How to do Viking chain knitting

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How to do Viking chain knitting
Viking chain knitting is also called trichinopoly. (Jennifer Walker)

Also known as trichinopoly, this technique creates chain work that can be either lacy or dense, depending on the number of loops woven into in each round. The method is simple to learn, but takes a little practice to master. And yes, the Vikings really did this!

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fine gauge wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Wooden dowel, Allen key or mandrel
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Spare piece of wood
  • Power drill with various bits
  • Jewellery findings (optional)

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  1. 1

    Make three or more loops, each about 7.5 cm (3 inches) deep, with about 30 cm (1 foot) of your wire. Wrap the bundle a few times near the base and then again closer to the working end, about an inch below the tip of the loops. This won't actually be part of the finished chain, so don't worry too much about looks.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    Start with a spool of wire.
  2. 2

    Fit the loops around the end of your dowel or mandrel. Using an Allen key gives you the benefits of the angles to work around, but you can cut a small notch at the top of a dowel to help pass the working wire around the loops you'll be making.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    You'll work from the starter loops down.
  3. 3

    Anchor a new piece of wire -- your working wire -- to the base, and then make your first loop. The working wire will follow down the side of one of the starter loops, curve under where two loops rest side-by-side, behind the sides of the two starter loops and then out and down again to the right, making a counter-clockwise e-loop. Pull it snugly, but leave enough space to work around.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    The first loop requires a bit of manoeuvering.
  4. 4

    Continue to "knit" these e-loops, working to the right, joining each of the starter loops together until you come back to the beginning.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    Continue to the second layer.
  5. 5

    On the next row, using the same method, bring your next loop behind the crossed wires that formed the bottom of the first loop you made. This is how you will continue to build your chain, loop by loop, shifting the growing length of chain up the dowel or mandrel as necessary.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    The chain grows.
  6. 6

    To make a more dense chain you can bring your loop behind the second cross up (for double weave) or even the third (for triple weave) for a very sturdy chain. Keep in mind that the denser the chain, the less flexible it will be.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    Single, double and triple weaving, left to right.
  7. 7

    At the end of your working wire, clip it just after the last loop completed, tucking the cut edge inside the chain. Make a small hook in a new piece of wire and draw the straight end behind that last loop, securing the hook around that loop. Continue weaving as before.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    The new wire hooks in behind the last loop. Tuck any loose ends in as necessary.
  8. 8

    Weave the length you think you will need but know that you'll gain length once the chain is drawn out.

  9. 9

    Make a draw plate by drilling several holes in decreasing sizes about 2.5 cm (1 inch) apart in your piece of hardwood.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    The draw plate doesn't have to be pretty, just functional.
  10. 10

    Starting with the largest hole, pull your chain through the hole once or twice, then work your way down through each smaller hole until your chain has increased in length, evened out in texture and becomes more flexible.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    The draw plate smooths out the knitted chain.
  11. 11

    To prepare the chain for use, clip and remove the starter loops and extend the end of the wire out to make loops, hooks or feed through a decorative end cap to hide the not-so-pretty ends.

    How to do Viking chain knitting
    Decorative end caps are a quick way to make a chain look polished.

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