Fully sleeved!

Pattern: Wire Menorah/Votive Sleeves by Annie Modesitt from Melanie Falick’s Handknit Holidays.

Ingredients: (for the pair)

  • 2 Crate & Barrel glass votive holders, 2.5″ high, 2.5″ diameter
  • 2 Crate & Barrel round votives
  • 24 gauge silver-tone craft wire, about 20 yards
  • about 630 beads; the mauve and strawberry are size 6, the peach are size 8
  • US 8 Boye aluminum straight needles
  • smooth needlenose pliers
  • gardening gloves

Thoughts: This was a super-fun project and I think the perfect introduction to wire knitting. I would definitely consider making a pair of these as a gift for a friend – it didn’t take a very long time or a lot of planning and hard-to-find materials. Plus I can’t think of anyone who would NOT like these…

Tips, tricks:

  • Beads: Although I’m pleased with how the mauve and strawberry beads look, the peach beads weren’t the best choice. They are pale and small, and are nearly unnoticeable. Next time I would use nearly- or completely-opaque size 6 beads, and select colors with more “pop.”
  • Casting on: I liked the long tail cast-on. Although it’s much more tricky to cast-on this way than to use the twisted loop cast-on recommended in the Handknit Holidays book, it’s much easier to work the first row. Just think of it this way: if you use twisted loop, you’ll need to knit through twisted stitches in the first row. And your yarn is wire. ‘Nuff said ;).
  • Binding off: As attractive as typical grafting may seem, I don’t think this is a good way to proceed. When I tried it, weaving the wire through each of the live stitches twice really took a toll on the working wire’s condition and it ended up breaking halfway through. On the second votive sleeve I just wove the wire through each live stitch once as I joined them to the other side. Not as seamless, but much less work and the wire didn’t break on me.
  • Blocking wire: A must. The wire doesn’t look particularly attractive when it’s just knit, and it isn’t the right shape and size. Gentle tugging works miracles, and if you find the wire to be rough on your hands, use gardening gloves.
  • The right side: The purl side of beaded wire knitting definitely displayed the beads much better than the knit side. But the knit side was also attractive. I guess it’s knitter’s choice!
  • Frogging: Ha! Don’t. Even. Think. About. It. (Which doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Which doesn’t mean I didn’t do it. Successfully. But the wire really takes a beating and I wouldn’t use it again.)
  • Collecting spilled beads from the floor: Incredibly informative since you see all the dust bunnies in every corner and know exactly what your vacuuming is leaving behind. Based on the number of times I found myself on all fours scouring the floor for dropped beads, you’d think I highly recommend doing this ;).

40 thoughts on “Fully sleeved!

  1. j a r e d

    those look great! i’ve been thinking about a foray into the wire knitting world and you may have given me the push i need… (after holiday knitting is concluded that is).


  2. Cyndi

    Wow – those turned out great! Definitely something that I would love to have in my house. Knitting with wire doesn’t sound like a lot of fun (actually, it sounds kind of painful), but the results are beautiful!

  3. Meredith

    Oh, these are so lovely! This is the project that got me to buy the book. Your finished sleeves may get me to move this up on my to-do list!

  4. Colleen

    They turned out great! I wonder if different types of wire (copper, aluminium, coated) would knit up differently and if the effects would be noticeable.

    If you were to shape the wire differently, use real crystal or glass (i.e. unflammable) beads, and had a clever glass plate underneath, you could ditch the holders completely and have the votives rest in the wire knitting. I’m sure, however, if the book suggested that alternative, it would be law-suit city.

    I’m not even knitting a project, and I have already figured out how to change it. Geez…

  5. Mary

    I agree and I’ll say this again, (said this on your previous post with a picture of your progress) — yours looks better than the picture in the book! Kudos, Kathy!

  6. maureen

    Congratulations, Kathy! They are beautiful – much nicer than those in the book! Thanks for continuing to inspire, teach and for continually surpassing the “teachers/designers”! These will be high on my list to knit as soon as the Christmas rush is over!

    Thanks again!


  7. judy

    To pick up spilled beads: Take the head off your vacuum cleaner, put a piece of cloth, or pantyhose over the end as a filter, turn on vacuum and suck up the beads. Shut off vacuum with the end pointed over bowl, or something to catch beads in. Easier than picking up those beads 1 by 1. 🙂

  8. Annarella

    Fantastic job! I’m so impressed with the results, given that it was your first attempt with wire knitting. They would make a beautiful Xmas gift, do make them for a friend (or me?), I’m sure they will be nothing but loved 🙂

  9. Jennifer

    They are beautiful and would make a great gift.

    Here’s a tip to catch stray beads before they hit the ground. Work over a piece of felt or a piece of a vellux blanket. When I do beadwork, I work over one of these pieces of fabric. The beads fall onto the fabric and stick slightly without rolling every which way.

  10. Diana

    These are super pretty! I am totally inspired to make some of these too. Your project notes are very informative, esp the part about dust bunnies 🙂

  11. jess

    wooo – quick work! they are gorgeous, and i like the texture-y effect the lighter beads throw in.

    the picture of knitting with gardening gloves on tickles me. it’s very they might be giants somehow.

  12. Laura

    like everyone else said: very pretty!

    I may need to buy that book–it seems to have a lot of nice quick projects in it.

    now, let’s see the seam! 🙂

  13. Sarah

    Wow, these are spectacular! I bet if you put a bunch of them together, they’d make a really beautiful, yet nontraditional, menorah.

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