Hi, I'm Ellen, a macramé artist from Amsterdam. Also a crazy plant lady, probably just like you! If you would like to know more about me, the reason why I started macramé or even the background of this ancient art form I invite you to keep reading.
When I was a little girl, my extended family lived all over the globe. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins lived across seas and borders. Twice a year we would all get together, gathering in the Swiss mountains for skiing and meeting on the Mediterranean coast to go sailing. During these wonderful family vacations my grandmother and aunts taught us how to use our hands to create. We would cross stitch, knit, sew, crochet and macrame.
Tangible memories of the warm feeling that being with family gives you.
Throughout my life there's always been some form of fiber art. Remember iPods? I made tons of felt sleeves for those. Cross stitch tree decorations? They still make an appearance every Christmas. Unique scraps of fabric? Sewn into make up bags used daily. Boyfriend is cold in winter? I start knitting a scarf.
And now, like a lot of my millennial generation, I have a big family of house plants. Living in Amsterdam where apartments are cozy and intimate (aka tiny), I was running out of surface space for my plant babies. So I bought some cord and asked knowledgeable old hands to teach me the basics of macramé.
Muscle memory kicked in and creative juices started flowing. Within a week I made 15 plant hangers in different materials and had so much fun making them!
Macramé as mindfulness
Working with all natural materials and creating tangible new objects with my hands not only gives me joy, it makes me peaceful.
Like a lot of people my age, I have a busy life in a fast paced city that can be stressful at times. Macramé is a break from all that, the symmetry of a design working out makes me feel calm and content.
Trying out cord sizes and a variety of cords and rope challenges me to come up with new creations, some with specific plants or spaces in mind, some just free flow. It feels so good to be away from a computer screen and notifications sometimes, but still be working on something creative.
This goes hand in hand with plant parenting for me, another calming activity. Taking care of plants means paying attention to their needs and having the patience to see if what you give works for the plant. Some would call it mindfulness! To me, working with nature and natural materials makes me feel happy. Surrounding myself with green babies while I work on my macramé is so satisfying.
Ancient fiber art
Let's take a little trip back in time, to Arabic weavers in the 13th century. They delevoped knots to finish off weavings, making sure they wouldn't unravel. These knots were called migramah.
As the Moors traveled to Spain and further into Europe, they brought this fiber art form with them and taught people along the way. The name macramé came from the Spanish, who along with the Italians developed their own more intricate knotting, eventually leading to lace forms.
Sailors from these countries spread macramé around at a greater pace, which might seems surprising but lines and knots are very important parts of sailing, and certain macramé knots can still be found in nautical books. Or is nautical knots in macramé books...
In time, macramé became very popular in Great Britain, where the fashion conscious queens like Queen Mary and Queen Charlotte encouraged all the ladies in their courts to practice different kinds of fiber art.
Macramé was all the rage, all the way through to the Victorian era when the absolute bible on this art form was published; Sylvia's Book of Macramé Lace in 1882.
And ofcourse, then came the hippies in the 70ties. Happy go lucky, all natural and back to basic, macramé and other fiber arts came back into fashion. From hammocks to bikini tops, every self respecting hippy girl owned a piece of knotted cotton. It was so popular that it was even taught in schools!
The modern sharp lines and artificial fabrics of the 80ties put a stop to the trend and plant hangers were no longer a groovy touch in your burnt orange decoration scheme.
Enter the 2010s, where the millennial generation has collectively adopted millions of houseplants and tactile hobbies for self care. A resurgence of the good old plant hanger was in the works!
Old memories in a new form
So that's me, a 30 something with a plant habit and a hobby that's grown into a business.
It's funny for me to look at the history of macramé, since it ties in with how I learned it in the first place. My family, who taught me, are all boaty people (aka very serious sailors), accomplished fabric crafters and have spent a lot of time living in Arabic countries. My love for plants came from my late mother, who was a master gardener. It all amounts to me doing this!
However, these days macramé still has a bit of a dusty reputation. I like to challenge that by creating designs for my plant hangers that don't look out of place in 2022 homes. We have so many home design styles to choose from these days, whether funky Ibiza boho is your style or Scandinavian minimalistic hygge makes you happy.
But everyone needs plants around them to make a house a home, and actual surface space is tight. Figuring out macramé designs for all these styles and with the best spacial design to give you more room for plants, it's so much fun!
I hope you enjoy my macramé plant hangers, wall hangings and other goods as much as I do!