Annette Petavy Design – Newsletter March 2009

logocrocheted vestcrocheted vest 2crocheted vest 3crocheted skirt 1crocheted skirt 2April 2009: A necklace idea

News:

A necklace idea:

I don’t claim this as my own design – when I made this I was very inspired by a scarf design from La Droguerie – a French company with stores in several cities. At La Droguerie, you can buy yarn, patterns, and materials for making accessories and jewelry. You can also look at their designs and get really, really inspired.

So the inspiration for this necklace was a scarf worked from spool-knitted cord and store-bought felt circles and flowers. In my mind, it became a necklace (though nothing will stop you from making a scarf by making it larger) – and all crocheted of course. 

I realized that this could be a fun spring project which could use up a little of my leftover crochet thread stash. I used leftover balls of no 5 crochet thread (mostly DMC’s Senso) in orange, rust, blue and off-white, and worked all parts of the necklace with a 3 mm [between US sizes C-2 and D-3] crochet hook.

I started out by making 5 crocheted cords in different lengths, varying approximately between 1.1 and 1.4 meters [43 – 55″]. Each of these cords was made up by a long chain, in which I worked back with a slip stitch in every chain. My tests showed that the slip stitches made my initial chain shrink with about 10 % in length, so to make a 1.2 meter [47″] cord, I crocheted a chain  a little longer than 1.3 meter [51″] and then worked back with a slip stitch in every chain.

You don’t need to be very precise about the lengths of these cords – they’re supposed to be of different lengths. Also, measure instead of trying to count stitches, since counting endless lengths of chain stitches will take all the fun out of the project.

My next step was to crochet little circles. I needed these circles both to link the cords to each other and to finish off their ends. For each circle, I made 5 chains, closed to a ring with a sl st in the first chain. Ch 1, work 10 sc into the ring, and close the round with a sl st in the first sc. For the necklace shown here, I made a total of XXX rounds in XXX colours.

Still inspired by the scarf I had seen, I also wanted to throw in some small flowers in the mix. I found a lovely, simple little flower in Suzann Thompson’s wonderful book Crochet Bouquet. This is wonderful book that I truly recommend. It is filled with very original crocheted flowers – many of them far more complex than this little one.

To make a flower, ch 5 and close to a ring with a sl st in the first ch. First, make the center: ch 1 (does not count as a st), work 9 sc into the ring. Close the round with a sl st in the first sc.The petals are formed on the next round: Ch 5, 1 sc in 3rd ch from hook, 1 hdc in next ch, sl st in next ch, sl st in next sc in the first round. You have made the first petal. Repeat 8 times, to make a flower with 9 petals. Close the round with a slip stitch at the base of the first 5-chain.

I made XX flowers.

Sometimes, however, you will want to create a subtler decrease or increase (for example, if you want to sligthly accentuate the waist in a garment). The decreases previously explained seem too « brutal », but you still want to narrow your fabric. There are (of course) ways to do this too!

The first method is simply to change hook sizes. In the swatch below, I went from a 3.5 mm (US E-4) hook to a 2.5 mm (between a US B-1 and a US C-2) hook, and then back again.

crochet swatch 1

When I first came across this method in a book, I thought of it as cheating. I don’t any longer – it’s a very easy way to work shaping, and easy is a good thing. You simply change your hook and off you go.

However, this technique has its limitations. As you see in the picture, the change is very subtle, even with a hook two sizes smaller. If you want to accentuate the shaping with this method, you will need to switch to an even smaller hook. What you don’t see in the picture is that the fabric in the middle of the swatch is notably firmer than at the top and bottom edges. If you continue to go down in hook size, at some point the fabric will simply be too stiff.

An alternative method is to modify the number of stitches in the shells. It’s what I did in this swatch:

crochet swatch 2

In this particular shell pattern, each shell contains 5 dc. To keep the pattern symmetrical, I subtracted 2 sts in every « smaller » shell, and gradually worked more and more shells with only 3 dc.

The 3-dc shells in the swatch are placed in a diamondlike shape, as roughly indicated below:

crochet swatch 3

This creates a sharper decrease, and you can, of course, experiment with the number of « smaller » shells needed to obtain the desired effect.

You need to be careful, however, to introduce the smaller shells gradually, or your fabric will « cup » a lot – that is, it will not lie flat but will curve to one side or the other. This might not be troublesome in a garment, which is supposed to follow the curves of the body, but for any item supposed to lie flat it is a potential problem. Also, if you don’t increase back to the initial width, the « cupping » will not even out, which might be an issue.

The other drawback of this technique is that it is a little complicated to spot exactly where you need to add smaller shells or replace them with normal ones. The overlapping nature of the stitch pattern makes this a bit challenging to track.

As always, you will need to select the technique that is most suitable for your particular project. Swatching is, as always, crucial, to understand the stitch pattern and to test your ideas – because these are only a starting point. To crochet, you need your hands, but you also need your brain!

Now I’m going to go outside in the beautiful, beautiful spring weather, and think up a less technical topic for the next newsletter!

See you soon!

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