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The art of decorative knotting is called macramé. This knotting art is so old that there are no records of its beginning. The earliest knotted textiles that have survived are nets for catching wild animals and game bags. With the advance of civilization, man's ingenuity led to much more complex designs, and macramé became not just utilitarian, but also a decorative art form. In recent years macramé has again become popular, showing up as plant hangers, shawls, baskets, lace, pillow covers, table decorations, chair covers, lamp shades, wall hangings, belts, purses, clothing, and much more.

The basic tools you will need for macramé include scissors, rubber bands, straight pins, a yarn needle, C-clamps, and a crochet hook. The surface you use to macramé can be any weighted base that will attach to a wall or table. In some cases, such as plant hangers, you can even use a hook in the ceiling. For other types of work a wall or table is desirable because it will hold the work steady while the cord is pulled to tighten the knots. If you find that you would prefer to sacrifice weight for mobility while working on a macramé, any rigid surface, such as a clipboard with a pad, can suffice as a work surface. You will need sturdy, even textured cord, for the fabric of your macramé. Yarn is much too stretchy, but a good quality twine works well. If you are planning to use different colors for your macramé, most craft shops will carry the best selections.

Begin by cutting eight cords that are each four feet long. Then cut another that is six inches long. The short piece of cord should be knotted at each end and pinned firmly across the top of the work surface. Take the long pieces of cord, fold them in half, and attach them to the short cord, which is also called a mounting cord. To do this, tuck the center fold of the long cord behind the mounting cord, pulling it under the mounting cord and between the two longer pieces hanging down. Take the ends of the long cord and bring them through the loop, drawing them down tightly. This is called a lark's head knot. All the long cords should be attached in this manner to the mounting cord before you begin your fabric.

There are two basic macramé knots. One is called the double half hitch, and the other is called a square knot. To make the double half hitch, you should anchor the far left cord of each strand with a pin and pull it to the right. Take the second cord and bring it around the cord that is pinned and through the loop that is formed. Then repeat this action, making the second loop to the other side of the pinned cord. If this is done correctly, you will have a loop or knot on either side of the pinned cord. Continue down each strand until you have six double half hitches over six more strands. Next you will need to begin working right to left. When making the square knot, you will only be using four cords. Allow the two center cords of side-by-side knots to hang down and loosely tie the two outer cords together over them. Make your second half-knot in the opposite direction. When you have made a series of half knots, you will have formed a chain. Continue down the cords for six to eight knots and then work in the other surrounding cords. If you are working on a plant hanger, these knots should be continued, drawing in the other cords until you have made a circle.