DIY / Tutorials

What is Viking Knit?

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.

Viking Knit - Getting Started

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.

Starter Loops

Wrap the four loops together into a little bundle and then cut off the excess craft wire.

Open the Loops

Open up the four loops like a flower.

Add your knitting wire

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.

First loop

Cross the long end of the wire over the top, making another loop. Continue around for the third and fourth petals.

Start the second row

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.

Ending the wire

When you reach the end of your piece of wire, tuck the short end under when completing the loop.

Pull tight and trim

Pull the loop tight, and cut the excess wire close to the loop.

Add the next piece of wire

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 end under

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.

Remove from the mandrel

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.

Pull through a draw plate

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.

Thinner and flexible

The chain once it has been pulled through will be flexible and even.

Remove beginner loops and clean

Cut the starter wire off and clean up your ends. You should end up with just one wire end.

Add end cap

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.

Add clasp

Pick your clasp of choice and make a wrapped loop to join the end of your wire to the clasp.

Cut to length

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.

Add wire

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.

Finished viking knit bracelet

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.

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17 thoughts on “What is Viking Knit?

  1. Love this tutorial…………….I really want to learn how to do this……wish I could print it though 😦 It’s the best I have seen!

  2. I was wondering, have you ever had trouble with the weave being weaker at the points where you’re swapping out wire?

    I had a 6 loop single weave that I was really pleased with but after some wearing seemed to droop/not drape as well at the points where I had to add another wire. So somewhat regretfully I’ve been twisting my new wires on, but that’s a more obvious connection than this style, which is what I’d first learned. (Though for whatever reason I weave in the opposite direction!)

    • I have noticed a little bit of a weaker join if I have not been able to attach the new wire the sort of “row up” that is done in double knit. This may be somewhat inherent to a single knit weave, since it’s also looser in general. It’s part of the reason I prefer to work in double knit.

      I go in the other direction sometimes, too. 🙂 Hey, whatever works!

      • Thanks! I tend to do single since the open compliments more of my wirework, my last attempt at double ended up being so tight it was almost a solid after I drew it out. But that was for a necklace, maybe it’s time for a revisit with a bracelet, thanks again!

  3. Pingback: What is Viking Knit? - Urban Angels

  4. The part of drawing it through the plates terrifies me! LOL AFter all that work, I would probably kill mine when I went to draw it through. This is a great tutorial! I find pictures to be absolutely necessary in my learning of things like this. I just got some amazing cheap copper wire in an auction, I think I’m going to give it a shot!

  5. This is one of the best how-tos I’ve ever seen 🙂

    I only have a few questions, does it matter how thick the knitting needle is? Should it be as thin as possible regarding the finished result? Do you remember what size you used on this four loops and 26G wire knit? Thanks 🙂

  6. When ever you want to print and there is no obvious print…….hold your mouse arrow over the end of the word where you want to start or end your printed selection, then just highlight your paragraph by using the right click button on the mouse….hold it down….drag….till you reach the beginning or end whichever you wish. Once all of the highlighted text is selected….let go of your mouse button and right click again over the top of your highlighted text and choose print. You will have a new box appear, choose printed select and viola! Or just type into the google search bar….how to print internet pages!

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