Learn to Stiffen Crochet Snowflakes

Nov 29, 2012

Holiday gift giving has a way of growing exponentially. I've made a detailed list of parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces, etc. But even as I watch, it is expanding to include coworkers and close friends-and I'm sure many of you can add teachers, employees, and more.

 
Stellar Snowflake by Connie Lee Lynch  

This year I teamed up with Interweave Crochet's Assistant Editor, Sarah Read, to create a blizzard of crochet snowflakes-the perfect quick handmade crocheted gift. The Stellar Snowflake, a new favorite of mine, from Interweave Crochet Accessories 2012, is gorgeous, unique, and has just enough complexity to keep the crochet interesting. Here is Sarah to give you a few tips on stiffening the snowflakes once they are finished.

Stiffening Crochet Snowflakes

The Stellar Snowflakes, by Connie Lee Lynch are saving my holiday craft queue this year! They are the perfect bite-sized handmade project for gifting to friends and relatives without running yourself ragged in the process. The pattern is quick, yet challenging enough to keep you engaged, and the diagram makes it perfectly portable. The only tricky part? How to transform the crocheted squiggle into the beautiful star in the picture.

  Wet, unblocked snowflakes

When I finished my first snowflake, I was a bit daunted by the fact that it didn't look much like a snowflake. A quick survey of the office turned up "jellyfish," "spider," and "neuron" as possible guesses.

To block my squiggles, I soaked them in a bowl of water and no-rinse wool wash for two hours, put a towel over a foam blocking board, and exhausted my pin supply on all of those wee points. If you're planning to make a blizzard's-worth of snowflakes, I highly recommend picking up an extra box or two of pins. The four large ones I made used an entire box by themselves!


 
Pinned snowflakes  

I let the snowflakes dry a bit overnight, and then very carefully removed the pins. I took a square of plastic wrap and pinned that to the towel, placed the snowflake on the plastic, and with a paintbrush, applied some fabric stiffener to each part of the snowflake, being careful to preserve the shape of each point. Once it was dry, I flipped the snowflake and applied stiffener to the other side.

 
  Blocked Stellar Snowflakes

A bit of pretty ribbon threaded through one of the points, et voila! A lovely holiday decoration for someone special on your gift list. They're perfect for tucking into holiday cards or tying to wrapped presents, as well.

Enjoy making your snowflakes! And remember to share the pictures with us in the galleries; we love to see your work!

— Sarah Read

Whip up a blizzard of snowflakes this year as gifts or to decorate your own home. You will also find fabulous hats, shawls, scarves, and more-all of them lovely crochet gift giving ideas. You can purchase the Interweave Crochet Accessories 2012 issue in the Crochet Me Shop or download the magazine to start crocheting today, and don't forget to whip up a beautiful accessory for yourself.

Best wishes,

P.S. Do you have tips for stiffening crochet motifs? 


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Comments

LucyB@2 wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 1:30 PM

I have a fellow crocheter who uses white Elmer,s glue ( not the school glue)  and her projects remain stiff and handle able,too.

andreamaund wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 4:50 PM

My mom has been making crochet snowflakes for years.  She stiffens them with a mixture of sugar and water - I love how the sugar makes the snowflakes sparkle when they're dry.  They look just like real snowflakes!

Toni Rexroat wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 4:54 PM

Andreamaund, that is a great idea for snowflakes! Do you happen to know what ratio she used?

Toni

on Nov 29, 2012 5:58 PM

This special issue of Interweave Crochet Accessories has more than 50 brand-new projects. A festive section is designed especially for the winter holidays, with a tree skirt, garland, snowflakes, a plush dreidel and more. Explore a new-to-you technique

vnred wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 6:23 PM

I've used the liquid (usually a blue thick) starch found in the laundry detergent section of stores. Mix with a bit less water than specified for clothing, amount of water will vary depending on the thickness of material used and degree of stiffness required. Experiment with a small amount of solution and a swatch. This is great with doilies and fine crocheted items. Some items I like a lot of body but still flexible and others with deep ruffling I could almost use as a serving tray. The blue color doesn't affect white items and those with color no fading is present. I've also used the sugar solution as well but if you're in a warmer climate ants love this and may chew the items up to get the sugar.

BryanG wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 7:06 PM

I've been crocheting snowflakes since the mid 1980's. I didn't have any success making them stiff.  So I chose patterns that had large intricately crocheted centers with short points. No starching necessary, The crochet snowflake was self-supporting. It works for me, Marilee G.

on Nov 29, 2012 7:10 PM

I've been crocheting snow flakes for years,  I use a commercial fabric stiffener.  after washing  them I pin them out while still damp on a waxed paper or plastic wrap covered board. and using a sponge applicator apply stiffener.  let dry  over night , and sometimes apply a second time , especially to the points.  at this point I might add a bit of glitter, remove pins and leaving them on the board, let them dry completely before removing. Long process but my family & friends love them, so it's worth it.

RobinBrz wrote
on Nov 29, 2012 8:02 PM

I love thread crochet and agree that stiffening is really worth the time.  I have a blog post that shows you how I do it. I was afraid that it would be messy, but it really is simpler than I thought.

crochetnirvana.weebly.com/.../friday-show-tell-how-i-stiffen-lace-with-glue.html

PS I love the images of your pre-blocked jelly fish and neurons!  I might add amoeba to the list!!

on Nov 29, 2012 8:41 PM

Do this kind of thing in Fiber Artists Northwest!  

Press them first.  Soak in dissolved solvy or the liquid studs Nancy's Notions sells.  Press them again (low heat!) and 'voila'. Perfect snowflakes

on Nov 29, 2012 8:42 PM

Do this kind of thing in Fiber Artists Northwest!  

Press them first.  Soak in dissolved solvy or the liquid studs Nancy's Notions sells.  Press them again (low heat!) and 'voila'. Perfect snowflakes

on Nov 29, 2012 8:43 PM

Should say liquid stuff and use a press cloth

on Nov 29, 2012 8:44 PM

Should say liquid stuff and you should use a press cloth in final press

Re in WA wrote
on Nov 30, 2012 1:06 AM

Cornstarch!   I was doing a lot of stars, ornaments, and mobils about 20 years ago and started using some old boiling starch that my mother-in-law had left in the cupboards, probably from the 1940s.  It was getting low when a friend, who was also doing lace, found us several more box's of it in Chinatown, San Francisco.  When a 3rd friend became interested in what we were doing she called someone at Argo and asked them what the difference was between their laundry starch and food grade starch.  The short answer was "the color of the box"!

You can experiment with the thickness, I usually went about 1/2 strength of what a lemon pie would be.  Have it fairly hot, put in your crochet, and squeeze/work the starch into it well.  Pin and let dry.

I worry about the chemicals in glue abrading the fiber over time, and yes, bugs are attracted to sugar.  I still have some of those early pieces that are still crisp and fresh looking.

BryanG wrote
on Nov 30, 2012 6:15 PM

I would like to add to my comment on 11-29-12.  I wash my snowflakes in water with a drop of dish soap, rinse, pat out points on a bath towel. The next day they are dried and ready-to-go.  Marilee G

krashdragon wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 11:01 AM

These look pretty easy. Way back in prehistoric times, we just mixed up some really thick starch, soaked them in that for a few min, and pinned them to dry. Starch is still sold in grocery stores.

Not sure how "Mary Ellen's Best Press" ...clear starch alternative spray would work.

tisszy wrote
on Dec 3, 2012 9:41 PM

I soak mine in sugar water (quarter sugar to water ratio) - let the sugar dissolve in the water overnight but do cover the bowl with clingfilm to prevent contamination.  After they are thoroughly soaked (about 10 minutes), I then block and allow to dry naturally - the ironing board is wonderful for this.  Doing it this way is brilliant if you use the snowflakes as a 'lid' for a handmade box for chocolates or other foodstuffs.

grem458 wrote
on Jan 9, 2013 5:41 PM

I went snowflake crazy this Christmas and made about 40.  I used the simplest method I could in order to stiffen them. I mixed some Elmer's School Glue with water and "painted" the snowflakes that had been pinned. They are perfect! No soaking, no wringing, no stretching. I LOVE EASY!!

clb_38 wrote
on Nov 18, 2013 9:23 AM

Ah, I love this!! I got so caught up with all the holiday madness last year that I never came back to read this post. It's so exciting (even a year later!) to see those squiggly little messes transformed into snowflakes - and I love all the tips in the comments, too! I'm definitely going to have to try corn starch because it sounds WAY less messy than glue or fabric stiffener, although if I do that again, I'm definitely trying sponging it on. Great ideas!