About the Weaving Technique Called Viking Knitting

“Viking knitting” is not actually knitting in the way you might think (i.e. with two needles), but is actually a type of weaving. Chains are made from long pieces of wire (8'-12') that are worked by hand into interconnecting loops. For those who knit with yarn, the connected loops look like twisted knitting (knit through back loop). Necklaces may contain up to 60' of wire, so several shorter pieces must be joined together during construction of the chain. This can done without the use of solder because the wire is spliced together in a way that is nearly impossible to detect in the finished piece. The raw chain is woven around a form (Allen wrenches or dowels) and is typically then pulled through holes in a wooden drawplate to tighten the weave and make the chain pliable. Necklaces containing irregular gemstones, however, cannot be pulled through a drawplate and must be pulled by hand. The ends of each chain are finished by hand-coiling a heavier gauge wire, again using only cold connections and no solder.

Examples of these chains have been found at various archeological sites in Scandinavia dating back to the 8th century A.D (the Viking era). Similar chains have been found in other areas of the world, so the technique may not have been unique to the Vikings. Indeed, chains that look identical can be made with a different weaving technique that forms the chain in the opposite direction. For instructions on this method, refer to Tim McCreight's Jewelry: Fundamentals of Metalsmithing.

I first encountered Viking knitting in Nancie Wiseman's book, Knitting With Wire. I took the basic technique and explored various ways of combining the stitches, sizes of allen wrenches, adding beads, and hand-finishing the ends. I have also come across instructions in Irene From Peterson's Great Wire Jewelry (original Danish title: Smykker fra Vikingtid og Nutid) and the March 2005 issue of Art Jewelry magazine.

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Purchase a Tutorial on Viking Knitting

If you have some experience working with wire and making jewelry, you might be interested in learning this technique. I have a comprehensive tutorial containing over 80 photos and 75 steps! The next best thing to a personal lesson! Just $10. The tutorial will guide you through the completion of the earrings shown below and will give you enough information to make the silver chain shown. Along the way you will learn how to get started, how to add new wire (two ways), how to deal with mistakes and misaligned stitches, how to handle long pieces of wire, and two different ways to finish the ends of longer chains. When checking out through PayPal, please make certain that your email address is correct! I will send the tutorial (PDF, 1.4MB file) via email.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: My 2010 show season has started, so if you order a tutorial when I am traveling to a show, there may be a delay in your receipt of the tutorial. I don't always have internet access while on the road, so please be patient. I always send the tutorials just as soon as I can!

Other tutorials I have written are available on this page.

Viking Knit Tutorial $10.
Once payment is complete, I will email the PDF file as soon as I can!

Click to see a summary of the technique in pictures!