Thursday, February 08, 2007

Wire We Here

I’m a member of Complex Weavers and even though I haven’t actually woven much of anything for a number of years, I haven’t given up my membership. I currently belong to 2 study groups within CW: Kumihimo on the Marudai and Beads & Interlacements. Both of these groups have 2 swaps per year, though one of the B&I swaps is “virtual”. This keeps me making at least 2 braids and a couple of bead projects each year with a deadline. Deadlines are good. They make me finish stuff, at least most of the time. The B&I swap with real samples is due in Virginia, USA March 1 and since there is no real theme this time, I thought I’d play with wire. I recently got Annie Modesitt’s book Twist and Loop but nothing in there looked simple enough to make 9 of them. While I was recently magazine-trolling for lace patterns, I also found a couple of wire knit patterns also by Annie in the Summer 2003 issue of Interweave Knits. Then the experimenting began.

First off, the patterns all called for 26 gauge Artistic wire. I have 30g, 28g, 24g, 22g, but no 26g. I did have some 26g in Rock Haus wire but only in a very dark purple that pretty much looks black. OK, this will be experimental at best. So I picked the hardest pattern with little scallops. It also called for 2 colours of wire but the only one that went with the purple was a 24g copper. Can’t be that much different, hey? And ribbon yarn. I have balls of Copper Penny left from my Little Squares sweater. Needles size 5 mm. There’s a couple of vintage aluminums from a broken set of dpns. Seed beads size 6°. Some gold-washed amethyst transparents kind of work with the theme. Pricey but I only need a few. Good to go.

Luckily I was smart enough not to try knitting the whole necklace pattern which starts with 97 stitches! I cut it down to 3 repeats, which still was enough to just about kill my hands! Ever tried working a k3tog with wire? How about ripping back several stitches because you made a mistake? Easier in anything you can think of, even the most clingy mohair, than in wire! The 24g? MUCH harder to knit with than 26g, especially when you have to wind it in two wraps around the piece of knitting every few stitches and then knit the wraps together with the next stitch. Binding off with both wire and ribbon yarn? A piece o’cake NOT. What was Annie thinking? What was I thinking to try this pattern? You were supposed to chain the ends of the ribbon but I hadn’t left myself enough so I just left it as ribbon. One more or even better, one LESS repeat would have looked more balanced. And the colours I chose aren’t really all that great together. See?

There is no earthly way I’m making 8 more of these! Not even the full size model. Though the wire fabric is interesting and surprisingly stiff. Back to the drawing board. Pick an easier pattern and better colours. I love the brown Artistic wire but only have it in 28g. Fine. Might be easier on the hands. Blue is the colour I’ve been wearing with brown lately so the beads are 8° blue silver-lined (didn’t have blue 6’s) and 6°bronze silver-lined, both Czech seed beads from Shipwreck. The yarn is Noro’s Daria Multi, a rayon-wrapped cotton cord that I bought at Diva Yarns in Port Townsend, WA on our vacation. Very pricey for only a few meters! But this is the perfect use for it. The Delicate Necklace pattern only has 2 rows, one of long-tail cast-on with beads and one plain knit. Then you don’t bind off with the yarn but thread it through the last row of knit stitches. Much easier and I could crochet the whole neck cord first before drawing it through the wire. After slightly stretching and shaping the knitting, it’s is held in place on the cord by wrapping the tails on each end. You “block” wire knitting with your hands since the regular method obviously wouldn’t work. I skipped the clasp instructions and opted for simply tying it on. This piece was much more successful colour-wise:

And it’s not that difficult to do more copies. I can kind of “mass-produce” the parts and then assemble. And this post will pretty much suffice for the write-up I’ve got to supply with the pieces. As long as my body holds out, I should be able to finish the swap with time to spare. Whew!


Kat said...

Wow, I love the second piece you came up with!! (The first one is nice, too, but the second is my fave.)

I haven't knitted with wire yet, although I've crocheted with some 28-gauge.

Those are both very inspiring pieces. Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Great pieces. Great writeup.