Macrame: Craft of the 70s

Macrame: Craft of the 70s

I got some new plants recently, and it started me daydreaming about the perfect plant hanger. It would be a macramé plant hanger with an owl. So classic 1970s! Only one problem: I don't have the slightest idea how to macramé.
Macrame began in the 1700s with the rise of sea traffic. Between whaling ships, pirates, military ships, and other vessels, knot-tying was a popular art form. Sailors would show off their knot-tying skill to each other, and created small handicrafts in their spare time. They used sailing rope, of course. Not a lot of cashmere yarn around on an 18th century whaling ship. It experienced periodic resurgences in popularity over the years. Wikipedia says that it was popular during Victorian days, as a way to add embellishment to Victorian ladies' dresses and furnishings. (The Victorians were simply mad for embellishments!)
What I haven't been able to figure out is, why was macramé so popular in the 1970s? And why owls? If you look through any resource you will find that at least 72% of the macramé output in the 1970s involved an owl in some way. In fact, there was an entire cottage industry dedicated to creating just owls out of macramé, as you can see from the image which adorns the Wikipedia article itself.
If you were fancy at it, you might have had a hanging thing that incorporated an owl at the top, a plant hanger (house plants were big in the 1970s) AND a hanging circular glass table at the bottom. (Just waiting to be bumped into by someone, dumping everything from the table onto the floor.)
There are a lot of ways you can go with macramé, but the classic 1970s version used rough jute or hemp rope, and involved a lot of big chunky wooden beads. These were incorporated into designs and patterns which walked you through which knots to tie where.
In order to keep all your ropes tidy, you need some kind of knot-tying board. An easy lightweight version is to use a sheet of foam core poster board, and some thumb tacks to keep it all tidy. People who really got into macramé would build these huge slabs of lacquered wood tying boards. I remember our neighbors had one in their garage, which they virtually never used.
If Etsy is any judge, macramé is primarily popular today as a way to create bracelets and necklaces. It's smaller, finer work than the classic hanging owl, but it definitely still has that 1970s flair to it. But there are plenty of macramé plant hangers for sale, too!