Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Metal Mishaps

  For those who love the story behind a design: Oh wow, do I have a tale for you! If you've already been to this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, then you might think I whipped up my project the night before... After all, it's just a simple one-round square, right? How hard could it be?

  Right. And that's what I originally thought when I started the project a month before the challenge. The road to this successful design was a bumpy one with lots of twists, and I think I got lost a few times along the way. But now that I've conquered the route, it should be easier for everyone else to pass. All you have to do is follow my directions to get there... But what if you want to blaze your own trail to a new place?

Here's where I'll stop speaking in metaphors and just tell you all the "fun" I had crocheting with metal.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  I'll show you my secret weapon first, although you don't have to have one of these to crochet with metal wire. Once I finally found the right hook size for the material (that's a long story in itself), I knew I had to try one of my antique hooks. Most people may have thrown this bent hook out, but I always knew I'd use it for something! I have a bad habit of keeping my loops low and tight, but the angle of this hook's head forced me to pull them up nice and high like they need to be.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I've always wondered how that hook got that way and who did it, but I suppose I'll never know. Anyway... Are you the same kind of tight-loop crocheter as me? If so, then you'll find crocheting with metal harder to do. No matter how many times I changed hooks, my work kept curling towards me. It took a few tries to realize that it wasn't all because of the hook size. Pulling the first loop of the stitch up higher let it fall back into the work instead of being pulled tight against the base. 

  
  Pulling the loops tight also causes twists and kinks in the wire, and that's part of what caused the curling. It was mostly because of my hook size at first. Wouldn't you think you'd need a small hook for something so thin? Right, but... See that explanation above. The small hook caused the wire to kink up as soon as you "yarn" over with it. No matter how many different designs and stitch counts I worked out, they were all curly messes.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  What a shame. I really liked the look of the two-round designs I created, but they would be too big to use for (my) jewelry if made with a large hook. Don't get me wrong - I think it would be cool to make something big and bold, like 70's style. But let's be honest: When it comes to earrings, anything over an inch just gets stuck in my hair! The goal here was to keep it small, simple, and delicate. And not stuck in my hair.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  I began trying to make these motifs with a 1.50 mm steel hook, working my way up to the size 3 you see above. (A US size 3 should be 2.10 mm, but this old hook doesn't match.) By the time I worked out that square, I had figured out the problem with my tension. But why is it still curling? Hmm... Metal is bendy. I should be able to just "block" it out flat, right? Just give it a stretch into place and it will stay... Nope, didn't work. 

  When you think you've figured it all out, this material changes its personality. The wire stays kinked when you work it up on a too-small hook, but you can't bend it into place to block it flat! This is one of those "Arg, are you kidding me" moments. Yes, it stays kinked if sharply bent. But the loose loops required for a flat project turn it into a springy material that bounces back into shape.


  This all leads us to another problem: The material itself. I didn't have much of that silver wire left, so I didn't want to keep practicing with it. There's another roll of "gold" in my supplies that I'm not happy with. It's much too yellow in my eyes. Why not ruin it while trying to get this right? And ruin it is exactly what I did.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  This is not gold! It's just yellow-coated wire. It's not like I thought I was getting a roll of real gold for a few dollars. I just never thought the coating would start coming off every time I ripped my stitches back to try again. (And yes, the "silver" is also plastic-coated wire.) This isn't like crocheting with yarn or even plarn, where you can rip back and try again. Each time you do, it damages the wire more and more. 

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square


  It's "get it right" or "get more material". By the time I made the square above, I was ready to give up. I was destroying material, my hands, and my confidence. It was so close to being flat! I stretched, and pulled, bent and smashed, and repeated. None of it helped. It just can't be blocked. But give up? NO! Not me! Well, if you can't make a tiny motif with a small hook, then I guess it's time to make shorter stitches to achieve the size with a bigger hook.

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

 Ta da! And stubborn, stubborn me did make a bigger motif with those tall, lacy double crochet stitches. I suppose I could have included it as part of my project for the Granny-Spiration Challenge, but at the time it looked so plain without the bead. Reviewing my pictures, I think it might make a cute, simple pendant on its own. Maybe add a bead on an eye pin.  

crochet, tips, crocheting with metal, jewelry, wire, granny square

  Sure I accomplished the design I wanted, but will I ever wear it? Turned diagonally, the pendant will be over 2" across. That's a bit large for my taste in accessories and it's way too big for earrings. But for somebody else? Maybe you like it. My point is, the material poses it's fair share of limitations in what you can make and how it can be made. A smaller gauge wire would work better on a small hook, but this is already really thin!   


  None of this has been said to discourage you from trying your own metal project. I hope it can steer you in the right direction, closer to where you need to start. It's not the kind of project that you can jump into and rip back if it's not perfect. You can score metal beading wire for really cheap if you catch a sale or use coupons, so it's not like you're destroying a $30 skein of handspun silk if you make a mistake. For me, I just hate wasting any material, ever. Except for that ugly yellow "gold". I threw the aftermath of my practice in the trash without thinking twice.


Happy Crocheting!  

PS- If you missed this month's Granny-Spiration Challenge, be sure to stop by to check out my project and see what everyone else is making, too!

https://crochetistheway.blogspot.com/2017/04/delicate-granny-earrings.html


6 comments:

  1. Thank you, dear Jenny!
    You've just cured me from "I might have a try - it looks soooo nice..." I'm way too impatient for any of this. It still does look nice though. Those earrings really are special, unique and beautiful, but as I have only just once managed to make myself a crocheted pair...
    Have a lovely day,
    Marjan

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    1. You know yourself best, Marjan! I didn't want to discourage anyone from trying, but if you think it would be too frustrating then it may be better left alone. There's always silver or gold thread, which wouldn't work for this pattern but it's so much easier to use. I would love to see what kind of beautiful creations you would come up with if you ever do give it a try.
      I hope you have a lovely day as well!

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  2. Oh my, you can't imagine all the 'adventures' we crocheters have to deal with ;-)
    You've did a great job, persevering and succeeding after all.
    ps: I think you should frame that special hook and hang it on the wall! It stands for the hard work you do.
    Take care, Sigrid

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    Replies
    1. That's such a great idea, Sigrid! I would love to make some sort of art piece out of my old hooks.
      'Adventures' - I like thinking of it that way! We often have many of them. :)
      Have a great day!

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  3. No easy but so beautiful !!!!!!
    Have a nice and creative weekend !
    Anna

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Anna! I hope you have a wonderful weekend, too!

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