Knit Kit Jewelry by Joyce Goodman

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Knitting with Wire

“I have dabbled at knitting with wire and always found it unpleasant... until knitting the wire in your beautiful kits. It's not at all hard on the hands.”

Linda Skolnick, Patternworks Co-Founder

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Knitting with wire is essentially like knitting with yarn. The terms and techniques are the same, but the materials behave differently.

The secrets are to relax and to practice so your hands get used to the feel of the new material. (There is plenty of extra wire in the knit kits for practicing.)

The Knitting Wire:

Years of knitting with wire have taught me what works and what hurts.

The wire in my Knit Kits is perfect wire for knitting. It has a special coating that makes it soft and flexible, easy to knit, easy on your fingers and very easy to wear.

The intermediate and advanced kits have multiple strands you knit together as one. Remaining easy and comfortable to work, the combinations read as a single rich and sophisticated color. The Regal cuff, suitable for beginner knitters, is made from a single strand as are some of the other kits, like the Beaded Collar – due out in December.

You can knit with any kind of wire. Some wires produce a knitted fabric that is comfortable to make and to wear. Some do not. This has to do with the kind of metal used, the kind of coating (if there is one) and the thickness, called gauge.

Most commercially available wire, even Sterling Silver, is too springy, so will tangle very easily and be hard to knit. They tend to be brittle, and therefore break if over bent or reworked to correct a mistake. These metals are harder to the touch. They may hurt your hands and cause calluses. I wear band-aids to protect my fingers when I knit with them.

Coated wire is what I find to be the most comfortable wire for knitting and wearing.

The coating keeps the wire
• flexible and light, easy to knit;
• soft and smooth, easy on your hands;
• strong enough to make knitted jewelry that will last for years;

The coating also diminishes kinking and easy tangling that make other springy, uncoated wires hard to work with.

Finally, coated wire allows you to rip out mistakes and knit again, though, as with yarn, it’s best not to do that more than a couple of times.

Needles for Knitting with Wire:

You can use any needles you like or any needles you have. I prefer metal ones, but the knitting wire is so smooth, needles can slip out of the stitches.

One big benefit of knitting with wire is that if your needles do fall out, the wire stays perfectly in shape and the needle slips right back in.

If you are new to knitting with wire I recommend bamboo needles for a little friction and contrast (the metallic shine of both needles and wire can be confusing at first) or circular needles because they can’t fall far.

Once you are comfortable knitting wire you will find small, metal double pointed needles work well for knitting jewelry. You should try a few types and see what feels good in your hands.

The Knitting:

When knitting with wire it is important to remember that wire is not elastic; it does not stretch and return like yarn does. Nor does it compress and “fluff” back up. For this reason, knitted wire creates an open, lacey look. At the same time, knitted wire is strong.

Practice knitting with wire until you work an even, comfortable tension. You may find it easier to cast-on with a slightly larger needle. There is enough wire on the spool for plenty of practice. Keep the tension loose and relax.

Casting on:

Because wire does not stretch, as most yarns do, a loose cast on is best. The “backward loop” or “wrap” cast on is best until you are comfortable with the material. A tight cast on will make your first row harder to knit. Cast on too loosely and your edge will be loopier than you might like. One way to get an easy start is to cast onto needles one size larger than you will be knitting with.

Your knitted fabric:

Knitted wire creates a “fabric” can be pulled bigger in either direction, and, can also be compressed smaller in width or length with careful, even pressure. Because metal has memory, knitted wire will stay pulled or pressed. Therefore, you can make minor adjustments after you’ve finished knitting, and throughout the life of your knitted piece.

Play with your practice swatches - stretch and reshape them. Most importantly, have fun making and wearing beautiful Knitted Wire Jewelry.
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