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Starry Crochet for Wire Mesh Panel Decor

Crochet DIY for Wire Mesh Panel Decor!

I have a fun summer crochet project to share. I’ve been bitten by the DIY wire mesh panel decor trend and have made several styles. Today’s focus is a cosmic one: wire mesh panel as Starry Firmament.

Unique crochet stars for wire mesh panel decor
Half of these were made with the pattern below, or a simple variation of it (described in the pattern).

Shown above is a cosmic condominium for air plants, but it could just as easily be a photo memo board. Or see below for other decor ideas.

There’s a free crochet pattern for the stars below.

Wire mesh panels are not hard to come by at all. Not only are they easy to find, they’re a bargain: just a dollar or two for strong, durable, and very serviceable 14-inch {35.5 cm} square panels. In fact, they’re so low-priced and common that it costs more to ship them across the US than it does to buy new ones locally. Hence my problem.

I have stacks of them because they’re great for building show booths, like I’ve done at crochet conferences over the years. It only makes sense to keep them if I do show booths I can drive to. Some panels are getting a bit of surface rust here in the subtropics.

Most people would throw the panels away. I know because that’s the advice I’ve gotten. There’s a creative DIY decorating trend going on with wire mesh panels though! Why spend $15-$50 on one when you could spray paint it rose gold yourself? Or do like I did: add a constellation of stars?

Some wire mesh panel decor ideas I’ve found are: hang them over a desk to organize photos, memos, etc; string fairy lights into them and add a small shelf. Especially inspiring: sprinkle on some quirky air plants.

Crochet Pattern: Basic Firmament Star

I’ve used only the most elementary crochet stitches for this pattern. A new crocheter might struggle with it, though, if s/he isn’t accustomed to using very fine crochet thread yet.

Materials

I used a size #20 white crochet thread by DMC call Cordonnet Special. It’s on the stiff side because it has many plies that are highly twisted. This makes for crisp-looking stars that will hold their shape. If you can’t find it, Handy Hands Tatting make a cordonnet type called Lizbeth in many different sizes and colors. If you don’t have size #20, the next thinner/finer size, #30, seems to give me very similar results.

It doesn’t matter what steel crochet hook size you use. Choose the smallest size that still makes crocheting with the thread easy. For me it’s a size 1.25 mm in the brand I had at hand. For the thinner size #30 thread I needed a slightly smaller hook size. Psst, you might like what I wrote about steel crochet hook sizes!

Three thread sizes are represented here: the pink one in progress is size #10, and the two middle ones are the thinnest: size #30. The star on the far left and far right: size #20.

Pattern

Leave the thread ends 4 inches {10 cm} long.

Make a slip knot and place the loop on your crochet hook. Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook to make a tiny picot, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke (the chain that’s nearest the slip knot). In the photo above, two pink spokes have been completed. *Chain 5, slip stitch in the second chain from your hook, chain 2 or 3, double crochet in the first chain of this spoke.* Repeat from * to * one or more times, depending on how many spokes you wish the star to have. Then slip stitch in the first stitch nearest the slip knot. Fasten off.

To vary the appearance:

  • Use half double crochets in place of the double crochets.
  • Add another stitch (a slip stitch, or single crochet) in the next chain after the picot, then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch.
  • Begin each spoke with 4 looser chains instead of 5 (then chain one less before finishing the spoke with a tall stitch). Or begin with more than 5 chains and add more chains after the picot.

To finish and use the star:

  1. With a fine needle, weave one of the ends to the opposite edge of the star. Notice in the photo above that the ends of the two outermost white stars are opposite each other while the middle two have ends coming from the same place of the star.
  2. Wet it, stretch, pinch the spokes, and allow to dry perfectly flat and as symmetrical as you can get it. Meanwhile prepare your wire mesh panel by sanding off rust if necessary, spraying with a primer and then a dark glossy blue. I then sprayed on a fine multicolored glitter too.)
  3. Tie each star onto a place where the grid wires intersect. Tie one direction and then the other tightly around the intersection. This keeps them stationary. Snip the ends close to the final knot on the back of the panel and apply a drop of glue to the knot.
  4. My one additional step was to spray a light coat of clear acrylic sealer onto the back of the panel. Mod Podge makes one that did not cause the stars to yellow, unlike a few other sealers I tested. Have a toothpick handy to smooth down the sealer where it shows on the stars (it will look hairy or like tiny dew drops in places). This helps keep them crisply starry.
  5. Now add air plants, or use those tiny wood clothespins to clip photos and things to it.

See more images of the Starry Firmament wire mesh panel decor at its Ravelry project page.

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First Look: Yveline, a Tunisian Wrap

Photos by Daniel Shanken
All Images © 2018.  Photographer: Daniel Shanken for Stackpole Books. View hi-res.

I’ve been looking forward to sharing some sneak peeks! You’re looking at Tunisian crochet eyelets on the diagonal, frilled ? with love knots ?. I used our Lotus yarn in these colors: Carbonite, Pearly Pearl, Satin Grey, and Lustrous Tan.

Yveline is one of two new crochet patterns I contributed to a forthcoming book. It’s called Delicate Crochet: 23 Light and Pretty Designs for Shawls, Tops and More by Sharon Hernes Silverman. The book’s official publication date is December 1, but look for it as early as October. 

Yveline Goes to Class

I’ll be traveling with Yveline to the CGOA crochet conference in Portland OR next month because she wants to meet everyone who is taking the Tunisian Crochet on the Diagonal class AND 21st Century Love Knot Adventures.

If you’re going to the conference and you took one of my earlier Tunisian lace classes, Yveline will want to meet you too. I brought swatches to those earlier classes that have since come of age in the form of the lovely Yveline.

Her Story

First, the name. It started out “Lean In” because that’s what I called the early swatches. It fascinated me how much some Tunisian stitches liked to lean with a little encouragement. Not just how much, but the kind of movement; sometimes it’s like Tunisian lace stitches have hinges or ball joints.

When it came time for a grown up name, I was in a dual swoon from binge-watching the Versailles series while adding the love knot frills! I looked for names associated with Versailles and learned that the city is located in a département called Yvelines.

About Those Love Knots

Wallet-sized beige cashmere bag of Tunisian crochet, embellished with double ruffles, woven with grey satin ribbons.
A small bag I designed 9 years ago inspired the ruffle idea. Image missing? View it here.

I’m still swooning a bit from using love knots for surface embellishment. I haven’t seen anyone else do this and it’s just the kind of odd new thing I like to try each time I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures. (I mean, look at what I called the class.)

It did take several swatches. Remember last year when I did a newsletter on ruffles? It was shortly after I shipped Yveline to Sharon, the book author. I’d been swatching and meditating on the essence of a crocheted ruffle for a few months.

The Tunisian eyelet fabric is so airy and “flexy” (another name I gave to the early swatches) that most of the ruffles I tried were too heavy. I love how airy the love knot frills are! Love!

About the Ruffle Idea

The urge to frill has a story too. Years ago I crocheted the cutest little bag. It’s Tunisian simple stitch with ruffles surface-crocheted on it.

So that’s my Delicate Crochet story of Yveline. I have a very different story coming up about the other design I did for the book!

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A Crochet Class in a Vest

The first corner of a hanky-hem love knot mesh vest in spring sunshine.
View full size image.

Want to see what I’m working on? This will be Flowerfall, a hanky-hem waterfall vest that I can wear when I teach 21st Century Love Knot Adventures this July in Portland, Oregon. I’m now two-thirds done.

Several Class Skills in a Vest

I’m designing Flowerfall to be a visual aid for several skill levels. I’ll also be adding the pattern to my shop for those who can’t attend the class.

Love Knot Beginner Skills

Another view of this diamond mesh would be the love knot sections of Lovelace. (It’s so iconic that the stitch is synonymous with the mesh in some how-to sources from the 1800’s to now.) Then, compare it with the Electra Wrap’s triangular love knot mesh.

For Students With a Bit of Experience

  • How to increase and decrease this mesh, and add picots as one way to finish the edges as you go.
  • The when, why, and the how-to: making love knots with slip stitches instead of single crochets (UK: dc).
  • My new favorite way to keep love knots from loosening later if the yarn is slippery.
  • A new way to crochet into love knots that I recommend for a project like this one.

For Those With More Experience

  • How to do corner to corner (C-2-C) love knot mesh in which you start in one corner and end in the opposite one.
  • How to sprinkle in other stitches with the classic love knot mesh to create lacy new stitch patterns!

Multi-Purpose Visual Aids = Ideal

This is my seventh year shipping teaching aids across the USA for crochet classes. I teach four to six different topics per event. Visual aids are everything! I always end up with a lot of crochet items to ship.

In the past few years I’ve started designing class items that combine several points of information in one. Not only do I cut down on the shipping this way, it’s a fun design challenge. I also love coming up with how a design for one class topic can double or triple as a visual aid for other topics I’m also teaching.

Self-Healing Stitch Alert

An example of this is I’ll be adding armholes to Flowerfall by cutting them open. Know what this means? It’ll also be a great visual aid for the Self Healing Stitches and How to Cut Them class! I might even bring it to the Tunisian on the Diagonal class if I don’t make a Tunisian one in time. Even though Flowerfall isn’t Tunisian, it’s an example of an easy shape to crochet from corner to corner in any stitch. (Flowerfall is even relevant to my slip stitch classes. It’s the first design I’ve done with slip stitch love knots.)

I’ll post again about this design so that you can see its modified diamond shape, how its armholes happen, and different ways to wear it. I’m smitten ? . Flowerfall’s Flickr album has three photos so far.

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Wearing Crochet to a Memorial Service

Four views of Graven worn with its buttons in front or back.

I traveled over the weekend to attend a memorial service for the sudden death of a beloved uncle.

The chapel accommodates 280 people, and 360 attended. Fortunately the weather was ideal (around 80º and sunny) so that the building could be open on two (maybe three? sides. The overflow of people could sit comfortably outside and feel included.

I designed something specifically to wear to this event and had two weeks to make it. That includes all swatching, blocking, and any do-overs.

The Challenge: Accepted.

Wearing crochet to this event meant meeting three strict requirements.

The short, fixed deadline.

I had to rule out my very first idea: to crochet a Chanel-style jacket. Instead I started imagining something that would take two balls of yarn or less.

Result: The finished Graven weighs 108g (slightly over one 256-yd ball).

The second limit was its style and color.

The 3-button front Graven capelet and black dress and pearls.
A stop at Starbucks after the memorial.

Graven would have to be far more subdued than my default personal style, so I ruled out several initial ideas. It also had to be solid black; a challenge because that’s not what I tend to crochet. Sure, I often wear black clothing as a plain first layer that forms a background to a (sometimes crocheted) lighter-colored layer. I struggled at first to picture wearing crochet in solid black on a sunny Florida morning, not for evening, or in a northern office.

Result: I wore Graven all day. It was mostly easy and comfortable to wear, and felt elegant and proper style wise. I did have to adjust it periodically so that the buttons stayed centered. (I think this is because I accidentally increased some rows unevenly.)

It had to work with my dress and high heels.

The dress was a simple sleeveless deep V-front shift made of an inky black pima-modal fabric. Its surface had a woven linen look but it was actually a fine knit. Very comfortable to wear in Florida! It needed a dressy covering for the upper arms and chest though.

Result: Armed with these three requirements, I narrowed down my project to a fairly traditional shoulder covering, crocheted in a fairly tame lace stitch texture, with a polished-looking yarn that’s not too thin or thick: a capelet in Tunisian crochet with Lotus. (Our “Black Gleam” color matched the dress! whew.)

Other Requirements I Hoped to Meet

Half of the capelet shown flat along its hem while it blocks.
Half of the capelet shown flat along its hem while it blocks.

Learn something new about crochet: this was the first time I tried doing a Tunisian “wicker” mesh in short rows with a built-in shaped collar, and a distinctive twisted-loop edging at the hem.

Use yarn already in my stash, ideally my Lotus yarn. I try to feature a different Lotus color each time I design with it. This was the first time I designed with the black.

Try out a trendy style: The trend of using mesh textures in a modern, sort of sporty way inspired the stitch pattern. (The edging later added more of a medieval-ish wrought iron look.)

Give my handmade item the kind of polish that could even make someone wonder if it was a store-bought designer label. (I don’t know if this actually happened).

Wearing Crochet to Memorials

I’d do it again. It was a tangible comfort to me.

Although I don’t think I caught sight of all 360 people individually, I feel confident in saying that I was the only one wearing crochet, or even a hand knit item.

To me, fabric has a language, and crochet adds a necessary voice to the conversation, at memorials too. Time spent crocheting Graven was also time spent contemplating the uncle I will miss so much. Crochet caught and is holding my feelings for him.

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Hand Chaining, a Straddler of Worlds

Hand chaining is when you crochet chain stitches with your hands and fingers instead of with a crochet hook. It’s also called finger crocheting. Hand chaining is so easy! Kindergartners do it. It’s a popular way to crochet trendy necklace-scarves with fancy yarns in under 30 minutes.

Trendy Hand Chaining Trendy Necklace Scarves long
Love it! “Poseidon Scarf Kit” at loopymango.com

You might have learned hand chaining as a child in kindergarten, at camp, or from a babysitter. It’s often taught as a stand alone activity rather than as an introduction to the larger world of crochet, knot tying, or knitting. I don’t even remember how I learned it. I just already knew how by the time I officially learned how to crochet with a hook at the age of nine.

For the next blog post I viewed several videos that show how to do hand chaining as a crocheter, a knitter, or a knot tyer. It left me with a new way of thinking about the origins of crochet.

Not Just for Beginners

Hand chaining is so fun to do that even experienced crocheters are at risk of getting “hooked” (if they remember to try it). It’s often forgotten as a crochet method even though it offers nuanced control over unusual yarn combinations for edgy, artsy effects. I get new, deeper insights into simple stitches when I hand crochet them, thanks to the intimate, tactile experience of crocheting.

Hand chaining a special subset of crochet that merits a closer look than it usually gets.

Hand Chaining vs. Hook Chaining

Hand chaining (finger crocheting) loosely and tightly in 3 different fibers: sain cord, wool tube yarn, suede lacing.
Hand Chaining loosely vs. tightly. L to R: Satin cord, wool knit tube yarn, suede lacing.

Hand chaining cuts out the middleman (er, the crochet hook). This is perfect for crochet beginners! Learning to use a new tool with yarn loops for the first time takes the focus off of the stitch. Shouldn’t getting to know a stitch be the most important part of learning to crochet? Especially when that stitch—the chain stitch— is the foundational core of all crochet? I think so.

The crochet hook is the one central tool of crochet. When researchers encounter an unfamiliar fabric, they consider the tool used to create it. An item made with a crochet hook is usually classified as crocheted. I wonder how hand-chained items are classified.

Earliest Crochet Roots?

Hand chaining straddles two worlds: Crochet, and Knot Tying. The same basic crochet stitches can be made with hand chaining as with a crochet hook: Chain Stitch, Slip Stitch, and Single Crochet. (Other stitches are more of a struggle without a hook.) The fingers or the whole hand simply take the place of the crochet hook. Perhaps hand chaining came first, at least in some early cultures, and the crochet hook evolved to substitute for hands and fingers.

Among knot tying aficionados, hand chaining is called many other things: Drummer Boy’s Sinnet, Zipper Sinnet, Monkey Braid, Sea Chains, Chain Knots, Caterpillar Sinnet, and Daisy Chains. Boys and men may have encountered hand chaining via knot tying. Some practical uses among knot tyers include:

  1. To quickly neaten long lengths of rope or electrical wire for storage. (To this linked video, a commenter added, “This is used by riggers [who set up e.g. the ceiling on stages for rock concerts] as a cool way of shortening and storing several long ropes in a hurry.”)
  2. Launder climbing rope so that it can be easily machine washed, allowed to dry, and then “unzipped” for use afterwards.
  3. Watch James Dean absent-mindedly finger crochet with a rope while doing an interview in 1955! (Video starts as the camera is about to pan down to the rope he’s holding.)

-:———:-

Even if you already know how to crochet, I think Chain Stitch In Depth and other posts about crochet basics offer some new ways to think about our most basic and important crochet stitch of all, the Chain Stitch.

Updated November 2018. It’s part of an experimental blog post series: Vashti’s How to Crochet Book. Next post: Hand Chaining How-To’s.