When I first saw these glorious freshwater pearl beads (pictured in view C above,) I couldn't take my eyes off them.
Each little pearl is its own microcosm of delightful color and form. None of the beads are precisely the same color, although the colors are similar -- lustrous rosy, pink-y browns. None of the beads are precisely round; they're a range of different round-ish shapes. Each pearl is more intriguing than the next.
I couldn't resist them. It was a challenge for me to figure out what to do with them, though. I discarded several different ideas before coming up with the project you see pictured above. (Views A and B.)
The pearls fit nicely onto 26-gauge copper craft wire, so when choosing materials to use with them, that was one deciding factor. They didn't fit well on the metallic embroidery floss I've used in several other crochet jewelry projects, so that wasn't even an option. But above all, visually, the wire and freshwater pearl beads complement each other nicely, and they look like they belong together.
I added smaller Czech glass beads to the mix for a little variety.
- Freshwater Pearl Beads: Each of my necklaces required 40 freshwater pearl beads. I purchased several strands of Blue Moon beads; each strand is about 7 inches / 17 cm. My necklaces each required more than one complete strand but less than 2 complete strands of the beads.
Note that you may need to work a different number of beads to achieve your desired necklace length; the exact number will depend on several factors, including your individual way of crocheting. My advice: string more than you think you need. You don't have to use them all, but if you end up needing them you'll be glad they're there.
- Czech Glass Beads: My necklaces each required 45 Czech glass seed beads. Again, you may need a different number of beads.
- Wire: For both necklaces pictured above, I used 26 gauge permanently colored copper wire by Darice. For the necklace shown in view A above, I used pink silver-plated wire. For the necklace shown in view B, I used brown wire. I'm pleased with both versions; in both cases, the wire and beads complement each other beautifully. Feel free to experiment with other beads and wire if you like -- there are many interesting possibilities.
- Crochet Hook: I used a size B / 2.25 mm crochet hook to make my sample necklaces. You can use this size hook if you like, but do not feel obligated if there's a hook you find more comfortable for crocheting with wire. Be sure to use a sturdy hook, as this technique is hard on hooks and a flimsy one is almost guaranteed to break on you. Also, please avoid using a hook that has significant sentimental (or monetary) value. In case you have a problem, it's better to have it with a hook you don't mind losing.
- Jewelry Findings: I used lobster claw-style clasp closures, and recommend using those or a similar type of closure.
I crocheted two different sample necklaces using basically the same supplies, with one minor difference: the wire color. Both of my sample necklaces turned out to be the same size; they measure about 16 inches all together from tip to tip, including the closures.
Gauge: Rather than trying to match my gauge, I suggest using a ruler or tape measure and checking your progress periodically. When your necklace is the size you want it to be, you can simply stop crocheting, and then follow the finishing instructions below to end it off.
Pull out a length of wire, making sure that the wire flows freely so that you will be able to pull out even more if needed. String all your beads onto your wire in the order you want them to appear in the necklace. I alternated freshwater pearls and seed beads, starting with a freshwater pearl and ending with another freshwater pearl.
Double check your work before proceeding. It's easy to mess up even the most mundane stringing patterns (like this one.) If you did make a mistake, the best time to find it is before you start crocheting; after you begin, it's difficult to correct mistakes.
Leaving at least 4 inches free at the beginning of the piece, make a slip knot in the wire. [Slide a bead up close to your crochet hook. Reach around the bead with your hook and grab the wire; pull it through to create a chain stitch with a bead sandwiched inside of it.] Repeat the instructions specified inside the brackets until your necklace is the length you want it to be. Do not feel obligated to work all the beads if your necklace reaches the desired length before you run out of beads to work with.
Hopefully you will have enough beads to work with, but if for some reason you run out, you can pull out another length of wire, cut it (leaving enough room to finish the piece) and string additional beads from the other side of the work.
When you are finished crocheting, cut the wire, leaving enough to work with in finishing -- at least 4 inches or so. Pull the end of the wire through your active loop to end off.
String 3 additional seed beads onto the end of the piece; then add one side of your lobster claw clasp. I did mine by stringing the clasp onto the wire, then folding the wire down onto itself and wrapping it around itself many, many times. Then I inserted the end of the wire back down into the three seed beads and cut it so that the end would be buried inside those beads.
Repeat on the other side to attach the other part of the clasp.
The necklace is now ready to wear, or to give as a gift. Enjoy!