Being Noticed

I knit in public all the time. I knit while I’m in waiting rooms. I knit on the bus. I knit while walking to the post office. It is always awesome when someone notices and comments, even if they think I’m crocheting (well, sometimes I am crocheting, but you know what I mean). And when it’s a fellow crafter, and they ask what it is you’re making, and want to talk a little shop, that can be even better. I was at the garage, getting an oil change, and a woman came in to drop something off for the cashier, but she spotted me in the waiting area and came over to see what I was making first.

Knitting with wire

I knit with wire. It doesn’t hurt me.

It’s really awesome when you can say, “I’m knitting with wire!” and your admirer’s eyes widen a bit in appreciation.

My sister-in-law said they’ve been using cloth napkins at dinner, and needed some new napkin rings. I found lots of patterns for napkin rings, including crafty things Little Cat Z could have done or helped me with, but I’ve been wanting to try out knitting with wire for a while. Years, really. And I thought I’d seen a pattern for a simple beaded napkin ring somewhere. I searched Ravelry, and there was one, but it had been on About.com, and is no longer available.:-(

But I decided, what’s a napkin ring, but a tube? And stringing beads on wire is totally simple. So I looked for some on-line resources, and made it up myself. I used information I found on The Spruce, The Anticraft, and Stitch Diva Studios to help.

The wire I used didn’t have a gauge listed on it, but it was .018″ diameter, which looks to be about 25 gauge (actually 0.0179″ in American Wire Gauge). So I looked up patterns and projects on Ravelry that used that gauge, and saw they often used US8 (5.0mm) needles, and got something like 4 stitches to the inch. So I prestrung my beads and cast on 16 stitches with backwards loop cast-on. The first one I did, I split up onto four double-pointed needles on the first round . . . and that was a mistake, I think. Wire is just a little less flexible than yarn, as you might have guessed, and it has a mind of its own, so I had a hard time keeping my needles from spinning around and twisting the stitches. On the rest of the rings I did, I worked two rows of garter stitch (or one ridge), flat, before joining to work in the round. That worked so much better, I can’t even find words to describe it. Then I did a round of knit stitches, and then started placing beads.

Something I noticed early on: I generally tension my yarn by wrapping it around my pinky (I knit continental). At first, I thought there was no way I would want to do that with wire! But I’m really uncomfortable not having it wrapped, so much that when I’m ripping out stitches, I still wrap the yarn around my pinky. So I tried it. And it was fine. If you wrap yarn tight around a finger for tension, then maybe you should avoid doing it with wire, but for me it worked just fine. I never cut off circulation, or had the wire dig uncomfortably into my skin. Also, the common wisdom is that you work a lot slower with wire than with yarn, but I didn’t really feel that I was slowed down by much. Maybe I just didn’t notice, since napkin rings are small and don’t take a lot of time, but I really didn’t feel like I was being particularly pokey.

Figuring out the order to string my beads was a little difficult for me. I did one ring where I had four different colors of beads, and I wanted them to go around the ring in spirals. That didn’t work. They just wound up alternating. It still looks good, and unless I tell my sister-in-law, I’m sure she won’t know it was a mistake. I did another one with only two colors that I succeeded in getting to spiral around. I had to really think about it, and reverse the order the beads went on for some rounds. I still don’t understand why the first trial failed and the second one didn’t, but I’ve decided not to question it.

I used 24 beads with each ring. Some of the beads I know were 6/0 Toho glass seed beads. Some of them were from a mixed tube without a size on it, but they’re close to the Toho beads. I’m pretty sure 8/0 beads would have fit, also, but I think smaller than that the holes might be too small (although you could use a higher gauge). And I’ve seen plenty of projects that use larger beads.

I used bamboo needles, mostly because that’s what I had in an appropriate size. Some people say that wooden or bamboo needles are best; some people swear by metal. I generally prefer metal when working with yarn, but for this, the bamboo worked just fine.

For the first ring, I put the beads every fourth stitch, every other round. It looks fine that way, but I decided I like it better with the beads offset a couple stitches every other beaded round. So the first round with beads was *k2, place bead, k2* around, then a round of plain knit, then *k4, place bead*, a round of plain knit, and repeat those four rounds two more times. Then I did two rows of garter stitch at the end, to match the beginning, before binding off. I used a standard bind-off, although it seems pretty common to just run the wire through the last row.

Weaving in ends is . . . interesting with wire. And not totally necessary. I did it with the first couple rings, but after that, I just wound the wire around a stitch, and then flattened the wire loops with needle-nose pliers. If this was something that was going to be worn, I’d be more careful about the ends not being scratchy, but since it isn’t, I just tried to make sure there wasn’t something to snag the fabric of the napkin, or scratch someone in regular usage. I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Napkin Rings

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2 Comments to “Being Noticed”

  1. Looks awesome! And has reminded me that I’ve been thinking of doing some wire knitting for jewellery…

    • Thank you! Have you done any wire knitting before? There are a few patterns for jewelry that I’d like to try out, and I feel much more confident about it now that I dove in with these.

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