Time to get knotting! If you haven't discovered macramé yet, have a go at this gorgeous festive craft idea. In fact, why not make it for someone you love and put a tick on your Christmas gift list?
First of all, it is MUCH easier than it looks (like all good crafts – right?) And, in a similar way to brushing and plaiting hair, it's weirdly relaxing and chills you out at the same time. So, what have you got to lose?
Here's what you need:
Some white macramé rope. We love Bobbiny! https://shop.bobbiny.com/en/65-xxl-5mm
A metal ring. We used a 6" one from our local art shop https://www.bacshop.co.uk
A small brush or comb. We used a mini pet slicker brush but any comb will do.
A scrap of paper to make a template for the fringing (optional - you may be a ninja with scissors but I found this helped)
Knots you will learn: Reverse Lark's Head | Clove Hitch | Square Knot
STEP 1: Start by cutting a few 50cm lengths of rope to get started. Fold these in half and attach them to the ring using a reverse lark's head knot. To do this, place the loop under the ring, take the ends through the loop and pull to secure it. Repeat to add lengths of rope all around your ring. The number you need will vary depending on the diameter of the ring.
Rachel's Top Tip: Make sure the two ends of your length of rope are even and adjust them at this stage if they're not because you won't be able to later.
STEP 2: When you get all the way around, make the last length of rope much longer - this will be your filler cord. To measure, you need one end to match all of the others, and one to be able to wrap all the way around the ring at least once and a half to be safe.
Rachel's Top Tip: Hold the long filler cord in your right hand. This will always stay in your right hand as you loop all of the other ropes over it to create a ring of clove hitch knots.
STEP 3: Take the filler cord over the first rope to the right. Loop that rope back over the filler cord, tuck the end through the loop and slide the knot up the filler cord so that it sits about 2cm away from the central ring.
STEP 4: Repeat to make a second loop with that same cord, sliding it up the filler cord to sit alongside the first loop.
Rachel's Top Tip: Remember to hold the filler cord taut and the loops will slide onto it easily. If you loosen the tension, you will end up with a basic half knot! Remember that you can unpick it and try again, and that it does get easier with practice. Soon you will be looping away and singing to the radio and not even thinking about it...
STEP 5: Now take the filler cord over the next rope to the right and do the same thing again: two loops, slide them up so that they sit alongside the first two, and then keep moving around the ring, adding clove hitch knots all the way around. Try to maintain an even distance of about 2cm from the central ring.
STEP 6: When you come back round to the beginning, you are ready to add some square knots. Start at the join and take four ropes, two from either side of the join.
Let the two central ropes sit straight. Take the rope on the right over the two central ropes. Then take the rope on the left over the end of the first rope, under the central ropes and bring the end through the loop from back to front. Gently pull and slide the knot up the central ropes so that it sits snugly against the join. Repeat, this time bringing the rope on the right under the central ropes. Take the left-hand rope under the end of the first rope, over the central ropes and tuck the end through the loop from front to back. Again, pull it gently to tighten it.
STEP 7: Work around the ring adding square knots. Depending on how many ropes you added in the first place, you will either have enough to make square knots all the way around or you may, like me, find that you have two single ropes left at the end. I untwisted the ropes and plaited them before tying them together to make a little hanging loop.
STEP 8: Unravel the ends of your ropes and comb them out carefully to create fringing all the way around. You will see that with each square knot you have two longer lengths in the centre and two shorter lengths on the the edges, which is already giving a bit of a snowflakey vibe.
STEP 9: Trim the fringing into triangular shapes to create the points of the snowflake. I made a small template out of some scrap paper and laid this over each section before cutting. This really helped keep the shapes uniform.
STEP 10: Place the mandala onto a piece of paper or an old tea towel and spray generously with starch. Leave it to dry, turn it over and spray the other side.
Rachel's Top Tip: Spray starch is available in all supermarkets and is a really useful addition to your craft kit. It comes in handy for all sorts of projects that require nice stiff fibres or textiles, such as quilting, macramé or weaving.
To store or transport your design, place it between two sheets of stiff paper, such as parchment or tracing paper. Keep it flat inside a large cardboard envelope or folder and place it somewhere safe so that it can't get crushed.
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