Viking Knittinct

Finds in Scandinavia have shown that the Vikings had the technology to make chains of both fine and somewhat coarser metal wire. Chains were assembled from many pieces of wire, without the use of solder, into handsome and flexible jewelry.

Metalworking tools recovered from Viking finds are much like those used today The pliers were more crude, and the drawplates looked more primitive, but their functions were identical to our modern tools.

Working metal wire with metal tools makes it stiffer. more brittle, and more susceptible to breakage Special equipment is needed to anneal the wire (warm it until it glows and becomes soft again) so it can be worked without breaking.

However, this was not a problem for the Vikings, and it need not be for us today! By working with predominantly wooden, leather and rubber tools, annealing is unnecessary. You can copy the old Viking jewelry with very few tools and with an ordinary table as a workspace.

Which wire to use

Silver and copper wires are best for Viking knitting. The best gauge is 26 (0.5 mm), which will give you regular, good looking results from the very beginning If you use wire finer than 28-gauge (0.4 mm), you should place a wire or a leather thong inside the chain to stabilize it.

Wire as heavy as 22-gauge (0.8 mm) can certainly be used, but requires strong hands and more skill.

Most important tools

(See photo on page 59. for reference.)

1 pair flat-nose pliers without ridges 1 pair needle-nose pliers 1 small vise

1 hardwood drawplate (a die plate through which wire is pulled to reduce its diameter) Mandrels Ian axis, or spindle around which wire can be bentl

Starter kits are available with draw-plates and mandrels included, but you can easily make these yourself.


Make the drawplate from a piece of hardwood, such as oak. maple, or beech, about 5*4 inches (14 cm) long. 2-' 2 inches (5 cm) wide, and 1 inch (2.54 cm) thick. Bore holes % inch (0.5 cm) apart, from 1.5 to 10 mm in diameter.

You have now made your own draw-plate. which you will use to draw your finished knitting even and pliable

The Viking "knitting" presented here is structurally a looping technique that preceded traditional knitting by centuries and was used by the Vikings not only for jewelry, but also for woolen clothing. The technique consists of backstitching fiber (in this case, wire) in loops, first around a starter and then around earlier rows of stitches, producing something that resembles twisted knit stitches.


Mandrels can be made of knitting needles or Allen wrenches in ^j?. V&. and ^16 inches 12.5, 3.5. and 5 mm).

To make room for the wire when you're knitting, file a little notch about ^ of the way in on the short leg of the Allen wrench. Polish the notch with emery paper.


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