Today’s Family

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    Knots To You—An Ancient Handicraft Revived

    That did it! Thirty-five dollars for a belt of knotted rope! Not for me! I don’t know if they sold any belts, but I was not going to pay that much for a piece of rope. I would make my own.

    Macrame is an ancient handicraft that is enjoying a modern revival. A few simple knots produce varied and interesting patterns.

    First I made a belt using clove hitches, with a monkey’s fist for a fastener. That was easy.

    Then I proceeded to start a belt of Josephine knots. I was carried away and ended up with a most interesting length of patterned rope. I think I shall hang it on the wall by the fireplace.

    A more ambitious project was forming in my thoughts. Would I dare tackle a room divider? It would need to be eight feet wide to hang above a planter. I assembled the materials: a rod from which to suspend the macrame, nylon rope, and a bunch of rubber bands (to hold the bundles of rope ends). At first I spent more time pulling knots out than tying them. But with practice I learned, and gradually the hanging macrame took form. I experimented with varied patterns in the panels.

    Such fun! I may make my daughter a fringed vest … and my drapes are looking a little tired.

    [photos] Simple belt: clove hitch knots, with monkey fists for fasteners. Wider belt: Josephine knots, with half hitch knot and monkey fists for fasteners. Clove hitch knot in interesting combinations makes patterns in divider. Pattern at base of divider uses flat knots (square knots). Although author sometimes uses a shuttle, she generally works with stiff rope, using glue to keep ends from fraying. (Photos by Eldon Linschoten.)

    Secret Supper

    It it is difficult to find time when the family is together, make an appointment in advance by giving each family member a folded piece of paper. Print in big letters on the outside, SHHHH! On the inside print an invitation similar to the following: “You are invited to a Secret Supper Monday night at the Jones home. Meet in the living room at 5:00 P.M.

    When the family meets in the living room, give each one fifty cents, or whatever amount might not upset the family budget. Then take them to a grocery store or a large market. Instruct each person to spend exactly fifty cents, and no more, on anything he sees that he would like to contribute to the surprise supper. Each selection must be kept a secret from the other members of the family so everyone will be surprised at the menu. A time limit might be in order for a busy family.

    When each person has spent his money, return home and set the table with pretty dishes and a fancy centerpiece. (This could be done earlier in the afternoon to help increase curiosity.)

    Have each family member prepare his own contribution and bring it to the table by himself. This preparation could be done one at a time for a complete surprise. For contributions that take longer to cook, the family members might use the kitchen together but should be as secretive as possible.

    The supper party might consist of five desserts and some pickles, but the increase in family fun will make up for the lack of nutritional balance for one meal. In anticipation of this, mother might like to have a previously prepared salad or casserole to help balance the meal.

    Instead of going to a market, the parents might prefer to have each child go to the family storeroom and choose one item he would like to prepare by himself to contribute to the secret supper.

    Whichever way the secret supper is planned and prepared, the family is sure to enjoy the originality of the food and declare this to be one of the most enjoyable times they have ever had.

    [illustrations] Art by Phyllis Luch