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19+ Macrame Terms for Beginners You Need to Know

When you’re just starting out, reading patterns for a project can be very confusing. Knowing what type of string to buy is a total mystery. Today I’m sharing 19 macrame terms every beginner should know.

olive and natural macrame string with scissors and dowel rod

What is a sinnet? Twisted versus braided? It’s enough to make your head spin when all you want to do is create pretty pieces of fiber art. I get it!

So let’s talk macrame terms.

Macrame terms used for string and the different types

First, let’s solve the mystery of macrame string. There is string, cord, and rope. They are 3 different materials and the way you want your project to look should determine which one you should use.

1. Macrame String

Macrame String is super soft, single twist, and most commonly made from cotton. It makes a wonderful fringe and is perfect for wall hangings.

I hesitate to use it with plant hangers because I want to make sure my plant hangers will hold my plants. It isn’t very forgiving to reworking so be careful if you have to untie and retie it too many times.

natural colored macrame string

2. Macrame Rope

Macrame rope is typically 3 cotton strands twisted around each other. It’s sturdier than string and not nearly as soft, but if you are making plant hangers it’s the perfect choice.

I like rope the best because it holds its shape, is easier to untie and retie, and when fringing it, it has a wavy look that seems more modern boho to me.

roll of natural macrame string

3. Macrame Cord

Macrame cord is usually 6 strands braided together. It can be cotton or made from polypropylene (plastic). Cord is very strong and is the perfect choice when your project needs to hold a lot of weight or is going to be outside.

Think clothesline. When I first started doing macrame, I bought clothesline and it made some very structured pieces. It doesn’t usually fringe very well and will look fuzzy.

Now that that mystery is solved, let’s talk about some macrame terms that will make reading a macrame pattern not seem like a foreign language.

Beginner knots and their abbreviations

Related: 5 Beginner Macrame Knots You Need to Know

4. LHK

LHK – lark’s head knot. A lark’s head knot is used to attach rope to your project. It can also be used to attach rope to rope. Notice the loop is in front. This is done by placing the rope over the dowel rod.

macrame rope tied in a lark's head knot to a dowel rod


RLHK – reverse lark’s head knot. The same as above only in reverse. How you want your piece to look will determine which way you tie a lark’s head knot. The reverse lark’s head knot is tied by taking the rope under and over the dowel rod.

natural colored macrame rope tied to a dowel using a reverse lark's head knot

6. HSK

HSK – half square knot. The left side of a square knot. Tying all HSK knots will give you a spiral pattern. A spiral pattern is a great option for adding interesting detail to plant hangers.

pink macrame rope tied in a left half square knot


RHSK – right half square knot. The opposite of the HSK. Tying all RHSK will give you a spiral pattern.

pink macrame rope tied in a half square knot
pink macrame rope tied with half square knots to make it spiral

8. SK

SK – square knot. A half square knot and right half square knot together make a complete square knot. You will use square knots in every piece you make. It’s the easiest most fundamental knot you can tie.

RELATED: Macrame Wall Hanging with Square Knots

pink macrame rope tied in a square knot

9. HHK

HHK – half hitch knot. A half hitch knot is a great knot to use to make borders or edges. This knot can also be tied left or right.

10. DHHK

An HHK is almost always made in pairs and so you will see the abbreviation DHHK (double half hitch knot) used most often in patterns. Tying two half-hitch knots secures them and keeps them from coming untied.

macrame rope tied in half hitch knots bordering square knots

It’s also important to note that an HHK can be tied vertically or horizontally so you may also see these abbreviations:

11. VHHK

VHHK – vertical half-hitch knot. This knot is tied vertically down the filler cords in your macrame piece. This type of pattern can use different colors and create amazing works of art and designs.

12. HHHK

HHHK – horizontal half-hitch knot. Tied horizontally across your filler cords can create the same types of work of art as the VHHK

Are you totally confused now?

13. ASK

ASK – Alternating square knot. ASKs are made by taking half the cords from adjacent and tying a new knot below and between where the cords originate.

second row of square knots

Other Macrame Terms You Need to Know

14. Sinnet

Sinnet – A sinnet is a column of knots that are all the same.

3 sinnets of square knots

Square knots are the most common knot used when making a sinnet of knots. I like to start my plant hangers using sinnets of square knots.

15. Working cords

Working cords – Working cords are all the cords in a macrame project.

16. Knotting cords

Knotting cords – Knotting cords are the ones that are used to tie the knots in your design. Whether it’s one cord (for a half hitch knot) or two when making a square knot, any cord you tie around another one is a knotting cord.

17. Filler cords

Filler cords – Filler cords are the cords that knots are tied around in your project. Typically 4 strings are used when tying a knot. Two on the inside (filler cords) and two on the outside (knotting cords). There are exceptions to that rule though. Half-hitch knots and crown knots are two exceptions to the rule.

18. Row

Row – a horizontal line of knots tied side by side, tied with a different working cord. Square knots and horizontal half-hitch knots are examples of a row of knots.

19. Finishing knot

Finishing knot – a knot that is tied to secure the ends of cords to keep them from unraveling.

This simple finishing knot ends the pattern of HHKs and keeps them from unraveling on these wooden purse handles.

round wood handle of purse covered with macrame string

20. Gathering knot

Gathering knot – used to gather cords together to secure them at the beginning or end of a project. Gathering knots are always used when making plant hangers.

bottom of the macrame plant hanger showing how the bottom is done

Gathering knots are often used to start and finish a plant hanger.

When you’re just starting out doing macrame, patterns and the terms used can be confusing. This list of 20 macrame terms for beginners will help you on your way to creating your own macrame works of art!


Make sure to check out my simple wall hanging with beads made with SKs and HHKs and this easy keychain purse fob.


Thursday 12th of October 2023

Should have also shown HOW to make those knots as well so we knew how to make the knots we’re in need of using, it would have made this article more useful..just my personal opinion


Friday 13th of October 2023

Hi Ashley, I do have a post with videos on how to make the basic knots listed in this article. You can find them here - I have updated the post to add the link to the post with the videos. Thanks so much for your suggestion.


Tuesday 1st of August 2023

Thanks for slowing the description down for everything! What a wonderful difference it’s made!! Great job!


Friday 5th of May 2023

What do you use for a frame when you are making the knots


Sunday 4th of June 2023

Hi Kathy, it depends on what I am making. for a plant hanger I use a wooden or metal ring. For wall hangings I use a dowel rod. I also use a rolling clothes rack to hold those things while I'm working on whatever I am making. Does that answer your question?


Saturday 31st of December 2022

Love this info

Tonya Carlson

Tuesday 20th of December 2022

Thank you for your article it has helped me get started with macrame