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Updated Tuesday, December 15, 2009 3:47 PM

How to make a beaded bell Christmas ornament

BY KATHY WILLIAMS

HERALD DEMOCRAT

Crocheted Christmas tree ornaments are almost as old as the hills, but they are still fun and an inexpensive way to create heirlooms. Of course these are activities limited to those who can crochet. If you don't know how, you might want to make learning the skills involved one of your New Year's resolutions.

It's an easy skill to acquire. My precious mother-in-law taught me 40 years ago on the way to Houston in the back seat of a Volkswagen bug. I taught my 6-year-old grandson how to finger crochet the basic chain in about 10 minutes. You can do this!

The traditional thread for both the snowflakes and the bell is No. 10 bedspread cotton. The "Beaded Bell" pattern calls for the hanging loop to be made from metallic gold cotton. That's too gaudy for my, so I just use white all the way through. But it's such a pliable art, experiment with whatever colors suit your holiday decor and your spirit of adventure.

I never throw anything away, much to my husband's dismay. So when I start a project like this I have an odd green or red bead to put in the middle of the snowflakes. Look for sales after Christmas of the teeny red or gold jingle bells (make great clappers.) Cute buttons, charms, wire-wrapped stones, tiny seashells, just about anything can be incorporated. The more sentimental the ingredients the more meaningful the ornament.

The little bell pictured here with the green and red beads is my New Zealander grandson Henry Hilton's first Christmas ornament. Its clapper is a piece of New Zealand jade or green stone wrapped in coated silver wire attached with a crochet stitch to the inside top of the bell.

With things I've collected and one skein of white cotton, I've made about 40 ornaments ( a mix of bells and snowflakes). Including thread, beads, fabric stiffener, the total cost is about $10. I already had all the pins, crochet hooks, blocking board and other notions I needed.

Have fun, and if you have access to the Internet, you have a world of free patterns, how-to videos and experienced peers to help you through any rough spots. For next year, check out the crocheted garland patterns.

Here's the key to abbreviations in the pattern: Rnd = round; ch = chain; sc = single crochet; sl st = slip stitch; sts = stitches; rem = remaining; lp(s) = loop(s); beg = beginning; tr = treble stitch; rep = repeat; yo = yarn over; sk = skip; hdc = half double crochet.

Beaded Bell

Crochet cotton size 10, 48 gold 2.5-mm (or 8-0 glass) beads, steel crochet hook size 7, fabric stiffener.

Hanging Loop

Rnd 1: With metalic gold cotton, ch 6, join to form a ring, ch 1, work 12 sc over ring, sl st to join, ch 1 (12 sts)

Bell

Rnd 1: Working in front lps only, sc in each next 4 sts, turning to back, working in rem back lps of the 4 sc, work 1 sc in each of next 4 sts, sl st to join, (8)

Rnd 2: (Chain 8, sl st in next sc) 8 times.

Round 3: Sl st into next ch-8 lp, work 7 sc in same ch-8 lp, work 7 sc in each rem ch-8 lp around, sl st to join in beg sc, fasten off. If you want to use white thread only, just slip stitch up to the fourth sc of the next loop, working from the wrong side. If you work on the right side, the hanging loop will be on the inside of the bell, and that doesn't work.

Weave in loose end.

Note: String the 48 gold beads onto white crochet cotton. You can use any color, and you can alternate red and green or any other two colors. Just make sure you divide them equally. Tip: paint a tiny bit of nail polish on the end of the thread to stiffen it and the beads will go easily. Also, a felt beading mat eases the process.

Rnd 4: With wrong side of Rnd 3 facing, attach white crochet cotton to 4th sc st on any lp *ch 3, in same st, work as for a tr until 2 lps rem on hook, move bead close to hook, work a tr in same manner in 4th sc on next lp, yo and draw through all 3 lps on hook (beaded split stitch), ch 3 sl st in same sc (the gold bead will be on the right side of work) rep from * around, instead of last ch-3 of round, sl st in same sc, work 1 tr in same sc.

Rnds 5-9: Ch 3, work first half of beaded split st in top of last tr worked, work last half in top of next beaded split st on previous round, ch 3, sl st in same place, work in pattern around, working beaded split stitches in top of beaded split stitches and ending each round the same as Rnd 4.

At the end of rnd 9, ch 1, turn.

Rnd 10: Sk next ch-3, (tr. ch 1) 4 times in next sl st, sc in next split st, ch 1, rep from around, join fasten off.

Weave in loose end.

Stiffen bell with fabric stiffener. Stuff it first with a ball of plastic wrap and cover the surface you're working on with pastic wrap. White glue that dries clear also works well, just thin it a little with water.

You can create a clapper of any of the things mentioned above and attach with an appropriate length loop of matching thread or with wire. To hang crochet a chain and slip through the hanging loop or use a large ornament hook.

Snowflake

This snowflake uses picots of various sizes. A picot is a loop made of chains of various lengths. For each picot, chain the stated number, the sl st in the chain farthest from the hook. Abbreviations are the same as for the bell.

Rnd 1: Ch 2, 6 sc in 2nd ch from hook, join with sl st to top of beg sc.

Rnd 2: Working in back lps only: ch1, sc in same st, ch2, sc in same st, (sc, ch 2, sc) in ea sc around, join w sl st to top of beg sc.

Rnd 3: Sl st into ch 2-sp, ch 3, dc in same sp, ch 7, (2 dc in nxt ch 2-sp, ch 7) around, join w slst to top of beg ch 3.

Rnd 4: *Ch 3, 5-ch-picot, 6-ch picot, 8-ch picot, 6-ch picot, sl st in base of prev 6-ch picot, 5-ch picot, sl st in base of prev 5-ch picot, ch 3, sl st in nxt dc, ch 4, tr in same dc, hdc in ch 7 loop, tr in nxt dc, ch 4, sl st in same dc, rep from * around, working last tr and ch 4 in same dc as beg ch 3.

To block snowflakes put plastic wrap over blocking board or ironing board (just make sure to cover it well or you'll have mess next time you iron.) Pin the picots open with rust-proof pins. Put pins wherever the pattern takes a turn to preserve it. Then spray with fabric stiffener or paint it with diluted white glue or really strong starch. Using several light coats allowed to dry between applications proves most effective.

And, given that there are just 12 days until Christmas, you'll be happy to know these work up really fast an hour or three each.



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