This summer’s harvest has begun to reveal its bounty. Tomatoes and cucumbers are in full-swing and soon I will have all of the squash and zucchini I can stand (and plenty for the neighbors) not to mention, beautiful Italian basil, which I love with a tomato sandwich. I recently received this book, Vintage Craft Workshop, from friend and author Cathy Callahan. The macramé planter project immediately caught my eye and got me thinking about the possibility of year-round fresh basil and mint.
In my mind, I am planning several hanging pots that will live just inside a large window, where they will get lots of sun. The first thing that comes to mind when I think of hanging pots are the macramé plant holders in my home in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. They ran along the kitchen wall in varying heights, usually filled with ferns and the random “Spider Plant” (Chlorophytum comosum). Here, we attempted our own Alabama Chanin version, to test out the sizes we could make, the height, and how they would look made with our cotton jersey pulls. No surprise – they look exactly as I remember them.
1 bundle (approximate) Cotton jersey pulls
1 1/2 inch – 4 centimeter metal ring
1 Ceiling hook
Tie together cotton jersey pulls to make a long rope measuring about 16 feet. You will need 6 of these ropes. Pull all 6 of these ropes through the metal ring, then fold the ropes in the middle; you should have 12 equal-sized strips of rope hanging from the metal ring.
Choose one individual rope and wrap it around the rest of the rope, horizontally, about 3 times, near the ring. Pull the end of the rope through the final loop to secure. Attach the ring to a doorknob, then separate ropes into 3 groups of 4 ropes.
Now that you have 3 sets of ropes, you will need to tie each set using what are called “Josephine knots,” creating the classic macramé look. In each group of 4, divide the ropes into 2 sets of 2. Make a loop with the first (left) set and lay it over top of the second set. Take the second (right) set and lay it over the end of the loop you just made. Take that end and alternate – weaving it under and over the remaining cord lengths. Grasp all ends and pull it tight to secure your knot. Tie 3 or 4 of these Josephine knots down the length of your set of four pulls. We tied them approximately every 10 – 12”. The illustration below is a close-up of the Josephine knot from page 75 shown above.
To make the final Josephine knots, take 2 strands from the first grouping and 2 strands from the second grouping, then knot them together using the same technique. Repeat two more times with the remaining groupings of cotton jersey pulls.
Decide how high or low you want your pot or planter to rest on the macraméd piece and gather the loose ends of your cotton jersey pulls at that spot, wrapping one rope around the entire bunch and securing by pulling the end of the rope through the final loop, as you did before. Gather the loose ends and tie one large knot to finish.
You are now ready to hang your planter using a ceiling hook. Slip the metal ring over the hook, make sure it is secure, and you are finished.
For those of you who did macramé many years ago or for those who have never done it at all: it can take a couple of tries to get the hang of making the Josephine knots. But, once you get going you pick it up quickly – so don’t be intimidated.
The only steps left are to decide which kitchen herbs I will need the most throughout the year and (carefully) hang the planters.
Vintage Craft Workshop: Fresh Takes on Twenty-Four Classic Projects from the 60’s and 70’s by Cathy Callahan, is published by Chronicle Books.