This article originally appeared on my old Livejournal blog on December 12th, 2009. As you all seemed to enjoy my last tutorial so much, I thought you might like this one as well.
I am often asked, “What is viking knit?” So, I’ve decided to share my technique in photos, a lovely viking knit bracelet from beginning to end.
Lovely handmade chains have been found in Viking treasure troves in Scandinavia. Made from melted down coins turned into fine wire, these chains were made using a loop in loop technique. Talk about wearing your wealth!
These same techniques can be used today, though we don’t tend to use coin silver anymore. Copper is a great material to learn with. I usually use sterling silver, in 26 gauge or smaller.
To begin, use some cheap craft wire. For this bracelet, I’m going to be making a four loop chain, meaning that I’m beginning with four loops to work from. The craft wire is looped around my fingers four times.
Wrap the four loops together into a little bundle and then cut off the excess craft wire.
Open up the four loops like a flower.
I like to use knitting needles as my core, but you can use any regularly shaped mandrel. I’ve even seen people use pencils or an allen wrench. Take your flower bundle, and put it over the end of your mandrel. Then, take a length of wire that you’ll be making your chain from. Make a loop, joining together two of the petals. The short end of your wire should be under the longer end.
Take the long end of the wire, and move to your next petal to the left. Entering from the left side, pass it under the sides of the two petal loops.
Cross the long end of the wire over the top, making another loop. Continue around for the third and fourth petals.
When you get back to your first complete loop – the one after joining the chain wire to your petal starter – continue your loops around where the previous row’s loops cross. You’re now past the hardest part – getting started! Continue around, one loop at a time, until you reach near the end of your piece of wire.
The technique shown here is what is called single knit. If you continue this way, you’ll end up with a pretty, airy chain. I prefer a denser chain and thus do what is called double knit. Instead of looping through the row immediately previous, I loop through the row two previous. You can also go up to three previous for an even denser chain and a triple knit.
When you reach the end of your piece of wire, tuck the short end under when completing the loop.
Pull the loop tight, and cut the excess wire close to the loop.
To join on the next piece of wire, make a small hook out of the end. Pass the point of the hook through the same space as the last loop you made, from right to left.
Cross the short end under the long to make a loop. Then continue around like you did the first piece of the wire.
Keep going, adding additional pieces as needed to reach the length you want. Note that the final length of your chain will be longer that its length on your mandrel. It’ll take a little practice to know the exact length you’ll want in the unfinished state to get the bracelet or necklace length you want at the end.
When you reach the length you want, remover the chain from your mandrel. You’ll now have a stiff, hollow metal tube. Tuck any stray wire ends into the core.
You now need a draw plate. Mine is a small piece of wood trim with holes of various sizes drilled through. Pass your starter end through the largest loop and use pliers to gently pull the chain through. Continue through progressively smaller holes.
The chain once it has been pulled through will be flexible and even.
Cut the starter wire off and clean up your ends. You should end up with just one wire end.
At the other end of your chain, you probably have a little tail of wire. Pull it through a bead cap or cone bead, tucking the end of your chain inside.
Pick your clasp of choice and make a wrapped loop to join the end of your wire to the clasp.
It might turn our at this point that you realize your chain is too long. Cut off any extra length and clean up your ends. Keep your extra woven chain – space pieces can make neat earrings and other jewelry components.
This end of your chain has no spare wire to pull through a bead cap. Instead, take another piece of wire and make a loop and loop it through several of the chain loop ends.
Tuck it through another bead cap, make another wrapped loop around the other end of your clasp, and voila! Try on your new, sparkling chain creation.