Christmas Craft: Bead and Pipe Cleaner Ornaments

Christmas ornaments made from ordinary pipe cleaners and inexpensive acrylic beads are very pretty and easy to make.  They look quite impressive yet are easy enough for small children to make.  This is one Christmas craft idea to use again and again.  In order to make the ornaments, you need pipe cleaners in desired colours and acrylic beads.  Two types of beads are particularly effective when strung on pipe cleaners.

One type are called sunburst beads, but are also known as paddlewheel beads, snowflake beads, or starburst beads.  These beads have six faceted paddles spaced equally around a centre that contains the hole for stringing.  When several of these sunburst beads are strung consecutively, they fit against each other in an interlocking pattern. The other type of bead is called the tri bead or propeller bead.  It has three rounded bumps arranged around the stringing hole.  Like the sunburst beads, the tri beads interlock when strung consecutively.  For the most sparkly and attractive Christmas ornaments, get tri beads and/or sunburst beads in translucent colours of red, green, and clear.  The tri beads can also be found in metallic gold and silver which can also be used in this Christmas craft.

Pipe cleaners can be found in silver and gold tinsel as well as chenille of all colours.  For the Christmas craft, the best colours to use are the metallic and Christmas colours.  The beads cover the pipe cleaners, but the ends will need to be twisted together and made into hangers, so they will show.

1. Bend up the end of the pipe cleaner so the beads don’t fall off.  The pipe cleaner works like a needle, making a needle unnecessary.

2. When the beads are strung on the pipe cleaners, they can be bent into different Christmas shapes.  For instance, string red and clear beads alternately, then bend down one end of the pipe cleaner for a candy cane shape.  Or alternate red and green beads and form a circle for a wreath.  Use red pipe cleaner to form a small bow to decorate the wreath.

3.  Form a hanger for the Christmas craft or simply slip the circle over a branch of the tree.

If you experiment with clear beads and silver pipe cleaners, you can make some beautiful snowflake or star ornaments.  Snowflake designs can be twisted of silver pipe cleaner only, without the beads for a simple but pretty decoration.

Bead and pipe cleaner ornaments are a Christmas craft you will find yourself using every year.  Children and their parents will both appreciate this simple yet pretty Christmas craft.

How to understand basics of crochet – tips from Gran

When you start to crochet it is a must to learn the basics which include, how to handle the hook, work jointly, chain stitch, slip knot, and crochet a single row. From there you can build on your skills as you would your project.

Before you learn any of that, you need to understand the crochet language used in most patterned instructions. Patterns use abbreviations of the terms and stitches used to facilitate the process – a bit like decifering code. A good pattern will include a minimum of one picture and a key to understand special abbreviations, more advanced and intricite pieces may have special abbreviations to indicate a specific stitch process.

An example of basic terms:

beg = Beginning

bet  =  Between

bk lp = Back loop

ch = chain

ch-  = previous chain

cont = Continue

dc = double crochet

dec = decreasing

dtr = double/triple crochet

ft lp = Front loop

hdc = half-double crochet

inc = Increasing

lp = loops

How to hook: To hold your hook you would start with a pencil. The hook may have a resting finger, which you can locate your thumbs to gain control.

How to work in union: Once you have a hold on your hook, weave the thread/yarn so that your, left fingers have control, and can be used to apply pressure. Once you begin your project – aka ‘work’ – you want to use your thumb and centre left finger to press the stitches.

How to slip knot: You want to form a shape like a pretzel by looping your yarn about, allow the loose ends to drop, fallen behind your loop. Pull the ends of your yarn without pulling too tight. This can also be achieved by looping an end around two fingers in a figure eight and slipping  one loop inside the other.

How to chain stitch:On your hook position a slipknot and use your hands, i.e. centre left finger and the thumb to hold the yarn in place. Wrap your yarn first up and then over your hook starting at the back and moving to the front. You will need to familiarize your self with this procedure, since it is a basic crocheting technique known as yoh = yarn over hook or Yarn over Yo sometimes referred to as “the yo”.

Now pull the yarn using your hook bringing it through the lp (loop). When you yarn over Yo and combine it with lp, it forms a ch (Chain). Continue until the stitches that form a chain is even. Near your work area, hold your chain and continue twisting whilst avoiding counting the loops on your hook. Concentrate instead on even motions and strokes once you have the stitches will flow easily.

How to crochet a single line: Beneath your crown loops – the row of chain stitches –  insert your hook at the second chain away from your hook and begin Yarn over Yo crocheting. You should continue to stitch between the two loops. Continue the yarn over process and pull your yarn through the chain to make two loops on your hook. Continue the Yo process again and pull the yarn through the other two loops.

Watch this video to get a visualised idea of what you are doing with your fingers.

Once you complete your hook, work, slipknots, chain stitch, single line, etc, you will need to learn how to double crochet, half-double, triple; slip stitch, back loop, popcorn stitch, etc. Behind the steps is the process of working back loops, chain space, stitches between, and about the post.

How to double stitch: To double crochet you will need to perform the yarn over Yo steps and then insert your hook into the third chain away from the Yo and hook. Next, pull your yarn so that it goes through your chain and three loops at the hook. Continue the Yarn over steps and pull the yarn through the next two loops. Again, continue the Yarn over and pull the yarn through the remaining two loops.

How to half double: Conduct the yarn over steps and insert your hook so that it goes into the second chain away from your hook. Yarn over and string your yarn through the third loops.

How to triple crochet: Yarn over a couple of times and insert your hook so that it goes into the fourth chain away from the hook. Yarn over and stretch your yarn through the chain and the fourth loop at your hook. Yarn over, stretch the yarn through the second loops at the hook, and finish your three time steps.