Imagine, for a moment, this dream crochet project: you can make it with leftover yarns or new yarns. You can mix yarn weights and textures. The finished piece can be any shape and size. Best of all, you won’t need to make gauge swatches.
Ah, what a lovely dream.
But wait! You can turn the dream into reality with a technique called Crochet Charm Lace. To do it you will need crochet motif patterns, yarn and hooks for crocheting motifs, waste fabric, safety pins, tapestry needle, scissors, and supplies for blocking.
For your first crochet charm lace project, consider making something small, like a scarf or the Snow Globe Doily shown here.
A Quick Summary of How to Make Crochet Charm Lace
- Cut a fabric template in the shape of your choice. It won’t be part of the finished project.
- Crochet motifs from one type or many types of yarn, weave in ends and block.
- Arrange and pin motifs, face down on the fabric template and safety-pin in place.
- Sew motifs together wherever they touch.
- Remove safety pins and turn your crochet charm lace piece right-side-up.
HOW TO MAKE THE SNOW GLOBE DOILY
For the Snow Globe Doily, you will need:
- A selection of white yarns and threads. The yarns in “Snow Globe” range from No. 30 crochet cotton (very fine) to worsted weight yarn, and they represent many different fibers, like cotton, linen, and wool.
- One or two icy blue yarns the same size as one or two of the white yarns you chose. To be used as accents and for filler motifs.
- A selection of crochet hooks to give a firm gauge with the chosen yarns.
- Sturdy fabric to make a template in the shape you choose. “Snow Globe” is 16″ in diameter.
- Pens, templates (such as a large platter) as needed to make a template with fabric.
- Iron, press cloth, ironing surface, pins
- Patterns for Filler Motifs (see end of this post) and Small and Simple Snowflakes and Tiny Flakes (see tomorrow’s post)
Cute Crochet World: A Little Dictionary of Crochet Critters, Folks, Food & More, “Snow-People” pattern.
Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights, “Frost Flower” pattern.
OR any patterns for small and large crocheted snowflakes and snowmen.
Make a Fabric Template
Cut out the desired size and shape of your project from any sturdy fabric. The fabric will not be part of the finished piece, but you need it to create the shape of the Crochet Charm Lace.
For the Snow Globe project, I traced around my largest round platter—about 16″ across—with a ball-point pen, onto leftover cotton twill fabric. Round is nice, but you can cut out a heart or square or whatever. You can even use a piece of clothing as a template.
The motifs used in Crochet Charm Lace are stand-alone crocheted motifs. In other words, they are NOT afghan motifs. We are lucky to have quite a few non-afghan motif books on the market, featuring everything from flowers to dachshunds to sea creatures.
I chose motifs from my own books to make the Snow Globe Doily shown here. The “Snow-people” are from Cute Crochet World. The large snowflakes are “Frost Flower” from Crochet Garden: Bunches of Flowers, Leaves, and Other Delights.
Two or three motif patterns are plenty for a crochet charm lace design. Pick your favorite flower and leaf designs, for instance. Or consider groupings like televisions and stars; oak and maple leaves; or clouds, umbrellas, and rain boots. Find several ideas here.
In addition to the main motifs, you’ll need small motifs to fill in awkward spaces in your crochet charm lace creation. A filler motif can be as simple as one round of single crochet or half-double crochet.
Choose Yarns and Hooks
Here’s a general rule for choosing yarn. If you have many textures and weights of yarn for your crochet charm lace project, keep to one or two colors for the major motifs; on the other hand, if you are using lots of colors, keep to a narrow range of weights and textures.
You are welcome to break this rule.
The filler motifs can blend or contrast. I chose DK weight cotton and wool yarns, No. 10 crochet cotton, an even lighter cotton than that, and even some handspun wool. My light blue filler motifs contrast with the mostly-white snowflakes.
Choose hooks that will give you a firm gauge with the different yarns. Consult the Craft Yarn Council’s yarn and hook chart at http://www.craftyarncouncil.com/weight.html and go for the hooks at the smaller end of the scale for each weight of yarn.
Crochet enough motifs to thickly cover your fabric template. I crocheted “Frost Flowers” in several sizes of yarn and thread. The pattern in Crochet Garden includes a “Fancy Flake” option, which I used for a few of the flakes. I used pale blue as an accent in some of the Frost Flowers.
To add variety, I made Small and Simple Snowflakes and Tiny Flakes. I will post the patterns tomorrow.
Finish the Motifs
Weave in ends and block the motifs.
To block, hold small motifs like these under the tap, squeeze out excess water, hand-stretch and flatten each motif, and press gently using a press cloth to protect the crochet.
When a motif just won’t lie flat, pin it out and let dry.
Arrange and Pin
Arrange motifs right-side-down on the template, with an eye toward distributing color, shape, and size in a pleasing way. Take them right up to the edge of the template. If you have a few large or major motifs, lay them out, more-or-less evenly-spaced across the template. Arrange the other motifs around them, with edges touching wherever possible.
Squeeze in as many motifs as you can, as if you were working a crochet jigsaw puzzle. They won’t all fit perfectly together, which is what results in the lacy effect of Crochet Charm Lace.
You may need to make a few more motifs. Estimate how many and make a list like the one in the photo below.
Do you see spaces that need to be filled, but they’re too small for the regular motifs? Make filler motifs, like my blue sc-circles, to fill those spots.
In this experimental arrangement for the Snow Globe table mat, I was trying to figure out how many more flakes and filler motifs to crochet. Before pinning the motifs, I turned the pieces face-down.
Arranging motifs will probably take more time than you expect. Feel free to take a break and come back later.
As I arranged and rearranged motifs for the Snow Globe Doily, my daughter said, “Mom, the snow people should be holding hands.”
Her instincts were right, as usual, so I put them closer together with their hands touching. I also felt they would look better if they “stood” on the Tiny Flakes, which seemed more like solid snow.
Act on your thoughts and ideas about placing motifs. If you have a pretty satisfactory arrangement, but want to try something else, photograph the original arrangement first. That way you can recreate it from the photo, if necessary.
When the motifs are exactly the way you want them, pin each one to the template with one or two safety pins.
Sew Motifs Together
Sew motifs together wherever they touch, skimming the tapestry needle under the loops just inside the edges of the motifs (see the photo below). When you tighten the stitch, the motif edges will pull together on the right side (which you can’t see at the moment). The stitch won’t show on the right side.
Note how the sewing stitch catches the loops just inside the edges of the motifs.
For sewing, use the thinnest thread or yarn you crocheted with. For heavier yarns, reduce bulk by splitting 4-ply yarns into two 2-ply strands for sewing.
Sew with yarn that matches the color of one or both motifs you are sewing. You will frequently have to weave in ends, cut the sewing yarn, and start in a new place.
On the wrong side of the piece (which you see while sewing), small lengths of sewing yarn may show at the edges of some motifs. The stitches will not show on the front.
For many crocheters, stitching is not the most fun. But keep at it. It’s worth it. If you need a morale boost, unpin a finished section of your crochet charm lace project and peek at the right side. I think it will give you incentive to keep going.
At some point, you will finish sewing motifs together. Really. You will.
And here comes the best part! My favorite! Take out the safety pins. This photo captures the moment: pins gone and then…
Set the fabric template aside.
Imagine a drum roll.
Turn the piece right-side-up. Live the dream.
To supplement the instructions for the Frost Flower in Crochet Garden, please look for the photo-tutorial at www.textilefusion.com/bookblog/?p=881
Sc Filler Motif
Ch 4, join with sl st in first ch to form a ring.
Round 1: Ch 1, 7 or 8 sc into ring, cut yarn, and needle-join (also known as invisible join)–7 or 8 sc.