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Last Minute Crochet Jewelry Gift–How to

I’m crocheting these festive bangles for quick holiday gifts (Hanukkah, solstice/yule, Christmas), hostess gifts (I have five holiday parties to attend), and for myself. It’s relaxing now to make them. I’ll wear some to the parties.

Each completed bangle is costing me about 50¢ (not including labor, a.k.a. the love in every stitch ❤️).

“Solstice Bangles” Free Pattern

Below is the complete pattern for what I’ll call “Solstice Bangles” because tomorrow morning is the Winter Solstice (first day of winter). I contemplate this sometimes as I crochet around the bangles; it’s a satisfying “full circle” feeling. I’m completing another sparkly “wheel of the year”.

Skill level

The starter pattern is Beginner-friendly. So many ways to get fancy with it. Add some challenge with wire or beads.

Materials

This section looks long because it includes tips for substituting with items you have on hand.

  1. Bangle “blanks”: Look for thin, narrow, permanently closed (not hinged or locking) metal bangles. They’re often sold as a group to be worn stacked, meaning all at the same time. If they are labeled with a size, choose only “large” because any crocheting you add will reduce the final inner circumference. I don’t want any tarnishing or chipping, so I prefer to buy them exposed to air without a package wrapper. If they have soldered seams, check them for strength. This is especially important for gifts because you don’t know how much force someone will use to slide it on over their hand. I only buy them locally so that I can test the seam and finish of each one. Over the years I’ve kept an eye out for them in places like Claire’s, Wal-Mart, Target, etc. The quality varies wildly. I can recommend the ones in Wal-Mart now (pictured). They come in bunches of 15-18 bangles for $4.88.
  2. Yarn, if you’re not adding beads: Here’s where you can use the interesting embroidery braids, flosses, and fine novelty yarns languishing in your stash. My first choice is a fancy metallic Kreinik braid type if I’m not adding beads. My little 5-meter spool can cover two, possibly three skinny bangle blanks. Some fingering and lace weight yarns would work, and any crochet thread size. Beginners: start with a sock yarn or size #3 or #5 crochet thread, and no beads. Then graduate to a fancy metallic floss/braid type, then try very fine wire without beads first (30ga to 32ga thickness).
  3. Yarn if you’re using beadsI’ve had the best luck crocheting with wire. The wire holds the beads in place the best for me. Wire is a unique crochet experience. If you’ve never tried it, please see my newsletter issue on it, or the Embracelet pattern.
  4. Crochet hook: This is easy. Use whatever hook size that makes it easiest for you to crochet tightly and evenly.
  5. Beads (optional): I like very small beads for this. I don’t go much larger than “e-beads” (size 6 seed beads). Beads with small holes also work better for this so that they don’t jiggle and shift around. This means gem, chip, and pearl beads are great! You can use a larger accent bead for a tassel finish.
  6. Sealer, stiffener, adhesive, fine yarn needle, etc. (optional): You might wish to use a fabric protectant such as Scotchgard if your yarn is an absorbent fiber. I used three coats of clear nail polish to secure a tassel of metallic embroidery floss because it doesn’t hold knots well. I may use this, or some clear fabric paint, on the inner surface of a bangle to keep the stitches from twisting around the bangle.

Pattern Abbreviations

  • ch = chain stitch
  • sc = single crochet (UK/AUS: dc)
  • ss = slip stitch

Crochet a Basic Solstice Bangle

Step 1: Leave a 4″ yarn end that you can crochet over it, weave in later with a needle, or leave hanging with a bead or tassel. Crochet all stitches tightly. Slip stitch around the metal bangle tightly, *ch 1, ss, repeat from * until bangle is covered.

This is up to you: use fewer stitches to cover the bangle by stretching them taut around the bangle. They’ll be less likely to twist and shift around the bangle, and you’ll see more of the metal. Or, use an excess of stitches for a different look: I love the wavy zig-zag texture of the (ch 1, ss) combo. You’ll see much less of the metal this way.

Step 2: When you’ve crocheted the number of stitches around the bangle that you like, join the last stitch to the first one. I remove my hook from the stitch loop, insert the hook in the first ss, and pull the last stitch loop through it with the hook, then fasten off.

Step 3: Decide what you want to do with those yarn ends. Weave them in. Or, string an accent bead onto both ends, knot them, and trim ends close to the bead. A third option is to tie the ends together, cut more yarn lengths, then add to the yarn ends and tie into a bundle to make a tassel.

Step 4, optional: If you add a fabric protectant, test a swatch first. You could coat the inner rim with a glue or sealer to prevent stitches from twisting around the bangle. Add a drop to knots if they might loosen with wear.

Add Challenge

The basic Solstice Bangle pattern is crazy simple, right? Add just one variable and it’s a different experience. For example:

Add other stitches or change them completely. You could try all sc. I used such a fine red wire for a beaded bangle that I had to use sc instead of ss to make them more visible. Embracelet is an example of using love knots.

Hold two different glittery strands together as you crochet, or use 6-strand embroidery floss. (Managing multiple plies as you crochet so tightly around a bangle does get tricky.)

Just add beads. That’ll keep you busy! I like to add one or more beads to the ch of the (ss, ch 1).

Use wire as the yarn. A thicker wire such as 26ga may be difficult for some people to crochet with, but it sure shows up well, and makes a statement even without beads. It also holds up nicely and is less likely to twist around the bangle. Finer wire is great for showing off beads.

Try to crochet the wire as tightly as you can. (It will still be looser than you intend.) When you’re done, tug on each bead a bit while also giving it a half-twist. This will tighten the stitch around the bead and bangle. I also compress everything by pressing and scrunching the stitch loops together into the bangle. I guess you could consider this a “blocking” method for wire jewelry?

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CGOA Award Event Plans

I’ve mostly blogged lately about getting ready to teach and have a market booth at the big crochet conference next month. Here and there I’ve mentioned some special events I also plan for, such as the fashion show banquet and design contest. This year I’m making special preparations for the Hall of Fame event when my friend accepts the CGOA award. 

The CGOA Hall of Fame recipient for 2016 is my close friend Doris Chan. We met at CGOA’s 2004 conference in Manchester NH. There could be no Lotus yarn if we’d never met.

For the past few days I’ve been tracking down which of Doris’ earliest designs I have. My mom has the most important one of all, and she’s in Iowa. Back in March 2004 I used a pattern by Doris called Celebration Shawl to crochet a Mother’s Day gift.

Back then I had no idea who designed the shawl I made. I just leafed through my issue of Crochet! magazine and thought it looked like fun to make. The yarn was soft, cheerful and warm. I knew my mom would enjoy wearing it in a dreary Iowa winter.

Doris didn’t know that her design had been published somewhere. When she saw the bag I made to go with it, that really threw her off. The bag wasn’t part of her pattern. I just crocheted it on the plane from the leftover yarn.

Of course she had to ask me about it, and the rest is history. The next year I crocheted her a silver wire bracelet that is a miniature replica of her shawl pattern. (Blue bugle beads kind of look like Fun Fur yarn, right?)

Twelve years later, Doris gets the Hall of Famer CGOA award! This will be a very special conference.

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Simple Pleasures Crochet Bling Bangles

Several Kinds of Easy Crochet Ribs for Stretchy Holiday Bling Bam Bangles

Crocheting *Bling* Bangles, My Cheerful Distraction

I’ve had several stressful challenges this month. Each evening I curl up with super sparkly yarn, crochet hooks, and simple stitches. I go to bed in a merry mood and drift asleep picturing other stitches or color combinations to try.

As I described in yesterday’s post, these slip-on crochet bling bangles are based on the simplest ribbing stitches. The red one is rows of single crochet in the back loop only (outside of the USA it’s called a double crochet). The silvery one in progress is rows of slip stitch in the back loop only.

* Twinkly * sequined * ribbing * is very satisfying.

It also makes sense for a slide-on bracelet! Ribbing is nice and stretchy. I had some sequined carry-along metallic threads in my yarn stash. Now is the perfect time to crochet a *bling* strand of Premier Yarns Enchant with a strand of…my Lotus yarn! I chose Lotus for its cheerful colors that can stand up to all the bright bling action.

I also chose Lotus because it’s sport weight: once you crochet double-stranded (with two strands of yarn held together), you naturally make thicker stitches. I didn’t want super thick stitches for these small crochet bling bangles. The bling string I used is slightly thinner (“fingering weight”).

The yarn math: Add 1 sport strand + 1 fingering strand and you get “DK wt,” a.k.a. “light worsted.” A G-7 (4.5 mm) hook is a good all-purpose size to use for this weight.

Let’s Talk About * Sequin * Management *

Two Bling Bam Bangles of DesigningVashti Lotus yarn and sequined strands.
I tested the sequin theory with these. See the giant square sequins? It took longer to crochet. Worth it though!

Sometimes, sequins get in the way of smooth, stress-free crocheting. If sequins can catch on a loop while you’re trying to pick up crocheting speed, it slows things down.

The secret is pairing a thick enough yarn with a sequined strand to buffer or neutralize the sequins. To me, “thick enough” means it roughly matches the diameter of the sequins. The tiny sequins in the Enchant yarn match the thickness of my Lotus yarn. Lotus gives the stitch loops smooth passage through other loops.

Result: the sequins only pile on more joy. No interruption of the joy.

The Right Kind of * Stretchy *

Enough stretch puts the bangle in crochet * Bling Bangles *—literally. A bracelet earns the right to be called a bangle when it can be slid on and off instead of requiring some kind of clasp.

The bling string (Enchant) has zero elasticity. I expected this (it’s typical of carry-along bling strings) but didn’t know its strength and durability. To reduce the stress that could be put on the bling strand, I avoided stretchy yarns like wool. DesigningVashti Lotus has no stretch either, so these two yarns are nicely matched: Lotus won’t let my crochet project stretch more than the Enchant strand can, so both yarns will share the wear and tear equally.

It’s the crochet stitches that provide all the necessary stretchiness of a slip-on bangle! That way I can use whatever yarns I wish. The crochet * bling bangle pattern * includes several kinds of ribbing for beginners and beyond.

*  *  *

2018 update: Want to see my cheerful distraction during the 2017 holidays?

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Bam-Bam Crochet Bangle

The original experiment, a ribbed slip-on cuff with mock clasp.
This photo is from a mock art gallery-style photoshoot, 2012 (See the whole set in better resolution here)A slip-on cuff experiment with mock bracelet clasp became the prototype for Bling Bam Bangle, my cheerful holiday distraction in Dec. 2014

Crochet Bangle from the Archives

It makes me giggle. “Bam-Bam” began as a test of ribbing stitches for a simple crochet bangle in 2012.

I remember reasoning that if a crochet bracelet is stretchy enough, a clasp is optional. You could just slide it on and off your wrist—i.e., a crochet bangle.

A back-loop slip stitch rib (Bss) version was planned after this back-loop single crochet rib (Bsc) one—minus the “Bam-Bam” part.)

The “Bam-Bam” Part

Remember Pebbles and Bamm Bamm? Back in September 2012, I was preparing to teach a crochet jewelry class at a CGOA conference in Reno NV.

I don’t remember where my head was at, but after completing its band, I amused myself by free-forming the fake clasp. It made me think of Bamm Bamm Rubble, the baby boy who hit everything with a stone club in the The Flintstones cartoon.

Then, to test a new light box, I photographed it as if it’s an art gallery piece, which amuses me even more!

This is its project page in Ravelry. I’m writing a holiday pattern for the Bam-Bam Crochet Bangle now. It makes me giggle too much to keep it to myself.

Update! the pattern is called Bling Bam Bangle. I blogged about managing all the bling!

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Crochet Glow-in-the-Dark Yarn Idea

I crochet pretty little things for my bedroom that glow. The one pictured here is from about three years ago and it has kept me from bumping into this bedpost every night since then.

Glow in the dark crochet bracelet pattern
Glow in the dark crochet “Jasmine Rope”

I like to sleep in total darkness. This puts me at risk of bumping into something if I have to get up in the middle of the night, but even the dimmest night lights are too bright for me.

My favorite solution is a bit of crochet that glows in the dark! It glows just enough in the middle of the night that I don’t notice it while I’m in bed, only if I’m walking around in total darkness. I can make it any size, shape, and color.

I also crocheted a snug mesh cover for the bathroom doorknob in the same yarn.

(Pattern and yarn info: the yarn is Bernat Glow in the Dark, discontinued. Other glow in the dark yarns or carry-along threads should work. The soon-to-be-published pattern, Jasmine Ropes, has a project page that you check in on to find out when the pattern PDF is ready.)