I’m always looking for quick and easy craft projects in the summer. The kind you can easily do anywhere (ie. swimming lessons, music lessons, or sports practice), and complete in a half hour or less. Let’s face it, summer is a busy time with the kids being home from school, and sitting down for an uninterrupted morning of crochet is a luxury that’s still a couple months away. So how do you get your crochet fix while juggling all the responsibilities of mom life? Let me share a little secret: you make crochet jewelry. It’s fast, easy, and even a beginner can do it–this includes your kids, and (just about) everybody loves it! Kid Birthday parties coming up? Crochet a bracelet as a gift. Need a new accessory for a summer concert? Crochet a necklace. Want to thank the music teacher who has the patience of a saint when dealing with your child who never wants to practice? Earrings might be just the thing!
I had the pleasure of meeting a representative from Annie’s Craft Store at a crafting conference I attended this spring, and she graciously gave me a digital copy of the book Crochet Hemp Jewelry to check out. This book is an “oldie but goodie” find from the late 90’s, and is jam-packed with 19 different designs, so you’re sure to discover something for just about anyone! Vintage jewelry is all the rage, and while I don’t really consider my teen years as “vintage” quite yet, enough years have passed that what was “cool” at that time is back in!
You know I love crocheting with unique materials/unusual materials, so when I saw there was a book that combined quick summer crochet projects with hemp and beads, I had to review it and share the results with you!
Materials you’ll need to have on hand
Don’t be worried if you can’t track down the exact same brand of supplies that the book lists. Items such as beads, hemp, and jewelry clasps, and rings can easily be found at most craft stores (I picked up mine at Joann’s, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby) in their jewelry crafting section. Easy-peasy. Let your imagination be the limit when it comes to picking out cord colors, beads and pendant accessories! Different beads will give the piece a unique look. For instance pony beads are great for older kids (remember not to give beaded things to young children and babies as they pose a choking risk), and ceramic or glass beads will give your project a high-end, boutique appearance. Choose beads with a large enough center opening to allow the hemp cord to easily pass through.
In addition to playing around with different beads or charms, try different colors of metal for your findings: gold or silver for a polished look, gunmetal, antiqued copper or bronze for a laid-back vintage vibe.
This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase something using these links a small amount of the sales price goes to me, however, you do not pay any extra for the item you purchase. How cool is that?!
I received a free copy of the book Crochet Hemp Jewelry by Annie’s Craft Store in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed in this article are my own.
While this book calls for one single style of 20 lb hemp (described as “2# Natural Hemp Cord”), there are actually several different kinds to choose from: the more “traditional” rustic variety, and a “modern” cord. Both have their place in jewelry making! Use the rustic hemp for a vintage look, or use the smoother cord if you want a neater piece for special occasions. Use bright cord and metal beads for a candy shop inspired pop of color! Cord will make it look much like you used #5 crochet thread to make the piece. Note: be sure to use 20 lb cord or equivalent for all projects in this book.
The book suggests first soaking your hemp in warm water to soften it before use, and then to work the project while it is still damp. This step is up to you. I noticed that the cord was more difficult to work with, but the traditional hemp was somewhat easier to work with when it was just barely damp. Play around with it and see what works best for you.
A few other items the book recommends you have near by:
- Craft glue. Did you know you can use some craft glue on the end (last 1/2″) of your cord to stiffen it before stringing beads on?
- 00 steel hook. If you don’t have one try a 2.75mm or 3mm hook as they will be close
- Jewelry findings. Findings are things like metal charms, earring backs, rings, and clasps that help fasten your jewelry around your neck or wrist.
- Clear monofilament (fishing line) for attaching charms.
- Small needle-nose pliers for working with the rings and clasps.
So how about those quick crochet projects? I know you can’t wait to see some of them!
One of the things about this book that impressed me was just how fast these pieces came together! Picking the beads, findings, and cord took more time than actually making most of these items! A stitch description with detailed illustrations is included near the end of the book, with additional drawings of special stitches throughout. These stitches are simple to crochet and I’m sure you’ll be able to get the hang of them after just a couple of tries. These crochet projects really are the kind of thing you could sit down and make 20 of in an afternoon (Yay party-favor prep!).
Like I said earlier, most of the charms and beads used in Crochet Hemp Jewelry are no longer being sold, so my pieces turned out a bit different than the pictures in the book. Hopefully you’ll still get the general idea though, and go on to create unique looks of your own! Many of these pieces are unisex and can be further customized one way or the other by mixing up charms, beads or hemp colors.
I’m only showing off 7 of the 19 crochet patterns featured in the book:
This bracelet is the most simple crochet project in the whole book. Aqua and brown ceramic beads really bring it to the next level and make it look anything but basic! Your most expensive purchase here will be the beads, as the bracelet uses a yard of hemp, if that! Look for a matching necklace in the book.
Supplies: Ceramic beads were purchased at Michael’s, metal findings at Hobby Lobby.
This necklace was originally intended to be made with a variety of 60’s-inspired wooden beads, but since I couldn’t find any, I used some blue-green ceramic beads and combined them with antiqued copper rings for contrast. I initially made this in hemp, but felt it needed something a little different, so I remade it with some linen cord I had laying around. Absolute perfection!
Supplies: Ceramic beads were purchased at Michael’s, metal findings at Hobby Lobby.
Those may be acrylic beads on this necklace, but they still look attractive, paired with off-white hemp cord, while being an affordable alternative to wood or glass. Be sure to use beads with large centers that you can put your hook through when making this piece. The book includes a matching bracelet pattern.
Supplies: Blue beads were purchased at Hobby Lobby, brown beads were purchased at JoAnn’s, metal findings at Hobby Lobby.
Faux bone beads give this necklace a tribal look, while the green ceramic beads and variegated hemp cord give an earthy, rain forest feel.
Supplies: Faux bone beads, leaf pendant, and metal findings available at Hobby lobby.
Curls are an unexpected and unique way to add texture to a project! The necklace in the book called for wooden beads, but I was not able to find any locally that were the right size. These acrylic beads remind me a little bit of sea glass, and the compass charm adds to the “found”/boho feel of this piece. A spot of craft glue on both strands of cord surrounding the beads will help hold them in place, if you’re using over-sized beads like I did.
Supplies: Blue beads were purchased at JoAnn’s, copper compass charm, and metal findings purchased at Hobby Lobby.
This beautiful necklace looked complex when I first saw it in the book, but was really very simple to crochet! Painted wooden beads and a copper fan give this piece an oriental flair. I used cotton cord instead of hemp on this necklace, and used a double strand through the center of the beads for added strength. Can you tell the difference? The book includes directions for making matching earrings.
Supplies: Wooden beads (12mm) were purchased at JoAnn’s; copper fan, and metal findings purchased at Hobby Lobby.
And last but not least, this sunburst bracelet is one of the more time-consuming pieces since it’s made in 2 parts, but it’s so cute and cheery–especially when made in sunshine yellow hemp–that I don’t think you’ll mind. This is also one of the only crochet projects in the book that does not call for beads.
Supplies: Yellow hemp cord purchased at JoAnn’s, metal findings at Hobby Lobby.
It should be noted that many of these necklaces are on the shorter side and fit close to the neck. I did use fairly tight tension when making them because, to me, it looks more like macramé that way. My measurements are close to the measurement descriptions in the book, so I believe this is how the original designer intended they should fit. Because of the simplicity of the patterns it should be very easy to adjust the length should you feel the need to. I also did make some adjustments to the way the ends look on a few of these to give them a more “finished” appearance. Functionally they are still the same.
A few more tips and hints for those of you who want to get into making crochet jewelry regularly, but want to save money doing it:
For findings (metal clasps, rings, etc),
Between JoAnn’s, Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, I have found Hobby Lobby has the best deals for findings, both in price and in quantity. They also run 50% off sales on jewelry-making supplies throughout the year which makes the savings even better!
For strung beads,
Beads are probably the most expensive element to crochet jewelry-making. JoAnn’s runs 70% off sales on their strung beads a few times a year. Try looking in late June/early July as they have run a 70% off sale during the last couple weeks of the month 2 years in a row.
Michael’s and Hobby Lobby will both run 50% off sales on their strung beads periodically. Their mailers and websites will have upcoming deals listed usually a week in advance.
General odds and ends,
If you sign up for rewards programs/coupons, you will usually be able to use these coupons to purchase any other regularly priced accessories such as chain-nose pliers (very similar to needle nose pliers), craft glue, beading needles, and crochet hooks at a discount. Hobby Lobby always offers a 40% off coupon on their site for one regularly priced item.
Click here for JoAnn’s coupons
Click here for Michael’s coupons
Click here for Hobby Lobby specials