Glowing Knitted Wall Art

About: Mechanical engineer, artist, musician.

I've been knitting for many years, and as soon as I found out about EL wire I realized I wanted to knit with it. I've also been wanting more (and more interesting) light fixtures in my apartment, and that's how this project came to be! This is a fairly cheap, easy project, made mostly with materials I already had laying around.

Supplies:

Electroluminescent wire with battery pack - I used this one from Amazon. It's 15ft, but the exact length isn't important.

Knitting needles (I recommend US size 12 or up)

Chopstick or dowel

Plastic container large enough to hold the battery pack on your EL wire

Bubble wrap, about 1 square foot

Spray paint in your preferred color

1 packet Sugru

Electrical tape

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Step 1: Knitting the EL Wire

If you've never knitted before, welcome! This Instructable won't cover the basics of knitting, but there are many more that do. You can also find very helpful videos on Youtube. I'd recommend practicing on some regular yarn first - the EL wire can be stiff and hard to work with for beginners.

Some design parameters to consider:

1. Needle size. A big needle, like the size 50 I'm using in the photos, will make a big, loopy swatch. A smaller needle, like the size 12 that I used for the finished project, will make a tighter swatch. You do want the fabric to be somewhat loose so you can manipulate the stiff wire. I'd recommend using a US size 12 needle or above.

2. Number of stitches. You have a finite length to work with on the EL wire; if you want a long scarf-like rectangle, cast on fewer stitches. If you want something wider, cast on more. Both of the pieces in the pictures are the basic knit stitch, worked flat.

When you cast on, start from the free end of the EL wire and work towards the end with the battery pack. Stop knitting when you have about 2-3ft of wire left to work with.

Slide your "yarn" from the knitting needle onto the chopstick or dowel, one stitch at a time.

Step 2: Housing for the Battery Pack

So, the knitting itself looks cool, but I wanted to do something about the inverter/battery pack. First of all, I'd like it to be integrated into the art, and second, the inverter makes a high-pitched noise that I found pretty irritating!

For the first problem, I decided on putting the battery pack into a round container, and wrapping the wire on the outside to give the suggestion of a yarn ball. Find a round container that'll hold your battery pack, and cut a hole in the side. Thread your wire through to make sure it fits. If desired, use your spray paint to cover the container.

Step 3: Silencing the Battery Pack

After doing some research, I found this Adafruit thread on ways to silence an inverter. One of the posts suggested muffling it using bubble wrap. Wrapping the battery pack and stuffing the container with bubble wrap takes the sound from "annoying" to "barely there" - success!

Of course, you'll need a way to make the on/off button pushable from the outside of the plastic container. I glued a pony bead to the button; anything of that size will do.

Step 4: Finishing the Battery Housing

It's almost done! Use some electrical tape to seal up the hole in the plastic (this will help mute the sound.) Also, guide the wire around the side of the housing and tape it in place.

To hold the loop of wire in place, get out your pack of Sugru and make six or so pea-sized balls. Place those around the rim of the plastic container, then make your EL wire into a loop and press it into the Sugru. Leave to cure.

Step 5: Finished Project!

Enjoy your new wall art! I find the EL wire is visible even during the daytime, and it adds a nice neon-y glow to a dark room. To mount it to the wall, I used small hooks for the knitting, and picture-hanger strips for the battery housing.

Thanks for reading!

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    4 Discussions

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    Imaginationlamb

    5 days ago on Step 5

    Looked at all the entries and this is the best idea and best instructions so I’m voting for it! Thanks again!

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    seamster

    9 days ago

    Neat idea! I've never seen anything like this before : )

    1 reply