Finnish coil-embellished apron (part 1: Making the coils)

Completed decorated apron

Completed decorated apron

For an SCA competition I wanted to re-create the coil-embellished apron I made previously, now that I had a lot more information about how extant versions looked (from my visit in November 2015 to Hämeenlinna, Finland).

I’ll be dividing up some of the how-I-did-it posts over the next few days, because I have a LOT of photos to share ūüôā

Making the coils

The extant coils are made of bronze, however I read that modern brass is similar in composition to bronze of the time, and it’s certainly far more affordable and available. I was able to find wire locally, while bronze wire was much more expensive and I’d have to order it in. This became very important because this project took a LOT of wire.

After seeing an extant example, and looking at research, I decided to mostly work with 24 gauge wire. I did also purchase 22 gauge wire, but didn’t use it on the apron.

Coiling the wire on the jig

Coiling the wire on the jig

I started off trying to use a simple rod to coil the wire, however found that it was difficult to keep the wire smooth on the rod. I decided to purchase a coil-making jig online, which came with two rods and a holder which can be affixed to a table.

Coiling the wire takes a very, very long time. The jig can only accommodate 13-15 centimetres of coils at one time, so it’s not just the coiling which takes time, but also setting up the jig for each new strip of coils.

The photo to the left shows the coils in progress, and I also shared a quick Instagram video – below.

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Silk Road garb (Part 6 – Necklace)

Necklace for my Byzantine costume

Necklace for my Byzantine costume

After I had completed most of the Byzantine costume, I decided I really wanted to make a necklace in the style of one I saw on Pinterest. While the example is from the 7th Century, and my costume is based on an 11th Century style, I still thought the style was nice, and that I could accomplish something with the same shapes with¬†tools I’m familiar working with.

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Trichinopoly (Viking Knit) class

There are a few people who indicated that they’d like to learn how to do Trichinopoly, and so I offered to teach a class/workshop.

I wanted to put together a short post for those interested to pick up supplies/etc.

Class description

Introduction to Trichinopoly (Viking Knit)
Drífa at lækjamoti

A hands-on introduction to Trichinopoly, sometimes called wire weaving, wire knitting, or Viking Knit. This technique produces beautiful chains documented to multiple ages and cultures, useful for necklaces, adorning clothing, and for practical use. Students will learn how to start, loop, add additional wires, and finishing options.

In a 2-hour class, students should be able to finish a length of chain suitable for a bracelet.

In a 1-hour class, students will be introduced to the technique, but will complete their projects after class.

Class limit: 2-8
Cost: Free to attend, but supplies will be needed (below)
Age limit: adults


The wire packaging

The wire packaging

  • Wire – I recommend copper wire, easily available through craft stores, bead stores, etc. I have purchased mine through Beads & Plenty More. If there’s time, you can also order online; I’ve shopped with Fire Mountain Beads and Etsy as well.

You should be able to make a necklace in any style from one 30-yard roll, however the amount of wire needed greatly depends on the style you make.

Avoid stainless steel wire, silver wire, brass wire or gold wire for your first project. Silver-plated copper wire is ok, but plain copper (available in a variety of colours, including silver-colour and gold-colour) is cheaper for your first project.

(As pretty as it is, avoid the Artistic Wire in turquoise colour.)

I recommend 24 gauge wire for your first project, however 26 gauge also makes a nice chain (though it takes a bit more wire).

  • Jig wire – You will also need a length of wire for the jig. This should be at least 24 gauge, ¬†(22 gauge is also fine) and you can use the same wire as above. I recommend inexpensive wire – this won’t be part of your project. A contrast colour is nice to see what you’re making. If doing this in a group, you could just use a length traded with someone else. I recommend copper wire for this as well.


Joining a new wire into the chain

Looping the wire onto the dowel

Dowel – you’ll need a dowel, approximately 1/2″ in diameter, by approximately 12″ long. The length isn’t totally important – you just need a part to work on and a part to hold. Shorter is fine, longer might get in the way, but it’s up to you. The diameter is a bit more important – 1/2″ will allow for enough room to work, though you can adapt with narrower and wider.

I’ve always used wood, but theoretically you could also try using any smooth, long rod with an even diameter along the length.

  • Wire snips – These are vital.
  • Very fine needle-nose pliers – These are totally optional.
  • Nylon-head broad pliers – These are optional but very useful.
  • Masking tape – you’ll just need a small strip.
  • Straight pin – This is optional but useful. An alternative is a small sewing awl, or a sturdy sewing needle.
  • Ruler – or measuring tape
  • Fine-tip felt pen – totally optional
  • Pen/pencil, notebook – optional

You may also wish to bring (scent-free if possible) hand lotion (I find my hands get sore after a while) & glasses (if you need them for close work like reading or embroidery). If you have difficulty working with small needles (etc.) you may also find the optional pliers & straight pin more useful for grabbing & manipulating the wire.


Once you’ve learned the technique, you’ll need a few items for finishing.

  • Pliers – these are just to grasp the wire to pull it through the drawplate.
After going through the smallest drawplate hole, (approx 6 cm) the chain is 24 cm

My drawplate and fine needle-nose pliers

  • Drawplate – this is just a piece of wood (hardwood if you have it) with a series of holes in it. The largest hole should be the same diameter as your dowel, and the holes can get smaller from there.If you don’t have (or don’t want to make) a draw plate, you can also use (non-precious) plastic household objects with gradually reduced hole sizes to reduce your chain width. The chain may damage these items; so don’t use anything that isn’t ultimately disposable. Don’t use anything too hard like metal, as it could¬†damage your wire.Below is a photo of some of the things I’ve used for draw plates before – two thread spools, one spool for elastic thread, and a spool for bridal elastic/trim.
  • 8-row Viking Knit red copper wire 'chain'.

    8-row Viking Knit red copper wire ‘chain’& the make-shift draw plates I used

  • Chain ends/jewellery¬†components – these are totally up to you, you can use jump rings, end caps, bead caps, more wire, ribbon, cord… etc. I’ll show a few options in the class/workshop/demo, so you won’t need to get these until you’ve completed your chain.

Some examples of ways to finish off the ends of chain:

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Optional design elements

You can also add leather cord, mix your chain with other chains or cords, beads, pendants, etc…

For more…

For more inspiration, instructions, and ideas, you can also check out my other Viking Knit posts here.


Alternate description submitted for Yule 2015

Introduction to Trichinopoly
Aka Viking Knit / Viking Wire Weaving, this technique produces beautiful chains documented to multiple ages and cultures, useful for jewellery, adorning clothing, and for practical use. Students will learn how to start, loop, add additional wires, and finishing options. Attendees should have time to finish a small project or start a larger one in class.

With Drífa at lækjamoti

Maximum 6 students

Cost: $10.00

1 hour block

Digital hand-out only, no paper copy provided.


Viking Knit length estimates

8-row Viking Knit red copper wire 'chain'.

8-row Viking Knit red copper wire ‘chain’.

While chatting with my friend about Viking Knit, we were discussing how to estimate length for a given project. Since doing Viking Knit is somewhat time-consuming, and there’s no good way of adding more wire and continuing a project after it’s gone through the draw plate – one wouldn’t want to weave a lot more than they needed, nor would one want to make too little… However, there are a lot of variables that determine how long a finished piece will be in relation to how long it is on the dowel/jig. Some of those include:

  • How many ribs (ladders) the piece has
  • How wide the dowel is
  • How tightly the chain is knitted (how close together the ‘rungs’ of the ‘ladder’ are)
  • Single-knit vs. double-knit
  • What type of wire was used (copper, silver-plated, stainless steel, etc)
  • What gauge of wire was used
  • The diameter of hole used on the draw plate
  • etc…

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Hand-Made Penannular Brooch

Hand-Made Penannular Brooch

Hand-Made Penannular Brooch

Before I headed to Victoria, BC, I was keeping my eyes open for a Penannular brooch that I would like to purchase, but in the meantime I thought that I would try to make one of my own. I did end up getting my own ready-made, though I really like the ones I made too!¬† I’m sure there are better ways of making them, but since I don’t have much metal work experience, working with wire seemed like a good compromise that wouldn’t stress out my skill-set (or my budget!).


  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Fine-needle nose pliers
  • Wire cutters
  • Hammer
  • Forceps
  • Mini anvil
  • Cylindrical¬†shaping tool (I used a film canister for my larger one, and a Mr. Sketch marker for the smaller one.)
tools and materials for my Hand-Made Penannular Brooch

tools and materials for my Hand-Made Penannular Brooch


  • 16 gauge silver-plated wire (I bought this at the bead store)


I made this brooch twice – once larger, and once smaller. On the first version I did ¬†it a bit differently, but the second time I thought worked better, so here’s what I did:

  1. Cut a length of wire for the brooch, and another for a pin. Both can be trimmed if needed later, so cut a little longer if you’re not sure.
  2. For the brooch I shaped the wire around a cylindrical object (I used what was handy) overlapping the ends
  3. Using the very small needle-nose pliers I shaped one of the ends into a loop, and set the brooch aside for the moment.
  4. For the pin, I curled one end into a ring, which will go around the brooch.
  5. The other end I shaped into a point by hammering it and turning the wire. I found holding the pin with forceps helped a lot to hammer the wire – and not my fingers! (Especially with the smaller brooch.)
  6. I also hammered the length of the pin to work-harden it and retain the flat, straight shape.
  7. Before sliding the pin onto the brooch, I hammered the wire to work-harden it, shape it, and shape the ring.
  8. Next I slid the pin onto the brooch, and repeated the loop on the other side of the brooch.
  9. Finally I hammered the brooch (sections at a time, avoiding the pin) to flatten the loops and work-harden the wire into the nearly-a-circle shape.
Hand-Made Penannular Brooches

Hand-Made Penannular Brooches


Before I made my versions, there was a tutorial I found on Pinterest which recommends #6 copper wire for plumbing plus a brass braising rod.
However, I have also pinned this one from Deviant Art which uses a metal ring and Super Sculpty.