Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Knitted Wire Cuff Bracelet

Lately I've been interested in knitting with wire. I looked through several books about crocheting and knitting jewelry and was struck by the beautiful and novel designs that can be created with wire. Also, while some jewelry-making supplies can be pricey, wire is relatively inexpensive; perfect for a crafter on a budget. My aunt's birthday was earlier in December, in fact it fell on the day of a horrific Tax Law exam, so I didn't have a chance to get her a gift. I thought a funky knit bracelet would be perfect for her. I knew I wanted to knit a fairly wide cuff bracelet and that I wanted it to be beaded. After knitting a test swatch using 32 gauge wire, I decided the wire was too thin to hold its shape. Off to the hobby store.

I purchased 40 yards of 28 gauge tarnish-resistant silver wire for about $3.75. I also picked up some square, glass beads. I recommend using inexpensive aluminum knitting needles for this project because the wire would be hard on more delicate wooden needles. Before casting on, I threaded my beads onto the roll of wire (because I did not know how much wire the project would take, I knit off the roll). I ended up using 25 beads. Then, on size 4 knitting needles, I cast on 30 stitches. Note: the recipient of this bracelet has thin wrists, so 30 stitches may not be adequate for everyone, determining the necessary number of stitches may take some trial and error. I knit the bracelet in stockinette, trying to keep the wire taut and even. I also finger blocked after every row, pulling and straightening the stitches. I incorporated the beads on purl rows. When I needed a bead, I would simply slide it up the length of wire and purl it into the next stitch. On each beaded row, I used 5-6 beads, spacing them out along the length of the row. I did not strictly count stitches in between, but I tried to eye the placement so it looked "right" to me. On the next beaded row, I staggered the beads, so they were not directly above the previously placed beads. I knit for 1 1/2 inches, then bound off. The purled side of the cuff ended up being the right side, because the beads were more visible on that side.

I chose 1 1/2 inches as a width because it made a pretty bold cuff (and coordinated with the length of the ribbon ends I had purchased), but really this bracelet could be made in any width. My local hobby store sold the necessary hardware as "ribbon ends," but they are essentially folded pieces of metal that you crimp over the end of the cuff. They have a loop on the edge through which you insert a link of a chain. On the other side, I attached a chain ending in a lobster clasp (you know, the hook with the little lever that is incredibly difficult to put on by yourself). You could also use a toggle clasp, but I didn't know the exact circumference of my aunt's wrist, so I liked the flexibility afforded by the lobster clasp.

Knitting with wire could be applied to a wide variety of projects, like chokers or earrings. In addition to jewelry-making, I've also seen wire knit into household items, such as beautiful beaded napkin rings. I was thinking copper wire with green, brown, and burgundy beads for an autumn table. Be creative and enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the details. Saved me a lot of hassle. Trying to make something like this for my bridal jewelry :)