In the Loop

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Step-by-step instructions for making a crocheted chain

By Michael David Sturlin

Fabrics and precious metals would seem to be total opposites, like hot and cold or yin and yang. However, despite their obvious differences in hardness, they do possess similar properties--specifically, both are pliable and elastic, and can be stretched and manipulated. And just as fabrics and fibers can be suitable for knitting, crocheting, weaving, and other textile applications, so too can metal sheet and wire be suitable for--well, knitting, crocheting, and weaving.

I use free-hand fabricated chain extensively in my body of work. Each chain is basically a spiraling cylinder of loops formed from 0.35 mm gold or 0.4 mm fine silver wire. Often in my designs, I’ll braid or twist several strands together for volume and effect. And while the chain is typically round during fabrication, when finishing it I can easily transition to other shapes with oval, square, and triangle draw plates. Even though this technique is usually called "crochet" by goldsmiths, the loop is actually a knit stitch. (The loops are crossed, which is the principle distinction between knitting and crochet: A crochet loop is open, like a U or stirrup; a knit loop is closed by the wire crossing over itself.) But I don’t use a pair of knitting needles. Rather, the method is most reminiscent of sewing: The wire itself passes in and out of a previous loop to form each new loop.