Cross-Knit / Viking Knit Looping Field Trip With Barbara Heike

Barbara Heike's Viking knit jewelry.Here’s the bonus video I finally finished for the students in my Cross-Knit Looping eCourse. My friend Barbara Heike makes and teaches Viking knit jewelry, which uses the structure of cross-knit looping with silver wire as the stitching element. She graciously agreed to let me film her demonstrating her technique.

Viking Kniting — a New Age Looping Field Trip with Barbara Heike

I learned a hundred things that day. Here are just a few:

  • I’m making myself a fabric-covered work pad like Barbara’s.
  • A good friend (Barbara) will let you photograph her work without polishing it first if you think you’ll get more glare after polishing.
  • The tripod has to go on the side of the non-dominant hand unless you’re straddling it (as I generally do).
  • I need to learn to separate my curiosity from my camera. I shot quite a bit of footage because I forgot to turn the camera off.
Barbara Heike's Viking knit silver jewelry.
Barbara Heike’s Viking knit jewelry

Thank you, Barbara, for sharing with us! It was so much fun I’m thinking I’d like to do some more field trips….

5-Panel Project Bag — Knitting + Crochet + Looping

Suppose you took Mastadon Stew to a potluck and someone asked for the recipe. OK, that wouldn’t happen because, well, mastadons are extinct. But when you’re asked for a recipe or pattern for something made with an ancient technique that’s not extinct but is comparatively obscure? Something like cross-knit looping? Thank goodness for the internet, where you can link to references and inspirations.

Cross-knit looping is worked with a single needle and is incredibly portable and forgiving of interruptions. It’s great for covering up selvedges and seamlines on knitting, crochet, weaving and felt, adding a lovely design element that also helps add structure and/or stabilize edges.

Donna Kallner’s 5-Panel Project Bag made with naturally-dyed yarns includes knitting, crochet and cross-knit looping

Last fall, a student asked if I would share the pattern for this project bag. On things I make for myself, my “patterns” are much like most of my cooking recipes: I generally don’t record specific quantities, but I can tell you how I make something (“cook brown rice and some black beans with cumin and garlic, cool, dress with orange juice viniagrette, add some fresh sweet corn, onion, red pepper, maybe grilled zucchini….”). I assume you’ll adjust proportions to your own tastes and materials/ingredients anyway.

So here’s the “recipe” for my drawstring project bag.

5-Panel Drawstring Project Bag

  • Knit 2 panels for the front and back of the bag. Mine are 6″ wide x 5″ tall. I knit one in garter stitch. For the other side, add variety to a panel of stockinette stitch by making intermittent rows of knit to make garter stripes.
  • Knit 2 panels for the sides of the bag. Mine are 3-1/2″ wide x 5″ tall. One is knit in loose 2/2 ribbing (casting on for the 5″ dimension). The other is seed stitch (odd rows are knit1, purl 1; even rows are purl 1, knit 1).
  • Crochet a bottom panel. Mine is 6″ wide x 3-1/2″ deep. I used single crochet to make a firm bottom.
  • Sew or slip stitch crochet one edge of each upper panel (front, back and sides) to the base. 
  • Attach edges of upper panels to form the bag.
  • Crochet a few rows (or more) around the top of the bag to make a rim.
  • Crochet a drawstring channel by skipping stitches and making long posts. 
  • Add another row or two of crochet above the drawstring channel to complete the rim.
  • Braid or chain two drawstrings long enough to travel the circumference of the bag.
  • Thread one drawstring through the channel all the way around the rim of the bag. Tie off and add a small tassel, if you like.
  • To thread the second drawstring, begin on the opposite side of the bag from where you started with the first one.
  • Work cross-knit looping over the seam that connects side panels to the base. I learned this application for cross-knit looping from Laverne Waddington. This and many other uses of cross-knit looping are included in my new eCourse, which begins January 15. (There’s a short video trailer here, and registration is open here).
  • Work cross-knit looping over the seam where the side panels meet the rim. 
Cross-knit looping masks the seams where panels meet and adds contrast in color, line and texture.

Apply whatever variations strike your fancy. You could make the panels and rim all knitting, all crochet, or even all looping. I chose to combine knitting and crochet because I wanted to show something familiar to knitters and crocheters who might be enticed to try looping. You could make a little gift bag from old swatches used to determine gauge for knitting projects. Or use panels of felt or fabric for the base and sides.

Make the bag any size you like. I chose this size because it would hold just one project and fit beside me on the seat while traveling (I have a tendency to overpack given a larger bag). On a larger bag, though, I might cover all the vertical seams that join panels with cross-knit looping. That would add some structure to help the bag stand up.

Sadly, it appears that the Licorice Twist yarn I used is no longer available from Dharma or anywhere else I can find. The main body of the bag was immersion dyed with willow bark and walnut. The yarn for the cross-knit edging is from a ball I’ve been hoarding for years since I took a natural dye class at John C. Campbell Folk School. I think it was from Knit Picks, and I think it was dyed with lichen then overdyed with indigo.

In other words, the exact materials I used are not available for you to make an exact replica of this bag, and that’s a good thing. You’ll come up with something of your own that uses the materials you have beautifully.

I’d love to see what you make! Please, please post pictures of your variations on this recipe on my Facebook page.

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Registration Open for Cross-Knit Looping eCourse

It’s official: Registration is open for the my newest eCourse, Cross-Knit Looping. The technique is sometimes called Coptic knitting, Tarim stitch or Viking knit (that’s right — the fine silver jewelry is the same structure). Cross-knit is part of a large family of looping techniques. It can look so much like stockinette stitch that early artifacts were often misidentified as knitting. But it’s pure looping: The entire length of the thread is pulled through on each stitch, and it can’t unravel like knitting.

Click to go to eCourse registration

Cross-Knit Looping runs January 15-February 28, 2013. Here’s a short video trailer I made for the eCourse.

There’s more info and you can register for the class here.

 Like other forms of looping, cross-knit can stand entirely on its own. But it marries so beautifully with knitting, crochet, weaving and felt that I’ve included some fusion projects in the course. And I think handspinners and dyers will absolutely love this technique.

Cross-knit looping sun tea jar cozy and water bottle caddy (with felt)
Knit neck warmer with cross-knit looping placket and buttons

I really need a model to photograph instead of trying to shoot myself in the mirror. Incidentally, these pictures show projects done with my naturally dyed yarns. There are yarns straight from my LYS used in the course, as well.

Donna’s project bag — knitting, crochet, and cross-knit looping

One of my Sievers students this fall (Roseann?) asked for a recipe (in lieu of a pattern) for the drawstring project bag pictured above. I’ll post that next time.

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