Create Chain with Wire, Beads, or Yarn: 10 Ideas

My First Chain

I like chain so much that back in April I spent a full day making my own in a wireworking workshop.  Using steel wire, I made my own jump rings, formed my own links, hammered them, joined them, and polished the finished piece.  The best tip I learned:  Once you've figured out the size of wire needed for your link, use one piece of wire as the "master" to measure the others.  If you keep measuring new pieces based on the last piece you cut, you'll gradually end up with links that are noticeably larger than the original.

After I finished my chain, I admired it for about five seconds and then wondered how many other ways can you make chain?  Frankly, I thought I would dash off a list of three techniques and go back to the spiral peyote bracelet that I'd abandoned.  But a cruise through the Interweave store showed me that there are lots of ways to make chain.  No matter what kinds of tools you have—beading needles, crochet hooks, torches, crimping pliers—you can experiment with making your own chain.

Create Chain with Wire, Beads, or Yarn:  10 Ideas

1. Join Jump Rings
Link single jump rings for simple chain or form chain-maille patterns like Ribbon of Rings or Inversion Earrings.

2. Connect Beads with Wrapped Loops
String beads between wrapped loops, then connect all the loops as in the Coiled Pearl Necklace

3. Create Your Own Links from Wire or Metal
Create wire links yourself as shown in Lisa Niven Kelly's Scroll Gate Chain.

4.  Fuse Silver Links Together
If you have a torch, you can create your own wire links and fuse them together as in the Summer Garden Bracelet.

5. Sew Your Own Chain
The polyester chain used in Katie Hacker's Certified Organic necklace is not handmade, but it opens up a world of possibilities.  What about chain made with ribbons or scraps of fabric?

6. Knit a Chain
To knit around beads, try a spool knitter as Stephanie Riger does in Caged Luster. For a wire chain, try the Viking Knit technique used in the Trichinopoly Chainwork necklace.

7. Crochet a Chain
A kid's project, Jewels from the Sea, with a simple yarn crochet chain shows off a shell pendant.

8. String links from seed beads or spacers.
String seed beads or spacers on beading wire and crimp to form links as in Chain Rules.  Choose crimps that blend in with the beads or those can be easily covered by larger bead holes.

9.  Stitch links together.
Follow Dustin Wedekind's lead in Linked Ladder Rings and connect ladder-stitched rings for a bold look.  Or try Shelley Nybakke's right-angle-weave version of chain in Luscious Links.

10. Fake it.
Rather than creating separate links and rings, create an all-in-one piece that mimics the look of chain like the Green Goddess choker by Bonnie Clewans.  The combination of ladder stitch and netting gives the look of chain, although the rings are not completely separate. 

So that's my list on possible chain techniques.  What ideas do you have for making chain?  Please share your ideas on the website.

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