Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chain of Circumstance, or C2: A Non-Pattern Pattern

What can you do with less than a skein of beautiful variegated microfiber yarn?

Deborah Norville Serenity Garden yarn

Make a scarf, of course. (Or use in a sundress for a dear wee niece. That was last week's project.)

But a scarf - easier said than done, for me at least.  I tried and tried to come up with a pattern that would do justice to this lovely yarn. No luck - it seemed the scarf muse had deserted me.

The yarn was crying out for a simple, supple and drapey pattern that would make the most of its beautiful long colour changes. But I couldn't come up with ANYTHING.

It really looked best in a simple chain stitch:

Chain stitch...hmmm...light bulb moment!  Couldn't I just chain the yarn and make something out of that?

I could.  And I did.  And I found that you can do all sorts of fun things with a really long chain of yarn.  (I'm not the first one to think of this.  There are some great chunky chain scarves out there.)

So what can you do with it?  You can loop it, twist it, and knot it into a cool yarn necklace:

Or use a yarn-and-button clasp instead of knots:

You can double it up and finger-crochet it into a funky skinny scarf:

You can also finger crochet 4 thicknesses of chain for a chunkier version:

Or crochet the doubled chain (with a really big hook) into the Lover's Knot stitch for a different effect:

The possibilities are endless.  I've worn it about 4 different ways so far, and I keep thinking of new ways to tie it and loop it.

The Non-Pattern Pattern

If you'd like to try something similar, be sure to choose a nice drapey yarn.  You can use any hook that gives you a not-too-loose, not-too-tight chain.

Here's how I made mine.  Using a size G hook, I chained through one entire colourway of my yarn, which gave me a purple-red-turquoise-green-yellow-orange-green-turquoise-red-purple chain about 38 - 40 feet long.

And there it was: a gorgeous little pile of yarny potential, just waiting to be transformed into something fabulous:

I decided to add some beads to the chain ends.  That way, if I did something with the single chain, I'd have decorative ends.

Here's how I did the beaded ends (you can click on the picture to make it larger):

It's pretty self-explanatory.  And I can cut the beads off later
if I decide I don't want them.

Now for the really fun part!

A note of warning:  This long chain can tangle just like yarn does.  But if you handle it gently, most of your tangles will shake right out.

For the twisted and knotted versions, you'll need to fold or loop your yarn into even sections. But how do you get even loops out of a 40-or-so-foot chain of yarn?

First I tied the ends together in an overhand knot, which gave me one giant loop to start with.  I guesstimated where the midpoint was, then put that end over a chair knob and backed away until the yarn was pulled taut, but not too stretched out.  (I kept my finger in the knotted end.)  Then I walked towards the chair, looped the knotted end over the knob, and backed away again, keeping my finger in between the long loops until it was pulled taut again.  Repeat as necessary until yarn is evenly looped.

(You could also ask a friend or loved one to help you.  It's very similar to folding sheets.)

For this effect, I tied a simple overhand knot at the beaded end, and made a slip knot at the other end.  The beaded end became a toggle, and the other end was the loop for the toggle.  Then I tied a big loose knot in the middle, and gently twisted the chains.

For the finger-crocheted version, I kept the chain in a giant loop, so I could work with a double chain strand.  Starting at the beaded end, I made a slip knot, then finger-crocheted until I got to the other end. (This is also a handy way of finding the midpoint of the loop. The other end is the midpoint. I hope that makes sense.)

This gave me a fun skinny scarf to play with.  For a chunkier texture, I folded the giant loop in half (so it was 4 chains thick) and finger-crocheted that.  It made a very soft yarn necklace:

And here's the Lover's Knot version.  Using the giant loop again (working with a double chain), I made a slip knot at the beaded end.  Then I used a really large crochet hook (I think it's size P but it's not marked), and crocheted the Lover's Knot stitch with the doubled chain.  You can click on this picture to make it bigger.  Instructions are below the picture.

To make the Lover's Knot stitch:  draw up a long loop.  Pull the working yarn (or in this case, chains) through the long loop, holding the working yarn back and away from the long loop with your middle finger.  Put your hook between the long loop and the working yarn, yarn over, and pull through.  Now you should have 2 loops on your hook.  Yarn over and pull through both loops on hook.  (This is like making a single crochet).  Chain 1, and pull up the loop on your hook to make the next long loop.  Repeat steps.

The Lover's Knot stitch is very customizable:  you can make your loops as long or short as you like.

Here's another fun way to wear the Lover's Knot skinny scarf:
Tie the ends in a series of square knots to make a Y-shaped effect.

These are just some suggestions to get you started.  You can make your starting chain even longer, and have more chain "yarn" to play with.  It's up to you.

I love the fact that I can keep changing this scarf around.  If I want to, I can remake it every time I wear it. I'm also hoping to come up with a large pendant to hang from the twisted version.

So what comes next?  Well, I've frogged the Lover's Knot version, untied the ends of my giant loop, and wound my chain into a ball of "yarn".  I'm going to see what I can do with the single chain.  Stay tuned for further developments.

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


  1. What a versatile idea! I love the different looks! It's like having a sextuplet necklace!

  2. It's a very pretty necklace - I just need to learn to crochet!

    Pomona x

  3. I did something similar with some ribbon yarn. It's heavier of course. I really like all your ideas on how to wear it/arrange it! I just looped mine. Here's a link to some not so great pictures if you'd like to see. Very bottom of the post.

    Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thanks Knitrageous! I love those really long looped scarves but they just don't suit my build. I tend to wear my scarves closer to the neck.

  5. This is really pretty. About how long would you say each chain length is.

  6. Thanks, DaiseyB! It was just one long chain (of multi-colour yarn) about 38-40 feet long. If I had it to do over again, I'd make it even longer so as to have more to play with.

  7. Beauty!.... For the twisted version, how do you keep it from untwisting? Thanks!

  8. Beauty!.... For the twisted version, how do you keep it from untwisting? Thanks!

  9. Beauty!.... For the twisted version, how do you keep it from untwisting? Thanks!

  10. Beauty!.... For the twisted version, how do you keep it from untwisting? Thanks!

  11. Oh lady , you are evil. In a really good way. Now I am going to have to chain some scarves. I see lots of chains in my furture

  12. So is this various pieces of leftover yarn that you've used and then put together or was this a thing of yarn that just happened to have all these pretty colors in it??

    1. It was one yarn - Deborah Norville Serenity Garden Yarn - the colourway was called (I think) Gems. It's a very pretty, very drapey yarn. I got mine at JoAnn Fabrics and Crafts. :)

  13. So is this various pieces of leftover yarn that you've used and then put together or was this a thing of yarn that just happened to have all these pretty colors in it??

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome pattern/idea. Now I know what to do with that single skein of sparkly multicolor yarn I just HAD to buy at the yarn store!


I love comments! Speak on....