Monthly Archives: August 2009

Viking Knit Chain – Dowels and Petals

The next bit of info on viking knit chain will be on using what size dowel and number of petals to use for your jewelry project.  It might be a little confusing at first, but it will start to make sense in a bit.

In case you haven't seen them yet, you may want to take a look at the three viking knit posts I've made so far:

Now on to dowels and petals, and how you select based on your wire gauge and desired look for your project.

What are Dowels?

Viking KNit Dowels, Metal and Wood (Click to Enlarge)

Viking Knit Dowels, Metal and Wood (Click to Enlarge)

Dowels, when it comes to viking knit at least, are the mandrels you use to stabilize your work.  Dowels can be wood or metal, and can be round or hexagonal (like an allen wrench).  Sizes can be from 5/32" up through 1".  The most common sizes I've seen used are between 3/16" and 1/2".

Wooden dowels, in a variety of diameters, are readily available in your local Michael's Hobby Lobby, Jo-Ann, etc.  I went to get another few yesterday, and they ranged from $.59 to $.99 each.  Considering they are 3 feel long, I can saw them into 9" pieces and have 4 from each rod.  (You'll understand why I like plenty of dowels later in this post.)

Some viking knit instructions have you using an allen wrench, some a wooden dowel.  Both have advantages and disadvantages, so I'd suggest you try both ways and then choose the method that works best for you.  The chain looks the same either way.

What are Petals?

Wire Petals, Off and On the Dowel (Click to Enlarge)

Wire Petals, Off and On the Dowel (Click to Enlarge)

Once you have your dowel, it's time to decide how many petals you want to use.  But first...what the heck are petals?

For viking knit, petals are what start your first row of the chain.  They aren't supposed to look good, and in fact look kind of funky.  The only thing important is that the bottoms of the petals are even.  You'll eventually discard the inital petals, but they are handy for something to hang onto while you are pulling the chain through the drawplate.

The number of petals is part of what determines the thickness of your viking knit chain, and its eventual look.

Dowels, Petals, Wire and Viking Knit Chain

It all comes together here, the combination of dowel diameter, number of petals and gauge of the wire.

Here's the general rule:  the smaller the gauge of wire, the more petals.  The larger the diameter of the mandrel, the more petals.  Now obviously you can break these rules -- what's the fun if you can't experiment?  But if you're just starting out learning, you might want to try a 1/4" mandrel with 5 petals and 24 gauge wire.  This will give you a nice chain that can work in a variety of jewelry styles.

Once you've got the hang of the viking knit chain, branch out and try different numbers of petals.  Different size mandrels.  Different gauges of wires.  Build your chain library with 3" lengths of the various combinations and remember to label the chain with all the information!

A Tip for Starting a Chain

I hate starting chains; I spend the first couple of inches just getting it all even and looking right.  Then I got an idea; it works for me and I hope it works for you, too.

I have a variety of mandrels/dowels, in different sizes and number of petals.  I may have three dowels the same diameter, but one might have 4 petals, another 5 petals and yet another 6 or 7 petals.  (Now you understand why I like plenty of dowels.)

When I make a chain, I make an extra inch or so and leave that extra on the dowel.  That way when I'm ready to work on that particuar size and number of petals again, I already have something ready.  No need to spend the time getting another chain started; it's waiting for me.

Especially when I am working with silver or gold-filled wire, I like using copper wire for that last inch because it gives me something to hang onto when using the drawplate.  The end I use to hang onto tends to get a bit mangled, and I'd just as soon that mangled bit be a less expensive wire!

So there you have the basics of viking knit.  I'll cover finishing your viking knit chain next time....not to mention some finshed viking knit jewelry!

Viking Knit Part 3 – Wire

Today the topic is the viking knit wire you'll be using.  There are all kinds and gauges to choose from, and here's some information to help you choose best.

You've probably seen part 1 and part 2 of my viking knit series; if not, you may want to take a look when you're done with this post.

Kinds of Wire

Wire Types (Click to Enlarge)

Wire Types (Click to Enlarge)

Unless you have money to burn (or are just super-coordinated), I highly suggest that you start learning to make viking knit chain using either copper or artistic wire (which is basically a coated copper wire).  Both are inexpensive and readily available.  (In a pinch when I run out, I hop on over to my local hardware store for some copper wire.)

You can also try brass wire, but it seems to harden up faster than copper does, making it more difficult to work.  But it does give you a gold color without using gold-filled wire.

Fine silver, sterling, argentium and gold-filled wire are glorious but they are expensive to start out with, due to the amount of wire you will use.  Once you are confident of your skill, though, then try your wings with wires other than copper or artistic!

Wire Shapes

When you go to buy your wire, you may be confronted with a choice of wire shapes.  The three most common are round, half round and square.

You'll want to use round wire with your viking knit.  Half round and square would be much too frustrating to use when you are learning.  Half round might be interesting to experiment with, though, once you can do viking knit in your sleep.  😉  I don't know that I would try square, though, even as an experiment.

Besides, round wire is the least expensive to purchase; the price goes up for any other shape.

Wire Gauges

Wire gauge refers to the thickness of the wire itself.  The most important thing to know is this:  the higher the number, the thinner the wire!  (I know, it seems backwards, but that's the way it is.)

The two most popular viking knit gauges are 24 g and 26 g.  And while you can use any gauge to your heart's content, keep the following in mind.  If you go larger to 22 g, the wire will work harden faster (or at least be harder to work because it's thicker and stiffer).  And if you go smaller with 28 g, you'll be having a very narrow chain indeed.

Wire Hardness

When buying wire, you may or may not see a reference to the wire being hard, half-hard or soft.  You will want to go with soft wire.  Why?  Because the act of making the viking knit chain will "work harden" the wire, making it stiffer.  And while you might could go half-hard with 26 or 28 g wire (since it's so small in diameter to begin with), if you do, you'll need to work with shorter lengths of wire.

Other Gauges for Viking Knit Jewelry

To finish your viking knit jewelry, you will need a small amount of a 20g or 18g wire.  This will be for finishing the ends and making a clasp (unless of course you plan to use a ready-made clasp).  I personally like 18g for clasps, since it is harder and stronger than 20g.  But there are plenty of people who successfully use 20g, so the choice is yours.

How Much Wire -- Lengths

Starting out, you'll use quite a bit of wire trying to get a handle on the viking knit, which is why I suggest an inexpensive wire in the beginning.  But how much wire is needed for a viking knit jewelry project?

Here's an estimate you can use:  1 troy ounce of 24g sterling wire (48 feet) will make roughly an 18" (after being drawn) double-knit chain.  At the time I am writing this, the lowest price I've found for sterling wire is about $20 an ounce.

Like I said, this is just an estimate; your chain may vary somewhat.  And if you use a single knit instead of a double knit, you can just about double that finished chain length.

And of course, the gauge of your wire makes a difference as well.  That's why I suggest making a chain library before you start on your jewelry projects.  You'll have a better handle on what you need, as to length of wire.

One more thing -- how much working length of wire should you use for a session?  I tend to like using 6 feet of wire at a time.  If you're not familiar with using wire, you may want to go shorter, with 3' lengths to start.  But I know other people who like to use 10 feet at a time.  Ultimately, use the working length most comfortable for you!

About Your Eyes

If you're of a certain age, you'll need reading glasses to work your viking knit.  If you don't need reading glasses to see the chain stitches, then wear safety glasses.  Wire can whip around, and you do not want it to strike your eyes!

Now that I've covered wires, I'll next discuss the relationship of dowels, petals and wire gauge for your viking knit jewelry project.

While you can go out to your local hardware store and/or beading or craft store for your wire, if you don't have any of these kinds of stores nearby, here are some copper and art wire available on ebay.

Til next time!

24 gauge seminole zip blasting scab fireworks copper wire 2 500 ft spools fw24d
24 gauge seminole zip blasting scab fireworks copper wire 2 500 ft spools fw24d
$40.00
Time Remaining: 21d 9h 19m
Buy It Now for only: $40.00
24 gauge Scab Fireworks Duplex Copper Shoot Wire One 500 Ft Spool Firing System
24 gauge Scab Fireworks Duplex Copper Shoot Wire One 500 Ft Spool Firing System
$29.99
Time Remaining: 7d 17h 20m
Buy It Now for only: $29.99
SILVER PLATED WIRE 24 Gauge copper core 30 YARDS jewelry craft
SILVER PLATED WIRE 24 Gauge copper core 30 YARDS jewelry craft
$7.49
Time Remaining: 21d 1h 25m
Buy It Now for only: $7.49
Wire handles for 22 24 gauge zip blasting fireworks copper 500 1000 ft spools
Wire handles for 22 24 gauge zip blasting fireworks copper 500 1000 ft spools
$40.00
Time Remaining: 15d 18h 37m
Buy It Now for only: $40.00
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
$11.73
Time Remaining: 9d 5h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $11.73

« Previous12

Artistic Wire Copper Craft Wire 26 Gauge Thick 15 Yard Spool Stainless Steel
Artistic Wire Copper Craft Wire 26 Gauge Thick 15 Yard Spool Stainless Steel
$4.49
Time Remaining: 21d 23h 22m
Buy It Now for only: $4.49
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
$11.73
Time Remaining: 9d 5h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $11.73
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
$13.74
Time Remaining: 9d 5h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $13.74
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
$10.23
Time Remaining: 9d 5h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $10.23
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
Copper Wire Pure Round Dead Soft 10 12 14 16 18 20 21 22 24 26 28 30 Gauge
$31.70
Time Remaining: 9d 5h 48m
Buy It Now for only: $31.70

« Previous12

Viking Knit Jewelry Part 2 – Draw Plate

Welcome back to part 2 of my series on creating viking knit jewelry.  In the last post you saw the YouTube video that I used to start learning the process.  Today I'll talk about the draw plate.

Just as a background, I tried viking knit for the first time about 3 years ago.  Tried and failed.  Then I thought I'd give it another go around a year ago.  Still no joy.  But for whatever reason, when I tried it again a little while ago -- success!  I like to think that this time it was looking at a combination of three different ways of actually doing the knit.

Viking Knit Instructions

I mentioned that there was a viking knit instructions YouTube video in my last post on creating viking knit jewelry.  It got me started, but I still needed some help in understanding it.

I ended up purchasing (for $10) a .pdf tutorial on viking knit instructions from Jan Raven.  That tutorial was the missing piece of the puzzle for me.

Then once I had shown some of my viking knit work, I had others asking me to write a viking knit instructions tutorial of my own!  I was certainly honored, and so I now have a viking knit tutorial available.

Now on to one of your most important tools -- the draw plate.

What is a Draw Plate?

Draw Plate for Viking Knit (Click to Enlarge)

Draw Plate for Viking Knit (Click to Enlarge)

The one thing that you need to know is that what your viking knit looks like coming off the dowel or allen wrench is not what it will ultimately look like.  And to help you get there from here, you need a draw plate.

A draw plate is basically a piece of wood that has holes of various diameters drilled into it.  Once you've got your work to the length you need, take it off the dowel/wrench.  Then you can start drawing your chain through the holes, and it will condense your chain, smooth out the work and generally make the viking knit look more finished.

First Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

First Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Where to get a draw plate?  I originally got mine at a bead shop several years ago; if you have a bead shop nearby, try there.  I've not been able to find a good source online, however.  But there is a quick and inexpensive way to get a draw plate if you (or someone you know) has a drill and a good selection of drill bits.

You'll need a scrap piece of hard wood (oak is good) around 1/2" to 3/4" thick.  The size can be anywhere from 4" x 6" on up.  Then starting with a bit a little larger than 1/4", drill holes in the wood, getting gradually smaller with each hole.  (Actually, if you have a large enough piece of wood, you may as well start with the largest bit you have.)Something you need to know:  do not get a jeweler's draw plate, which is made of metal.  The holes in a jeweler's draw plate are way too small for using with viking knit.

Second Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Second Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

You can usually find a viking knit draw plate available on etsy.

As you'll see in the photos, each time I draw the viking knit chain through one of the holes, it condenses a little more.  Personally, I tend to draw down to around 4mm to 4.5mm because I like to use Pandora-style beads in my work.  Others like their chain to be much thicker, and still others, thinner; the choice is up to you!

How Long to Make Your Chain?

Fourth Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Fourth Draw Plate Pull (Click to Enlarge)

Another thing you need to know is that the act of pulling the viking knit chain through the draw plate not only makes the chain thinner, but also longer.  How much longer depends on the gauge of wire, size of the dowel, number of "petals" and if you are doing a single knit or a double knit.  Oh, and also how thin you choose to draw your viking knit chain!

The chain you see me making is 24 gauge copper wire, on a 1/4" metal dowel, with 5 "petals" in a single knit.  I make my chain roughly 2/3 of the final length I want; the extra 1/3 of the length comes in the drawing down process.

When I started, I created a few sample chains of various gauges and number of petals.  I tagged the chains with the following information:

  • Wire gauge and type (copper, silver, artistic, etc.)
  • Number of petals
  • Size of dowel
  • Length before drawing through the draw plate
  • Length after drawing through the draw plate, and the smallest size hole used.
  • Knit type (single or double)
Viking Knit Before and After Draw Plate (Click to Enlarge)

Viking Knit Before and After Draw Plate (Click to Enlarge)

This gives me a small "library" of chains, so I can select my look ahead of time and be sure of the outcome.

I highly recommend creating your own little "library" in the beginning.  You'll be practicing your technique, gaining skill before you start on your first real viking knit jewelry project.  My sample chains are usually around 3" before drawing through the draw plate.

Whew!  Hopefully you have enough information on draw plates for viking knit to know why it is an important tool.  And that you know what you're looking for when buying one ready-made, or how to make one of your own.

The next post will be on argueably the most important part of making your viking knit chain -- the wire you will use.

Viking Knit Jewelry

Viking knit jewelry is really cool.  And up to a few days ago, it totally baffled me.  Then two things happened; I found a YouTube video and I bought a tutorial.  Between the two, I can now do viking knit!  And is it ever addicting...

Directions for Viking Knit Chain

The best video I found out on YouTube certainly helped a great deal; for you, it may be all you need!  So below are the video directions for viking knit chain.  And then below the video is more information and photos of what viking knit looks like from the raw chain through the finished viking knit jewelry.

So YouTube first, then after you're done watching, check out my "before" photos.  Here you go!

Need more?  Check out my Introduction to Viking Knit chain tutorial!  And if you want some serious bling to it, take a peek at Viking Knit Jewelry Embellishments.

Viking Knit Jewelry - Before

Viking Knit Wire Supplies

Viking Knit Wire Supplies

OK, first know that the viking knit, as it comes off the wrench or dowel, looks kinda sad (at least to me).  It definitely does not resemble the gorgeous jewelry I've seen!  But there's a little magic involved that takes maybe a minute and results in a lovely chain.

But first, here's what you need to start out:

  • 24 gauge wire
  • 18 gauge wire
  • Dowel (I use 3/16").  Some people use an allen wrench instead.
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers (round nose and bent nose)
  • Drawplate

While I don't use it, some people also use a T-pin to create a small path for the wire if the tension gets a little too tight.

In the first photo you see dowels, work in progress and the wire (I also have 16 g wire in the photo, although I didn't use it).

Viking Knit Other Supplies (Pliers, Drawplate, etc.)

Viking Knit Other Supplies (Pliers, Drawplate, etc.)

In the next photo you can see the wire before I used the drawplate...along with the drawplate and pliers.  I added the ruler so you can get an idea of how long the wire was (roughly 15 inches).

The raw knit is reminiscent of wire crochet (well, that's what it looks like to me, anyway).

The viking knit stitch I use is called single knit.  Many people prefer to use the variation called double knit, as it makes a more dense weave.

Well, the next post will be more photos taken along the way while creating the jewelry; specifically about the draw plate tool.

Meanwhile, I'll leave you with some Pandora beads, since I will be using them in the finished viking knit jewelry.

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