Hi, Helen -
The way I learned it, ‘crochet’ was the method of weaving through
the hole in the wooden form, and ‘knitting’ was the method of weaving
around a dowel. I tried the crochet method, but gave it up because
I’m clumsy. I can knit a pretty good neckpiece, though!
You can see in the top center photo that I didn’t solder at all! In
fact, I’ve only used solder twice on a woven necklace, for the
reasons you are concerned about. I weave with 26g or 24g sterling
silver, and use 20g sterling wire through the ends of the weave and
out the cone. Bend the 20g wire off-center, twist together and have
just the long end come out the cone.
Before you go any further in your experiment, I would suggest
getting some copper craft wire and practicing with it. I keep careful
records of the wire gauge, size of dowel, and how many feet of wire I
use. A 9" of raw length of knit equates to almost 17" of finished
knit, depending on the how dense I made the knit. (Your mileage WILL
vary, though.) It can take as much as 40 feet of silver, though!
For economic reasons I started with sterling silver, not fine
silver. It suits me, so I don’t plan on changing. Besides, I don’t
mind the antique look of a polished but old piece of sterling.
WARNING: don’t use Argentium ™ silver! It will work harden in a
flash! I can ususally knit 40’ of 24g wire in a day, but it hurt my
hands so much that I could only stand to work 2’ per day. And it
doesn’t look as good as you would expect, with its yellowish cast.
I start by cutting all my wire into 2-foot lengths. This reduces the
work hardening, tangling, kinks, and time wasted cutting a new wire.
It also makes it easy to keep track of how much wire ($) goes into
My drawplate is a 3/4"-thick wood board that I drilled holes in.
Nothing fancy about it, just the sizes of drill bits I had on hand. I
think the largest hole is 1/2". I used oak, but some of my students
used pine with good results.
Until your necklace is drawn down, it will look lumpy, and it will
not be very sound. The compression and elongation is what will make
your knitted piece look good and wear well. After my final draw, I
then make the necklace supple by taking an end in each hand and
gently pulling it back & forth around a round wooden table leg. This
helps to expose the ends of wire, which you can then curl back into
the knit with a pair of beading pliers (very fine needlenose pliers).
On the pictured pieces I used store-bought cones, but the two where
I soldered them I made my own ends from tubing with sheet soldered to
the ends. I prefer the cones because it’s much less trouble. I can
finish the necklace at someone’s home if I’m custom sizing it.
BTW, all the filigree was made within two weeks of purchasing
Victoria Lansford’s DVD on Russian Filigree! I was amazed at how much
my soldering improved just by watching her. (This is not a paid
advertisement - I’m just a satisfied customer!)
You will probably have lots more questions about the knitting
technique. Feel free to contact me off-list. I teach this method to
members of my gem & mineral club and have made close to 20 necklaces.