Sunday, December 2, 2012

Little Angel For Your Tree

Little Angel Ornament by Diana Sullivan
She's about four inches tall, transparent and fragile.  In the photo, she's just leaning against a piece of velvet, but if you could see her in person, you'd know that she's really going to sparkle once she's on the tree with the lights twinkling.
Here's how to make her:
This is for the standard knitting machine.  You'll need 30 gauge coated silver and gold wire, wire cutters, and a small knitting needle. You also need 2 cast-on rags or pieces of mesh for casting on the wings.
Skirt:  Cast on 16 stitches with waste yarn.  I used T7 on a Brother.  Knit several rows and affix a couple of claw weights, a big brass weight, or a small ribber weight.  Knit a divider row with either the same yarn to make it easier to later remove the waste yarn.
E-wrap cast on with silver wire.  Knit 30 rows.  You need to go slowly; hand-feed the wire from your lap or the floor.  Pull the wire up as you approach, then have no tension on the wire as you knit slowly across.
Head:  Take the knitting off on waste yarn.  Rehang, putting 2 stitches on each needle so it's gathered into 8 needles.  Knit 20 rows for the head.
Wings:  Snip the wire with wire cutters and knit across with gold wire.  Use a cast-on rag and ravel cord to add 8 more stitches on the carriage side, hang another weight, then e-wrap the gold wire onto them and knit back.  Use a cast-on rag and ravel cord to add 8 stitches to the other side, hang a weight and knit 19 more rows.  Cast off using a transfer tool.  I have backstitched a cast-off, but it's tedious with wire.
Find the middle of the head and twist it so that the top is gathered.  Twist the neck to gather it.  Wind the leftover wire ends around and around the neck to make a shiny neck and cover that twist.  Shape the skirt with your fingers.  I made more of a cylinder with it and stretched and fluted the bottom with my hands, but do what you think looks nice.
You can get your fingers inside the head and shape it round. 
Shape the wings by folding them like a fan and then using a piece of wire to securely gather them in the center.  You can "sew" with the wire by poking it through - you won't need or want a needle.
Make the arms and hands by casting on 7 stitches (using waste yarn, etc., as above) and knitting 30 rows.  Bind off.  Stretch.  Fold in the middle.  Twist the ends for the hands.  Use the beginning and ending wire to connect the hands together if you like.  Sew the arms to the back of the angel between the body and wings with a piece of wire.   
The crooked halo was made by winding gold wire tightly around a very small knitting needle to make a "spring."  I used about 10" of wire for the spring and "sewed" it to the back of the head with the ends, which I left uncoiled. 
You can add a unique personality to your angel.  Perhaps you could add tiny accessories from the hobby store - a music book, a harp, trumpet, package, toy, etc.  How about a tiny ball of yarn and two pins for knitting needles?  You could sew on beads or glue on rhinestones. Maybe your angel will have curly or wavy hair made of wire.  I was a lousy angel hairdresser - my wire springs stood straight up, so I removed them.  Something to try again on the next one!
Attach a loop of wire to the back of her head to finish your ornament.
I have been playing around with knitting wire since attending a Marcia Hauser seminar.  She has wonderful books of instructions and stylish jewelry and lots of supplies at her site:


  1. Hi Diana, do you have a pair of parallel action pliers for jewelry making? If you have one of these pliers, you can carefully press the knitted wires all over the angel. This will stiff the wire a bit. The angel will be less fragile. It's basically the same technique as using a hammer and pound it lightly over a wirework jewelry project.

    By the way, regular pair of jewelry pliers won't work well.

  2. Oh, I should have said fragile-looking. She's not terribly fragile, unless someone were to pull on her. Not an ornament to put within toddler reach.

    I've been tapping my wirework with the small hammer, gently. I will look for the pliers - sounds like a very useful tool!