Do you associate macrame with jute plant hangers and owl wall-hangings from the 70s? I certainly did and I have been on the look out for any books that could shed a different light on this craft. I’m a great library fan and I spotted Micro Macrame Beaded Jewelry in the library and thought I’d take it out and try some of the projects in it.
Now I know that I haven’t been charitable with my reviews of craft and sewing books on this blog before. I have seriously picked up some awful books, and sewing books in particular are prone to some fairly disastrous editing. However, finally I have found a book I can really rave about.
The book is divided into two sections. The first part of the book is a beginners’ guide with information on what materials to use and how to create the macrame knots. The next section is a series of beautifully photographed projects. They are all stunning. Each project has a photograph for each step.
I’ve now completed the Glass Bead Bracelet and I can confirm that the instructions are thorough and simple to follow. This book is addictive though and as soon as I finished the this project I was straight on to the next, I couldn’t wait. It isn’t often that I get grabbed quite like this by a crafting book. The projects progress in difficulty, but I just jumped in and tried a couple of the projects completely out of sequence. With the bracelet, I did have to refer back to another project for the first few steps, but even that was relatively easy to do.
There is a wide variety of projects in the book including ear-rings, key-fobs, bracelets, necklaces and watchstraps. One of my favourites is the tassel project. I know this sounds slightly weird, but do you have a desk or wardrobe key that is in danger of getting lost? What a great idea to make a tassel for it!
Or how about these stunning Christmas decorations?
The only problem I found with the book was sourcing the cords recommended by the author. As the review on Amazon states: “This book was originally published in the US, so the list of cords and threads will be familiar to US crafters but locating them in the UK is not easy”. I whole-heartedly agree. After visiting three different craft shops locally (and I consider the craft shops in my local area very well stocked), I couldn’t find any of the cords used in the book. Not only that, I only found stockists in the UK on Amazon for one of the cords, the author describes. I don’t usually like buying materials I’ve never purchased before over the internet as you have to rely on the seller’s description to make sure you are getting the right item. So it was inevitable that my first buy wasn’t quite right; I purchased C-Lon thread which isn’t the same as C-Lon cord! Apparently these are quite different in thickness. Also C-Lon can sometimes be called S-Lon, just to add to the confusion. Anyway, this cord here is what I used for the project.
Of course, I’m sure that Macrame experts out there will tell me that it is possible to do Macrame with lots of different cord types, but when you’re a beginner you just want to start out with the recommended product and then move on from there. Perhaps it would have been useful to have a more extended section on cords in the book, not just looking at particular brands, but looking at the properties of different cords – stiffness, elasticity, lustre etc., in order to make choices based on whatever you find locally.
Being new to this craft, I also had some difficulties with choosing beads for the projects. I don’t necessarily need to find the exact same beads, but making sure that you use similar sizes probably helps. The author uses a mixture of bead sizes (11, 6 etc.) and diameters in mms to describe the beads she uses. Perhaps a chart of bead size and mm sizing in the book would have been useful, to help me pick similar size beads. In general, I have found bead sizing a real problem when I’m shopping. Shops often stock beads without any labelling information. Beware the lure of these pretty baubles when you enter a bead shop without a ruler or other such measuring tool! Beads will get purchased that aren’t any use for the project in hand!
The book does focus mostly on the use of half-hitch and flat knots, but I suppose you can progress to more complex knots from these. The bracelet I’ve made so far is beautiful and I’ve lined up the Dark Side of the Moon necklace and the Tassel project, of course. More than that, this book has really sparked my interest in this neglected craft!