My roommate likes jewelry, but her "organizer for it is just a shoe box full of random knick knacks. Since she's leaving me after this semester (taking a semester off -- don't be afraid to opt out of school for a while, fellow college students: school is stressful), I wanted to send her off with a useful gift of some sort, hence a hanging organizer for her earrings and such.
This is a project suitable for crocheting beginners and experts alike who want a project to occupy their hands for a while -- a LONG while. This 8" by 11" rectangle of string and metal lace took me over 20 hours to finish (admittedly, I also had to unravel due to small mistakes..), so I guarantee that you'll have a nice, mindless activity for your daily commute.
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Step 1: Materials
- crochet hook (I highly recommend metal hooks, not wood or plastic, especially if you plan to work with wire)
- thread/string (Thinner is better since you'll have tighter loops that look overall more like lace.)
- wire (Thinner is better and easier to crochet. I'd recommend 26 or 28 gauge; 24 gauge really starts hurting your fingers.)
- pliers (for cutting and manipulating wire when your fingers just won't do..)
Step 2: Crocheting String
For the main body of the organizer, I crocheted a roughly 8" by 10" rectangle of lace from white super fine cotton thread. I won't teach you how to crochet in this tutorial (there's plenty of resources out there, none of which I can really add to..), but instead I have tips as you go along your design process. Like all my engineering professors are drilling into me, design is just as important as skill for when you're building something to be used...
As far as patterns go, this website has plenty for you to choose from. I simply chose one, but you can definitely mix and match as you please -- it's just that my stylistic preferences couldn't find designs that meshed well in my eyes. I chose this V pattern because I liked the contrast between the tight pattern of the Vs and the wide loops in between. I also figured that the earrings could be organized on the Vs: the two in each pair could go on either side of the V. Keep little notes about the utility aspect and how to incorporate that with the design as you choose carefully (or not carefully -- up to you, my friend). Because this is a hanging organizer, wide loops (as in big enough that pinkies could be easily inserted) should be avoided so that this doesn't stretch out so much from all the stuff hanging from it. If you're a beginner at crochet, choose a pattern that has few steps so you don't have to stress too much about skipping a row in the pattern or anything -- generally it's not the crochet stitches that are difficult, but remembering the order that all the stitches must follow.
Overall, since the lace is quite closely knit, it took 15-20 hours for me to finish crocheting the entire rectangle. Unless you're a wizard at crocheting at the speed of light, make sure you're not hard pressed on time if you plan on making this as a present like me!
Step 3: Adding a Metal Border
Once you've finished the thread portion, hide the ends by weaving them into the edges with a needle (or just hook it through with your crochet hook several times).
Take your wire and insert the end through a loop at the edge of the rectangle. Twist the ends a few times to secure the wire to the crochet lace. Then begin crocheting the border...
My wire border's pattern is something I came up with myself because most crochet patterns don't translate well with wire used instead of thread (wire takes a lot more space than thread, especially because it easily forms kinks). It involves a row of five single stitches every inch, followed by another row with double stitches on all the single stitches except for the center one (of the groups of five).
Be warned, if you don't know already, that crocheting with wire is quite tricky because it curls up a lot (see sixth image above). Just focus on finishing the row of crocheting before you go back and force the wire to straighten up. I suggest using a few textbooks to flatten the wire for a few wires, but fingers may be needed for additional flattening and straightening.
Another thing: be VERY careful when crocheting with wire to ensure that you don't make mistakes (or at least minimize errors) because unraveling is really difficult, not to mention bad for the wire. The loops from crocheting introduce many kinks into the wire so if you undo them, the kinks introduce stress that weakens the wire.
Step 4: Second Row of Metal Border
Again, the second round of wire crocheting involves a row of five single stitches every inch, followed by another row with double stitches on all the single stitches except for the center one (of the groups of five). See above for what this means, pictorially.
Step 5: Adding Wire
If you run out of wire, don't worry: adding is easy! Just check out the notes in the pictures above.
Quick tip: If you know you'll be running out of wire soon, plan to end at a corner if possible. This makes for a more seamless transition when switching wire.
Step 6: How to Use and Customization
To use (or at least suggestions, you do you...):
- Put post earrings on thicker parts of the crochet pattern (so in my case, the Vs are the thicker patches of thread so the posts won't fall out of the holes).
- Add necklaces by looping the ends into the thicker parts of the lace (or hang them from the wire loops of the border).
- If you want ring storage, use jump rings to attach a piece of a chain with a clasp to the bottom edge of the rectangle. Then to hang rings, simply unclasp one end of the chain, loop your ring(s) onto the chain, and connect the clasp again. Easy and simple.
There are plenty of add-ons/customizations possible:
- No one said the organizer had to be rectangular.. so try a circle, oval, pentagon -- anything!
- Borders don't have to be made from copper wire: add faux flowers, origami, whatever you like to suit your style.
- Try different colors, or variegated threads.
Anyhow, enjoy! Add questions, comments, and concerns below, and I'll do my best to help.
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