In addition to jewelry making, I have a great love of fiber arts. The two work well together. Knitting needles make wonderful coiling mandrels! Like many knitters and crocheters, I can become quite enamored of certain yarns, and hate to see even a scrap of leftovers wasted. Such was the case with this wonderful handspun yarn by Julie of Flawful Fibers. After making a hat for my daughter, I had plenty of yarn remaining and there sat my jewelry tools, demanding that I give them some attention too! The result was a new type of jewelry link with two variations and an endless number of possibilities.
These could be made in various lengths and thicknesses and would look very different depending on the colors, texture, and weight of the yarn used. I think that made with sterling silver and fine yarns this could definitely be the basis for a line of high end art jewelry for knitters/crocheters.
To make one of these links you’ll need:
- 18 gauge dead soft or half hard wire (the sample uses 4 inches)
- 20 gauge dead soft wire (the sample uses about 6 inches)
- Scrap yarn (about a few yards)
- A bead whose hole can accommodate 18 gauge wire (optional; the sample bead is a 10mm Venetian Glass bead)
- Round nose pliers
- Flat nose pliers
- A ball pein or chasing hammer and anvil or bench block
- Flush cutters
The instructions given are for quite large and chunky links like those shown; they are about 2 1/2-3 inches in length. Feel free to adjust the measurements to suit your preferences.
Cut a length of 18 gauge wire 4 inches in length.
With your flat nose pliers, bend the wire into a right angle at a point 1 inch from one end. Bend the wire into another right angle at the point 1 inch from the other end. Both bent portions should point in the same direction and lie in the same plane. If you are making the beaded version of the link, bend one end of the wire, string the bead onto the main portion of the wire, then bend the other end of the wire, trapping the bead between the two bends.
Bend each of the wire ends into a rather large simple loop. Then, grip each simple loop with your flat nose wires and continue to curl the wire until it forms a partial spiral. This will add a decorative touch to the loop and prevent the yarn from snagging in the base of the loop. Continue curling the wire until the bent portion of the wire, with the partial spiral centered on the end of the link.
Hammer the entire link flat, then flip the link over and hammer from the other side as well. This will add stability to the shape of the wire. If you are making the beaded version, push the bead to one side while hammering the opposite end of the link, then slide it to the other side while hammering the opposite end. After hammering, push the bead to the left side of the link.
Cut a piece of 20 gauge wire about six inches in length. Attach this wire by coiling it around the straight portion of the link immediately next to the link’s left loop (or immediately next to the bead, if you are making the beaded version).
Position the long end of the 20 gauge wire so that it runs alongside the 18 gauge wire.
Place the end of the yarn between the two wires at the point where the 20 gauge wire meets the 18 gauge wire so that about 1 1/2 inches of yarn sticks out the other side.
Slide the yarn all the way to the left. Hold the two wires tightly together. Position the short end of the yarn so that it also lies alongside the two wires. Begin to coil the long part of the yarn around the two wires and the short end of the yarn. Wrap each coil immediately next to the previous coil so that no wire is visible between them. Note that the short end of the yarn is currently being held in place by the two wires, and will eventually be covered and more tightly secured by the coils formed by the long portion of the yarn.
Continue coiling until you reach the link’s right loop. At this point, you should decide how thick you’d like your link to be. If you like the current thickness, you’re ready to move on to securing the end of the yarn. If you’d like the link to be thicker, you’ll have to coil back to the left side of the link, then coil again to the right side of the link. Your coiling must end on the right side of the link. You can coil these upper layers either neatly or in a “messy on purpose” style.
To secure the yarn in place, position the yarn so that it is extending to the right of the link. Wrap the 20 gauge wire around the extended yarn and the 18 gauge wire one time (forming one complete coil).
Pull the extended yarn tightly back to the left, over the 20 gauge wire coil. Hold the yarn tightly against the yarn-coiled portion of the link. With the yarn in this position, tightly wrap 2-3 more coils with the 20 gauge wire to the left of the previous coil, securing the yarn in place.
Clip your wire and yarn ends with the flush cutter; tuck in wires as necessary.
More Fun with Fiber
I continued playing and made a matching pendant and necklace. If you make some of these links I’d love to see what you do with them!