Introduction: How to Teach Yourself to Knit With Wire (and Maybe Make a Christmas Ornament Too)
The photos featured here were originally accompanying a two hour community workshop where I was able to physically assist people. The objective was to teach people the "concept" of how knitting works, and working with the concept rather than the tools (knitting needles, crochet needles). I used 16 gauge aluminum wire for the demonstration - aluminum is much kinder to your fingers, and also, 16 gauge is thick enough to get larger shapes in less time, and you can easily see the intricacy of the method.
I am, unfortunately, not in the states anymore, so I don't know where to get the sort of wire I'd used and I don't have any in stock anymore (I would have liked to have updated the training methodology). However, if you're in the states, you can order from the lovely people at http://www.artcraftwire.com/. Shop around. Your local florist might have them too. You may get thinner gauges (the thinner the wire, the higher the gauge), but start with a thicker gauge if you're a beginner. Be sure to get ALUMINUM though. Also, while colored (anodized) aluminum looks pretty, it's also a little harder than work with than plain aluminum, so get those at thinner gauges.
There's another wire knitting tutorial here (https://www.instructables.com/id/Wire-crochet-for-begginers/), but my purpose is to teach you the the concept of looping. The metal wants to move in a certain way and gets stressed if you try to force it too hard. The idea here is to let the metal guide you.
Anyway, the tools and materials!
-Aluminum wire (stick to the 16-20 gauges). From the website above, a pound of wire between the gauges of 18-20 (the project doesn't use to much, so you'll have plenty left over for other projects, and it's a great, easy going material to work with) will set you back about $10.
- an awl or a pointed stick. Here I used a dowel about the width of a pencil.
- Scissors or wire cutters
- Your fingers. They're your main tool.
If you want to attempt to make a Christmas ornament, you will need:
- Something to shape the structure. I used a Styrofoam ball here for demonstration purposes, but you can use a bowl, or a coconut, or be brave and do it freehand.
Step 1: Loop It Up, Baby!
As this was originally a PDF presentation, click on the images for the instructions.
Keep carrying on until you've gotten to the length you want. When you are done, place a dowel that fits snugly inside your newly made tube and roll it on the table a few times. this will even out the "stitches" or loops, and will also make your tube incredibly flexible. If you have any questions, leave a comment!
Things to note:
Let the metal do the work. The wire should loop comfortably. Practice looping until YOU get the idea of how the metal wants to loop. If you try and force it to do your bidding, the metal might kink (out of sheer spite).
Don't use the awl/dowel to hook the wire through. PUSH the loop through. You're using metal wire, not thread. Trying to hook it will result in kinks (and an upset metal). The awl is there mainly for sizing the loops.
Step 2: Making That Christmas Ornament... (come On, You Can Do It!)
Instructions are on the images!
When you've reached the width you want, start reducing the space between the stitches (loops) until they're touching each other. If you had added loops at the 4th step, you can reduce the number by stacking loops (one on top of the other) in twos for the next row of loops.
If you get the idea, continue. If you don't, leave comment, hang on, and I'll leave an image for you when I have the time to take more photos.
Made one? I want to see!
Edit: I realized that some of the images were not in order yesterday, but wasn't able to edit any posts. They should be in order now!
Step 3: Other Tips and Notes:
If you have knit or crocheted, you will know this. You can make your starter row with a chain stitch. Pretty much every wire knit item you see online starts off in a tubing format, which gives your the "knit row, purl row" face, in knitting terms. This is how the metal likes to move.
You can, however, also do a flat "knit" surface just as easily. I used to have a video demo of it, somewhere. If I find it, I'll link to it.
Hope you've learned to knit with wire! My objective isn't to help you make a finished product - that's up to you. Everyone works a little differently. During my workshop, some student had done an inside out tube, because that is just how their fingers went. They thought they were doing it wrong, but I personally didn't see anything wrong with it, and actually thought it was kind of cool. I like differences!
Left-handers might have trouble trying this particular method, but I'm a life long right-hander so I wouldn't be able to figure it out.