When I first encountered Jane LeGros’s miniature wreaths, I was charmed by the circular row of orderly little knots. It transported me back to my sailing days, when we used this particular knot — the half-knot spiral — to protect exposed wood and metal parts from the harsh marine environment. Although I haven’t sailed in some time, I still use macrame in my daily life to make curtain tiebacks, plant hangers, hanger loops for tools, and other useful and decorative items. Trimming these little wreaths is half the fun, and you can achieve many interesting effects with minute quantities of the tansy, baby’s-breath, or statice that’s left over from October’s harvest.
Making The Wreath
Any type of ring can be made into an attractive wreath, but I found the most pleasing effects came from thin plastic curtain rings with an oval cross section (called “carbone rings” at our local variety store) and 3/8-inch wooden rings. Depending on the look you want, you can use any size cord from bulky, soft cotton to thin, strong silk. If you use bulky cord, the knotting goes fast and the wreath looks fuller. For convenience, these instructions are written for thin cord; if you’re using bulky cord, use half the number of pieces or ends and half the length.
What You'll Need
• Several rings 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter
• 12 to 16 yards of knotting cord for each ring
• Dried plant material, ribbons, shells, and miniature evergreen cones
• Hot-glue gun
• Wire hangers for tree decorations (optional)
1. Cut two pieces of cord about 6 yards long for each small ring or 8 yards long for each large one. Be generous when measuring; you can’t add cord partway through the project.
2. Fold the pair of cords in half and tie the loop onto the ring with a lark’s-head knot (see diagram). You will now have four ends. Separate them into two bunches of two and butterfly the end of each bunch to avoid tangles. (A butterfly is a small coil that is wrapped at the center.) Tie half-knots around the ring as shown, keeping the tension even and making sure the knots twist fairly uniformly around the body of the ring. The twist can be adjusted after the ring has been mostly covered, but too much adjustment will look sloppy. When the series of knots reaches all the way around the ring, tie the ends together in an overhand knot.
3. I found it easiest to knot several rings, then apply the bouquets all at once. That approach also allowed me to measure several cords, tie them onto their rings, butterfly the ends, and then tuck them into my pocket to knot in the doctor’s waiting room or at other windfall moments.
4. I came to this project having very little experience with dried plants and hot glue, but except for learning the hard way why it’s called a hot-glue gun, I found making these miniature bouquets easy and fun. While the glue gun is heating, choose several combinations of herbs, flowers, shells, and tiny cones, then glue them on in little layered bunches that cover the finishing overhand knot. Hold the mini-bouquets in place for a few seconds to let the glue cool and set. Be sure to put a drop of glue directly on the knot to secure it. A bow of thin ribbon can be glued on for a finishing touch, and Jane LeGros sometimes adds a tiny shell over the knot in the bow.
5. After all the bouquets are on, snip off the ends of the cords, trim any stray ends of plant materials and ribbons, and add wire hangers, if desired. The wreaths are now ready to apply to (or wrap inside) gift packages or to hang on your holiday tree.
Jane LeGros of Arlington, Virginia, has been making and selling miniature macrame wreaths for years. Tracey Merrill of Loveland, Colorado, is a weaver and all-around craftsperson.