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April 26, 2016

Getting Started with Viking Knit

I've missed working with wire lately.

Beads are fun and colorful, but the sheer volume can be a little overwhelming at times.  So many choices - size, shape, color, finish, etc.

With wire, silver, copper and gold colored are pretty much the decisions I have to make.  And I need to decide the gauge too - but that decision is usually made by the project I decide to make.

And the type of wire is typically decided by what I'm making as well.  Is it something that I've never tried before? Then I use copper or brass because it is inexpensive and I have oodles of it.

Is it something that works better with soft wire? Then copper it is.  That was easy!

This week, I decide to try making Viking knit chain - something I've never tried before. I really haven't done very much wire weaving at all, so this was definitely a little stretch for me.

Is there ever a bad time to learn Viking knit?  I don't think so and I'm sure the Vikings would agree.

Ironically, the decision to try Viking knit came from trying to think of what I could do with all of the extra dowels I purchased a few weeks ago.  Then, I find I have a Viking knit kit that includes a dowel, so I don't end up needing one anyway.

As you can see, there aren't many supplies to making Viking knit. Most items you may have on hand - except for the drawplate.  The brown plate with all of the holes.  That's a necessity.  The drawplate is used to draw the chain through the holes, gradually moving to smaller and smaller holes in order to smooth, elongate and condense the woven chain.  But, I'm jumping ahead.

The first step is to get your dowel ready to weave on. This part always put me off because it looks complicated.  It really isn't - at all.  But it is avoidable - because you can buy a tool called a Lazee Daizee that saves you from doing this step. Obviously, I don't have the tool, but I do plan to order one.

For now, I've made a wire flower by wrapping the wire around some business cards. Then the flower gets attached to the top of the dowel to hold the wires.

A nice thing is that you can vary the size of the flower. Each petal will hold one column of Viking knit, so while I started with 4 columns to make the first three chains, my new flower has five petals and will make a five column (denser) chain.

The weaving takes place on the dowel.  Another part that I thought would be difficult, but it's not.  Viking knit single chain is a very simple looping stitch that's only complexity is keeping the wire from getting overly hard or getting kinks in it.  The weaving was relaxing and easy enough to do while watching my kids baseball/softball games or watch TV.  You know I like that part!

There are other variations, double and triple weave, that are more time consuming, but not really more complex.  It seems to be the same looping stitch regardless.

Here's my little piece of wire weaving after I removed it from the dowel.  It doesn't look like much yet.

After pulling it through the drawplate, the weave gets tighter and the chain gets longer.  In my case, it doubles in size!  This example is 24g copper wire.

What I didn't realize when I started was the decision to use four petals would result in a square chain.  It makes sense - I just hadn't thought about it.

I liked Viking knit enough to try it a couple of more times.  The top chain is the first one I made, followed by the second and third attempts.  The next two were made with 22g wire.  Definitely a little harder on my fingers and resulted in a stiffer chain. The wire and weave get stiffer the smaller you draw it down too.

It's probably hard to tell, but I stopped drawing the middle chain earlier than either of the other two.  So it is thicker and a looser weave.

It's hard to get yourself to stop drawing the chain smaller and smaller in the beginning.  I mean, you're not sure what the next step will look like and it could be better.  But once you do it, there's no going back.

 I think the copper looks best with a patina.  Here, I added liver of sulfur and then polished the high spots.  Next time, I'll try antiquing the wire before I weave it.

I don't expect you to be able to try Viking knit from this post.  I would consider this an introduction to the overall supplies and results.  I know I'll be trying it a few more times, so I'll document the how to's as I get a little more experience with it.

Probably the best thing for you to know is that it really isn't anywhere as hard as I though it would be. If you're interested in seeing some finished projects using Viking knit, check out my Pinterest Viking Knit board.

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  1. I love Viking Knit!
    A new technique I've recently been learning is Yael Falk's ISK wire crochet.(YoolaDesigns) It looks like upside-down Viking Knit, I think and I don't have to worry about wire ends poking through since I can work off the spool with this technique. You should try it!
    Viking Knit will always be my go-to for using heavier gauges of wire, though, as I don't think any wire gauge heavier than 28 or 26 would work well with the ISK tool. I've done Viking Knit in 24 and 22 gauge (mostly for small pieces like earrings).

    1. I will look that up. I've never heard of it before. Thank you!

  2. I love viki g knit too but haven't done any for ages. I don't understand wire guages as we don't measure it that way but i use 0.3mm or 0.4mm wire which you can get in loads of different colours

    1. I have some colored wire too, but from what I've read it is plated or enameled, and the color can come off while the project is being pulled through the draw plate. I rarely use colored wire for basic loops because I scratch the color off with my tools. Do you have a brand that holds up well?