Wednesday, January 4, 2017
Butterflies and beads
Bountiful, beautiful beaded butterflies! This is the decoration I made for the GB's room, given to her for Christmas and now hanging from the ceiling over her bed. I had a lot of fun making it and she loves it, which is even better.
I first got the idea to make this decoration when I saw a photo of a similar one on Pinterest. I couldn't find a source right away, so I searched further and found another photo that linked back to Ravelry. There, I found a pattern for butterflies crocheted with basic cotton yarn, called Bountiful Butterflies and designed by a crocheter named Marken, of The Hat and I, which seems to be an online pattern shop. Marken had used a bunch of crocheted butterflies to create a beautiful hanging decoration wherein the butterflies were attached to beaded strands and hung from an embroidery hoop. The strands cascaded in a spiral from the hoop and it all looked really pretty and bright and cheerful, perfect for a girl's bedroom.
I enjoy making crocheted decorations for the GB's room, like a garland using Maybelle flowers which hangs over her headboard. I thought one of these hanging decorations could be a nice addition, but the project took a bit of planning because there weren't really instructions for making one. It didn't look too difficult, though, and I improvised a bit. The hardest part may have been the crocheting, actually. The pattern is easy to follow, but I'm not a big fan of crocheting with cotton yarn; it makes my hands hurt, I find it annoyingly splitty and it sheds fibers everywhere. I sneeze a lot when I crochet with cotton. But it's a nice yarn for decorations because it's strong and can be crocheted tightly for stiffness and structure, and it comes in such vibrant colors.
I crocheted 20 butterflies in a rainbow of colors - some solid butterflies and some dual-colored. I ended up using only 18 of them; the ones I did in light aqua gave me too many blues in the rainbow sequence. 18 was plenty for a good spiral. I did make one change to the butterfly pattern in that I didn't add the "bodies" as shown; I thought they looked a bit heavy and lumpy when I did the first few, so I decided to frog that part and not make any more. I think they still look sufficiently butterfly-ish without bodies.
If you'd like to make one of these decorations, here's how I made mine.
After I'd crocheted the butterflies, I put all the parts together. For the strands, I used .25mm nylon beading filament (Beadalon Supplemax illusion cord) and 6mm/8mm faceted plastic rondelle beads (see bottom of post for links to these products). I used an 8-inch wooden embroidery hoop for the top part.
I wanted my butterflies to hang in a helical formation, at a reasonable height above the GB's bed, so I started with a 16-inch length of Beadalon for the first butterfly (the lowest-hanging one) and decreased each subsequent strand by half an inch, so that they would march upward along the spiral.
For each length, I used a sharp needle to thread one end through the top center of a butterfly, knotting tightly to secure it. Then I strung beads on from the opposite end of the strand, leaving two inches at the end to attach to the hoop with a tight knot. After they were all tied on, I moved them around to space them evenly around the hoop.
Next, I cut a quarter-yard of pink tulle fabric into long, 2-inch-wide strips and wrapped them around the hoop, covering the tied-on strand ends as I went. I tied the ends of the tulle strips to each other to secure them and buried the knots under the tulle as I wrapped the strips.
For the hanger, I cut four 12-inch lengths of the same beading filament and affixed one end of each strand to the hoop with a tight knot, passing it through the tulle with a sewing needle. Then I gathered the strands at the top and knotted the other end of each to a small plastic ring. Fortuitously, the GB already had a sturdy plant hook in exactly the right spot on her bedroom ceiling.
Here's the view from the doorway, zoomed in a bit. The decoration hangs at a good height, I think, especially for a person who still likes to stand on the bed to look out the window.
I hadn't been able to think of a good way to wrap the decoration for Christmas, so I wrapped a rubber band through the plastic ring and hung it off the drawer-pull on one of the end tables in the living room, next to the Christmas tree. I put an adhesive gift label on one of the butterflies. Most of her presents still come from Santa, but this one and the Sweetiepie ABC's sampler I took credit for. She was very excited to find that both were for her.
She tells me that she especially loves lying under it and looking up. I can see what she means. It's pretty fun to look at it this way. I wish her the sweetest of dreams under a spiraling, sparkling rainbow of butterflies.
Bountiful Butterflies Decoration
Yarn: I Love This Cotton and Sugar 'N Cream worsted-weight cotton, assorted colors
Hook: H/8 (5.00mm) Clover Amour
8-inch wooden embroidery hoop
Approximately 400 small plastic rondelle beads, In Bloom brand
Beadalon Supplemax nylon beading filament
Tulle fabric in 2-inch strips, from a 1/4-yard cut of tulle
1-inch plastic ring for hanging
Started: October 2016
Finished: December 2016