As much as I love crafting, knitting has always been uncharted territory for me. I’m not sure why — I’ve heard it’s not that hard — but something about the craft has always felt unattainable and intimidating. Well, today’s DIY from Anne Weil just might be the gateway project that finally launches me into knitting. Featured in Anne’s new book Knitting Without Needles, this wall art uses a finger knitting technique that’s easy to follow, and makes for the perfect graphic detail for any space in your home that needs a little oomph. From Anne: Add instant cool to any room with this chic graphic element. Any word. Any color. Any script. Did I mention the possibilities are endless? The texture and size of the knitting makes words pop with fun and whimsy.
120 yd (109.5m) of worsted-weight yarn (we used 1 skein Anzula For Better Or Worsted in Daffodil, 200 yd (183m), 4 oz (115g), 80% superwash merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon)
7 yd (6.4m) of 24-gauge florist wire in a color to match the yarn as closely as possible
1?2" (13mm) flat-head brass nails, tacks, or removable foam adhesive strips
- Finger knit a four-finger strand until it measures approximately 6 yd (5.5m) or until it’s long enough for your desired word. See four finger knitting instructions here (1) and here (2). Tip: Specified length is enough for a 13½" (34.5cm) tall bisous, which includes the height of the "b". The shorter letters are approximately 6" (15cm) tall. If you want to change the dimensions of the word, simply knit less or more. Test the length by spelling out your word as you go.
- Bind off strand. When in doubt, finger knit a longer strand that you can trim later (see Cutting a Finger-Knit Strand).
- Make a threading loop in the wire by folding 1" (2.5cm) of the wire end over and twisting the top. This rounded shape will move more easily through the loops of the finger knitting.
- Uncurl the tube of the finger-knitted strand, exposing the purl side of the finger knitting. Thread the wire underneath a purl stitch in the center of your strand in each row. (B). Continue to thread the wire consistently through the same loop of each row for the entire length of finger knitting. (Be sure to thread through each row; the more rows you miss, the less consistent your line for lettering will be later.) It’s okay if the strand gets slightly bunched up or twisted on the wire; it will stretch it out later.
- When you’ve threaded the entire fingerknit strand, leave the wire uncut so the strand can move up and down along it as you form the word. If the wire is not on a spool, fold it such that it won’t slip out of the finger knitting as you move the strand around.
- Print out your word in large scale at a local print shop and trace the wire against the word exactly as you go. My word was 13.52" x 48" (34.5cm x 122cm), using the font Quickpen by Trial by Cupcakes. (You can draw the script freehand if you prefer.)
- Start following the text letters with the wired strand. Tape it in the critical turning points and crossover points as you go. This gives you a good sense of where things should be secured later. As you turn the strand to form the letters, keep the finger knitting straight and untwist it as you go. You want the finger knitting to lie as flat and unstretched as possible. Tip: As the wire bends, sometimes you get an elbow of wire sticking out. In this case, soften the bend and pull the strands of finger knitting out to cover the wire.
- Create any dots in letters, as in a lowercase i or j, by winding a small amount of yarn into a ball.
- When you get to the end of your word, if the strand of finger knitting is too long, you can cut it and rebind it off at the appropriate length. If, for some reason, the strand is too short, adjust the letter size so that the finger-knitting strand can form all the letters required. Weave in all ends.
- Cut the wire 1" (2.5cm) or so past the end of the word. Feed the tip of the wire through the end of the strand, turn it back and twist it around itself (E), and bury the wire into the strand of finger knitting.
- To hang the word, gently undo the tape from the paper. At the crossover points, use the tape to wrap around and secure the junctions for now. Set aside the finger-knit word, maintaining its form.
- Tape the printed word to the wall where you want to hang it, level it, and hammer small flat-head brass nails into the wall in all the places needed to support the word. The nails should stick out enough to catch the wire and strand. Places to secure it include all the tops of letters and loops. Carefully remove the paper, leaving the nails intact. You may have to tear the paper.
- Ask for help to carefully hang the word, securing the wire behind the nail heads in all the critical spots. Remove the temporary tape from the crossover points and replace with small pieces of wire or additional nails or tacks as needed. Secure the beginning and end of the word with nails or tacks as well. Tip: If the thought of all these nail holes makes you squeamish, try using small pieces of 3M double-sided removable foam tape or Command strips. Instead of nails, use a pencil to poke through the paper and mark the critical support spots on the wall. Place small pieces of the tape on the corresponding locations on the knitted strand. Remove the backing and secure to the wall. This method may not last as long, but you’ll end up with fewer wall holes.