Braided Crystal Bracelet

by Theresa Olin

This bracelet uses the same cross-needle weave technique as my Crystal Flower Choker, with a slightly more complicated pattern. (If you find yourself having trouble with this design, you may wish to try the flower pattern first as practice with the cross-needle weave technique.) Here, three crystal colors are combined to create a braided look, as if three ribbons had been woven together. In the example (designed for a friend's bridesmaids to wear at her wedding), I used three shades of green for a subtle fluctuation of color. Using contrasting colors would give a more striking effect, allowing the ribbons of color to stand out more distinctly.

The materials given are for a bracelet of 6", not including the clasp. The length can be adjusted easily, since there are no pre-determined "units" of the pattern (as there are in the flower pattern). Keep in mind that a different woven length will require a different amount of crystals and beading wire. (For example, a choker of 12" will take about twice the materials.) You can also add an extender chain to make the piece adjustable.

Materials
4mm Swarovski crystal bicones #5301: 52 color A
52 color B
52 color C
42 in. 0.014" SoftFlex or other beading wire
2x2mm crimp tube(s)
2 soldered closed jump rings or split rings
2+ open jump rings
clasp

The pattern pictures use light blue for color A, red for color B, and dark blue for color C. In a black-and-white printout, the lightest gray is color A, middle gray is color B, and the darkest gray is color C.

Procedure

1. Cut 42 in. of beading wire. String a closed jump ring or split ring and position it in the middle of the wire.

2. String 2 A-color crystals on one end of the wire. On the other end, string 1 C-color crystal and 2 B-color crystals. Pass the first wire end through the second B-color crystal in the opposite direction and pull the wire ends taut to make the first 5-crystal loop. The jump ring should be directly across from the crystal you crossed through, and the two wire "tails" should be of equal length.

3. For simplicity's sake, from now on I'll refer to the side of the weave that has the two A-color crystals as the "top," to correspond to the layout of the diagrams.

On the wire end coming out on the top side, string 2 B-color crystals. This will continue the "ribbon" of B-color crystals you started in the previous step.

On the other wire end, string 1 A-color crystal and 2 C-color crystals. Cross through the second C-color crystal like you did in the previous step. This loop, and each subsequent loop, will have 6 crystals in it.

4. Use the following pattern to continue cross-needle weave. The first fancy X marks the point where we ended after step 3. When you get to the point marked with the second X, go back to the first X and start the weaving pattern over. Continue until the length is 1/4" short of the desired woven length.

* Always add two crystals of the same color to the "top" side. If you follow the "ribbons" like you did with the B-color crystals in the last step, it will be easier to make sure you're putting the correct colors on the correct wire end.

* Remember to subtract the length of the clasp from the desired total length to get the woven length.

5. Finish the end with a 5-crystal loop and a closed jump ring or split ring, similar to the first loop you wove. The crystals here must be added carefully to maintain the continuity of the ribbons. Look at the last loop you wove, and determine the color of the two crystals on the "top" side. Then use one of the following diagrams to string the crystals (and ring) for the final loop onto the wire coming out on that side. (I'll call that wire end 1, and the other wire end 2.)

"Top" Crystal Color: A B C
 

6. Cross wire end 2 through the last crystal strung, and pull the loop taut. Then pass wire end 1 through the next crystal in the weave (woven just before step 5).

A B C

7. For each loop in the second row, you’ll be adding crystals with one wire end, and passing the other end through two crystals from the first row. For the first loop, string 4 crystals onto wire end 2, following the sequence in the appropriate diagram. (The new crystals are marked with a thick black border.) Then cross wire end 1 through the last crystal.

A B C

8. To start the second loop, pass wire end 2 through two crystals from the first woven row.

A B C

9. In the diagrams above, see the arrow pointing to one crystal? That's the color of the next 3 crystals you'll add. Until you reach the other end of the piece, that's the rule: add 3 crystals of the same color as the next first-row crystal (the one you'll have to weave the wire end through after you do the cross). You can see that pattern in the last three crystals you just added.

So: string 3 crystals of that color onto wire end 1. Cross wire end 2 through the last crystal. Then you're set to begin the next loop by weaving wire end 1 through the next two crystals from the first row.

10. Continue that process for the rest of the second row, each time passing one wire end through two crystals from the first row and adding 3 crystals with the other wire end.

Here's a guide. The crystals with a thick black border are the ones that will show what color to use. You should be able to see the ribbons forming, and trace their over-under "braided" pattern. (Hint: In this diagram, the red "ribbon" will always pass under the dark blue, and over the light blue.)

11. Finish the second row as shown, crossing the wire ends through one or two crimp tubes. Crimp the tube(s).

12. Weave the wire end marked 1 through the two side crystals and cut the excess. Cut the end marked 2 close to the crimp. (Note: These ends don't have to correspond to the ends labeled 1 and 2 in previous steps. These designations are just for this step.)

13. Use open jump rings to connect the clasp and/or extender chain to the closed jump rings on the ends of the choker.

Notes

* Try using fire-polished beads, round glass beads, cat's eye beads, or anything else you can think of for different effects.

* You’re welcome to give away or sell non-mass-produced quantities of pieces made with these instructions, but please give me credit for the design. It will make me happy and bring you good karma. J

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Theresa Olin, 2004-2009