I recently spent time trying to puzzle out the Viking Knit. There some excellent directions on the Internet including these on the Fine Art by Rocio website. The problem is, the Viking Knit that looks so cool is double or triple knit and all of the instructions that I saw, including those in Irene Petersen’s otherwise marvelous book, tell you to loop down a couple of rows with a single wire and then go up a couple of rows and come back down to double knit and repeat to triple knit. I don’t know about you, but that would drive me “Ape-something that rhymes with knit.” Plus it’s hard to keep your rows and stitches even and the wires lying evenly instead of whopper jawed and all kinked up.
And then there was this thing about clamping an Allen Wrench in a vise that seemed like overkill. Viking Knit wants to spiral and as long as you keep your stitches fairly even, you don’t have to be fanatical. You can straighten your wire work when you take it off the mandrel. I was able to find several artists on the Internet who used a mandrel of some sort. I have had success with dowels and chopsticks.
But my biggest discovery is that you don’t have to do the up and down nonsense to do triple and double knit. All you have to do is work with two or three wires at a time. It’s really not that difficult.
Here’s a crudely drawn picture of how you start:
The red loops are what they call the petals. The above diagram shows the stitch worked flat, and you can see examples of this in Arlene Fisch’s classic book Textile Techniques in Metal. But for now, think round. Since it’s recommended that you work in 24 or 26 gauge wire, working with 2 or 3 strands at a time is easier than it sounds. When I work with copper wire, I work with yard long strands of wire taped together one end and proceed as if I was using a single wire. When I work with brass wire, I use 18″ to 24″ strands because the wire is stiffer and a little harder to work with, but it is not difficult. Here are some pictures:
Here is a triple knit chain in progress. It is three stitches around and I am using 24 gauge wire. They say that 24 or 26 gauge wire is the best size to use.
I add new chain according to the standard directions you will find in Internet tutorials or Irene Peterson’s book. I worked on this brass wire chain until it was about 16″ long. Then I annealed it with a micro torch (you don’t need to do this with copper or fine silver, but brass is stiffer) after brushing it with flux to cut down any fire scale.
The next step is passing it through the wooden draw plate.
The above picture shows the chain during the drawing process. I passed it through three successively smaller holes, then stopped. I once saw a video of Charles Lewton-Brain demonstrating fold forming and he said something that stuck with me. I don’t remember the exact quote, but he said that when you are working on something and reach a point where you like how it looks, STOP!
The picture above is the finished necklace. I soldered the knitted ends together and soldered a 14 gauge wire to each end. Then I made the end caps from brass, passed the 14 gauge wire through the holes in the end, I formed wrapped loops. made jump rings and soldered them closed and finished with an “S” clasp I made for the necklace.
Here is a close up.
To give you a little perspective, the two copper sections below are five stitches around. The top one is triple knit the same way I did the brass necklace and the bottom one is single knit.
The final picture is a close up of a wide hole bead I slipped over the chain. The final necklace was about 24″ long. How long do the chains get when you draw them? There isn’t a hard and fast answer. It depends on the stiffness of your wire, how many times you draw the chain and how many stitches around your chain is. The only thing I can say for sure is better too long than too short.
So now that you know how to make a double or triple Viking Knit chain without all the up and down maneuvering, go ahead and give it a try. OK, you might think it’s cheating. You might be a purist. Just remember, as someone wiser than me once said, “Virtue is its own reward and little else.”
Here’s a late addition: the Viking Knit is the same as the “Acorn Stitch” or Celyon Stitch” used in embroidery, only it’s worked upside down. Sometimes you can get the hang of a technique by trying it in another medium first. If you’re new to wire work but good at sewing, try the technique with thread to get the hang of it.
You have saved my life, I too tried to follow the old form v knit double but it was a disaster. I googled it tonight, Aussie insomniac, and found you! Hooray. your method.is so elegant. I.am so your newest follower.
Thank you so much for this high class instruction. I am into viking knit now. Want to know more about double viking knit and the history. It is fascinating. I also thank you for bringing the enbroidery ref. The music is soothing and takes you to a different time and age:)
I would not be surprised to learn that it started out as a textile technique. I don’t know a lot about the history, but you find the technique in many cultures.
Thanks for your kind comments.
This is a great idea! I’ve been trying to figure out how to do a viking knit bracelet using two different colors of wire for a few days at least and have also tried doing it but couldn’t come up with anything. After reading this, I’m going to try this method out but use two different colors instead of one. 🙂 Thank you for this great idea and for making it available to the rest of us. Have you done a viking knit using two different colors? If so, can you post it? Thank you again.
No I have not. I like the look of metal and one color. I’m glad you found the post helpful. It might not suit Viking Knit purists, but it is an easier way to achieve results that are very close. Remember that softer (as opposed to stiff) wire and thinner gauge (24-26) looks better.
I love your creativity. I have done the traditional viking knit technique in single, double & triple and love the chains I have made. However I love the more open “braided look’ of your technique. I cn’t wait to give it a try!
Do you know how to do something similar to viking knit in a flat bracelet style?
Thanks for your kind comments. This is a variation and, while some people think the open look doesn’t look as good as the real thing, it’s only meant as an easier alternative.
But you got me thinking!!! I never thought about a flat Viking knit, but why not? I’m sure someone has already done it in wire and certainly with yarn or thread. So many of these techniques were originally used with textiles. Imagine starting off off with four or five loops but instead of arranging them around a dowel, have them flat and secured on a work board (think macrame or knot tying). You would start the knit as usual from left to right looping the working wire through the top loops. When you get to the end of the row, go down and make a new row by looping through the row you just added, but this time you go from right to left. I think it would look a lot more open done in wire but so does wire crochet.
If you try this, please send me some pictures!
This is great! I’m definitely going to try this. I don’t find the traditional double weave to be troublesome but this techinique looks great and seems like it saves time. Thanks
I can’t wait to try this out. I like doing the double weave technique but this also looks cool and seems faster. I did not think to try brass before either. Do you seal your brass and copper chains with anything?
No, I don’t seal. my version of the double will look a bit looser than traditional double. You get to decide whether you like it,
I have been making a single 4-stitch Viking Knit in 25G copper, using a stick pen as the dowel. It is now 14 in long and I am wondering if there is some chart that will give me an idea how long it will be after drawing it through the draw plate to a fairly fine. ???
The final length will depend on the gauge of the wire, the stiffness of the wire, how tightly you knit, how many stitches around you work, whether you do a single, double or triple weave and how thinly you draw the chain. For some general guidelines try
one thing I can say for sure is always to knit more than what you think you need. You can make your piece shorter but you really can’t make it longer.
Wonderful!! I too had tried the traditional method and even though I can make great single chains, the doubles were ending up as one big glob of wire that could not be helped by pulling through a draw plate. Your directions are perfect and I really appreciate you posting them! Your photos were great too!
Thanks! I have been fooling around with the traditional way of doing the double weave and my big plan is to post clear instructions for that. The methods do have different looks and I like them both.
I enjoyed your instructions even though I do single, double and triple Viking and even tried 5-color/5wire Viking technique (twice was enough) so this will open new possibilities. I did a 5-loop double strand today and am excited to pull it through the draw-plate to see the finished chain.
Thanks. My way is just an alternative to the traditional.
This was great information. I am using a silver wire and a turquoise wire to do a double knit. This helped me achieve my goal.
Take a look at Stephanie Eddy’s site (StephanieEddy.com) on viking knit and her tool. You will be able to do amazing things very easily.
I have never tried Stephanie’s tool but for those who are interested in buying it, I have heard wonderful things about it.
I, personally, love double knit, and find the results are pretty different from double wire. Easier for me to do the skip back one row than handling two wires, but both have very interesting looks and applications. Double wire is fun with two colors…such as copper and black. your pictures are great here! Thanks for sharing!
I like the double knit too now that I’ve figured it out! The double wire is definitely a different look and I am intrigued by the idea of using different colors of wire together. Thanks for your comments.
the link (if it works) is to a picture of an example of black and copper wire done together.
Hope that picture works
I like it! Thanks so much for sharing!
Just looked back and see that the picture is not what I said it was. That set is just raw copper, that has patina from gun blue. Will try and get a picture that I described, with black wire and copper wire.
What wire do you recommend? Craft wire is too stiff, even in 26 gauge.
Copper 24 gauge works well.
That is really gorgeous. I have alway wanted to try that stitch but thought it looked way too complicated.
The double knit is not as hard as it looks once you wrap your head around it. One of the problems is that written instructions for double knit never seem like they are going to work. But they do. Check out this site and then grab some telephone wire and a fat mandrel and practice. You will get it and the only way to get it is to do it. https://entwinedvines.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/viking-knit-tutorial-pt-3-double-knit/
this is a HUGE waste of wire, double and triple viking knit isn’t that hard. did you run your sample of single viking knit both ways instead of only the direction of the stiches?
I agree with you that double and triple knit are not that hard once you learn the stitches. Not everyone has been able to master them but the instructions available at present are so much better than they were when I was learning and when I wrote this post. This stitch no substitute for the double and triple stitch; it’s only an alternate look. As far as being a huge waste of wire, I am sure that it uses more wire than conventional double or triple knit. But a huge waste of wire? I leave that judgment to the individual crafter. I am not sure what you mean by your last comment, so I cannot answer. But thanks for leaving a comment.
This is a brilliant idea, I’ll give it a try, thanks for sharing! I enjoyed surfing your blog, keep up with great work!
Thanks. It does not look the same as double Viking Knit. It is just an alternative.
Great idea. I will try this. I have been experimenting and lately I am making my viking knit with 22 gauge wire. This is not for beginners, however. I am using six loops on a 3/8″ wooden dowel. It’s quite substantial and looks different than 24 gauge wire knit once it’s pulled through the draw plate. I have been pleased with it. Wanted to share. Thank you for generously posting your technique!
Sounds interesting. Keep on experimenting and make something new!
I have something new! I developed the Viking Knit Split technique because I wanted to have two different colors in a vertical direction. Would love to know what you think. Here is the link http://etsy.me/2pRUW2W
How cool is that? Thanks for sharing!
Very nice! I’m wondering what technique you use for adding wire. There are several that I’m seeing online and some of them are very different from each other. I’m wondering which you like best. Thank you.
I twist the new wire around the old one and bury the join in the center of the knit where you can’t see it. Then I continue with the new wire.
Near the beginning of your post you mentioned that you think using an Allen wrench as a mandrel is overkill. Maybe it is. However that is how I learned to do Viking knit years ago. Seems to me that because an Allen wrench has flat facets instead of a continuous round surface, it is much much much easier to slide the working end of the wire under the previous loops. There is always a small gap to sneak under. And personally I like the fact that the facets keep your work going more or less straight. I think it would just bug me if it started going askew. But that’s maybe just me. It sounds like you are happy with the results you get with your method just as I am with my overkill hex wrench method. I do like your alternate doublewire version as another textural look. OK that’s my two cents.
Maybe saying an Allen wrench was overkill was, well, overkill. :+). Now that I know more about Viking knit, I can see how the flat sides of the Alen wrench would be a guide to help keep your rows straight. I think that Viking knit instructions have really improved in the past few years. I, like many other people, had a hard time following the written directions and without seeing the technique done, it was hard to understand how to achieve a double or triple weave. But after seeing some clearly written tutorials with pictures, I was able to pick up the double and triple weaves. My double weave alternative in this post is just a different look. For an excellent double weave tute see, https://entwinedvines.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/viking-knit-tutorial-pt-3-double-knit/
Thanks for writing.
Thanks for the link to the great double weave tutorial. It is indeed easy to follow.
When I wanted to learn Viking knitting, I had a very old book with written instructions and a couple of diagrams. I scrounged up the Allen wrench but I did not have a drill to make the draw plate, nor money to buy one. I did find a cheap fix at the hardware store. A heavy flat plastic template with various sized holes used to check the sizes of nuts and bolts. Holes ranged from maybe 1/4 inch up to, well, big. Maybe not as easy to use as the wooden draw plates with a handle but it worked well. I did need to support the plate close to the hole I was using fearing it could break otherwise. I think it was $3-4. I still use it. Nuff said.
Great idea. Thanks for sharing.
Love your work on Viking Knit and I also love that you respond to every comment/question. So often I read comments with appropriate questions (often questions I also have) and the poster is left with no answer. Thank you!
No, thank you!🙃
Wow! That was fantastic! TY TY TY!!!!
And as my mother always said “Work smarter not harder!”
And my own favorite..”I hate re-work! Ugh!”
You did a fantastic tutorial! MUCH APPRECIATED!!!!
Thanks, glad you liked it.
I just want to agree with someone else’s comment. Work smarter than harder so thank you so very much for your version of this knit!! I wish I had seen your instructions a long time ago but just recently came across it from Pintrest. Thank you so much for sharing!
Thanks. I’m glad you like it.
Love all this rescently stocked up on all sorts wires made draw plates etc got couple silver work projects on go then it’s off to Odins great blog