Elegant Crochet Jewelry Made Easy- Formal Jewelry by Karen McKenna

ScannedImageI always keep an eye out for something new to learn, something to new to inspire me, something new to my bookshelf. I definitely think that the latest book by Karen McKenna, Formal Jewelry from Leisure Arts, fits that bill. (Find it on Amazon here)

FJ CoverKaren has a design style that is professional, clean, trendy, yet polished, and it is definitely apparent in the design she shares in this book . This downloadable book offers projects that are simple to construct, and need only basic crochet skills, but have an elegant appearance. The biggest learning concept for me was the use of jewelry tools, clasps and the approach to using beads. There are links to “how to videos” throughout this book. I think that almost every step has a tutorial so that even the most inexperienced stitcher or crafter can produce the stunning pieces. However as I live in an area with limited internet availability I did not personally use the videos, but even without the videos the instructions are quite clear and easy to follow.

Double Pearl NecklaceMany of the beads are pearls (I am a sucker for pearls), but I can easily see how these formal designs can be made into everyday wear by changing to a less formal bead. The barefoot sandals are quite nice. I could see these as fun additions to a day on the beach as well as enjoyed by several dancer friends, as well as the intended purpose of formal wear.Silver Barefoot Sandal-001

I think my biggest take away from this book is how to get a very professional finish to crochet jewelry. The section on finishing actually focuses directly on working with crochet chains and how to use them with jewelry components effectively.

If you are having a big event upcoming in your life, or the life of a loved one, or simply like elegant jewelry I suggest that you download a copy of this book and give the skills a whirl, I am sure you will enjoy your finished product!

Timeless Crochet?

ScannedImageI have always heard of the “trends in fashion” and how things become “dated”. I will say that I believed this for most of my life. However lately I have been cleaning some closets and finding some “lost” projects, and when reflecting on the time they have been tucked away I find that they may be a little timeless.
This is not to say that you cannot date crochet pieces; usually this is most accurate to date the material used. The composition of some yarns date them better then the stitches used to put them together, but I do not know if the style of crochet really goes out of fashion.


A scrap afghan created with left over baby yarn

A simple reference for this is for me is baby afghans. Since I have been crocheting for most of my life, I have created afghans for the new additions to a family since high school. I have one “go-to” pattern that I have made with the same yarn for nearly twenty years (It is Precious In Pink by Cathy Hardy from the book Afghans For All Seasons by Leisure Arts and Oxmoor House, made with Bernats Baby Coordinates Yarn). I can probably work the pattern in my sleep, and often can complete it in less than a day and a half. The size of the skein has changed since I started making it, it use to take me only 2 skeins and a dab of a third (only enough to finish the last row), while now it takes nearly the entire third skein. But that is a side effect of working a pattern so long. Why I mention this, is one day about 10 years ago, I worked up a full size afghan in a chevron pattern from the remaining “third skeins” of yarn from the baby afghans. At the time, I was able to identify 35 different skeins used, and I know that not every afghan was accounted for. The number has only increased since then, but the effect the afghan has on the recipient is the same; gratitude, and genuine warmth. Some of those “babies” are having children of their own, but the same blanket brings the same response; a proof of timeless.


My “Pneumonia Afghan”

Another project that speaks of me of the passage of time, or the lack of recognizing it, is my “pneumonia afghan” (Actually the pattern is Stitch Sampler by Jean Holzman from the book Afghans For All Seasons by Leisure Arts and Oxmoor House). It is so named by me due to the illness I had when finally finishing it (I was sick enough with walking pneumonia that the doctor only gave me 2 options: two weeks of bed rest with heavy antibiotics, or hospitalization….since I lacked health insurance I opted for the former) . To pass the time I completed this afghan with scraps I had, I have since worked this pattern many times as well, almost always with scraps. This afghan is still in my home, after, again nearly twenty years. The only reason I can date it is due to my illness, the stitch work itself is still as recognizable and noteworthy as when I first made it.
Okay, so maybe crochet is not timeless, but in my hands I do not see the time, I can only date it from the context it is worked in. So, if a piece of hand work can still be honored in your home for a quarter of a century (heck, I know people that treasure handiwork from their grandmothers, and it looks appropriate in their home as well), then maybe it is a timeless treasure. Some may only think of crochet, from the 1970’s and think that it is only representative of stiff yarns and granny squares, but if you really look around you see that it does not really have a date, not in most cases.