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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In the Works: Lady Sara's Pearls

Recently I got a message on Etsy from a lovely lady named Sara who asked if I could crochet a choker for a costume she was making for Halloween based on this picture:

According to my client, this is from the fireplace episode of Dr. Who.

The opportunity was too good to pass up.  After a few messages back and forth about price point and preferences (we agreed that something like this deserved Swarovski crystal pearls), I dove in, working on the design.  Part of doing a project like this is translating the craft of the original (which I believe to be bobbin lace) to my craft (crochet, of course).  To do that, I had to break down the different elements to capture the essence of the original.  On looking closely at the necklace, I decided 3 things were absolutely necessary:
Le collier en question in close up
1. The beads
2. The scallops (which would be slightly openwork and which I gauged would need to be made in 3 tiers)
3. The solid rows at the top to anchor it all

The scallops, not surprisingly, were what required the most time from a design standpoint.  I tried all kinds of patterns.  The scale and the dimensions took some tinkering; a lot of what I tried was just too big, and most of them had scallops that were complete half circles.  I realized that the drop pearls wouldn't have the necessary support if the scallop was too deep.  Here are some of my attempts:
3 times was not a charm.  These are the ones I didn't just unravel and start over.  Swatches like these inspire future projects.
The top attempt was both too big and too deeply scalloped.  The bottom left was too deeply scalloped and there weren't enough rows in the scallops to do the swags of pearls between the drops properly.  The one in the bottom right corner was so overcrowded that it practically wrapped around itself.  It is fairly close to what I ended up doing, but it still wasn't quite right.  Here's what I finally came up with:
I knew I'd finally found the right combination and was ready to go into production.  Once I knew what I was doing, the crochet part went quickly.  Adding the pearls one section at a time took longer, but it was all worth it when I saw the finished result:
Et Voila!

Sadly, this is the only photo I took of the finished product.  A word of advice to fellow artists: take good pictures of your work, no matter how late at night you finished!  Those photos are your portfolio and once you've sent the piece out into the world, they're all you have to show for it!  Luckily, I do take careful notes on my original patterns and I can recreate this necklace with relative ease.  I'm already working on one in candlelight; I'll take plenty of pictures of that one!

In an interesting example of, as Robert Frost would say, "how way leads on to way", one of my failed attempts led to an interesting side project.  This swatch, from a vintage lace pattern, got me thinking:

I soon turned the scallop part of the lace into a a complete flower:
The green flower had more stitches in the ring that starts the pattern; the purple is a later refinement that I like better.
I made several in different sizes and tried stitching them together:
I realize now I took the picture of the wrong side.  On the front you can't see where the pieces are stitched together.
I have an as-yet unrealized intention of turning this concept into a bracelet (I've actually made one, but it still doesn't really look like the one in my head), but I think this one will end up being an applique or maybe even a statement necklace on chain (Bonnie's suggestion).

Have you had any memorable projects that took some hammering out?  Any design that led to a completely separate project or to a fun variation?  Leave us a comment!  Pictures are always welcome.

Vive l'artiste!  ~Ellie, Maitresse de Crochet

P.S.  On Friday, mon amis, I will post the pattern for these little flowers so that you fellow crocheters can try them out yourself.  Happy hooking!  ~E.S.

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