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Archive for December, 2013

These are a few of my favorite things: #34 – Getting Knotty with Macramé

In 1972 I embarked on my first macramé project . . . an avocado hemp plant hanger.  With assistance from my mother, I diligently worked away on making knots and trying to keep my strands from tangling.  In the end, I was very proud of what I produced. I’m sure if I saw it today, I would shudder at its appearance . . . but, hey . . . the 70’s were certainly not the pinnacle of aesthetics and good taste.  Remember leisure suits, bell bottoms, and really bad polyester?  Yeah, I too want to forget about those fashion statements.  I’m just grateful we didn’t have digital cameras back then since there’s virtually no evidence of my attempts to be fashionable.  And . . . oh, yes . . . I attempted Farrah Fawcett’s famous windblown feathered look with my fine straight hair without success.  Fortunately, there is no evidence of this indiscretion and you only have my word that it didn’t turn out very well.

Okay, back to macramé . . . the 70’s didn’t do a lot to promote the possibilities of macramé.  Macramé is believed to have originated with 13th-century Arab weavers. These artisans knotted the excess thread and yarn along the edges of handwoven fabrics into decorative fringes on bath towels, shawls, and veils.  I started reacquainting myself with macramé several years ago since I like to do fiber-ish things that are portable and require little more than an old-fashioned clipboard.  So, here I am hoping you will give macramé another look.

Macramé became popular during the Victorian era when Sylvia’s Book of Macramé Lace was published in 1882.  This 178-page book may be downloaded in its entirety at https://archive.org/details/sylviasbookofmac00lond.  Below are a few images from the book.

Sylvia's Book of Macrame Lace

Umbrella with macrame fringe

Insertion macrame lace

Macrame passementerie

Another resource available to learn more about macramé is the DMC Library book Macramé.  It may be downloaded at https://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books/macrame_dmc.pdf.  I highly recommend this book for getting started.  Scale down the cords by using embroidery floss and the results bear little resemblance to my 1972 attempt to be mod and groovy.

DMC Library Macrame Book cover

DMC Library Macrame Book #1 DMC Library Macrame Book #2 DMC Library Macrame Book #3 DMC Library Macrame Book #4 DMC Library Macrame Book #5 DMC Library Macrame Book #6 DMC Library Macrame Book #7

The third resource you may be interested in checking out is The Imperial Macramé Lace Book published by the Barbour Flax Spinning Company in 1878.  You can download it at the following link –  http://www.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books/mlb_1878.pdf

Macrame Lace Book cover

Macrame Lace Book #1 Macrame Lace Book #2 Macrame Lace Book #3 Macrame Lace Book #4

Now, if these images don’t inspire at least a wee bit of intrigue in macramé, check out the following modern day applications . . .

Macrame pod chair

Macrame chairOne thing that really got me interested in re-visiting macramé was stumbling across Joan Babcock’s book Micro-Macramé Jewelry: Tips and Techniques for Knotting with Beads.  This was macramé I could really get into!  A couple of years later I had the privilege of meeting Joan at a women’s artist party I attended with Jennifer Moore in Sante Fe, NM.  I can’t remember squealing like that before and I think I may have embarrassed myself a bit when I met her.  Ah, well.  Shortly after buying the book, I purchased her DVD.

Joan Babcock book and DVD

I get more inspired by macramé when I look at images of Joan’s work on her website – http://www.joanbabcock.com/. Some day I hope to be able to take one of her workshops.  Check out a few of her spectacular pieces . . .

Joan Babcock necklace #1

Joan Babcock necklace #2

Joan Babcock earrings #1

Joan Babcock bracelet

Kids are being introduced to macramé through instructions for making friendship bracelets.  Few of the instructions I’ve seen use the term ‘macramé’ . . . If you have kids or grandkids around, you may be able to get them initiated into the fiber arts through the making of friendship bracelets.  Below are a couple of examples of the beautiful things these kids are making.

Friendship bracelets #2

Friendship bracelets

To see the multitude of friendship bracelet instructions available on-line, just Google “friendship bracelet instructions” and you will have your pick . . . Macramé is not just for kids.  A couple I liked are http://friendship-bracelet-patterns.myfbm.com/# and http://friendship-bracelets.net/.

If that’s still not enough to get you going, check out Sherri Stokey’s macramé blog at  http://www.knotjustmacrame.com/ or the website Micro-Macramé Jewelry for inspiration, supplies, and instructions. http://www.micro-macramejewelry.com/index.html

If previous experience with macramé turned you off, consider getting knotty in 2014 and give it a try.  Happy New Year!

These are a few of my favorite things: #33 – Chanel jackets and Linton Tweed

As 2013 winds down, I wanted to share one of my favorite sources of inspiration . . . Chanel jackets made with Linton tweed fabric. I spend quite a bit of time with sewing enthusiasts.  One of the ultimate projects many of them share is the desire to sew their own Chanel-style jacket.  Unfortunately, many struggle to find the right fabric.  This is where being a handweaver comes in handy.  We can make our own fabric!

Coco Chanel in Linton tweed

Coco Chanel in Linton tweed

I’ve been fortunate to spend time with authentic Chanel jackets.  Every time I am amazed that people will spend in the neighborhood of $5,000 for a read-to-wear version.  I doubt if I will ever own an authentic Chanel jacket, but I can continue my love of deriving inspiration from them.  Before I share some images and links on Linton tweed fabrics, here are some images and links on Chanel jackets.

The link below is to a 3 ½ minute long video that provides a brief history of the Chanel jacket.


If you find that intriguing, you may be interested in the video showing a brief look at the making of a Chanel jacket for The Little Black Jacket exhibit.  This exhibit has been traveling the world for over a year-and-a-half and is currently in Singapore.  It’s interesting to watch . . . and, I have to admit, there are fewer people in the world that evoke cool as much as Karl Lagerfield!


Exploring the rest of The Little Black Jacket exhibit website is fun and makes me want to weave some black textured fabric for a jacket of my own.


Okay, enough about Chanel jackets . . . only because I want to move on to Linton tweed fabrics.

Linton celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2012  The company began when William Linton started Linton Mill in the Caldewgate area of Carlisle.  Not long after that in the 1920’s, Mr. Linton’s friend and Parisian couturier, Captain Molyneux,  introduced him to a young French designer, Coco Chanel.  Hence, a brilliant pairing of British fabrics with French fashion design was born!

Linton Tweed weaver #2

Linton Tweed weaver

Business for Linton, like all businesses that have been around for a while, has had its share of ups and downs.  In the late 60’s, dramatic changes were made to revive their business by incorporating exotic yarns and even manufacture some of their own yarns.  Below are a couple of jackets that I found particularly interesting.

Linton Tweed jacket

Linton Tweed jacket - orange
Just looking at Linton fabrics inspire new ideas for me.  Check out the fabrics below and hopefully one or two speak to you.

Linton Tweed sample - black and white

Linton Tweed sample black and tan

Linton Tweed sample blue and red

Linton Tweed sample pale apple and blue

Linton Tweed sample pink

Linton Tweed sample purple

Linton Tweed sample red & yellow

Checking out the Linton website at http://www.lintondirect.co.uk/ can introduce you to even more fabrics that may inspire your next project.  Or . . . you may even find inspiration in their yarns.  Below are several yarns that you may find similar to something you already own.

Linton yarn - chenille

Linton yarn - mohair

Linton yarn - multi

Linton yarn - purple

If you’re interested in learning more about Linton, they have a blog you can follow http://lintonloves.blogspot.co.uk/.  You can even follow Linton on Facebook.

Whether you or someone you know ever tackles sewing a Chanel-style jacket, keep in mind it’s quite a bit of work.  If you’re a weaver and don’t sew, find an exceptionally talented sewing enthusiast and see if you can arrange a trade of services . . . you weave enough fabric for two jackets and they construct the jackets.  Below are a few blogs that can give you an idea of the steps and work involved in creating your own one-of-kind jacket.

Ann Rowley’s step-by-step photo gallery of making a Chanel-style jacket using Vogue pattern 8804 – http://www.flickr.com/photos/7370831@N07/collections/72157618442974041/

Pauline’s Chanel jacket blog – http://psewing.blogspot.com/p/making-of-chanel-type-jacket.html

A Classic French Jacket:  70 Hours to the Dream! – http://www.burdastyle.com/blog/a-classic-french-jacket-70-hours-to-the-dream

Enjoy!  And the best of everything as 2013 comes to a close!


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