Tuesday, February 23

Crochet Cords for Pendants: Happy Pairings

Take a striking pendant, crochet a pretty cord, easy instant style, right? Well, it's almost that easy. Here is some advice to help ensure that you will be happy with your new crochet necklace.
The yellow pendant (far right) had such a small hole that
I had to crochet it right into the Cat's Eye pendant cord.
(See Problem #3 below)

Solving Common Problems

I design a lot of pendant necklaces and lariats and sometimes have compatibility issues between pendants and crochet necklace cords. (Happens with non-crochet necklaces too.)

Crochet jewelry materials, such as pendants, beads, string-like yarns, and crochet threads, vary widely in their availability around the country (US). This means that even though I can specify the exact thread and bead brands that work great for a crochet jewelry pattern, you may have no choice but to substitute.

Problem #1 

Oops, the pendant is too heavy.
It pulls on the crochet stitch work so that it looks inelegant, or the exquisite details are lost. This happens to me often, partly because I seem unable to resist chunky art glass pendants. They are the heaviest pendants I own. (The other reason it happens is that I tend to crochet a new necklace cord first, assuming I'll find a pendant that'll work when I'm done!) 

Solution
In both cases, it means crocheting the first four or more inches (10 cm) of the cord pattern you're using, then stringing on the pendant to test if you have a good match. (When designing, it means I just need to plan ahead better. Easy to say, but it means altering my natural way of designing. I now display my pendants pinned to a big flat board so that they are as visible as my yarns and threads.)

Problem #2 

The pendant isn't heavy enough!
Part of what makes a jewelry piece successful is its drape, and show of weightiness. Stiffer yarns, tapes, and strings like hemp, metallic braids, and wire are some of the very best for crocheting jewelry. Light weight pendants abound (such as when they are made of wood or thin beaten metal). They may not have enough weight to pair well with stiffer crochet cords. Even a soft thread may need a heavier pendant if the crochet stitch used is thick.

Solutions:
  • Test first, like above.
  • Supplement the weight of the pendant by adding seed beads to the crochet. String them onto your yarn before crocheting. Note: This brings its own issues. Almost no pendant holes are big enough for seed-beaded crochet to pass through (but see below). Also, believe it or not, sometimes even beading will not add enough weight!
  • If you're committed to crocheting with a particular stiff material, this is when you can feel free to use the heavier pendants. Otherwise, switch to one that works better with the pendant.  
  • A few pendants are just too lightweight for the pattern, no matter what material you use; I try to notify you within the pattern if I think some lighter pendants just can’t work. 

Mermaid Chains are rather ingeniously
(if I may say) designed for easily switching pendants
that have smaller holes!

Problem #3

The Pendant hole is too small :-(
This is always a bummer for me. I've never seen a pendant opening that's too big but many are too small, yet I can't resist buying them anyway. 

Solutions:
  • String the pendant onto the yarn/thread before crocheting. Test: crochet the pattern for a few inches/cm, then crochet the pendant right into the next stitch as if it's a bead. Continue the pattern for a few more inches. If you like how it hangs, begin fresh with pre-strung pendant. At the halfway point of your necklace, crochet the pendant into the next stitch.
  • Add a larger link to the pendant so that it can be strung freely onto the finished cord, using standard metal jewelry findings and tools. Better yet:
  • Crochet your own "link"! Just a thin crocheted ring through the pendant opening will do. See image below.

From Crochet Inspirations Newsletter issue 81,
"Crocheting Pendant Loops"
See how the direction of the hole has also changed?

Problem #4

The Pendant turns to the side when it hangs; the hole goes the wrong way.
The pendant opening tunnels either from side to side, or from front to back. Sometimes it doesn't seem to matter much for the pattern, so you need to test. 

Solutions: Try the solutions for Problem #3. Crocheting the pendant into a stitch may change the direction of the pendant opening, depending on the stitch. Adding a crocheted or metal link to the pendant first will change the direction of the pendant opening.

If you have any related issues or solutions I haven't mentioned here, please add them in the Comments below.