Introduction: Braided Macrame Plant Hanger

I've had this pretty good looking spider plant sitting on a table for ages and have been wanting to hang it up but never had the time to go shopping for a hanger. Then I remembered I had some twine lying around and decided I'd try to make one. It turns out that this type of craft is called macrame, and although there are a few photos and articles out there on how to make these things I figured I'd try it free-hand and see what comes of it.

This article, then, shows how I made my plant hanger and provides all the steps and photos. The whole thing really is a spur-of-the-moment project, though, so keep in mind you could always play around with the knots and let your imagination carry you away.

Step 1: Materials and General Tips

Not much is needed in the way of materials. The only thing you'll really have to get is some twine (which is dirt cheap; you can get a good 100m or so for about $5, and I used about half of it) and a pair of scissors. Depending on how you're going to attach the hanger to the ceiling, you might want to also add in a metal ring. I chose to leave my options open, so built a loop into the top of the hanger and for the moment I'm using a carabiner hooked into it. The carabiner then easily attaches to the hook in the ceiling. I also used some masking tape for step 4 (wrapping the pot), but this was not entirely necessary.

Why twine? Why not? Twine has less bounce than the plastic cords, has a nice rustic and rough texture to it, and is easy to work with. I suppose using thin climbing rope would also work, and since it is softer and more supple might also produce interesting results. You'll be paying a bit more for it, though.

The knots and techniques I used for this hanger are extremely simple. I used straight forward three strand braiding and simple knots to keep everything together, although the top section of the hanger was slightly more complex. Refer to the next steps for details.

Finally, I found that it's good to build the hanger around a pot that is slightly smaller than the one you'll actually be using. The twine will stretch a bit once you put the real one in, so this will keep everything nice and tight.

Step 2: Preparation

You'll need quite a bit of yarn for this. I used about 45 meters of meters of the stuff. The yarn is relatively thin, so in order to thicken it up I braided some the strands together. My design called for three main cords holding the plant up, and each cord is a braid. To make them, then, I started out with nine 5m lengths of yarn tied into three bundles.

The bundles merge near the top and become one solid unit, so I made a knot 1 meter from the end on each bundle and started braiding them (individually) from that point all the way to the bottom. This took a while, so it was an excellent opportunity to put the kids to bed, put on a movie, and work on it at a comfortable pace. I lacked a good hook to hold the braid as I worked on it, and found that working cross legged and hooking the bundle around my toe worked perfectly. Just my approach; you're welcome to try any other appendage you see fit to work with :)

Once you have the three braided bundles you're ready to combine them and start making the hanger.

Step 3: Creating the Top

The braids have to meet up at the top and become one loop, and you could easily get that done by either tying them together in a simple knot, or even using a hangman's noose (see picture below from my first experiment). For this hanger, though, I wanted something a bit more elaborate.

I thought about creating one massive braid, folding it back and splicing the end back into itself, but realized I did not have enough twine once the combined braid was finished (and wasn't sure on how to do the splicing anyway). So I undid it and went for a knot I learned years ago with four cords that overlap each other like a square. You end up building several layers of this and producing a long rectangle, and you can make (for example) interesting bracelets with gimp by using this design.

In my case, though, the number of cords did not easily divide by four, so I went for a modified version of the knot and used three cords instead.

Finding that working with my foot was still the easiest way to go about this, I tied the three bundles together with one knot just below where the braids start, and another knot about 3cm further down. I then slipped the two knots over my toe with the unfinished end facing me, and went to work.

In order to combine the yarn nicely, I took one strand from each braid and lay them together in a group, repeating this to create three groups. I then picked up one group, bent it and placed it over the second group, repeated this with the second group going over the third, and finally repeating this with the third group except that in this case it went through the bend in the first one. This resulted in a triangular knot that then just needed to be pulled little by little until it became nice and tight.

I kept on adding more layers until I had about 10cm of material left, at which point I just divided it into two groups, braided each one (the distribution was not even, but it's a very short length and not very noticeable), and tied them both together after about 4cm of braid was created. This final knot has to be extremely tight, and I've also added some white glue to it to add extra strength. This knot will be keeping the plant hanging from the hook, so make sure it is well done.

Step 4: Wrapping the Pot

To make the sides of the hanger I first hung it from a convenient spot (in my case the end of a curtain rod), and used a salad bowl that was slightly smaller than the pot I was intending the hanger for. By using a smaller mold I helped ensure the twine would be kept taught once the real pot was put in.

Start by figuring how far down you want the pot to hang, and then just hold it there. Position one braid in front of the pot, bend it at a 90 degree angle right under the lip, and then again at another 90 degree angle a third of the way around the pot. This will produce a staircase look. Use some masking tape to hold the general shape, and move on to the second braid.

The second braid should be placed right over the second bend in the first braid, bend ninety degrees (going under the first braid), go a third of the way around the pot, and bend ninety degree again. Use masking tape to hold them in place, and repeat this with the third braid. Ensure the third and first braids hook together like the other two pairs.

Once all three braids are hooked into each other, bring up each braid and tie it around its second bend, ensuring the braid it is hooked into is in the knot. Also make sure that all three knots are done the same way so they look the same when completed. Don't make the knots too tight, though, because you'll need to adjust them little by little so they are equidistant and hold the pot firmly.

Step 5: Wrapping the Pot

Wrapping the pot is the easiest part as the pot is now being held securely by the knots from the previous step. To start, I brought each braid up around the bottom and over to the other side, and hooked it over the horizontal braid line under the opposite side of the rim. I repeated this with the second braid, but also tied it to the first one where they intersect under the pot, and then did it one last time with the third braid. Once done, all three braids got tied to the horizontal line.

Next, each braid did a 45 degree sideways nosedive towards the vertical line immediately to its right, got tied there, and then had two more horizontal jumps over to the next vertical lines (with a knot on each vertical as well).

At this point the pot was nicely wrapped and held in place, so the remaining lengths were just bunched up about 5cm under the pot, tied up together, and then loosely braided. The last thing I'd like to add to this is perhaps an interesting stone the size of a child's fist that would hang at the bottom and help stretch the yarn a bit.

There wasn't much left to do at this point other than replace the mock-up pot by the real one, add the carabiner, and hang it up :)

Let me know if you end end up making something similar, and don't forget to post photos. Thx :)


Penolopy Bulnick made it! (author)2013-01-17

That's cool! Does it keep it's shape when the bowl comes out, or do you need to leave the bowl in? You should enter this into the Holiday Gifts Contest!

David Catriel made it! (author)David Catriel2013-01-17

Glad you liked it. Like any macrame hanger, the shape is not really kept when you remove the bowl. You kind of need it there in order to keep the round shape.
And thx for the tip re the contest. Adding it now :)

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