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Stories abound concerning the origins of Viking Knit. Woven silver wire chains were used to decorate clothing of the Vikings and bits of this type of silverwork have been recovered from many different archeological sites throughout Scandinavia, thus the name. There is also a possibility that since silver is a precious metal, the ornamentation could have served a purpose as currency. Imagine “wearing your bank account” on your clothing and snipping off sections as you needed them! The first part of this tutorial gives you basic Viking Knit directions. The second part gives directions for making coiled end caps in case you can not them. The third part of this tutorial gives directions for making a basic bracelet or necklace. Read through all three sections before you start. You will then have a better understanding of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
Materials: 22 gauge dead soft round wire 24 gauge dead soft round wire Note: As you become more accomplished, you will want to use a finer gauge wire. Each wire has different weaving nuances which you will understand as you use them. Some are harder to work in this technique than Directions: Prepare the dowel:
others. For that reason, 24 gauge round wire is good to start with. Tools: 11-12” long 3/8” dowel Flush cutter T-pin Rubber band Drawplate
Step 1: Most dowels come in 3-4 foot lengths. Cut a 11-12:” piece of 3/8” dowel and sand the ends so they are slightly rounded. Center the dowel end on the circle divided into 5 sections. You can do a 6 sectioned knit for your next project, but to begin with, a 5 section mandrel is appropriate. Mark the sections in pencil.
Step 2: Hold the dowel stable on a flat surface. Hold a pencil stable on the surface with the pencil lead on one of the lines. Slide the pencil across the flat surface making a line parallel to the surface the dowel is resting on. Repeat with the other marks. Hint: If you make a mistake, using pencil allows you to erase it and start over. Prepare the dowel: This step is not necessary but the lines do help beginners to keep the knit ribs straight.
Step 3: A credit card or drivers license can be used for this step. Hint: The next time you get one of those fake plastic credit cards in the mail, keep it with your wire supplies to use when making Viking Knit. The flower you will be making in the next steps can be reused several times before you feel you need to make a new one. The size wire you use here can be the same size as the knit wire but one size larger seems to work best. Working from the spool, wrap the 22 gauge round wire around the credit card five times. Carefully slide the wire wraps off the card. Wrap the wire from the spool four times around all the wires about ½” in from one end. Trim the excess wires even with the looped ends.
Step 4: petals.
Spread the long loops out to form a flower with five
Step 5: Place the flower on top of the dowel and pull the petals down. Press the petals to the dowel. Secure the flower petals in place tightly with a rubber band.
Step 6: Make sure that the lower loops of the flower petals are even all the way around the dowel. To do this, you may need to use your chain nose pliers to bend the wires above the dowel. After the petals are even, center each petal on a line.
Step 7: Use the tips of your flat nose pliers to slightly bend up the lower 1/8” of each petal. This will make weaving the first row easier. When this is done, push the rubber band down closer to the lower ends of the flower.
Note: The rubber band will not keep the petals tightly in place but it is a tremendous help. You could use tape, but this will not keep the petals tightly in place either and it is more difficult to remove than the rubber band. After you have made a few Viking Knit items, you will find the first row (in the next steps) much easier to do.
Step 8: Single Knit: When you first learn the Viking Knit technique, it is best to do the single knit. When you have mastered this, you can go on to double, or even triple knit. Steps 15-16 shows how to do a Double Knit. Also, when you first being, it is best to use shorter pieces of wire because they will kink less and are easier to use. When you become more accomplished, you may find that you will use 7, 8, or even 9 foot sections. For the purposes of this tutorial, you will be using three 3 foot sections of 24 gauge wire to make the Viking Knit chain which you will then make into a bracelet. The single knit will draw down to approximately twice the original length. The Viking Knit “stitch” is almost like sewing. Thread the wire through a flower petal from the outside to the inside, from the right to the left. Pull the wire through until there is about 1” of wire tail left. Pull the wire down on both sides of the loop.
Step 9: Holding the short wire tail down to the dowel with your left hand, pull the long wire down and over the top of the tail wire and to the right.
Step 10: Hold the crossed over loop stitch created in Step 9 down with your thumb. Move to the loop to the right of that stitch and thread the wire through a flower petal from the outside to the inside, from the right to the left. Pull the wire to the left and then down.
Wire Hints: When pulling the long wire through a loop, you may end up with tangle wires. Be aware of this before it causes a problem. If the wires twist over each other, just twist them back (photo 1 and 2). If you did not catch the crossed wires in time, you may end up with a tight kink in the wire (photo 3). It is imperative that you “back the kink out” or unbend the wire (photo 4). Do not try to pull it straight or the kink will just get tighter. When you have knit 1/3 of the way down the dowel, you will need to push the knit chain up a few inches to make it easier to finish.
Step 11: Hold the new stitch down with your thumb. Pull the wire to the right. Repeat Step 10 and the beginning of this step until you reach the first stitch you did. Try to keep the tips of the petals on the lines. This first row will not be very neat, but do not worry.
Step 12: For the next row, you will stitch behind the “X” formed at the lower end of each loop in the previous row. If you can not slide the wire under the crossed wires, you may need to use the T-pin to lift them up. Each stitch is done in the same manner as the first row- while holding the previous stitch down, stitch from right to left, pull the wire down and then to the right. Do not worry about the beginning wire tail. Just move it out of the way between the lines.
Step 13: Continue to stitch around the dowel. When you first start, your stitches will not be even. Do not worry. The drawplate takes care of all inconsistencies. You will find that by the time you are done with the second 3 foot length of wire, there will be a rhythm to your stitches. If you find that one of your knit ribs is moving away from the line, use the T-pin to bend it back into place.
Step 14: When you have 1½”-2” of wire left, it is time to attach a new wire. There are several ways to do this . Each wire artisan has their favorite method. Two will be shown here. Using another 3 foot section of wire, move on to the next crossed loop and make another stitch, pulling the wire through until the wire tail is the same length as the wire you had left on the previous stitch. You will notice that the new stitch is loose. Moving around the dowel, make another stitch or two to stabilize the wire. At this point, you can twist the wire tails tightly together until the wire “swag” between the crossed wi re stitches is similar in size to the other “swags” you have been making between stitches. Trim the twisted wire tail to 3/8” in length.
Continue around the dowel. When you reach the connected wires, pull the wire over them and continue around the dowel, always going over the twisted wires.
For the other method, pull the wire tails down onto the line. Trim the tails to ¾”. When making a stitch, slide the long wire under the tail, make the stitch under the crossed wires, and then pull the wire over the tail. Continue around the dowel in the manner, going under and over the wire tail, encapsulating it, when you make a stitch, until there is no more tail. You will be doing this with both wire tails each time you add a new wire. Step 15: Double Knit: If you would like to make a more dense, less airy chain, you can do a double instead of a single knit. To do this, instead of going up to the previous row, go up two rows and stitch under the crossed over wires. Constructing the stitch is the same, just two rows up.
Step 16: After completing one round, you still go up two rows to make the next stitch. Continue in this manner until you have reached the desired length. A double knit does not draw down to double length, but just a little over 1.5 times the original length.
Step 17: Remove the knit from the dowel. You may have to grasp the knit on the dowel with your hand, slightly twist it back and forth, and “worry” it up and off the dowel. Remove the rubber band. Use flat nosed pliers to flatten the bent portions of the flower.
Step 18: Push the flower section through the largest hole the chain will fit through. Pull the petal section and chain through the hole. Do this twice in each successive hole until the chain is the desired size. You will notice that any imperfections in the chain are no longer noticeable. You will also find that the chain will bend more easily in one direction than another. Keep this in mind when constructing your bracelet.
Step 19: Measure up from the finished end and cut the length you need. If you want to reuse the flower constructed in Steps 3-4, cut the wires just below the petal tips. You will need to remove small wire bits from both the flower and the chain.
Coiled End Caps
Judy Larson Not having end caps to finish a project should not stop you. Try these versatile and easy to make end caps.
Materials: 24 gauge dead soft round wire 20 gauge dead soft round wire Hint: Work from the wire spool because the sizes of mandrel you use makes a difference in the amount of wire you need for the end cap. Directions:
Tools: Flat and round nose pliers Soft jaw pliers Flush cutter 000, 00, or 0 knitting needle Mandrel a bit smaller than the diameter of the Viking Knit Chain
Step 1: Using 24 gauge wire, make two coils 2½” long each on a mandrel no smaller than a 000 knitting needle (shown) but not a mandrel larger than a 0 knitting needle. Hint: Starting with a 1” wire tail keeps the wire coil stable when wrapping. Make the coil a bit longer than needed and then cut it to length. Step 2: For a tight fitting end cap, the mandrel you choose for the next step should be slightly smaller than the final hole you pulled the chain through since the wrapping will spring out a bit. For instance, if your chain was drawn down to 13/64”, the mandrel could be 3/16”. If your chain was drawn down to ¼”, the mandrel could be 7/32”. Of course, you could use the same size mandrel as the hole and the end cap would have a loose fit.
Step 3: For this step, you must work from the spool of the 20 gauge wire. Pull off and straighten about 12” of wire. Slide one of the coils on the wire. Flush cut the wire end and spiral it until it is the size of the diameter of the mandrel.
Step 4: Hold the spiral on the mandrel. Wind the wire around the mandrel four times, keeping the wraps as close together as possible.
Step 5: Push the 2½” coil tightly against the mandrel and continue coiling, keeping the coiled wire wraps as close together as possible.
Step 6: Cut the 20 gauge wire off ¾” from the wire coil. Spiral this wire up tightly to the wire coil.
Step 7: Push the end cap to the end of the mandrel. Push the top end spiral down over the top of the mandrel. You may need to push the mandrel down on the table to get the coil to nestle inside the coil.
Step 8: Repeat for the other end cap.
Step 9: Check the fit on the Viking Knit chain. If it is too loose, you can slide the cap on a smaller mandrel and gently tighten the lower coiled section.
Step 10: You can leave the end caps plain or use your imagination and dress them up with beads.
Viking Knit Bracelet
This tutorial is not for making Viking Knit but for constructing a bracelet after the knit has been constructed. Hint: Follow these directions but make a longer chain to make a necklace. A Viking Knit necklace can be any length, but 18”-22” seems to be standard for adding pendants.
Materials: Up to 7” of Viking Knit chain 4 ½” of 18 gauge round wire 8” of 20 gauge round wire Two 10x7mm cone end caps (fits 5-7mm bead) Two 4mm round beads
Tools: Round, chain and flat nose pliers Soft jaw pliers Flush cutters 3/8” mandrel
Directions: Construct The Hook: Step 1: Straighten and cut a 4½” piece of 18 gauge round wire. Step 2: On one end of the wire, make a slightly more than full circle with the tip of a round nose pliers. Hint: You may find it easier to use a chain nose pliers to start the center of the spiral. Step 3: Using soft jaw pliers, tightly scroll the wire until the scroll is 2” from the end of the wire.
Step 4: Place the tips of the round nose pliers as close to the scroll as possible, as shown. Bend the wire over the plier tips and up the side of the scroll. 14
Step 5: Switch back to the soft jaw pliers and finish bending the wire up over the top of the scroll as shown, left.
Step 6: Bend the wire tail around the 3/8” mandrel as shown, right
Step 7: Use the tip of round or chain nose pliers and make half a curl. Use flat nose pliers to press the curl flat down to the wire.
Step 8: Construct a length of Viking knit and draw it down to fit inside the cone end cap you have chosen. For this tutorial the wire was drawn down to 7/32”-13/64”. Hint:: If you make your own drawplate, you can get more holes, and therefore more sizes, than if you purchase one.
Step 9: Refer to the following measurements and cut the knit chain the desired length. You might want to make the bracelet a bit longer (between sizes) if your chain is larger than ¼”. When you determine where to cut the chain, go one knit row beyond the length chosen, otherwise the wire loops you need to use will have been cut off and the length will be a bit shorter than desired. Finished Bracelet Length 7” 7½” 8” 8¾” Cut Knit Chain This Long 5-1/8” 5-5/8” 6-1/8” 6¾”
Step 10: Remove all the small pieces of wire from the cut ends of the knit chain. Using chain nose pliers, position as many of the knit loops as possible directly in front of each other, creating a “channel through them.
Step 11: Cut two 4” pieces of 20 gauge wire. Make a bend with flat nose pliers 1 ½” from the end of each wire. Slide the hook through the loop channel created in Step 10.
Step 12: Grasp the bend with a chain nose pliers. Wrap the short wire end tightly around the long wire, trying to stay as close to the knit as possible. Trim off the short wire tail.
Step 13: Slide a cone bead cap on the wire. Pull the wire will pushing the bead cap down. This will seat the knit into the bead cap. Slide on a bead.
Step 14: Make a wire wrapped loop on the end of the wire. Make sure that the eye is large enough to fit the end of the hook through. Step 15: Repeat Steps 12-14 on the other end of the Viking Knit chain. Make sure that the eye loop on the second end is the same size as the eye on the first end. Step 16: Slide the hook onto one of the eyes. The bracelet needs to curve easily around your wrist. Hold the bracelet in you hand. You will notice that it bends more easily in one direction than another. Hook the bracelet. Bend the eyes perpendicular to your wrist. Curve the cone and wire ends of the bracelet into a slight curve.
Make A Viking Knit Drawplate
Judy Larson Purchased wooden drawplates for Viking Knit are great and not very expensive. Since many of us have or have access to wood scraps and a power drill and assorted drill bits, why not make your own! Shown here is a 1x2 piece of oak drilled with bits ranging in size from 5/8” down to 1/8”. Any size board will do, but it should be solid, not plywood, and it should be a hardwood. Searching the internet will produce several different shapes for your drawplate. Another tip is to countersink the holes on both sides. This makes the knit slide smoother over the rounded edge of the holes instead of snagging on the sharp edge of the opening. Make sure to mark the hole sizes with a fine point sharpie. Do not stain or finish the wood as this could rub off on the chains as you pull them through.
Tips about drawing the knit chain through the holes: 1. Pull the knit through each hole twice. It will make the chain easier to pull through the next size down as well as keep the chain round. 2. It will be much more difficult to draw the chain through the smaller holes. 3. Holding the board down and pulling toward you is not a good idea. You may end up hitting yourself in the face. (see the next step-you could break teeth or need stitches) 4. When you find it difficult to pull the chain through the hole, push the flower base through the hole and pull with a pliers from your workbench, not the ones you use for your jewelry making. 5. Your chain can be drawn up to two times the original length. Hint: Make note on your tutorial of the items you have made, the original knit length, length it was drawn down to in what size hole.
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