I just discovered a new technique for making necklaces. The link has a tutorial, so I won't go into many details here. It's basically a simple crochet chain, with a lot of beads strung on and worked into the stitches. The hardest part is judging how many beads to start with, since you have to thread them all onto the string before you start. A decent handful is a good start, and I would recommend stringing on more beads than you need, and measuring the finished length as you go. The first one I made was about 9 ft long, which was perfect for a thick princess-length necklace (looping it four times so I got eight strands). The second one (which I thought used the same amount of beads) ended up being 15 ft long, so I looped it five times, and it still ended up being a slightly longer necklace. I could have stopped sooner if I had been measuring as I went and just tied it off without using all the beads.
I used heavy hand-quilting thread instead of crochet thread, since it's what I had on hand, but I think it's only a little thinner and just as sturdy.
I also picked my assortment of beads according to color. For this one it was mostly bright teals, greens, and pinks, with some metallic beads thrown in. It's good to have an assortment of sizes - the smaller seed beads add color and substance without being too heavy or overwhelming. There also is a bit of an upper size limit - too big and the bead will just dangle off the chain awkwardly and drag everything down.
These beads were very brightly colored (and a little obnoxious) which is why I used them for my first try - I figured if it turned out not-so-great, I wouldn't mind since I would have a hard time using the beads for other things anyway. But once you add the black thread in, it really tones down the colors! I was amazed at how much lovelier it was with black to balance the vibrant colors.
The loopy crocheted chain with all the sparkly beads caught up in it makes me think of fishing nets and sunken treasures.
For my second necklace, I went a lot darker with the beads. I picked a lot of darker teals, stormy blues and purples, greys, and copper-colored seed beads for some sparkle. With the black thread, the whole necklace got even darker, which makes the copper bits stand out even more. I really love how this one turned out.
These beads are really wonderful. They're like tiny faceted easter eggs, with a metallic iridescent shine that lets them work with almost any color scheme (I used them in both necklaces)
You can, of course, make them whatever length you want (or have beads for), and loop them several times or only a couple. I like the way they look with lots of strands (they look more sea-flotsam that way). So far I've just added a couple links and a clasp to finish them, but I think they could be interesting as a longer necklace with a length of chain up around the neck.
When I fastened off the ends, I made sure to loop the jumpring through a stitch on each chain, rather than the whole chain. That ensures that they won't go sliding around and getting one loop longer than another.
This is a great way to use up extra beads - the leftover ones from other projects, or the ones you bought on sale at the store because they were just so pretty but couldn't figure out what to do with them. I like working with a general color scheme, but since the beads are all jumbled together with the black thread, it's a lot more forgiving than other styles of jewelry. You can have several different shades of blue that might clash a little but you won't notice once they're in the necklace.
The next one I'm working on is teal-y blues and greens with silver and a little bit of orange!