Sunday, 9 March 2014

Star stitch bracelet (Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge)




The potato season began this week (meaning I'm pretty tired today after three days of work as the first days are the toughest what with getting up early and doing a lot of lifting and carrying). Knowing that it was coming up I knew it'd be impossible to tag along with e.g. the daily FusionBeads challenges, but I do want to have some creative challenges right now so I was hoping to be able to do the 12 weeks of Heather Powers' Jewelry Making Mojo Challenge. And today I planned to sit down with this week's challenge, Back to school. Not only planned, but managed to both start and learn a new technique -- even as both bed and books beckoned me and the other blog called for attention I made it my first priority today.




This week's challenge was, as the name Back to school implies, to sit down, find a project and make something inspired by it. Soon, I knew what I wanted to do. It was the perfect "excuse" or push to try a crochet stitch called star stich. I love those kind of decorative stitches or patterns, both crocheted and knitted. As I don't knit and don't really feel like learning it (no, I only learned how to crochet in school for some reason) the knitting stitches are more eye candy. Many crochet patterns are too, but this one was so interesting I wanted to give it a try even though it's many years since I did anything other than chain stitches.


Now, it should be noted that I haven't tried anything beyond chain stitches and slip stitches in over fifteen years. Nor have I even tried making a stitch like this. I used to stick to the basic stitches. A treble crochet stitch (US) or double treble crochet stitch (UK) was probably the most complicated one even tried. I also remembered that I used to have a very tight tension, something that would'nt work with this stitch. All in all, you can see why the result is far from brilliant. It's wonky and uneven, but I don't really care. Just need to practice more -- because I'm so going to learn more crochet stitches now.




As you can see in my pinboard, I've been looking at inspiring pieces, patterns and how-tos for star stitches lately, since before deciding to make it my challenge this week. (If you read my other blog, you just got the reason for why I posted this earlier in the week.) I used the video from Drops to learn the stitch by watching it several times and then printing the written instructions (available in several languages) to have by my side when picking up yarn and crochet needle. My projects to be inspired by was from B.Hooked and Made With Love, but as I wanted a light spring bracelet rather than a warm winter cuff, I decided to only make it two rows wide (= one row of "full stars").




First I did a test pieces in acrylic knitting yarn. Not the best yarn, but I wanted a full yarn, similar to the one used in the Drops video (also, it's one of few yarns I feel ok with "wasting"). Then it was time to choose a yarn for the bracelet. That turned out to be trickier as most of my yarns aren't designed for crocheting, seeing how I haven't really done it since I was a kid. Some novely yarns would also obscure the star pattern, making the stitch a bit unnecessary compared to a plain double crochet (US)/treble (UK).



After going through the stash, I settled for an expensive linen/viscose/cotton yarn in linen, green and purple.
It wasn't until after about four stars that I suddenly realised why it was the wrong yarn... The way the yarn was printed (yes, that's what the label says, not dyed but printed) and the way the stitch is made, the stars wouldn't be in one colour as they're completed first in the second row of crochet. A green star would be mostly green, but with the top in purple and taupe. It's not variegated as the yarn in the bracelet at the Made With Love blog, which makes a charming star stitch bracelet, it's a much bigger space between the different colours -- and it just doesn't work as well. Also, after making the whole length, I realised a star looks better in solid colour or just discreetly variegated colours, not in mottled colours as this yarn has in some sections.




But, then again, this was more of an exercise to boost my creativity and learn something new than about making a brilliant piece of jewellery so I'm not disheartened by the result. In fact, it just makes me want to make more of them! Better ones, both in yarn choice and in quality of technique. And it was sucessful enough for me to want to try other crochet stitches and patterns in the same style (especially puffy flowers/stars).




The bracelet doesn't have a clasp, i.e. button, yet. Not sure if I'm going to keep it, rip it up -- or perhaps make a second row of stars as I'm starting to think it might be a better choice (and it'd be interesting to see the difference). Right now it's just about a finger wide (doesn't have rule or tape measure here to measure it) so even twice as wide it wouldn't be too wide.


So all in all, while the result may be mediocre, it was a great and inspiring exercise that got me a bit hooked on crochet again!




2 comments:

  1. Started knitting and crocheting again after a very long time. Those hand dyed, hand painted and printed yarns are really beautiful, but different patterns are formed depending on the way they are dyed. I bought two books about using them in order to avoid pooling etc. Had no idea...I like your yarn and the crochet pattern.

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    1. Thanks! I think I should read up on the issue of pooling too... As you say, it's something one doesn't think about as a novice, never having worked with that kind of yarn before. I have used space-dyed threads in embroidery, but there you have a different freedom to jump between areas and cut the threads to make the colour-shifting work. In knitting and crochet you have to follow the yarn. Especially tricky when doing stitches like this one here, trying to make the colours line up. (Though it can be cool: I've seen a yarn that, if knitted correctly, produces flowers. Not just a speck of colour in one stitch, but over two or three rows!)

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