A dozen women poke through baskets of beads and yarn. Five others in a back room are tying knots and enough small children for a nursery school class shuttle between piles of driftwood. Tuesday morning at the What-Knot Shop. "In fact, it is kind of slow this morning," said Jan TeSelle, overseeing the activity, Macrame. It has really taken hold in the Washington area.

TeSelle started selling macrame equipment from her home, and now she runs what looks like one of the more crowded streets in the Casbah. From tiny jewelry beads to fist-sized burnt decoration for a macrame project. She has dowels and ceiling hooks, wall brackets and belt buckles. Her rings of wood, brass, and silver come in D shapes and circles from three-fourths of an inch to twenty-seven inches. And she has cotton seine and jute, sisal and acrylics in all colors. She gives directions for knoting them into everything: Wall hangings, curtains, window shades, clothing, jewelry. TelSelle also provides the inspiration, for the shop is adorned with her own spectacular macrame hangings. She sells handcrafted pots for hanging planters. And she has a workshop in the back where she teaches macrame to beginners at $10 for four lessons, or more advanced classes at $4 for two lessons.

What-Knot Shop, 6902 Laurel-Bowie Rd. (Route 197, Bowie plaza Shopping Center), Bowie. Open Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Friday until 9:30 p.m. 262-7051.