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. Pendants and crochet can have compatibility issues. I design a lot of pendant necklaces and lariats and have run into some garden-variety snags. Here is some advice to help ensure that you will be happy with your new necklace.

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 brands used for the pattern, you may have no choice but to substitute.

 Problem 1: Oops, turns out the pendant is too heavy.
It pulls on the crochet stitchwork 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, for you it means crocheting the first four or more inches (10cm) of the pattern, then stringing on the pendant to test if you have a good match. (For me 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. Light weight pendants abound (such as when they are made of shell or thin beaten metal). Stiffer yarns, tapes, and strings like hemp, metallic braids, and wire are some of the very best for crocheting jewelry (especially many of the Kreinik products). 

Solutions:
  • Test first, like above.
  • Of course, if you're committed to crocheting with a special 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 can't work. 
  • You can supplement the weight of the pendant by adding seed beads to the crochet. (String onto your yarn before crocheting.) This has 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!
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. (I'll post more about this special option some other time.)
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.