Yesteryear’s Memories: That Macramé Thing

May 23, 2023

Everyone had one in their home at some point. If you lived in the 1970s, you couldn’t escape the fad. It was a simple concept and probably had existed for many years. Tying knots in cord. Sailors were certainly adept at such things. From tying a ship to a dock, or attaching an anchor, or tying a ‘monkey’s fist’ of rope to have a ball to toss at the end of a line, they knew well the utility of knots and how to make them attractive and useful at the same time. The 70s fad, though, took knot tying to a whole new level.

The classic macramé project was a hanging planter. There were small ones, fancy ones, plain ones, and ones that were big enough to hang a fruit-bearing cherry tree. They were made of string, cord, or heavy rope. They even used strips of burlap or pieces of old clothing ripped up and tied into intricate shapes. All colors and all sizes. There were how-to books, newspaper articles, and magazines devoted to the craft. There were square knots, travelling half loops, over and under braiding, and granny knots. There were TV spots and macramé shows. Classes were taught at the library, craft store, and junior college. I’ll be the first to admit, I made a few plant hangers myself and it was fun. However, there are people who get a little carried away with the newest thing. I had a neighbor who went off the deep end. I was in for a shock.

She was an older lady; sweet and kind and talkative. She always had fresh baked cookies for the neighbors and was the first to offer condolences for a runaway cat or congratulations for a graduating kid. She lived in a small but nice house that always had flowers on the porch and a freshly swept sidewalk. One day she invited me to come see her ‘new project’.

She had made several plant hangers on her porch. One contained a flowing airplane plant; it was made with nice white cording and was replete with wooden beads and brass rings worked into the design. One was tied into the shape of an owl. I complimented her on her work, her face lit up, and she wanted to show me more. We went into her ‘sewing room’. She had more pieces, bigger and better than the others. She had hangers that went from ceiling to floor with bigger plants and bigger rope. They were a little large for my taste, but she liked them and was proud of them. I told her they were great, and her face lit up even more. She had something else to show me. We went to her living room.

I wasn’t prepared for it, I admit. I kept my composure, though. She had made a macramé hanger for her TV set. It wasn’t a little set, either. A full 32 inch screen with legs sticking out the bottom. She had a side table, suspended by tied ropes for her drink, snacks, and TV remote. And room for a few books and magazines. And a clock. And then, the piece de resistance, she had hung her recliner from the ceiling. It had fancy knots, plain knots, and big beads woven into the rope. It swung there, like an ocean liner gently rolling with the waves. She gingerly climbed into the chair, explaining how it was like having a porch swing in the living room. She smiled from ear to ear as she slowly rocked back and forth, and admitted that she sometimes fell asleep watching the late, late show. I was happy for her, I really was. She was thrilled with her new hobby. I told her she had the most unusual home I had ever seen, and was truly an artist in her endeavors.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t affected by that visit. I love seeing someone with passion. As for me, I went home with a new outlook on hobbies. I went home and gathered up the instruction book I got for Christmas, the two hanging pots I made, and the grocery bag of cord and beads and donated them to the local charity thrift store. I heard that the neighbor ended up in a support group, but I was glad I escaped. I shook the habit before I started measuring my bed and drilling holes in the rafters.

I know it was drastic, but sometimes, you just have to go cold-turkey.

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