How to Do Viking Knit Jewelry
Viking knit jewelry is formed by weaving and stretching metal wire to form a textured chain. Despite the name, this wire jewelry technique is not actually knitting; it's weaving, also known as trichinopoly chain-work. The final woven pattern does resemble knitted stockinette stitch. Viking knitting is not a simple wire jewelry technique, but with a little practice, even novice jewelry-makers can create delicate and dimensional chains that are ideal for bracelets and sculptural necklaces.
Things You'll Need
- 20-gauge copper wire
- 24-gauge silver wire
- Wire cutters
- Plastic card
- 1/4-inch dowel
- Tapestry needle
- Needle-nose pliers
- Flat-nose pliers
- 2 end cones
- Necklace clasp
Cut a length of 20-gauge copper wire that measures about 22 inches in length and a piece of silver knitting wire that measures about 18 inches long. Wrap the copper wire around a plastic card, such as a gift card, five times then turn and wrap the long end of the wire along the height of the card.
Slide the wire off the card, gather the wraps into a bundle and coil the end of the knitting wire around the base of the wraps.
Fold back the gathered wire wraps at the base of the coil; you should have five narrow loops. Adjust the loops so they sit equidistant from one another and form a five-point star.
Draw a five-point asterisk on the base of a 1/4-inch wooden dowel. Use a ruler to help you extend each line from the base of the dowel up its sides. These lines will help you keep your stitches even.
Press the center of the wire star against the base of the dowel and match each loop with one of the lines. Press the wire loops flat against the sides of the dowel, fold up the knitting wire so it runs along the side of one of the loops, and wrap a piece of tape around the dowel and the top of the loops to secure everything in place.
Bring the end of the knitting wire down and feed it through the back of the loop to its left. Pull the wire toward the right, crossing over the length of knitting wire resting beside the loop to the right loops. Tug at the wire to form a small loop anchored into the left-hand loop.
Feed the knitting wire through the back of the next loop to the left and create a second loop in the same manner as the first. Continue working counter clockwise around the dowel until you've anchored a new loop to each of the five base loops.
Slide a needle under each of the loops and wiggle it to even out the space between the loops and loosen them slightly, then work the next row of Viking knitting in the same manner as you worked the first, attaching the new row to the one just above it. Weave your knitting wire behind each of the previous row's loop, working from left to right.
Continue weaving rows of loops until your chain measures 80 percent of the total desired length. Leave a tail of at least 6 inches at the end of your Viking knit chain and remove it from the dowel.
Pull the finished chain through a drawplate, a piece of equipment that has holes that are successively smaller in diameter. Begin with the smallest hole the chain can fit through and continue drawing it through smaller and smaller holes. The chain's stitches will condense and stretch out as you work, making the chain soft and pliable.
Cut off the waste wire base with a pair of jewelry wire cutters. Use a needle to push loose ends toward the inside of the chain, leaving just one wire end sticking from either side of the chain.
Clip two pieces of knitting wire that measure about 3 inches in length. Fold each one into a "u" shape with one long end and a short end that's just slightly shorter than the length of your end cone. Insert the long end of one "u" shape into one end of the chain. Squeeze the U-shape together, leaving a tiny loop at the top and then use your pliers to squeeze the chain closed around the u-shaped wire. Repeat for the other end of the wire.
Slide an end cone onto either side of the chain; the loop at the ends of the "u" shapes should stick up slightly from the narrow ends of the cones. Use the needle nose pliers to attach a clasp to the tiny loops.
- If you need to join a new piece of wire in order to make a chain long enough to suit your preferences, cut a 16-inch length of knitting wire and bend a tiny hook into one end with a pair of needle-nose pliers. Clip off the end of the previous knitting wire and weave the straight end of the new knitting wire behind the last loop you worked. As you pull it through, catch the hooked end on the wire at the back part of the loop. Keep the working wire to the back of the previous wire as you work, then pass over the end of the previous wire when you begin the next stitch.
- Make your own drawplate by drilling various size holes in a block of wood.
- Don't pull some loops tighter than others or the chain will not be consistent, even after using a drawplate.
- wire and beads image by nix pix from Fotolia.com