|Ungar-Leech Map bracelet from above.|
Yes, this involves crochet. Please, keep reading.
Why should you try this?
- Bead crochet turns out to be a very pleasant craft. There is quite a bit of attention required in the bead stringing at the beginning. But once all the beads are strung -- correctly, I hope! -- the crocheting is straightforward. In this regard, it reminds me of weaving. There is lots of up front thought and planning and design, but then zen calm in producing.
- It offers lots of opportunity for individual design.
- The tactile quality of the fabric is fantastic!
- These projects give you a great excuse to acquire beads. Shiny! Pretty!
- It is fairly quick. I was able to string a complex bracelet in an evening (about 3 or 4 hours) and crochet it up over a few more evenings. Producing a bracelet a week is an attainable goal if you can commit a couple hours each night. Not quite instant gratification, but close.
- These bracelets would be perfect for holiday gift exchanges and last-minute gifts. You could easily amass a stash of them, ready at a moment's notice.
- While this is somewhat fine work, once the beads are strung the project is transportable if you keep it in a bag so the thread can't tangle. You could definitely work on these at sporting events or in waiting rooms.
- The math is fascinating.
|Ungar-Leech Map bracelet from below. Every color touches the other six.|
Crafting Conundrums lays down a groundwork both for how to design in bead crochet in general, and how to play with some of the geometric peculiarities of the bead crochet torus in particular. In addition to seven-color tori, there are chapters on geometric cross sections, torus knots, Escher designs (i.e. tiling the torus with a single shape), and wallpaper groups. There is also a short chapter on knotted and linked bracelets, but that chapter feels incomplete. Perhaps it will be the seed for a second installment?
For those of us who love math, the book is a fascinating exploration into the stuff I wish I had learned in high school geometry. But even if you don't want to walk in those woods, there is plenty for you. The book contains 94 patterns for bracelets, plus three patterns for transformation necklaces (necklaces that slowly change patterns, imitating some works by M. C. Escher). Elements of the necklaces can be used to create bracelets as well, so you could easily work over 100 different bracelets just from the patterns. If you would rather create your own designs, the book provides accessible geometric explanations as to what will and won't work and how to tell before you string a whole bracelet and start to crochet. Bead crochet graph paper in two sizes is included at the back of the book, but you can also visit the publisher's page to download the .pdf files and print your own. Susan has posted a series of six videos on YouTube to walk you through the process of making a bracelet in case the thorough print tutorials in the book are insufficient. Thus, you can follow the paths Susan and Ellie have trail-blazed, or you can strike out on your own bead crochet adventure!
A note to any programmers out there. If you want to make a kick butt bead crochet bracelet design program for iPad, this book gives you the foundation math. Even a basic grid that allows you to paint beads and have the corresponding bead repeats paint simultaneously would be a huge help and great fun.