Many knitters are familiar with the concept of knitting with wire to make basic jewelry pieces. But Samantha A. Lopez takes the concept of combining knitting and jewelry making to a new level with her Knitted Wire Jewelry: Techniques, Projects, Inspiration.
The book covers the basic techniques of both art forms required to make the projects, then offers 25 options for rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings.
An Education in Craft
Lopez is a trained artist who came to knitting with wire when she was trying to make a large art installation on the cheap. These days she sells her jewelry designs under the name Knotstudio.
The first 40 pages of her book are taken up with information about the basics of knitting and jewelry making that are required knowledge for making the projects in the book, as well as an overview of the many tools and materials required.
Though Lopez says that someone without knitting or jewelry making experience could make the projects in the book, I have some of both and still find myself intimidated by the long materials lists for some of the projects and the idea of working with sheet metal and a jeweler's saw to fabricate pieces needed for some of the designs.
The projects will certainly be easier for people who have knitting experience as well, because they're all worked using tiny 0000 knitting needles.
Lopez clearly is excited about her craft and wants to share it with the world, but many of the projects require so many tools that the average person who might want to make just one or two projects from the book is unlikely to want to pay for all the needed supplies.
While Lopez says that more inexpensive materials can be used for the projects, there's no illustration of any of the projects worked in a material less expensive than sterling silver, which would have been nice.
That's not to say they're are some more basic designs in the book, but the majority of ones that will catch your eye are likely to be ones that require a lot of steps, supplies and skills.
Knitted Wire Jewelry includes 25 patterns for rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces, using a variety of techniques including knitting, purling, increasing and decreasing, wire wrapping, bead threading, using jump rings, cutting and bending sheet metal, adding patinas, cabling and a variation on I-cord called Viking knitting.
Wire wrapping is a big part of a lot of projects, as she uses the technique cleverly to finish off the edges of the knitting.
The projects don't indicate a skill level, but the materials lists are often a pretty good indication of the projects that will require more skill. Some are simple knit rectangles attached to a chain, while others are much more elaborate, structured pieces or they rely on skills like cutting out and punching lots of tiny holes in a piece of sheet metal that's then shaped and has a patina added to it.
The patterns also don't always indicate the size of the finished projects, which could be a problem for people trying to make a smaller or larger bracelet, for example.
Some of the projects are rather plain, which is good for people new to the craft and those more experienced can jazz them up with other techniques from the book.
There are others, like the Lily necklace featured on the cover, that look more difficult than they are. The Lily is one of my favorites, as well as the Flower Ring, knit in segments and joined together with a cluster of garnets; the Leaf Earrings, using Lopez's wire-wrapping technique to form the veins; and the Viking Cuff, which uses several colors of wire to make a looped bracelet.
Knitted Wire Jewelry is a lovely book full of good ideas and inspiration for people who already have a love for knitting and jewelry making. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't have experience in both of those crafts, and I'd suggest taking a look at the book at a bookstore before you buy to make sure there are several patterns you'd like to try and that you have a feel for the kinds of supplies you'll need (and their potential expense) before you buy.
People who already have a fair number of jewelry making supplies or won't be bothered by having to buy more and who want to explore the genre of knit jewelry likely will enjoy the book, as will people who have already knit a few jewelry projects and want to try something a bit more challenging.
Publication date: July 2009.