Saturday, April 7, 2012

Bird's Nest Wire Crochet Earrings & Tutorial

Spring is here - a fitting time for delicate workmanship and celebrating the small beginnings of life. How about a little wire crochet?

These earrings remind me of tiny, carefully-woven nests, each holding a single bead egg:

Green chalk turquoise "eggs"
with 30-gauge craft wire held double

If you've never tried wire crochet (I hadn't until now), the Bird's Nest Earrings are a fun first project. Some simple chain stitches, a bit of wrapping and snipping, and you've got an elegant new pair of earrings to give or to keep.

A few words about crocheting with wire: it takes some getting used to. Since the wire takes on the shape of the stitch, frogging is nearly impossible - so you'll want to handle the wire gently and take your time. Make some practice stitches to get the feel of the material, and don't worry too much about perfect tension. This project is very forgiving.

Vintage blue glass "eggs"
with 28-gauge craft wire worked single

My earrings were made from two different sizes of wire: 30-gauge (finer) for the silver/green pair, and 28-gauge (thicker) for the copper/blue pair. Don't let the numbers fool you: the higher the number, the finer the wire.

Materials for 1 pair of earrings:

Craft wire*, about 5 yards of 30-gauge OR 3 yards of 28-gauge
1 pair earwires
2 8mm beads
Needle-nose pliers (optional but very helpful)
No. 5 (1.9mm) steel crochet hook

*I used Artistic Wire (ordered from Amazon): Non-Tarnish Silver in 30-gauge, and Bare Copper in 28-gauge.

How did the wire behave?

The 30-gauge was surprisingly supple, and so fine that I had to use a double strand. The 28-gauge was less supple and a bit harder on the hands, but sturdier; it worked best with a single strand.

Little nests of loveliness

Bird's Nest Earrings Tutorial

Instructions are for earrings made from 30-gauge wire, held double.
If using 28-gauge wire, use single wire and work from the spool.

Here we are, with our materials assembled. Don't forget to practice with a bit of wire to help you get used to handling it.

Cut a 96" piece of wire and gently fold in half. It may seem really long, but it will disappear surprisingly quickly once you start to crochet. (Remember, if using the larger 28-gauge wire, just use single wire straight from the spool.)

Twist the wire about 2" from the folded end to form a loop (if using single wire skip the loop and allow yourself a couple of inches at the end to hold on to). Put your finger through the loop to hold the wire steady...

...and make a slip knot where the twists are. This is a bit awkward. Don't worry if it's not perfectly smooth. Any little kinks will disappear later on.

Chain 15, or however many stitches it takes for a 2" chain.

When your strand is 2" long, count your chain stitches. (The number you chained here will be repeated 3 more times.) Chain that many again to make a 4" strand.

Slip stitch the last chain to the first chain. This will form a loop.

Fold the end of the loop to make a point, then chain another 2"...

...and slip stitch to the folded point (inserting hook through the 2 stitches at the halfway point of the loop).

Now chain 2" more, and slip stitch to the beginning stitch once more.

You should now have 4 chained strands, slip stitched together at both ends.

Grab the far end, and twist the strands together firmly. As you twist, they will shorten up. You can bend them around one of your beads to check the length - you want the twisted strands to make a circle just larger than your 8mm bead. (If you twist too much and it doesn't fit around the bead, untwist a bit until you get the right length.) When the strands are twisted enough, scrunch them with your fingers to make them smooth. This will also help harden the wire.

Remove the hook from the working loop, and insert it through the loops at the other end. (You may have to push and wriggle it through.)

Now gently bend the twisted strand into a circle so that the working loop comes toward the other end...

...and pull the working loop through. Push the working loop farther down the neck of your hook, until it reaches the full thickness of the hook (but not the flattened finger rest). This will round out the working loop and give it a good shape for attaching to an earwire later on.

The double working wire is now behind the earring. The original finger loop is also sticking out behind  - just ignore it for now.

(If you're using a larger, single wire, disregard the word "double" in the following steps.)

Bring the double working wire to the front of the work. Wind it up and over the hook, from front to back, then pull it to the front of the earring. Now you have two loops of double wire around the hook.

Push the loops close together, and wind the free ends of the double wire across the front, and all the way around the back (this is the "neck" of the earring, between the hanging loops and the circle of twisted chains).

The next picture shows the earring with the free wire wrapped once around the neck. The double wire ends are facing left again, and the finger loop is hiding behind the earring.

Now we're going to separate the double strand of working wire and use just one strand. (If you're using the larger 28-gauge single wire, measure about 14" from the earring and cut the wire from the spool. This will give you a free end for attaching the bead and weaving.)

Gently work the free end of one wire down through the top of the earring. Make sure it comes out in the center, just below the hanging loops. Pull it all the way through.

Thread your bead "egg" onto the wire...

...and work the end of the wire down through the bottom of the earring. Remember to handle the wire gently, and guide it so it doesn't twist and kink as you pull it through.

Now bring the free end up, and back through the bead from bottom to top.

Pass the wire back through the twisted chains and bring it out a little to one side of the hanging loops.  Pull gently to tighten the wire and settle the bead in the center of the earring.

You can stop here, and leave the bead bare if you like, or do as I did and wrap it with wire. (I like the wrapped look myself.)

To wrap it, bring the wire down and across. Weave it a short way through the twisted chains and bring it back up at a different angle. Flip the earring over and work a wrap or two on the other side (it helps to alternate sides while wrapping).

I made 4 or 5 wraps on each side of my earring - you can make as many or as few as you like. If one wrapping wire runs out, don't worry. Just use the other free wire to complete the wraps.

When you're satisfied with your wraps, it's time to finish the neck of the earring. (Leave the free wire ends alone for a bit. We'll deal with them later.)

All wrapped up

Now we're going to take that original finger loop (or, if working with single wire, the original end)...

...and gently coil it around the "neck" of the earring until it runs out.

If you're working with single wire, use needle-nose pliers to bend the free end into the coil and hide it.

If you're working with double wire, the free end of the coil will be a tiny folded loop.

To keep it from catching on clothes or hair, take one of your free wire ends, work it through the earring until you get close to that tiny folded loop, and run it through the loop. Then coil the free wire end a few times around the neck, and bury the end in the coil. You can snip it off if it's too long, and bend the tip into the coil with needle-nose pliers.

If you still have another free wire end (as I did here), hide it in the earring and snip it off. Bend the tip if necessary to keep it from poking out.

Almost done!

Time to tidy up the hanging loops. To do this, insert the steel hook so the loops are sitting snugly at the thickest part of the neck. With your fingers, gently push the loops together to make them look nice and neat.

Now's a good time to make sure your hanging loops are oriented properly so that the earring hangs at a right angle from the earwire. You may need to change the direction of the loops. To do this, insert the hook through the loops, hold the earring with one hand, and gently twist the hook 90º. (I hope that makes sense.)

And now you have an earring! The other one will go even more quickly, and before you know it...

A pair of delicate nests

One last handy hint: if your chains are unevenly twisted, and your earring comes out too thin in any one section, you can take one of your free wire ends and loop it in and out of the chains to build up the thin area. (An advantage of wire crochet - you could never do this with yarn!)

Some ideas for Bird's Nest variations:

~ Make a smaller set of nests with matching 6mm beads, and connect to the larger nests with jump rings (or small wire coils) for double earrings.

~ Make loops on both ends of the nests, connect nests with jump rings, and add a clasp to turn the earrings into a bracelet (make enough nests to go around your wrist).

~ Make a larger nest and hang it from a ribbon for a spring-y necklace.

The nests can be made as large or small as you like, by increasing or decreasing the number of chain stitches.


If you have any questions, feel free to use the comment box below, or you can send me a message in Ravelry.

You may do whatever you like with the items you make from this pattern, but you may not sell the pattern.

Thanks for viewing, and happy wire crocheting!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


  1. These are so pretty. I am new to crochet, but your tutorial is so clear I may give this a try.

    Joyful Easter!!

  2. These are gorgeous and your directions so good! Thanks for sharing this!

  3. How very clever, Sue! Perfectly seasonal.

  4. You, my dear, are a true Renaissance woman!! I love this!! :)

  5. These are lovely! Thanks for the tutorial too x

  6. Billiant, I had no idea, that's how you made this sort of earring....clever you, yet another thing you are brilliant at!

  7. Brilliant Sue, well done, you have obviously mastered a new to you material and your earrings are so pretty and the perfect Easter project :D

  8. How do you come up with these things? You are too brilliant!

  9. I think these are just the cutiest earrings. I have not crochetd with wire before, but your step by step instructions are so clear, I am going to give it a try. Thank you so much for sharing!

  10. Awesome!!!Can't wait to try crocheting with wire. Oh and I love your blog. I have you on my Favorites bar so I can go straight to your site. Opal

  11. Really beautiful earrings. I am going to give them a try.
    Thanks for the wonderful tutorial.

  12. What a cute idea! I've made dozens of crocheted sterling silver bracelets, but couldn't figure out how to use the technique in other jewelry. I'm going to have to try these!

  13. These are the most equisite handmade things I have seen. Love hearing about wisconsin!
    Nicola, Uk

  14. These are beautiful and so sweet!

  15. These came out beautiful, and unique, too! But sadly, I think it will be a while before I can try this type of project. :)

  16. Beautiful and amazing! You have so many talents, Mrs. M! Thank you for sharing this in such detail.

  17. Great design and style.looking very beautiful.Thank you so much!This discussion is really very useful

  18. These are beautiful pieces and thanks for the clear instruction.

  19. Thanks to all who left such lovely comments! :)

  20. Mrs. Micawber you are THEEEEEEEEEEE best. I have been looking for a simple tutorial for a nice pair of wire crochet earrings and I have found it here! You never fail! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  21. An easy project with lovely results. Thanks a million!

  22. Gracias. Tienes mas tutoriales. Cariños


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