Viking Knit – Size DOES matter…..

by Perri Jackson on 03/30/2014

I'm a curious sort of girl…..

My Mom calls it  stubborn and argumentative, but what does she know? 


When people say things like
"Loop size doesn't matter in Viking Knit – the drawplate will fix everything! It will all come out the same…." My natural mercurial scepticism meter shoots waaaaay into the red. - I need to see for myself. Besides, how can I answer my students knowledgeably on just hearsay?

So I thought up a fun little VK experiment, complete with control constants and numerical data just like the good little scientist-minded girlie I was raised to be….

The goal was to see if changing loop size would affect the finished length, appearance, and handleability of single Viking Knit. (I'll save the double and triple for another day)
I started with:

a knitting needle, size 10US which I used as my mandrel

3 6ft lengths of 24g dead soft copper

some sincerely crapliscious colored copper wire wich is good for nothing except creating waste spacers in viking knit. 

I figured a few things needed to be kept constant, so my plan was to make all three lengths on one mandrel with waste sections between them Each section was made without resting so the loops stayed a constant size.Each section was started with a new length and worked until the wire ran out. In finishing, all chains were pulled through the drawplate the same number of times, and to the same size

The single variable I *changed* for each section was making the loops a different size. 
VK_sizematters_1The photo above shows the sections fresh off the  mandrel and cut apart. They each have 4 stitch rows, and are made from the same 24g, and the circumference is the same on each section. But there is where the similarity ends, as you can plainly see.

Chain #1 – the stitches are made as small as possible with long carries between – I ended up with 36 rows and the piece was 7cm long. Pretty easy to do and fast – the work stays neat and is easy to keep in straight rows, because you don't need to really guess at how big the stitches need to be.

Chain #2 the stitches were made so that they took up roughly half the space to the next stitch on either side. 28 rows, the piece was 8.5cm. This was more challenging -I had to slow down a bit and judge that each stitch was the same (or close) to maintain a nice line.This means tha some stitches are a bit uneven.

Chain #3, the stitches were made so that each stitch almost touched the next. 24 rows, almost 11cm. This was fairly easy to make, took less time, (less rows) and the row line stayed fairly straight – but the again, I had to judge a bit if I was pulling the stitch too tightly, so I introduced a bit of unevenness.

Let's look at the diferences in how the stitches look up close
VK_sizematters_2So far, so good. A few jogs were introduced as I pulled the work off the mandrel, but overall, you can see what I described above. 

Now, lets look at the work after it all went through the drawplate:
VK_sizematters_4This photo illustrates the most interesting thing I discovered! These went through each hole of my drawplate from 9.3mm down to 4mm. They passed through each hole twice – once from each end.
Although the curve in the chains makes is a bit difficult to see, the #1 chain ended up at 10cm – a full 3 cm longer.
The #2 chain ended up at 10.1mm – only 1.5cm longer 
The #3 chain is 12cm – only 1cm longer than when it started!!!!! 
That's pretty interesting al by itself – but there is more to observe!
VK_sizematters_3Here are all three drawn chains close up.  
As you can see, the #1 chain with small starting loops is extremely uniform and dense, but you can still see the patern. Interestingly, it also has the most fluid motion when handled of all three chains, and drapes with less springiness. 
The #2 chain is also relatively uniform, and is a bit less dense than #1. Although there are a few slightly uneven loops along the length, they are not really noticeable. The motion and drape are a bit springy with less fluid motion than #1.
The #3 chain is frankly a disappointment to me. The loops are badly deformed and uneven, along the whole length of the piece. The movement is far from fliud – there are slight hitches. It also actually kinks a bit when curved. 

My Conclusions

The bad news first: Sadly, Chain #3 is not acceptable to me. Even though there were less rows so the work is faster and the chain is overal longer,  it didn't lengthen much after drawing, the stitches were uneven, and I don't care for the rustic appearance and movement. It just doesn't look professional to me.

Now for the *good news*: Although Chain #1 takes the longest to make due to having more rows, it actually grew the most in length. The work is easy, and the end result is neat and polished, the movement is beautiful.
Chain #2 is virtually the same as Chain #1, including length. It is only a bit less fluid, and has an airier look. However, one would need to build skill before the stitches are evenly sized in while working.
At my skill level,I would use either of these 2 methods for creating Viking knit with confidence.  I would recommend the first method to beginners to gain the skills needed to master this technique.

This whole experiment also answers one more question I have always had: How much Viking Knit can be expected to lengthen during the drawing process.
The ANSWER: I know you may not want to hear this,  but it depends on so many variables which are relative to the *individual* that it is impossible to predict. So just keep on knittin' until you don't want to knit no more!!!!

All in all, I think this girlie did discover that Size DEFINITELY Does Matter!!! 

Go do some experimenting yourself – and HAVE FUN!!!



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