Monday, June 7, 2010

Wire knitted bracelets

I have a number of wire knitted bracelets in my Etsy store, I thought it would be fun to show some construction photos of one being made. In writing the blog, I now realize how very complicated the process is. Maybe I'm not charging enough?

It all starts with a bead mixture, I am usually inspired by a single bead strand or color and work from there. The bracelet in the construction photos was inspired by these turquoise seed beads I had in a vial on my worktable. I put all the beads in a dish and add beads from the collection until I am satisfied with the look and it feels right. the bead choices can be tricky because they cannot be much larger than 4mm or it is really difficult to knit. It's a balance of large and small beads to get the right texture and look in the finished product.

I have a collection of 28-32 gauge copper wire in different colors, so then the wire color decision must be made. I usually like copper or silver, but sometimes a color calls out (gut instinct). All of the beads in the bracelet then are strung out on the wire. I use permanently colored copper wire, it seems to hold up the best to the knitting process. There is a lot of strain on the wire while knitting, to keep the tension, and I have had other types of wire break. Also, there are between 45-75 feet of wire in each bracelet, sterling silver 30G wire can get pricey.

Then the knitting begins, I choose the width that I want and cast on that number of stitches. I knit in garter stitch back and forth, only adding beads on one side until it is the desired length, then bind off. The knitting needles are metal, about a size 000 (that's really fine). I also use them to knit beaded bags, which is another post. Those take months, literally.

This is a shot of the beginning of a bracelet. once the bracelet body is finished, I use crimp ends to finish the ends and add a clasp.