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Here's a chain for a scarf or belt inspired by some gold polyester necklaces in Marc Jacob's Spring collection and by the scarves on the cover of Teva Durham's book, Loop-d-Loop, but with one big exception: fulling. Fulling stabilizes this knit chain so that it can bear weight and will withstand stress.

The fulling process was interesting for me because the links on my samples all felted only into to themselves and remained chains of independent links -- how cool is that? Once you've learned the basic technique, you can improvise: try chain mail, for instance, or change needle size and yarn variety to make belts, scarves, purse handles, and jewelry.

The chain doesn't necessarily have to be fulled if a stretchy chain is appropriate; therefore, you can also knit links of different yarns into the same chain, including non-woolens, to use up scrap. Three loops can be joined to make a nice "eternal ring" effect as well. Small needles and smaller yarn works too. You can also weave flat ribbon through your chain to get the same look as the chain strap on a Chanel bag.

model: Cory Linsmeyer photos: Alison Gates

Size is variable.

Chain shown has 27 links and measures 50 inches in length after fulling.



Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Knitting Worsted [85%wool, 15% mohair; 190 yds/171m per 113 g skein]; color: #M06 Deep Charcoal; 1 skein

1 set US #9/5.5mm double point needles
Crochet hook or tapestry needle for weaving in ends


For once, gauge is unimportant.For chain shown, it was 5 stitches = 1 inch on US 9/5.5mm needles.


[Knitty's list of standard abbreviations can be found here]

For best results, weave in your ends as you go.
Work in the tail from your cast on by working the first round with a double thickness of yarn (yarn tail held together with working yarn) until you run out of yarn.

Use the crochet hook or tapestry needle to weave in the tail from your bind off, before beginning the next link in the chain. Because the links will curl so that the WS (purl side) shows, weave your ends in on the RS of the work.

If you are unfamiliar with working with double-point needles, instructions can be found here.


First Link
Using a long-tail cast on, CO 21 sts. Divide evenly between needles and join to begin working in the round, being careful not to twist.

K 3 rounds.

BO all sts.

The circular strip you have knit will curl up on itself, forming a tubular ring.

*Next Link
Using a long-tail cast on, CO 21 sts, and divide evenly between needles. Before joining work, slip previous link over the needle that is not connected to the working yarn, and slide it onto the center needle. Join to begin working in the round, being careful not to twist.

K 3 rounds. Each time you finish knitting the sts on one needle, slip link to next needle, so that it does not get in your way.

BO all sts.

Repeat from * for each subsequent link, or work in sequence described below:

Metalsmithing Tip
Knit up a bunch of single links (follow instructions for First Link), then join a pair at a time by following the instructions for Next Link, but slipping 2 sts over the needle before joining, instead of 1. It's a little trickier to move 2 links around the needles, but this is the way metalsmiths and jewelers make chains and it can save you some time. (It's also a helpful trick to know if you forget to string a link before you join your sts to work in the round!)


When the chain has reached the desired length, you are ready to full the chain. Fulling requires simply washing the chain in the washing machine on a hot wash/cold rinse cycle with mild soap 2-4 times, to get the wool to felt a little bit. Throw in a pair of jeans for extra friction. Your stitches should almost disappear in the process. When the chain has been fulled to your satisfaction, you can clip any stray ends that may have worked themselves out in the wash, without any fear of unraveling your hard work.


Alison Gates learned how to knit at age 7 from her mom, but didn't finish a darn thing till she was over 30.

Now, as an assistant professor of art and design, she instructs an average of 20 students how to knit all at the same time in less than 2 hours every semester. (She actually teaches all the textiles courses, some design and a little bit of Women's Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay.)