How to Start Macrame for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide!

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Are you ready to learn all about macrame? You came to the right place!

This Ultimate Guide to How to Start Macrame for Beginners has everything you need to know to get started today.

person doing macrame

Macrame is such a fun and rewarding hobby.

If you love making things with your hands (or think you would love it), it’s the perfect fiber art to try. Even if you’re a complete newbie, you can make all sorts of wonderful things!

I love so many crafts, but macrame is one of my favorites.

When I’m working on other craft projects I always start feeling the itch to get back to something macrame related. It’s just so relaxing and calming, and I love the natural boho vibe the finished pieces have.

Before we dive in, let’s learn a few quick facts about macrame!

Keep scrolling to learn everything you need to get started with macrame and grab your free knot guide!

Want to remember this? Post this Macrame for Beginners article to your favorite DIY Pinterest board!

Pinterest pin for how to do macrame for beginners post

(This post contains affiliate links. If you click one and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Read the disclaimer here. Thank you for your support!)

Join the Macrame for Beginners and Beyond Facebook Group!

If you’re new to macrame or if you’ve been knotting for a while, connecting with other macrame lovers is always a great idea!

Come check out our Facebook group, Macrame for Beginners and Beyond. It’s a friendly community where you can ask questions, get inspiration, and share your awesome work with other macrame lovers! Come join the conversation today!

What is Macrame?

So what is macrame, anyway? From a technical standpoint, macrame is the art of creating beautiful textiles using various different knots.  

Large DIY Macrame Wall Hanging

Some of the more common knots used in macrame are the larks head knot, square knot, half hitch and double half hitch knot.

It’s amazing how many beautiful patterns and designs can be created with just a few basic knots!

You can make home decor, functional items like plant hangers and shelves, decorate your clothes, make jewelry, or even a big comfy hammock!

Over the years, macrame has been used for so many different purposes. Let’s take a quick look at the history of macrame.

beaded macrame wall hanging

History of Macrame

Macrame has been around for a very long time. There are carvings showing macrame style knots that date back all the way to ancient Babylonian and Assyrian culture.

In Arabic countries, macrame was believed to have been used as a decorative fringe technique to finish woven textiles.

Over the course of several centuries, macrame spread throughout the world and eventually ended up in Europe, where it really took off.

Queen Mary II was a big fan of macrame and using it to make lace. She even taught the skill to her ladies-in-waiting.

Later on, Queen Charlotte was known for her beautiful macrame handiwork which could be seen adorning the royal residence.

Macrame became hugely popular in the Victorian era. It was used to create lacy decorative table runners, curtains, pillow covers, and other home decor.

It was even more popular in Victorian times than it was in the 1970s!

Historical macrame photo from The Imperial Macrame Lace book
from The Imperial Macrame Lace Book (HathiTrust)

Sailors in the eighteenth and nineteenth century would make macrame textiles in their spare time at sea. 

They would barter and trade their creations in the different countries they arrived in, which helped spread the art of macrame even more.

In the 1970s, macrame was hugely popular in the hippie movement. They came up with all sorts of plant hangers, wall hangings, owls, clothing, and lots more.

If you take a look at some vintage 70’s macrame pattern books, you can find patterns for just about anything!

As you can see, macrame has been around for a long time and it has a rich and varied history.

Is Macrame Easy to Learn?

Yes! A lot of macrame designs look complicated at first glance, but really only use a couple of different knots.

You can make a beautiful wall hanging or plant hanger with just the basic larks head knot, square knots, double half hitches, and maybe a wrapping knot or Rya knot thrown in for fun!

Check out this post of all the basic knots you need to get started with macrame. It includes a photo/written tutorial walk through of each knot, and a video showing how they’re done.

If you’re more of a video person, come check out my YouTube channel where I share lots of macrame tutorials with different projects and knot tutorials!

Join me on YouTube sign with a picture of Crystal Martin from Marching North

After you learn the basics, you can quickly learn other simple knots like the reverse lark’s head knot (or cow hitch knot), half knot, spiral knot, diagonal double half hitch knot, and more!

Why is Macrame so Popular?

What is so great about macrame, anyway? So many things!

Here are three awesome things about macrame that I think have attributed to it’s popularity over the years.

Mindfulness

Doing macrame is a great way to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily life.

We know it’s good for our well being to be practice mindfulness, but sometimes it’s hard to squeeze 30 minutes of meditating into your day, or even 5 minutes!

Once you get the hang of the basic knots, tying them becomes one of those skills that you can do without much thought.

It’s so relaxing and calming to sit with your nice cup of tea and work on a section of whatever project you have on your rack.

If you’re looking for a hobby to bring more peace into your life, macrame is an excellent choice.

Creativity

Once you know a few knots, you can start using them to create all sorts of patterns and shapes in your macrame.

If you have a basic shape or design in mind, you can sit down and plan it out a bit on paper to get the pattern figured out.

Or, you can just wing it and see what kind of beautiful piece comes out!

Not sure you want to make your own designs? No problem, there are so many amazing macrame patterns available out there!

You’ll find some free ones down below to get started, and some more advanced ones you can purchase on Etsy linked down below.

Business Potential

Want to start some kind of creative side hustle or business? Macrame is a fabulous option!

You can make and sell original pieces on Etsy or at your local craft market, create patterns to sell online, or teach others how to do macrame on your blog or YouTube channel.

woman holding macrame wall hanging

If you do decide to go this route, be careful not to copy other peoples designs to sell. Everyone works hard to create their patterns and designs and it’s just not cool.

When you see someones amazing macrame creations and you feel inspired to do your own, just pick one part of it that you love and do your own different version. Change things up and don’t just copy their design.

One tip I’ve seen that is helpful especially if you’re in a design rut is to take 3 or 4 different designs that you love and pick one thing from each of them. Put them together to create a new piece.

Sometimes doing that helps spark your creativity and you’ll come up with another awesome design you hadn’t even thought of!

Now let’s take a look at what supplies you’ll need to macrame, basic beginner knots, and more!

Macrame Supplies & Materials

macrame supplies on a white desk

Before you can start doing macrame, you’ll need some basic supplies.

Check out my list of must-have macrame supplies and my favorite places to buy them right here.

It includes everything from cord, rope, and cotton strings, to hanging racks, storage solutions, the best scissors for fringe, and more!

And you can feel confident knowing these macrame supplies are good quality and won’t let you down.

The most important supplies you’ll need right off the bat are:

  • macrame cotton rope for your working cord
  • sharp scissors
  • something to hold your work

If you’re making a wall hanging, you’ll need a dowel, a wooden stick, a metal pipe, or piece of driftwood to use as your hanger and starting point.

For plant hangers, you can use a wooden ring, a metal ring, or just make your own ring with the working cords like I do in this tutorial.

To make a macrame bracelet, jewelry or something like this macrame flower, you’ll need a macrame board or cork board and T-pins to hold your work while you knot. Those are also handy for making friendship bracelets!

No matter what you’re making, you’ll need rope and scissors. Sharp scissors are a total lifesaver when you start cutting fringe. These dressmaking scissors are my go to brand.

Some other good things to have on hand are wooden beads, different colored pieces of macrame cord, and metal clasps for key chains.

You’ll find all of that information and more in this list of Must Have Macrame Supplies!

someone tying a macrame square knot

Basic Macrame Knots for Beginners

Now that we have our supplies figured out, it’s time to get down to knotting!

The three most crucial macrame knots for beginners to learn are the larks head knot, square knot, and double half hitch.

If you add in the wrapping knot and Rya knot, you can easily make an absolutely stunning macrame wall hanging even if you’re just starting out!

You can grab a printable PDF with the 5 basic macrame knots down below!

Mounting Knots

There are two main mounting knots you’ll use in macrame: the lark’s head knot and the cow hitch (or reverse lark’s head) knot.

You’ll use these knots to attach cords to a dowel rod, driftwood, wooden rings, metal hoops, or whatever base you’re using for your macrame.

Lark’s Head Knot

The lark’s head knot is one of the most common macrame knots. It’s usually the first knot you’ll tie in your project.

How to Make a Lark’s Head Knot

  1. Take your piece of macrame cord, fold it in half, and place the looped end over the dowel.
  2. At this point the folded side will be hanging down in the back and the ends of the cord will be hanging down in the front.
  3. Bring the ends of the cord through the loop, and pull the ends to tighten the knot.
tying the lark's head knot
tying the lark's head knot

Cow Hitch Knot (or Reverse Lark’s Head Knot)

The cow hitch knot is done the same way as the lark’s head knot, but in reverse.

How to Make a Cow Hitch Knot

  1. Take your piece of macrame cord, fold it in half, and place the looped end up behind and over the dowel.
  2. At this point the folded side will be hanging down in the front, and the ends of the cord will be hanging down in the back.
  3. Bring the ends of the cord through the loop, and pull the ends to tighten the knot.
tying the cow hitch knot
cow hitch knot

Square Knot

The square knot is one of the most important cords in macrame. It’s typically tied with four cords, two middle cords (or filler cords) and two outer cords (or working cords).

Another variation of the square knot that you’ll frequently see is the half square knot. Just as it sounds, it’s the first half of a square knot.

If you tie a sennit of several half knots together, it’ll form a spiral which is a popular knot to use in macrame projects.

There are lots of different square knot variations you can use in your macrame project. You’ll find a few examples in this unique macrame knots and knot patterns post.

How to Make a Square Knot

  1. Bring the left cord over the two center cords, and behind the right working cord.
  2. Bring the right working cord behind the two center cords, and through the loop of the left working cord. Pull the ends to tighten.
  3. Bring the right working cord over the two center cords, and behind the left working cord.
  4. Bring the left working cord behind the two center cords, and through the loop of the right working cord. Pull the ends to tighten.

If you continue tying square knots one after the other, you’ll make a square knot sennit.

It’s important to note that the middle strings (or filler cords) won’t need to be as long as the outer working cords when you tie a square knot sennit.

A good rule of thumb is to make the outer cords 5 or 6 times longer than the filler cords.

Double Half Hitch Knot

The double half hitch knot is another common knot used in macrame. You’ll also see these called clove hitch knots. You can make straight rows, a diamond shape motif, and lots of other designs with this knot.

It’s common for new knotters to struggle with the double half hitch, so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right away.

The good news is it’s actually a very simple technique, it just takes a minute to wrap your brain around it.

The example below shows how to tie a horizontal double half hitch knot going to the right. The left cord will act as the filler cord, and the right strand will act as the working cord.

How to Make a Double Half Hitch Knot

  1. Cross the left cord over the right cord in the shape of a number 4.
  2. Bring the end of the right cord up in front of the left cord, loop it over and bring it down forming a loop.
  3. Repeat step 2 the same way, going to the right.
  4. Pull the end of the working cord to tighten the knot. You’ve now made one double half hitch knot.
  5. If you have more cords to knot, repeat steps 1-4 with the rest of the cords.
how to tie the double half hitch knot

Since this knot is a challenge for many people (including myself when I first started), I made a whole blog post dedicated to it. Check out my guide to the double half hitch knot right here!

You’ll find more written tutorials and videos for lots of basic knots in this list of Basic Macrame Knots for Beginners.

basic macrame knots for beginners icon showing a woman tying a square knot on a macrame wall hanging

Some of the knots included are diagonal half hitch knots, vertical double half hitch, the reverse lark’s head knot, wrap knot, overhand knot, and many other basic macramé knots!

Setting Up Your Macrame Work Station

After you learn the basics, it’s time to get your perfect macrame work station all set up and ready to go!

Come check out this post where I’ll show you what macrame work space supplies you need and where to find them.

Having all the right tools makes creating beautiful macrame projects so much more fun!

macrame cord and a macrame mandala on a white table

How to Make a Macrame Plant Hanger

Macrame plant hangers are one of the most popular projects to make, especially for beginners.

They’re a great first project to start out with because you only need to learn a few knots and their easy to jazz up with some beads or simple knot patterns.

I wrote a whole handy guide about how to make a macrame plant hanger that walks you through everything you need to know!

four assorted macrame plant hangers attached to a branch

All-in-One Macrame Kits

So you know you want to make a DIY macrame wall hanging, but you aren’t quite sure you know what supplies to get and you don’t want to end up buying the wrong stuff and wasting money.

That’s OK!

A great way to get into macrame for beginners is with an all-in-one macrame kit.

Calculating Macrame Cord Lengths

Once you start creating your own macrame patterns, you’ll quickly see how important it is to be able to roughly calculate your cord lengths.

I wrote a whole post about estimating macrame cord lengths and you can check it out here!

After you learn how to calculate your own cord lengths, you can start making your own macrame designs and create all sorts of different patterns and projects!

macrame wall hanging and various ropes and supplies laying on a blue wood table

How to Add More Macrame Cord if You Run Out

Sometimes you’ll be happily knotting along and realize you miscalculated the length of your cords and one of the cords will be way too short to keep knotting. Oh no!!

Don’t panic and don’t undo all your hard work! I’ll show you how to add more macrame cord when you run out in this tutorial & video.

how to add more macrame cord when you run out

Macrame Projects for Beginners

OK, now that we covered all that, here are some great free patterns for beginners!

Even if you are a total newbie, these patterns are easy to follow and I’ll walk you through the whole process once step at a time.

They include written instructions and videos to explain it no matter what your skill level is. Check them out!

How to Cut Even Macrame Fringe

When you’re making a macrame wall hanging or any other project that has fringe involved, cutting it straight can be a quite an ordeal!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. Luckily, there are some handy macrame tips and tricks to cut your fringe nice and straight.

Check out this tutorial where I show you three easy ways to cut straight macrame fringe!

cutting perfectly straight macrame fringe using a guide line

Where to Get More Macrame Patterns

There are some really beautiful detailed macrame patterns available for purchase. As usual, Etsy is my go to place for awesome macrame patterns!

If you aren’t quite ready to create your own patterns yet or you’re looking for something specific, check out one of these shops for high-quality macrame patterns for all skill levels.

In Conclusion

I hope you found this Ultimate Guide to Macrame for Beginners helpful!

If you have any other questions or if I missed something, let me know in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer it and add it to this post.

If you make one of my macrame patterns, please share a pic of it on Instagram and tag me @marchingnorth so I can see it. I love seeing your awesome creations!

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Macrame for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide!

6 thoughts on “How to Start Macrame for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide!”

  1. Hi, what do you use to make the wall hangings? As in what do you hang out on while making it?
    I’m doing it on the couch and my back is killing me. Help please!

  2. This is great! I haven’t done macrame since the ’70s! I am thinking about selling my crafts. This is my question: I’m in agreement that copying someone’s original design isn’t cool. Should I only sell my own orginal designs or can it be made from all in one kits or patterns I’ve purchased or gotten free online or in store?
    Thanks!

    1. That’s great that you’re planning on selling your macrame creations! When you use someones pattern, sometimes they’ll explicitly say in the pattern whether or not you can sell your finished pieces from the pattern. For instance, I have no problem with people selling what they make from my free patterns as long as its on a small scale and they don’t redistribute the pattern itself. When in doubt, I would message the person who created the pattern and ask. I hope that helps! Thanks for stopping by and good luck with selling!

    2. I’m so glad that I found you. I used to do macrame for 20 yrs then all of my books were destroyed. And I have been looking for some for over a year. I don’t do esty. I barely do the computer.

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