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Wire knitted cuff

Give an old technique a new twist as you knit a gossamer cuff to grace your wrist

When you learned to knit, most likely you never considered using a thin piece of fine-silver wire as the knitting fiber! However, if you are comfortable knitting with most weights of yarn, try this project the next time you have the urge to knit. It takes practice to become adept at knitting with wire, so hone your knitting skills and then work with inexpensive 30-gauge craft wire before you attempt this project with fine silver. Fine-silver wire is recommended over sterling because it is more pliable, making it easier on the fingers.

SUPPLIES

  • Fine-silver wire: 30-gauge, dead-soft, 100 yards (91.44m)
  • Sterling-silver wire: 14-gauge, half-hard, approximately 24 inches (60.96cm)
  • Sterling-silver wire: 20-gauge, half-hard, approximately 24 inches (60.96cm)
  • Gold-filled wire: 20-gauge, half-hard,  approximately 24 inches (60.96cm)
  • Sheet solder, hard 
  • Wire cutters
  • Knitting needles, U.S. size 3 (3.3mm)
  • Bench vise
  • Wire-twisting tool
  • Roundnose pliers
  • Bench pin
  • Jeweler’s saw, size 6 blade
  • Soldering tripod
  • Firescale preventative and flux
  • Tweezers
  • Torch
  • Copper tongs and pickle solution
  • Bracelet mandrel, ceramic coffee mug, or other rounded object
  • Large sewing needle

INSTRUCTIONS

Wire crochet cuff 1
Photo 1
Wire crochet cuff 2
Photo 2
Wire crochet cuff 3
Photo 3
Wire crochet cuff 4
Photo 4
Wire crochet cuff 5
Photo 5
Wire crochet cuff 6
Photo 6
Wire crochet cuff 7
Photo 7
Wire crochet cuff 8
Photo 8
Wire crochet cuff 9
Photo 9
Wire crochet cuff 10b
Photo 10
Wire crochet cuff 11
Photo 11

1. Cast on the base row. Before you cast on the stitches for your cuff, read “Determine the Width,” below. Cast on an even number of stitches (between 10 and 20) for the base row using U.S. size 3 (3.3mm) needles and 30-gauge fine-silver wire [PHOTO 1]. See “Knitting Primer,” to review instructions for casting on, knitting, purling, and binding off.

2-3. Knit the cuff. The stitch pattern used in this cuff is called the “seed stitch.” To begin row one, knit one stitch, then purl one stitch. Continue across the row, alternating knit and purl stitches [PHOTO 2]. To begin row 2, purl 1 stitch, then knit 1 stitch. Continue across the row, alternating purl and knit stitches. Repeat the pattern from rows 1 and 2 until you reach the desired length, about 5–7 inches (12.70–17.78cm). [PHOTO 3] Do not bind off until instructed to do so later. Leave the stitches on the needle.

Measure the knitted piece. Use a ruler to measure the perimeter of the knitted piece. The sample is 20 inches (50.80cm).

Cut the wires for the frame. Cut a piece of 14-gauge sterling-silver wire that is 
5–6 inches (12.70–15.24cm) longer than the perimeter of the knitted piece. Cut a piece of 20-gauge sterling-silver wire and a piece of 20-gauge gold-filled wire to the length of the 14-gauge wire.

4-5. Twist the wires for the frame. Grasp one end of all three wires in a bench vise. Due to the different diameters of the wires, placing the wires adjacent to each other will require some finesse. Tighten the vise until the wires are secure [PHOTO 4]. Grasp the other ends of the wires in a wire-twisting tool. Use the tool to twist the wires until the desired amount of plaiting is achieved [PHOTO 5]. Release the twisted wire from the bench vise and the twisting tool.

6-9. Form the frame. Form the frame so the single solder join will be on one of the long edges. Grasp the twisted wire 6–8 inches (15.24–20.32cm) from one end with roundnose pliers. Use your fingers to bend either end of the wire around a jaw of the pliers to form a right angle [PHOTO 6]. Place the knitted piece flat on your work surface and gently stretch it into a long rectangle. Position the frame so the right angle corner that you just made fits around a corner of the knitted piece. Form the frame so it is a little larger than the knitted piece, so you can stretch the knitted piece when you secure it. Use the pliers to grasp the frame where you want to make the second corner [PHOTO 7]. Form a second corner aligned with the first one [PHOTO 8]. Position the knitted piece within the frame and determine where the third corner should be. Remove the knitted wire and form the fourth corner aligned with the first and third corners [PHOTO 9]. 

10. Cut off the excess wire. Place the section of the frame where the two wires overlap on a bench pin. Use a jeweler’s saw with a size 6 blade to cut off both ends of the wire, creating a join to solder the ends of the frame together. [PHOTO 10]

11.  Solder the frame. Cut a snippet of hard solder. Carefully position the frame on a soldering tripod so the ends of the join are in contact with each other. Spray firescale preventative on the entire frame and heat it with a torch. Flux the join and the snippet of solder. Use tweezers to place the snippet on top of the join. Apply heat from beneath the frame. Keep the torch moving to heat the entire frame. Continue heating until the solder flows. Use copper tongs to place the frame in a pickle solution. Remove the frame and rinse it under cold water. Dry it. [PHOTO 11]

12–13. Shape the frame. Use a bracelet mandrel or other rounded object (a ceramic coffee mug was used in this example) to form the rectangle into a cuff shape [PHOTO 12]. Use your fingers to gently press the frame around the rounded object, leaving an opening about 1 inch (2.54cm) wide between the two ends of the frame [PHOTO 13]. Do as much shaping as possible around the mandrel, then slide the frame around your wrist to check the fit. 

14–15. Attach the knitted piece to the frame. Start with a 3-foot (.9m) piece of 30-gauge fine-silver wire. Attach a large sewing needle to one end of the wire and “sew” the knitted piece to the frame using a looping motion, going through a knitted stitch and around the frame every time [PHOTO 14]. Begin by placing one rectangular end of the finished knitted piece into one end of the frame. (The other end of the knitted piece is not finished yet, so you can adjust its length as needed.)

As you loop the 30-gauge wire, manipulate it so it lies parallel to the twists of the frame [PHOTO 15]. Work slowly and carefully so you do not kink or twist the wire. If you wrap carefully, the 30-gauge wire will blend in with the others and look like part of the frame.

About 3 inches (7.62cm) from the unfinished end of the knitted piece, check to see that it comfortably fits inside the remaining portion of the frame. If the knitted piece is too short, knit more rows, working in the established pattern until it is long enough. If the knitted piece is too long, undo rows until it fits. When the knitted piece is the correct length, bind off the edge (see “Knitting Primer”). 

Once the knitting is bound off, continue sewing the knitted wire to the frame. When you’ve finished sewing around the perimeter, leave a 2-inch (5.08cm) wire tail. Use another piece of 
30-gauge wire to sew around the entire frame a second time for additional strength and security. When you’re finished, leave another 2-inch (5.08cm) tail. Twist the two wire tails together and work them through several knitted stitches to hide the ends.

Wire crochet cuff 12
Photo 12
Wire crochet cuff 13
Photo 13
Wire crochet cuff 14
Photo 14
Wire crochet cuff 15
Photo 15
Determine the width

The knitted portion of the cuff shown is 20 stitches wide. This will create a bracelet that is too wide for most people. 

You will most likely want to work with 10 to 16 stitches. Due to the difference in tension with wire as the knitting fiber, create a test swatch to determine how wide you want your bracelet to be. 

Cast on an even number of stitches and knit 10–20 rows using the seed stitch technique (explained in steps 2–3). It will take at least this many rows for the tension to even out and give you a true idea of how wide the cuff will be. Remember that the frame will make the piece even wider. 
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