much I needed and how thick I wanted the cotton cord to be and to place the Amazon order. With my Hero’s Prime membership though, once I’d made my mind up, it was here within 24 hours and I had no more excuses.
Get on with it.
I began in true 1970s style, looking in my books for some ideas rather than googling. Yes, the Golden Hands Complete Book of Crafts had the answer!
I found it on my bookshelf alongside other books about knotting and pulled this one from the shelf as well, in case I needed something to add interest to the design (!) After all, I hadn’t ordered any beads or other trimming. Maybe a decorative knot half way down each of the hanging bits would be a good idea?
(Are we getting a bit ahead of ourselves here, do you think?)
The trouble with looking on my bookshelves for anything is that I tend to find other things that I wasn’t particularly looking for. Like this extraordinarily useful book about obscure and unusual textile techniques like sprang, gimping and Jaspe….(don’t ask!) I couldn’t resist opening it and taking a quick look, not that I wanted to get distracted from the task in hand.
I assembled the stuff and went upstairs to the garden room, where there’s a conveniently placed beam from which I can tie my bundle of threads. I began with a simple series of half knots to establish the pattern.
Yes. Like riding a bike, we don’t forget these things, do we?
It all came back to me as I stood there tying those knots. Laura and Cheryl were hooked on macramé all those years ago - they’d be in their fifties now! (I wonder if they remember?)
Actually, it wasn’t the knotting that proved the biggest challenge, but the management of ends down there on the floor. This cotton rope was great - smooth and well twisted, but it unravelled easily and I needed to knot the end of each strand to stop it fraying.
After a few inches of half knots I divided the strands into fours and began with some square knots. I was enjoying this!
Maybe I’d have it done by lunchtime?
Time for that “design feature” perhaps?
I got out a book and decided on a Josephine knot, making a little sample as practice before going on to work on the real thing. This was tricky and it took me a few goes to get right. I might even have resorted to a YouTube video at one point! But eventually, I had four smooth and even Josephine knots in place. I made a mental notes to give particular credit when out judging anything with a Josephine knot in the design!
It was getting near lunchtime now - I had taken quite some time working on those tricky knots - and so I quickly tied a few square knots and thought I’d see how it looked.
I immediately registered the design flaw.
I’d tied those last few knots too tight and the plant wouldn’t have room to breathe - if I could even get it in there.
Not only that, but…
Not part of the design. I don’t recall Laura, Cheryl or Susan ever having such difficulties? And how come I hadn’t spotted it before now?
It must be time for lunch.
I gently unknotted the bottom half in the afternoon, thinking that I could get away with slipping those Josephine knots up a bit, rather than undoing them and having to tie them again. But I couldn’t. I mucked up one of them trying to move it and thought I’d be better just going right back to those square knots and starting again.
That’s why right now, there’s a bundle of loose strings hanging from a beam in our garden room.
No, of course I didn’t go back and redo the lot straight away. I did, however, retie those Josephine knots before I forgot how to do them! The rest will get finished in the next day or two, when I’ve repotted the Spider plant too, because I realised that it was so tricky to get in and out, once it’s in there, hanging, I don’t intend to move it for a while.
Easy peasy then? I’ll let you know.