Knitting with wire

Someone I know came back from a trip to South America recently with a pair of earrings made from knitted wire. Now I’ve seen examples of wire knitting before, done using a “French knitting” tool of the type we all made as children by hammering 4 nails into a wooden cotton reel and then cutting off their heads, but I’d never seen anything like these earrings. They’re reminiscent of Arum lily flowers and clearly involve shaping by means of increases to create an approximately conical, double-layered bell shape that hangs down from the earwire. Very pretty. I had to have a go.

Before trying to knit a complicated shape, I thought I’d better start with a simple tube. I used some fine gold-coloured jewellery wire I happened to have that I originally bought for wiring tiny beads into clusters. I used it for this amethyst shawl pin, amongst other things, but there was still plenty left on the reel. It’s 28 gauge on the American scale, about 0.32mm in diameter, and reasonably soft. I’ve posted before about wire gauges and the fact that the pre-metric UK knitting needle sizes are British Standard Wire Gauge. For some reason – the origin of the materials, presumably – beading wire tends to be specified in American Wire Gauge even when sold in this country. But I digress.

After an hour or so of labour, using a fine steel crochet hook to assist, I had produced a short length of knitted tube. I could have continued but my fingers were getting sore and boredom was beginning to set in.

Knitted wire tubeDrawing wire “cords” and tubes made by French knitting, lucetting or similar processes through a series of gradually reducing holes evens them up in the same way that blocking knitted textiles does. I had a spare piece of plywood with a 3mm hole in it that I’d used when testing what was the right hole size for the components of my laser-cut light shade, so I used that. It doesn’t seem to have done a lot of good, frankly.

Knitted wire loopI really need to make myself draw plate with some smaller holes in it, down to perhaps 2mm diameter. This length of knitted wire is basically an I-cord, because somewhere along the way I lost one of the four stitches. It looks a little better when I bring the ends together to make a loop, and I think this has possibilities as a dangly earring. I will need to make another to match, which might be difficult – where exactly did that fourth stitch disappear?

Ideally, I’d like to try and replicate the South America lily earrings, but I don’t think I’m ready for that just yet. There are a few lily patterns around that I can use for inspiration, particularly this Knitty one called The good, the gilded and the goth.

About yorkshirecrafter

I live and work in West Yorkshire.  I've always enjoyed crafts of all types, from woodwork to lace-making.  I also enjoy anything mathematical, which makes knitting a favourite pastime, especially complicated designs.  I've been advising businesses and industry on environmental matters for 30 years and also have an interest in green living, especially where it saves me money. I live with my husband and our Maine Coon in a 100-year-old cottage that constantly needs something doing to it.  Fortunately, I enjoy DIY too.
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