When I scheduled the release of this free pattern for Halloween, I had no reason to choose this date other than pure practicality. I love sharing – even fueling – my 5-year-old’s excitement about Halloween and all things spooky. Personally, though, October 31 is just an ordinary day.
But as I was editing tutorial photos earlier this week, something on my desk caught my eye. The pendant I had just photographed ended up atop what we call The Souls binder. And as it often is with memories, this fleeting glance was all that was needed to open up memory floodgates to my childhood. You see, this season holds a special place in my heart not because of costumes and candy, but because of a different tradition: All Souls Day.
Honestly, I had originally no intention of including a personal story about this time of year, but as memories popped up in my mind I found my fingers instinctively typing along. And when I was done, I realized it was something I wanted to share. So read on if you’d like after the pattern for some childhood recollections, a new family tradition, and why I am dedicating this newest addition to my free crochet patterns collection to the memory of my paternal grandmother.
But onto the pattern first.
This beaded karma pendant is such a quick and easy crochet project to take on. I love the challenge of a major crochet adventure (like this one), but there is something utterly satisfying and comforting about being able to set up, start, finish, and clean up a crochet project all within the span of an hour. Yes, friends; you can complete this karma pendant and the crochet chain in an hour. Imagine how many you can make before Christmas. These would be the cutest handmade stocking stuffers!
In this post, I am including complete written instructions and illustrative photos of the main steps.
However, I have created a free PDF with close-up photos of each and every step. You can download this file by clicking here or on the image below.
I hold this free pictorial guide to the same high standard as I do all the patterns I have for sale in my shop here on jakigu.com and on Etsy. It’s not in my nature to simply type patterns in crochet shorthand. I create how-to manuals that leave no questions about a crochet project unanswered. If you could share your thoughts on the overall feel of the booklet including organization and design, as well as your feedback on pattern and pictorial clarity and ease of use, I would certainly appreciate it.
- DMC Cotton Perle Size 8
- 1.25 mm crochet hook
- 45 seed beads, size 15/0
- Sewing needle
Stitches Used (US terms)
- chain stitch
- slip stitch
- single crochet
Instructions – Karma Pendant
String the Beads
String beads onto your DMC Cotton Perle thread. Push the beads out of the way for now. Note: You will most likely not use all of the beads strung.
Wrap the thread around your index finger clockwise 20 times. When done, lay work end over the tail end. You will work Round 1 stitches over this foundation.
Secure the foundation round by working a tight chain stitch.
Crochet as many single crochets into the foundation as needed to go all the way around. Work the stitches evenly and neatly and make sure they are neither too loose nor too tight. Join the last stitch to the first with a slip stitch.
*Slide a bead as close to the last stitch as possible.
Work a chain stitch to secure the bead. Straighten the bead and tighten the stitch.
Work a slip stitch into the next stitch.*
Repeat instructions between stars all the way around.
After securing the last bead with a slip stitch, cut off your thread leaving a 4-in tail. Thread the tail through a needle, and weave the end in.
Trim excess. Ta-da!
Instructions – Chain
Chain as many stitches as needed to create a necklace of desired length. As a closure, consider a simple tie-knot, or a sliding knot. You may also tie a 4 mm glass bead to each chain end.
For a very neat and tight chain, crochet the chain with a finer thread (such as DMC Size 12) and/or with a smaller hook (1 mm).
For a truly uniform look of your finished crochet chain, leave a generous tail (10 inches/25 cm) at both the beginning and the end of your chain. When finished, wet the chain until completely saturated and squeeze out excess water. Tie something relatively heavy (like a pair of scissors) to one tail end. Then, hang the chain by the other tail onto a curtain rod (or somewhere else where the chain can hang freely) to dry completely. Finished chain will have a consistent, braid-like thickness and sheen.
Now that you know how easy making this beaded karma pendant is – who will you make it for?
On traditions, old and new
People in my home country of Slovakia celebrate All Saints Day on November 1, and All Souls Day on November 2. Collectively, we informally refer to these two days as “The Souls.” On these days, it is customary to visit graves of one’s ancestors and commemorate them with flowers and candles. Though I haven’t lived in Slovakia for close to twenty years, I still remember the unmistakable aroma permeating the air around each cemetery in the country. Imagine chrysanthemums and asters mixed with the smell of dry leaves and the scent and warmth of thousands of burning candles in the crisp, foggy autumn air. That is The Souls.
It has always been my favorite holiday. Perhaps it sounds a little gloomy, but to me, this was the only day of the year when the cemetery was not scary and sad. It was filled with light and warmth and it was crawling with people. On All Souls Day, the whole community gathered at the cemetery. And children got to stay out after dark – and more often than not also to play with matches 🙂
To give you an idea, this is how a cemetery looks on All Souls Day in Piestany, a Slovak town where I went to high school (source: pnky.sk, a local weekly).
I also warmly remember how my paternal grandmother and I would walk over to my grandfather’s grave on days leading to All Souls Day to tidy it up. It was going to be visited by close family as well as distant relatives, after all. Not to mention, most neighbors would walk right by. It was a matter of honor and pride to make sure our loved one’s grave looked its best. Grandma and I would bring fresh flowers one day, rake and spade or extra candle holders the other. We’d tidy up his grave together, talking the whole time. Even though grandpa died two years before I was born, stories grandma shared with me on his grave made me feel like I knew him.
Then, on The Souls, my parents and sisters and I would bring flowers and light candles on grandpa’s grave and spend a moment in silence or listening to dad’s memories of grandpa. Then, we’d walk all the way to the back of the cemetery, where the oldest graves were. We’d light candles on graves of some distant relatives’ buried there. From there, we’d meander, as if travelling in time from past into the present through row after row of graves with many names that we, children, recognized, until we’d reach the last row, with some graves so fresh the mound atop them hadn’t settled yet. When I was 12, one of the newest graves in the last row was the grave of my maternal grandmother.
Then we, the children, couldn’t wait to go to the prominent front section of the cemetery where children were buried. For some reason, these tiny graves both excited and mortified us. We had our parents tell us what happened to those children, and we couldn’t get enough of the goose-bump inducing details. This boy died of polio. This girl died in her sleep, and this girl drowned in the lake. We were scared and fascinated at the same time.
The last stop of our annual cemetery tour would take us to a monument near the mortuary by cemetery’s entrance. It was customary to light a candle at the monument for all deceased ancestors buried too far to visit. It was the brightest and the busiest spot at the cemetery, and a place where we often ran into friends.
I always knew I wouldn’t be able to recreate the atmosphere of a Slovak cemetery on All Souls Day here in central Indiana. But I still wanted our son to experience the spirit of this day. I wanted him to know that his roots run deep on two continents. I wanted him to know who his people were. And I also wanted him to be able to talk about death as an indispensable part of life.
So last year, when B was 4, we started a new family tradition.
I created The Souls binder. It was a simple folder with pictures and short biographies of 7 of B’s great-grandparents, all of whom died years before he was born, gracefully composed by my mom and mother-in-law. On the evening of All Souls Day, we turned the lights down inside our house and lit seven candles. One candle for 7 out of 8 of B’s great-grandparents. We all sat down, took out the binder, and for the first time my husband and I introduced B to the people who came before him.
He was little, but patient enough to go through all their pictures and names, curious to hear their relations to him.
It’s All Saints Day tomorrow, and All Souls the day after. Tomorrow night, we’ll bring out The Souls binder again. Like last year, we’ll go over the pictures and names and relations. But B is older, more patient, and more curious. I’m sure there will be questions. And perhaps enough patience to add a little story to each face. Like last year, we’ll light a candle for each of B’s great-grandparents who are no longer with us.
Except tomorrow, we will light not 7 but 8 candles. My paternal grandmother – the one to whom majority of my All Souls Day memories are tied – passed away this summer. In preparation for tomorrow and with heart half heavy with sadness and half lifted with gratitude and profound love for the role she played in my life, I added grandma’s picture into the binder earlier this week. That’s why the binder was on my desk when I absent-mindedly placed the karma pendant onto it. And that’s how this pendant, through grandma’s picture and the smell of the season, triggered the memory of Slovak All Souls Day I simply had to share with you.