June 12 Finished Object Friday

Button Necklace, 24"
Mum's Button Jar Necklace
Pattern Inspiration: Crochet Button Necklace or Wristwrap by Ashlee Prisbey
Yarn: Crochet Thread, found at a yard sale, no label. Crochet hook, 12.

Mum's Button Jar Necklace
There's always some story behind what inspires me. This time it is my mum. I visit with my mum and dad most weekends. They live in Southern Maine and I enjoy the ride north on the bus, both for the uninterrupted knitting time it affords me and the scenery watching. I have been making this trip 2-3 times a month since last August and I have watched foliage, snow storms, feet upon feet of snow as they increased and then, slowly, decreased. I recently watched along the highway as I saw clusters of Forget Me Nots along the embankments. They looked like a dusting of snow on the growing greenery.

Anyway, I digress.... the story behind the necklace is buttons. My mum has jars and jars of buttons, and we are not sure how she came to have so many. One guess is she inherited them from my Nana's house when they had to move her from her home to an assisted living facility. The other thought is my mum found them during her shopping forays in Goodwill or Salvation Army. My mom was an astute and dedicated shopper in her day, no sale rack or back shelf was beneath her focused attention.

Mum sorting through her buttons, October 2014.
Nowadays, my mum does not shop, but we often talk of her finds as we sit in the sun on her patio. Last fall, I took photos of her sorting through the treasures of old buttons. Across the table she spread them, a pile of old peacoat buttons with an anchor etched in, a cluster of fabric covered ones, arrays of wood, leather, brass, mother of purl, and plain old black and white. Buttons have the power to hypnotize and calm, in the sound they make as you sift through the box, the glittering colors as the sun flickers from overhead, and the memories they uncover. We found some old pink pearl buttons from a bathrobe I cherished as a kid, there are three beautiful brass crown buttons from some unknown garment.

Pile of buttons....
I read the pattern in the link and used some of her suggestions. Here is how I made this three strand necklace.

  1. First, I sorted, with mum's help, the buttons into a size small enough to fit into my ring. I used my silver ring as a way to help her figure out which would be the right size. If it fit inside the circumference of the ring, we put it into a pile. 
  2. Then I chose a thread on which I strung the buttons. I kept the string attached to the cone as I threaded it through one of the button holes. I used quite a few buttons, probably 60-70. 
  3. I then chose a small crochet hook, size 12, and some doily weight cotton thread in a pale aqua color. 
  4. Holding both threads together, I chained about three inches as a base for the closure.
  5. Still holding the threads together, I slid one button up close to the hook and made a chain with enough tension to keep it close to the chain. I made 5 stitches and repeated picking up the next button. 
  6. I found I liked a distance of 4-5 stitches best to space between buttons.  
  7. I made my necklace about 24" in length, but you are welcome to customize it to your liking.
  8. Depending on how fancy you are, you could attach a clasp, just tie a knot, do as I did and make a base for the back of the neck. I did this by slipping the crochet hook into the stitches made in the 3" base, connecting the two ends with a slip stitch. It looked a tad messy, so I then creating a more finished edge by looping the thread over the base and then hooking through the bottom. 
  • Thread: I made my necklace with what I had on hand. I am looking for other shades of the cotton doily thread. I plan to use either olive green thread with horn colored buttons or black thread with red and navy buttons. If you look at the designer's blog page, you will see her bracelets. They are just a necklace wrapped around the wrist.
  • Hook size: experiment and see how you like the dimensions you get with the finer weight yarns you have on hand. I was given all of the doily cotton thread and the tiny hooks by my sister Steph who found this bag of treasures at a yard sale.
  • Buttons: do you have a button jar? Perhaps you frequent yard sales and Goodwill, keep your eyes open for a supply or... you could go to a craft store and buy them by the bag. A.C. Moore has them in color story packs, it will save you the sifting. But if you have a button jar, dump it out some rainy day and see what stories you find.
  • Beads: this is a good way to use up any beads you might have on hand. I would suggest you use the thinner weight threads if you have small beads. 

A close up shot of the closure.
I promise to upload a Ravelry pattern for this, I need to use proper crochet terms and get the actual hook size using today's standard. Leave me a comment and your Ravelry name if you need help. You can also leave a comment about your button collection. Thanks!


Andria said…
Love! My daughter has a button necklace we bought at a charity shop when we lived in Oz. I think I love it more than she does. Yours is, of course, extra special using your Mums buttons. Ive just cottoned on to the idea of cutting buttons off things when Im done with them. What can I say, better late than never!
What a great project and such fantastic memories you have built....my mom kept her buttons in a bright blue tin with sunflowers on it.....I loved playing with them.....there is a wonderful children's book The Memory String by Eve Bunting that plays along these ideas....I have my own collections now....my mom is in Florida...and I don't know what happened to the button tin...

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