Sunday, March 7, 2010

Frosted Plums

As you know from previous posts,  I like to create knitted jewelry.  I find it challenging to use knitting fiber to make a necklace or bracelet.  Last year I started making bead knitted bracelets and necklaces.  My friend Leslie from Twisted Sistah had knitted a reversible bracelet using #8 Hex beads and micro C-lon thread.  She gave me the pattern and I was soon hooked on making these bracelets.  I'll post some pictures of some of the ones I made in another post.  I had also been making some of the bracelets Ellen from Earthfaire creates.  She uses a mix of beads and Kreinik metallic braid to knit bracelets and necklaces. 

A few months ago I started doing bead knitting with wire instead of thread.  I made a few necklaces and bracelets using sterling silver clasps.  After the holidays I was going through my stash of Artistic Wire and came across a matte plum wire in 30 gauge that my daughter, Carrie, had given me.  I really liked the fact that it was matte.  I pulled together a bead stew to use for a necklace.  One of my favorite parts of making these necklaces is putting together the bead stew.  I've learned that any bead smaller than a 6 doesn't have the presence I like.   They tend to get lost among the larger beads.  I've used stick pearls with success, but anything too large distorts the knitting.  So, putting the beads together is really fun for me.  I get to go through all my beads and find what I think will work in color and size.  It's great fun, and I discover things I forgot I had. 

As I worked on this necklace I decided it looked like frosted plums, hence the name.  I also thought it would be fun to do something different with the clasp.  I'm a big fan of Beverly Ash Gilbert.   In her new book, Beaded Colorways, she shows how she bezels a cabochon and makes a clasp out of it.  I had wanted to use fabric as to create a cabochon for a long while.  So, I decided to put that idea, and Beverly's clasp idea together.  My stash of cotton batiks is quite large because I've never seen a batik I didn't fall in love with!  And, surprise!  I found one that was a perfect match for this necklace.  I cut a 2" circle of Lacy's Stiff Stuff and a 1 3/4" circle of fabric, which I  placed over a layer of thin quilt batting.  I sewed the batik to the Lacy's around the outer edge and began beading a bezel around the fabric circle. 

I love freeform beading, and I took a class from my friend Christen Brown.  She teaches a great freeform peyote bracelet class for Joggles.  Check it out if your interested in freeform!  Anyway, I decided to use some freeform across the fabric, and I used Beverly's idea (her book is  a study of freeform beadwork and color) to use a variety of beads in the embroidery around the cab. 

Once the knitting was finished and the cab was well on it's way to being finished, I started thinking about how to attach it to the necklace and create a closure.  In Beverly's book she makes a hook out of wire and attaches it to the back side of the cab.  She then attaches a jump ring to the opposite side of the necklace.  Since my necklace was knitted out of wire I just reenforced the bound off end of the necklace to use in place of a jump ring.  But, I still needed to attach the cab to the necklace and decide on a hook.  After much thought I used my flat-nose pliers to flatten the cast on edge of the necklace and I stitched the back  of the cab to the wire edge.  I then used three small hooks from a set of hooks and eyes and stitched them to the opposite side of the cab so they corresponded to the reenforced bind off edge.  I positioned them so that just the tips of the ends were visible along the edge of the cab.  I then glued ultra-suede to the back of the cabochon and stitched a beaded picot edge around the entire cab.  The picot covered the tips of the hooks so they were no longer visible. 

I was very pleased with the finished necklace.  It can be worn with the clasp in the back, front, or to the side.  I like to wear it to the side.  The knitted wire necklaces and bracelets are very light in weight even though they have a lot of beads in them.  So, they're fun to wear. 

Something I learned from trying to photograph this necklace I also learned from Beverly.  She has a wonderful newsletter that she has recently started.  The February edition had information about taking good photographs.  In it she talked about backgrounds and their colors.  She used as an example a necklace she made using purple beads.  She needed to put it on a green background in order for the color to look good.  She used beautiful green leaves from her garden.  Green being the compliment of purple on the color wheel.   Well, I had been having the same problem with this necklace.  I tried putting it on a green plate, since we don't have a lot of green in the garden yet, and it worked.  Now my photographs are definitely not in the same league as Beverly's, but I could not get good color no matter what background I tried until I used the green plate.  Thank you,  Beverly! 

I love to find alternative closures for my creations.  Whether it's a closure for a jacket or a clasp for a necklace or bracelet, I think it adds to the fun of making and wearing the piece.  Thinking outside the box can lead to some interesting results.  Try it!

Have a fun and creative day! 


  1. If you find this necklace missing at any point, I might be wearing it. Just sayin'...

  2. Maryanne- This is really stunning, and thank you for the very nice plug! I have used crochet to make few pieces similar to your necklace, but mine never looked so luscious! Thanks for sharing! Chrisetn

  3. Your clasp is perfect for the necklace! So thrilling that you took so many different ideas and inspirations, mixed in your own creativity and voila!

    I'm glad I helped out a bit on the photography... so tough with jewelry. Think I might expand on it in my next newsletter.


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