1913- The Renaissance of Macrame- Free Handbag Pattern

From Needlecraft Magazine, July 1913

Macrame seems to be making a comeback again right now! And back in 1913, they were talking about the revival of the craft that had been taking the craft world by storm 30 years earlier in the 1880s. Here’s a few pages from Needlecraft Magazine, July 1913.

With the revival of other classes of handicraft has come that of macrame, which perhaps may not be considered needlework in the strictest sense of the word, since the crochet-needle along is used, and that as an adjunct or occasionally.  Macrame consists of knots made with the fingers, tied in diagonal, vertical, or horizontal lines, according to the character of the design to be followed, and bears no relation whatever to the so-called “macrame crochet,” the only point of contact being in the very heavy thread used for the latter.  And this resemblance incidental merely, since the macrame of the present revival differs greatly fm that of thirty years ago-  when the work had its last period of great popularity..  Then it was fashioned of macrame-cord entirely, and there were fringes, trimmings for towels, table-covers, bedspreads, and so on, lambrequins, tidies, and other articles for household use or ornament.  Now, however, finer threads are likewise used, and in greater proportion.  There are collar-and-cuff sets, bodice and skirt garnitures;  indeed, trimming for every requirement.  And the effect of the lace is like that of none other;  it reminds one of delicate carvings, and a little practice will enable one to make it rapidly and well.

There is scarcely space in a short article, which perhaps may be a first lesson, to enter into an elaborate description of this newest thing in laces; but the writer hopes to interest other lovers of the beautiful in what, to her, is so interesting a study. The durability of macrame-work is not least of its recommendations; while the infinite variety it admits of, and the number less uses to which it can be turned so soon as the first methods of working are mastered, render it extremely fascinating to all who enjoy the practice of a little inventive ingenuity. As suggested, the designs are purely geometrical, woven or, more properly, knotted by means of horizontal and vertical threads, and the beauty of the work depends largely upon the evenness with which it is done. This comes with practice, hence it is well for the beginner to learn the different “bars” separately before combining them in an intricate design; a few simple instructions and rules will enable any one to make a start, after which a little patience and persistence will soon produce excellent results.

The first thing to be considered is the cushion or desk, of which there are several “made on purpose,” as the children say, and to be purchased at a low price. If one does not care to go to the expense of buying one of these at first, however, there are very practical makeshifts of home manufacture. One is a cushion, filled with sawdust, sand or other material, and having inside a strip of lead as long as the cushion and perhaps an inch thick. The cushion should be about five inches wide, and fifteen or eighteen inches long. Another cushion of about the same size is conveniently arranged to screw or clamp to the edge of the table by means of devices similar to those employed at the corners of quilting or rug-frames. The desk used by the writer is of polished wood, with wooden pegs at each end to allow of the foundation-threads being wrapped around and held securely until a pattern is woven in.   A great many workers prefer a frame to a cushion; and an old slate-frame may serve the purpose admirably, six or eight holes being drilled about one inch apart at top and bottom and exactly opposite one another, so that the foundation-threads may be passed through them and held securely in place. 

The writer uses a desk in preference to either cushion or frame. This is of polished wood, with small holes bored at short, even distances across top and ends, close to the edge, these holes serving to admit small steel or wire brads. Over these at the top the vertical or working-threads are looped, while those at the ends serve to hold the foundation threads, always horizontal, tight and even. After being carried around the brads, which must be exactly opposite, the ends of the foundation threads are wrapped around the wooden pegs, three in number, at each end, on the sides. A homemade board or desk may be easily patterned after this. Cover a common pine board with felt, enamel cloth, or any desired material, and drive steel nails at the ends to hold the foundation-threads. The nails should stand out sufficiently to allow of the foundation-threads being wound securely around them, for these threads must not sag during the knot ting, but remain straight and true. 

Just as the chain-stitch is the basis of all crochet work, so the buttonhole-stitch may be called the “fundamental principle” of macrame; and the “Solomon’s knot” is as characteristic of the work as is the picot-chain of Irish crochet. A slight variation in the tying of the knots and wrapping the bars is really all there is to learn. It is very necessary, how ever, to acquire the ability of working equally well with either hand, as in piano-playing, typewriting or any similar art, and great care must be taken to not move nor loosen the horizontal or foundation-cord that carries the knots. The vertical threads, those knotted on at the top, are the working-threads. There must be as many of the foundation-threads as there are horizontal lines in the pattern, and they must be used double or of coarser quality than the working threads, Cut the latter the length required for your pattern; if not sure of this, allow what you know will be sufficient, and work a section through before cutting all. To knot on, after having strung your desk or cushion with the horizontal threads, double a strand exactly in the middle, put the loop over the foundation thread at the top, bring it down under, and then draw the ends through it, tightening the knot as you do so; or, if you find it more convenient, pass the two ends upward under the foundation-thread, turn them down over it and through the loop. The effect is the same by either method-it is simply a question of preference. For knotting on, as well as other parts of the work, a crochet-needle will be found very convenient to draw threads through a loop. 

The single chain is made as follows: Use two threads; hold the left one straight in the left hand, and with the right hand, knot the other thread on it, then hold the right thread straight and knot the left on it, alternately using each thread as a leader. To make the knot, throw the knotting-thread over the leader in a loop, pass the end under the leader and up through the loop and draw up; repeat first with one thread, then the other. 

Double chain is made in exactly the same way, save that four threads are taken, and two used as one, or the thread is used double instead of single. 

For Solomon’s knot four threads are also used. Hold the two center ones straight, take the left thread and lay it loosely over the center two, forming a loop at the left side, pick up the right thread, carry it over the one from the left side, under the two center threads and up through the loop at the side; draw up, completing hall the knot. Now pass the right thread over the two center ones, take the left thread, pass it over this, under the two center ones, and up through the loop at the right; draw up to meet the first half of the knot. As stated, this knot is a distinctive feature of macrame-work, and is varied in many ways. There is the picot-chain, to make which a space of thread is left between the knots, 

forming a loop when the knots are pushed up together; and the plaited chain, in which the first half of the knot is continually repeated. A heavier knot is made by add ing a half knot to the complete knot, thus forming one of “three halves,” and another variety much used for heavy work, such as the body of a shopping-bag, has first a knot made as directed over two threads; then pick up the thread at each side and make a knot over the four threads first used, and again a knot over the original two center threads, 

There are many other variations of these chains or bars, some of which shall be presented later; the number is really limited only by the ingenuity of the worker in adapting or combining different knottings. Those given will enable any one to commence work, however, and once begun it is sure to be continued. The only difficulty likely to be experienced is in forming the ribs, and a little practice will do away with this. Remember to always hold the “leader,” or the string upon which the knots are 

to be formed, tightly in the direction in which the knots are to go, and across the working – threads, which are picked up each in turn and knotted upon the leader, In this way the ribs are slanted in whatever direction desired, according to pattern. AS a working – model a simple but attractive design for heavy fringe is illustrated. By repeating the four rows, revers ing them, a pleasing pattern for hand bag results. Carry the first foundation threads across the top of the desk-the pegs at the top will prevent sagging is the thread is placed above them, with out knotting the working-threads over them. One half inch below the second foundation thread, always stretched very tightly, three-fourths inch below this another, then two more one and one-half inches apart. These distances may be varied at pleasure, or in accordance with the material used. Cut the working-threads forty inches long; or, which is by far the better plan, cut eight of them and work through the pattern before cutting the whole. It must be remembered that a coarse, stiff thread takes up much faster than a fine, pliable one, and that a knotting-thread is more quickly used than a leader; hence the working-threads will be uneven when the pattern is finished, and the fringe must be trimmed.

(some text missing from document)… first knot of last row and two from the next. Below the last row knot the third foundation-thread, forming the straight rib, as before, and below this make a row of Solomon’s knots, a second row, dividing the threads, a third row like the first, a fourth row like second, and a fifth row:like first. Again knot the foundation-chain, making the third rib, and proceed with the pattern below, each section of which requires eight threads. Take the first thread at the left as a leader, holding it over the remaining seven, and knot each of these on it twice; transfer the leader to the left hand and return, making a slanting rib close to the preceding and parallel with it; make another rib like first, then three more, knotting seven threads over the leader each time, slanting downward to the left, as the first three slanted downward to the right. Each section is made in the same way, and the pattern is followed by the straight rib, as before.

Next make a row of Solomon’s knots; * take the first four threads and make a double chain about one and one-fourth inches long; make two single chains of the next four threads, and with the next four, a double chain. Repeat. When making the last double chain of each repeat, knot closely with it the previous two single chains and one double chain, and when the work is finished trim off the fringe evenly.

As suggested, this design makes a very neat and serviceable shopping-bag, or hand-bag for whatever use. After having completed the ribbed pattern, repeat the portions above it in reverse order, finishing with tied or straight fringe, as preferred.

Knot the working-threads on the first foundation thread, and make a row of triple Solomon’s knots that is a knot as described, then a half knot, drawing them closely and evenly. Now pull the knotted threads down under the second foundation-thread, each

Handbag in Macrame 


Procure a board, fourteen by twenty-four inches, and cover it with muslin or any convenient material. Place six tacks or large headed pins across each end, exactly opposite one another, the first two one inch apart, the remaining four two inches. These are for fastening the foundation-cords. Commencing about two inches from the end of the board, put twenty one pins, one inch apart, across the top of the board.

Fasten the foundation-thread to the first pin at the end of the board, and bring it across, just above the twenty-one pins, to the opposite side; fasten to the corresponding pin, draw very firmly, winding it around the pin two or three times, then carry thread to the pin next below, wrap it around two or three times to hold it securely, and back across the board to the opposite side. Again bring it to next pin below, wind around, cross the board as before to opposite pin, and continue until you have ‘strung” your board with five foundation-threads. 

Now cut eighty working-threads, eighty-eight inches long, and proceed to knot them to the upper foundation-thread, doubling each in turn at the center, pass ing the loop under the foundation-thread, and putting both ends of the strand through the loop. Repeat until all are knotted on.

1. Bring each thread straight down across the first (inch) space, knotting to the second foundation-thread with single knot or “half hitch.” If evenly done, this will give the foundation-thread the effect of a raised cord, wound closely with the working-threads, 

2. Using four strands, make a double chain, knotting first with two at the right, then with the two at the left, until you have made eight knots, or a sufficient length to reach smoothly from second to third foundation-thread, and knot each thread on as in 1st row. Miss next eight strands, and knot next eight to the foundation-thread close to where the chain is knotted, then take the right missed in turn, and knot to the foundation-thread beyond the first eight. This crosses the groups, giving a latticed effect. Again make the double knots, and repeat.

3. Taking the four threads used for the double chain, in preceding row, make a ribbed chain, as follows: Pick up the 1st strand in left hand, and with the right hand take up the 2d, 3d and 4th, one at a time, and knot the 1st; then change the leader of 1st thread to right hand and, using the left hand, knot the three threads on as before. This gives a rib down through the center, with loops at each side, and is a very pleasing variation of the chain. Repeat until you have knotted the 2d, 3d and 4th threads seven times on the 1st. Make four double chains, using the sixteen crossed threads of last row, and again the ribbed chain, always knotting each thread to the foundation-thread below, when you have finished the chain. For the fancy pattern following, use the sixteen threads crossed in last row. Taking the 1st in right hand and holding it tightly as a “leader,” knot the next seven on it one by one; take up the first thread of the remaining seven and knot the following six on this. Now, counting from left to right, with the left hand take up the 16th thread and knot the next seven on it; then take up the 15th and knot six on this. Take the 16th thread and knot following eight on it; then the 7th thread and knot the remaining six on this; take 1st thread in right hand and knot last seven threads on it, then the 9th thread and knot remain ing seven Knot all the threads neatly and smoothly to the foundation-thread below. There will be two double bars crossing the sixteen threads diagonally and meeting in the center. Repeat the pattern. 1.

4. Like 3rd row, save that you begin with the fancy pattern, using the sixteen threads employed for the four double chains in last row.

5. First the ribbed chain, then four double chains, and again the ribbed chain; then, using the sixteen threads from the four double chains of last row, make the latticed pattern of crossed threads, as in 2d row, and repeat. 6. For the points, eaclı requiring forty threads, proceed as follows: With the right hand hold the Ist thread, and with the left knot following three threads on it; with left hand take up the 8th thread and knot three on it to the right (7th, 6th and 5th) also the 1st thread. This forms the first little point. Take up 9th thread in right hand and knot 10th, 11th and 12th on it; then take up 16th, knot 15th, 14th, 13th and 9th on it. Repeat in this way until you have made five of the little points and used forty threads. Now leave the first four threads, commencing with the 5th, knot next three on it, and continue until you have made three points; again drop four threads and make two points. These points alone, with a knotted heading, make a very appropriate and beautiful trimming for towels, sofa-pillows, and other articles for which such a decoration is suitable.

Trim the ends of the threads, making a sufficient depth of fringe, and line the bag with chamois or any desired material. Run draw-strings of the cord, twisted, through the first space, and finish with a heavy braided cord of the thread.

Extra fashion tidbit from this page of the magazine from 1913:

AMONG the newest waists solid, are those which have a row of very tiny bows down the front, instead of buttons. The most novel styles are the bows of black velvet with two long loops and a cross-piece.

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