When I started shaping my own holiday traditions as a young adult, we had a big fat Scotch pine with empty boughs. So, at our first holiday party I began a new tradition. I took a Polaroid shot of each guest and hung it on the tree. By the end of the evening, our tree was bursting with friendly faces, a true gift of friendship. We continued this tradition for a few years, adding a few photos from previous parties, but mostly filling the tree anew.
This year, I thought up a way to give back to friends who stop by to share holiday cheer. I'm making a garland from crocheted friendship bracelets to drape along the rail in the entryway of my home. Visiting friends can unbutton a bracelet to take home. They can wear the bracelet, of course, or they can opt to hang it as an ornament on their tree or mantle. The bracelet —the Fast Friends Bracelet by Toni Rexroat from Crocheted Gifts — is elegant enough to stand on its own, especially worked with its pretty picot-edge option, shown below.
When I floated this idea by my husband, he was immediately on board. "Is it easy enough for me to make?" he asked. Sure it is! (The less-enthusiastic crocheters in the house can do simple chain bracelets, with a simple bow to join them.) Part of our family holiday preparation this year will be an evening of cocoa and cookies, while we crochet links to give away to friends. And, in future years, we can add to our friends' chains, so they can start making their own garlands. Thus a new tradition is born.
Want to forge some of your own links? Here's the pattern to get started.
Fast Friends Bracelet
By Toni Rexroat
Finished Size About 7¼" (18.5 cm) wrist circumference and 1" (2.5 cm) wide.
Thread About 15 yd (14 m) size 10 crochet thread. Shown here: Aunt Lydia's Classic Crochet Thread size 10 (100% mercerized cotton; 350 yd [320
m]/2 oz): aqua#450 or wasabi #397, 1 ball each.
Hook Size 1 (2.75 mm)
steel hook. Adjust hook size if necessary to obtain the correct gauge.
Notions One ¼" (6 mm) button with shank, sewing needle, matching
Gauge 39 sc = 4" (10 cm) in patt.
Notes To inc or dec length
of bracelet, inc or dec beg ch by a multiple of 6. Choose whether to
fasten off bracelet after Rnd 2 for a simpler chain loop bracelet or
complete Rnd 3 for a wider bracelet.
Stitch guide Picot-Ch 3, sl st in 3rd ch from hook.
Row 1: Working in bottom ridge lp of ch, sl st in 12th ch from hook, *ch 5, sk next 5 ch, sl st in bottom ridge lp of next ch; rep from * across-10 ch-sps.
Rnd 2: Turn work 180 degrees and work in unused lps of foundation ch, sl st in next ch, ch 1, sc in same ch, sc in next 4 ch, sl st in next ch, *sc in next 5 ch, sl st in next ch or sl st; rep from * around both sides of Row 1, sl st in first sl st, ch 6 for buttonhole, sl st in same sl st to join.
Rnd 3: (optional) Sl st in next 3 sc, *ch 3, picot (see Stitch Guide), ch 3, sc in next (2 sc, sl st, 2 sc), sl st in next sc*; rep from * to * ending with sl st in last ch of first long side, sl st in next 5 sts, rep from *to * around, sl st in sl st at base of buttonhole to join.
Fasten off and weave in loose ends.
Wet bracelet and pin to desired shape. Sew button to end opposite buttonhole.
The bracelets can be linked together, like construction paper chains, or buttoned end to end, or just tied on. In addition to the chain-link garland, this pattern can be adapted to make one big long garland. The thread called for in this pattern would be super lovely as a garland. But if you want to make it fast, step up the yarn to a worsted or heavier weight. String on some beads or bells first, then chain them on as you crochet.
And if you're in the market for some speedy gift patterns, check out the rest of the projects in Crocheted Gifts. The Organic Indulgence Washcloths by Lisa Naskrent work up quickly and make a great present, wrapped with some homemade soaps. The Berry Baby Hat and Booties by Chloe Nightingale are super sweet and very fast—and the booties look like little elf booties, making them a perfect "gift wrap" for a small present. You'll find other quick presents too, such as the Willow Hat by Jennifer Hagan, Mitts for the Whole Family by Kathryn Merrick, Lace Wristlets by Myra Wood and the Color Chain Scarf by Erica Alexander. And, it's perfectly OK to wrap up yarn and a picture of the project. The delicate and lovely Trinity Lace Shrug by Annie Modesitt is a perfect gift. I've made this shrug and was enjoying wearing it until my daughter discovered it—I haven't seen it since (sometimes gift-giving is spontaneous and inadvertent).
We'd love to hear about how crochet helps shape your holiday traditions—leave a comment and let us know. And whatever your traditions, may you make lasting links this holiday season.