How to make a Macrame Wall hanging in Chunky Wool Yarn
We were very taken with the new 'Super Chubby' yarn that Cindy has found a supplier for recently and decided to give it the full Nana Cindy treatment. It takes bold colour like a dream and dying process imparts a beautiful solidity and shine to the yarn. But what do you do with woollen chunky yarn?
I have launched an investigation into some different techniques- Knitting, Macrame, Crochet, Felting, Punch needle, Embroidery, they all look like they could make some sweet, sweet chunky yarn magic happen and Cindy also has some exciting knitting projects in the works, so keep an eye on these blogs for more ideas and projects.
But first up today for you we have:
This chunky wool yarn is many things, but one thing it is not, is strong and rope like. However with a soft hand, and a good handle on tension. it can create some heavenly soft and subtle macrame reminiscent of retro weaving techniques. So while there was a intensely strong desire to create a plant hanger, because well PLANTS!, I don't think we want to support any really heavy items hanging from it.
I went with a big bold wall hanging, able to be scaled up or down. Worked in one day with finds from the beach, or piece by piece. By yourself, or with friends. There is only one rule with these, I think and that is to keep it symmetrical. It’s almost like a Macrame sampler, so it's perfect beginners macrame, to try out a few different techniques and I think it would make a fabulous homemade xmas gift for a friend that has a beach house or a big space on an inside wall at home. It makes a great backdrop for event photos, a wonderful idea for big important birthday events like 21st or 60th birthdays, or would create a gorgeous boho chic wedding decor. You can add a frame of faux or dried flowers, shells and touches of metal for interest.
I have added metal accents with scrap aluminium I have recycled from tins of Milo, but pie tins would also work, I cut a small thin rectangle and I used a small bamboo stick to shape the metal carefully around the wool to keep it smooth and shiny, slide the stick out and the spring of the wool keeps them from sliding off! I quite enjoy the ‘tails’ this creates, especially on the un-dyed wool, they remind me of little tails like you would see on a fur coat.
First up I prepared my main sticks, I have one very large stick I found down the river and this was a bit wet and mossy so I sanded it back with steel wool and wiped it down. This stick I treated with a diy wood stain I made by steeping a steelo in some white vinegar. Wood stain colours the wood and also makes it less attractive for bugs to eat and live in. The other, smaller stick I had was a bit of driftwood from the beach, nice and dry and shiny. This wood I whitewashed with watered down acrylic house paint
Then I created a central handle for the wood to hang from, I used pieces of thick shoe leather but a piece of old leather belt would be a great substitute. Hold your stick up and find a central point where you think it will balance nicely, rotate it to make sure it will sit nicely against the wall. I chose to curve my stick upwards slightly but every stick is different. I used some nice shiny nails to hammer it into the wood- get this right the first time because it is kinda impossible to pull them out. Two nails on each side, nice and stable as this is the only thing holding this big heavy stick up. And thats it, you could also add sew a line of stitching around the leather first if you want a really nice finish
I then balanced the rakau, the wood, on the backs of two chairs. Depending on where you are hanging it and how tall you are, you may prefer to work in the final space directly. I had at first worked horizontally but for many of the knots you really require the tension and the yarns tendency to unwind from any twists, when it is hanging.
Now for the Macrame, if you ever made friendship bracelets or liked to fish as a kid, then you will have a headstart on this, because it is really just lots of knots.
First up we cut some lengths to make some Blackberry Roses, a lovely chunky knot that looks gorgeous in both the flat and variegated yarns- I am using one skein of hand dyed speckle yarn and one and a bit skeins of undyed yarn in this tutorial, your colour choices may depend on the colour wall they will sit up against.
For each set of 3 roses cut two pieces 2 metres 15 cm, fold in half, find the centre and attach these with a larkshead knot. You should now have 4 equal length pieces of chunky yarn to work with
First take the two outer yarn, we will do a sinnet of 3 flat knots around the middle two, then take these middle two pieces and thread them up through the middle of our 4 threads where they are attached at the top. Bring these two back down and tie a flat knot to secure the Blackberry knot. Now take all the threads and wrapping them around the blackberry, tie a simple but careful overhand knot. Now you should have a Blackberry Rose knot, you can tie two more with this length, but any more and you will need to increase the yarn that you begin with.Blackberry Rose knots look really effective in a large grouping so I was keen to make them the centre of my piece, I think the chunky yarn adds a really nice dimension to this macrame knot. If you are struggling with the lengths of yarn, you may find bundling them up carefully will help make it easier to work with with- I used pegs to assist
Next up I tried the classic Flat Twist knot, a favourite knot for plant hangers and also really effective in a grouping of many with its rhythmic twists.
I started with a piece 8m long and folded it at 50cm and tied a larkshead knot with the fold, leaving a 45cm length to knot around and 7.5m to knot with, yes a good idea to bundle and peg the end of this length.
Now just tie a single flat knot around the shorter length and continue to tie this knot on the same side. Keep your tension really smooth, you may want a very light weight on the shorter length, but be careful not to pull too hard as this yarn is fragile alone. Wrap/fold the wool like a bit of ribbon to keep it even and enhance the yarns puffy qualities. This knot creates a twist, so you will have to release it often by letting both lengths hang freely and twirl out. Keep making these knots until the whole length is covered and then secure with a knot going the opposite way. You may also want to needle felt or use hot soapy water to secure the ends on this piece. Check your twist, lightly readjust it where needed.
I used my twist to create semicircular looped shapes, attaching them to some of the other groupings and moving all knots to the back
Then I created some simple braids or plaits, there seems to be not loss of length with plaiting, due to the elasticity, so I cut 3 lengths the length I had draped on the stick and tie one end. Then I plaited the entire length, keeping the working area under .5m to retain the tension and folding the yarn as I plaited to keep it facing the right way.
I made larkshead knots with small pieces of yarn- the size will depend on your stick, but these need to be fitted around, cut, threaded through your plait or twist, tied and then larks headed and slipped over the stick.
I then cut some 1m lengths, folded and larks headed onto the stick and threaded these through the braid spaced out at equal points on both sides, you could use a crochet hook or needle to do this easily. I created another lower hanging braid and threaded them through this also. This is a loosely held construction but you can play around with the placement and create rounded or pointed curves easily and it covers space very effectively. I also like the way the coloured yarn braids up.
After that I tried some simple netting pieces on each end to fill in space up the top. I cut 4 lengths 1m long and doubled them over, attaching with a larks head knot we now have 8 lengths to work with. I used a Chinese Button knot at equal intervals to create the net, alternating as I moved down to the next row. The only tip I can give for the Chinese Button knot is to study the diagram very closely as you do it, its a bit like midair weaving and looks lovely in this chunky yarn when wrapped very nicely but kind of just knotty if you do it wrong. The netted section still looks effective from afar no matter what you do! You may like to keep netting all the way down or leaving some ends free and the net does lend itself to adding small seashells or trinkets periodically.
Then in the speckled yarn I tried the clove and half hitch knots you commonly see in friendship bracelets or those knotted belts they sell in surf shops, these created these lovely ridged sections you can use to draw lines across a large section of hanging threads, as we did with the plaits, but in a more secure way. You can also create fabulous diamond shapes are I have done here with 4 doubled lengths of 1m, larks head knotted onto the stick. Then taking the outermost cord, moved across the other 3 lengths tying clove hitches diagonally. You need to be careful to reverse the knot on the other side, taking the outermost cord and working in. Then in the centre I tied a Josephine knot and worked the diagonals back outwards again.
Lastly I created a couple of shorter lengths, around 50cm and double them over, tied the ends and larks headed and threaded onto the stick creating a small draped loop with a doubled yarn. Then I cut around 60 pieces 10cm long and larks headed them around both pieces and carefully around the knot to conceal it. This creates a gloriously fluffy fringed section to juxtapose with all the hard knots.
Using a 8 x 20cm lengths folded and wrapped, you can create your own lovely tassels. These look great highlighting the centre and sides of your work especially
Now just a few tassels, a juzz here and there and our Giant Macrame Masterpiece is complete!