How to Finish (or Start!) Viking Knit

Jan 30, 2009

Viking Knit Envy

Last weekend I took a break from my beads and tried my hand at Viking Knit, a type of wirework that creates beautiful wire cords that you can fashion into bracelets and necklaces.  For months, I've been admiring some Viking knit bracelets the same way I admire a wonderful painting:  Wow, I wish I could do that. 

I had a thousand reasons why I couldn't--it looked complicated, it would take days or weeks to learn, it would probably require a bunch of new, expensive tools I couldn't afford, or worse, knitting needles, which I already had difficulty using with soft, pliable yarn.

But when I finally decided to read the section on Viking Knit in Knitting with Wire by Nancy Wiseman and watch the Viking Knit DVD by Step by Step Wire Jewelry editor Denise Peck, I discovered I couldn't have been more wrong.  The basic technique was fairly simple and quick to learn, the tools were ones I already had (or could make), and no knitting needles were required!  I'm no expert after my brief exploration, but with some practice, I feel that could make something as beautiful as the Trichinopoly Chainwork necklace by Kathleen Pierce.  It's an exciting feeling!

What I Learned

Here's what I learned about Viking Knit:

• Nancie Wiseman in Knitting with Wire recommends using an Allen wrench (also known as a hex wrench) because the angles make it easier to insert the wire under a stitch.  I learned that this can't be any old wrench--it needs to be open at both ends (not anchored to a carrying case) and have some length.  The tiny, fold-out, pocket wrench you use to repair your bike won't work!

• Don't worry if your first attempt isn't perfect--pulling the wire through the drawplate (a piece of wood with holes drilled in it) compresses it and covers a multitude of sins.  Think of the drawplate as a girdle for wire knitting. 

• One early problem I had was consistent tension--my stitches were loose and uneven.  When I watched Denise Peck in the Viking Knit DVD, I noticed that after she made a stitch, she put her thumb firmly over it, holding it in place while she made the second stitch.  Problem solved!

Want to learn Viking Knit yourself?  Your best bet is either the Viking Knit DVD or the book Knitting with Wire by Nancie Wiseman, depending upon your personal learning style.  If you want someone to walk you through the steps and see hand positions and movements, then buy the Viking Knit DVD.    If you prefer written instructions and illustrations (or also want to learn hand and machine wire knitting), then order the Knitting with Wire book.

If you already know Viking Knit, you'll enjoy this free article from Step by Step Wire Jewelry with lots of ideas on how to finish your Viking Knit project.  In addition to showing you how finish the ends with cones or coiled end caps, the author offers ideas on how to create a dreamcatcher and cover a focal bead.

New Free Project
The Perfect Finish:  Tips and Tricks to Finish Viking Knit
Kathleen Pierce

A follow up to her Trichinopoly Chainwork tutorial in the winter 2009 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry, Kathleen shows us unique ways to embellish and finish Viking Knit.  Instructions assume working knowledge of Viking Knit.  This project will be free for a limited time.  


Free eBook
Making Wire Jewelry:  6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily

Create 6 stunning wire jewelry projects (2 wire necklaces, a wire bracelet, 2 pairs of wire earrings, and a wire ring) with this free eBook that contains step by step wire jewelry instructions for each project.  Jewelry designs range in difficulty from beginner to intermediate and use a variety of wire work techniques, including spirals, coiling, wirewrapping, hammering, and twisting wire.  Download Making Wire Jewelry:  6 Free Wire Designs from Beading Daily

Michelle Mach shares free projects every Friday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website. 

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Beadorables wrote
on Jan 31, 2009 12:58 PM
Hi Michelle! Must a tip on Viking can use an old 4 pin knitting bobbin (they sell them new as well in any knitting section of a crafts store) to make a Viking Knit. I still pull through draw plate, but you do not have to. Only glitch is that you have to use a flexible wire, i.e. 26 gauge. I made a gorgoues bracelet with goldtone and sterling silver wire.
heathert10 wrote
on Jan 31, 2009 5:38 PM
i just took a class on viking weave and we used dowels they worked great!
DonnaH@60 wrote
on Feb 1, 2009 11:23 AM
Oh oh, an incomplete loop. No tips and tricks to finish viking knit. I've been doing Viking Knit for about 4 years, and a new thought is always welcome. I use dowels with lines drawn to keep the knit straight. If the item is a bracelet, I usually insert an 18 gauge wire into it, to stablize the size, and build a clasp on that. Viking Knit will stretch over time and create a too large a bracelet.
CarolynL@22 wrote
on Feb 6, 2009 4:09 PM
I thought I had posted a comment on viking knit but I don't see it here, so I'll try again. I took an online Viking Knit class with Adele Sciortino and made a beautiful necklace with a beaded cabachon. The one piece of advice that I have is this: when pulling your knitted wire through the draw plate, make sure that you do it in one continuous pull. Do not stop and start. If you stop and start, you will get some "kinks" in your knit. Fortunately, mine were very slight and I had long sections with no kinks. CarolynL
Valkyree wrote
on Feb 10, 2009 12:20 PM
Hello all... the viking knit video from Denise Peck is absolutely wonderful!!! My heritage is Scandinavian and my nickname is Valkyrie, but I could never learn viking knit... just could not "get" it.... so frustrating... so many times I just threw the project away, thinking I might as well just live with the fact, that this viking descendant was not ever going to master viking knit. I started the video as I sat here with my coffee thinking lets give it one more shot... only out $19.99 if I fail again... (hear the angels choir?) I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! From the very first instructions... I got it!!! I actually "got" it!!!! Denise is awesome!!! it was clear as a bell and never did I feel lost or unsure about any part of the question I do have is I am looking for a good supplier for the cap ends... where do you find the ones that were used in the project?... all I can find are cone style...thanks! Valkyree
cassadayl wrote
on Apr 8, 2009 8:49 PM
Responding to query by KarenK regarding where to find end caps for viking knit projects. Try:
chrlan wrote
on Aug 30, 2009 11:40 AM
My viking knit likes to go in a spiral around the dowel stick will that be okay once I go through the drawplate? Also what do you recommend if we want to use heavier gauge wire such as 20 gauge. Thanks.
on Feb 19, 2011 1:16 PM

I just purchased the Denise Peck's Viking Knit video through Interweave.  I'm only getting the audio part.  Anyone have any suggestions?

Thank you

mary@623 wrote
on Oct 13, 2011 4:57 AM

I coudn't get the how to start and finish the viking knit to download.