I want to knit... with wire... and soda tabs... please help me...
August 8, 2014 12:37 PM   Subscribe

So, I've seen some knitting techniques that turn pop tops from soda cans into a nice material type substance for wardrobe accessories. I've also seen a chair someone made out of those same pop tops but with zip ties holding them together instead of the knitting yarn used in fashion items. Can you help me combine the two to make an amazing and unique chair? Specifically I need ideas for what type of wire/material to use for the joining of the poptabs but any help is welcome.

I saw this chair a few months ago and immedieately wanted to make one. But not with zip ties. If you look close, you can see that's what ties that chair in the link together. Zip ties. A ton of them which gives the chair a non-uniform look from the front and a hairy-bull look from the back.

I found some videos and guides on how folks are making fashion accessories with pop tops and the method looks doable and cleancut. See here for a general idea of what I'm speaking of. Chaining. I think that's what it's called. If not, feel free to recommend some other technique or knit/crochet. I'm all ears. Regardless, I think it could work great for the chair.

I've been collecting pop tops from friends and family ever since and I have a fair bit of them now, more than enough to begin crafting *something* out of them, even just a trial swatch or two but I need ideas on what type of wire or thread or yarn or what to use to connect them.

What I want out of the chair, in order of descending importance:

- Weatherproof and long lasting. If I'm going to put the amount of effort I think it will take to knit this sucker I want it to last.
- Sturdy enough to hold a human's weight. This is going to be a functional piece.
- Appealing and consistent look. The wife holds no truck with unpleasant or imbalanced things. Obviously I need to be able to manipulate the wire or I'm dead in the water already.
- Cost effective. Hopefully this isn't an issue but I don't know what stainless steel, for example as I have no idea what to use, wire of the proper size/gauge might cost.

So, that's it. The main focus of the question is on the wire. What kind? Why? Where to buy? How much to buy? How expensive? Or should I use something other than wire (and it still last a *long* time)? If so, what? Why? Etc...

I'll also take any input on other aspects of the chair, be it what sort of frame to make or mount it to, how to secure it, and any coatings/actions I could or should take to preserve it.

Anyway, thanks for the help. Random question I know, but you folks never fail to deliver with good tips/ideas.
posted by RolandOfEld to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
So, the yarn-based methods show a lot more yarn than I imagine you want on the surface of the work, and don't strike me as being particularly strong - the linkages are all yarn, which will eventually rot or break. I understand you want to use wire instead of yarn, but wire thin and flexible enough for this kind of application also fatigues and becomes weak very quickly, even just from the action of manipulating it enough to form the stitches. If you really want to do something crochet-based, I would suggest using thin polyester rope, like Dacron cord if it comes in a light enough weight - much more flexible and doesn't fatigue, will form a more solid fabric, weatherproof.

But! I would seriously consider making something more like traditional chain mail that uses only the pop tabs themselves, where the strength and fluidity comes from the many interlocking points of the rings. Like this. You may need more tabs, but I think it will work a lot better in this application. No idea how comfortable it will be, though.

P.S. - How are you planning to keep the aluminum from oxidizing outside?
posted by peachfuzz at 2:04 PM on August 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Try plastic twine. Be sure it's UV resistant if the chair will be in the sunn
posted by ottereroticist at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2014

How are you planning to keep the aluminum from oxidizing outside?

I am aware of the fact that aluminum cans (and thus the pop tops) oxidize away slowly but the only references I found were high level theoretical concepts regarding the rate of thin film oxide formation and practical examples from folks melting them into ingots at home. If you have data or formulas handy I'd be glad to have them and apply them. As is I'm going off an old quote I heard from someone, somewhere who said (when referencing folks holding cans for major recycling attempts) 'cans lose about 1/4 of their mass every 10 years'. Lacking better data I'm ok with that sort of timeframe/loss rate.

The Dacron cord is a good idea, barring it wearing through, which I don't think it will, and rotting out, which I wouldn't think it would either. But if it's going to turn green or mouldy or stain clothing after sitting out in a rainstorm or two I'd be afraid to use it. Thoughts?

I'd seen your reference to interlocking tabs before and assumed that it would be too prone to coming unfolded/uncrimped under load. I guess I could build a test swatch. I'm not looking to weld each one, as difficult as that would be with aluminum, but I could put a blob of solder on each one after it was all built, useless though that may be.... You think it would hold weight? Obviously it meets my other criteria but still, I worry...

Try plastic twine

Do you have any first hand experience with this sort of twine? In a load bearing situation? I've only got plastic haybaling twine to go off of and it seems to get really crunchy/crappy within a few years in a bale of hay or sitting on a shelf in a barn.... Or maybe you mean something else?
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2014

Oh and regarding oxidation prevention, I'm game to hear any folks experience with protective coatings/shellacs. This is a concern of mine as well, peachfuzz was just good enough to bring it to the forefront.

I figured any treatment I'd do before construction, I could do after construction. But in retrospect that may not be a valid, or wise, decision.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:25 PM on August 8, 2014

Blech, and I keep coming back in here to reply, forgive me,

but wire thin and flexible enough for this kind of application also fatigues and becomes weak very quickly, even just from the action of manipulating it enough to form the stitches.

Really? Maybe I'm just mistaken but I would think that there's some wire (not cheap galvanized or tin or iron stuff) out there that would be good for this job. I'm not deadset on solid core either.

A wire rope, like this, seems to be available down to 2mm and would, I hope suit all my needs fairly well. Or am I missing something. Yes, I've worked with wire rope before, I know how it behaves, but I'm not sure that what I was working with was stainless per se, nor was I working it this finely. I just had some from Home Depot for some shelves I was constructing that needed a tension element.
posted by RolandOfEld at 3:31 PM on August 8, 2014

I'd suggest paracord. I don't have a soda can handy to try it but I'm pretty sure it will fit through the hole in a soda tab, it's cheap, it's light, it comes in any color you could want, and it's very strong.

I used some instead of leather in a baseball glove I was relacing and it has held up very well to the stresses of dirt, grit, etc. I'm very happy with it so far.
posted by zug at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2014

Also, how to crochet with paracord.
posted by zug at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2014

I have a bunch of old 24-pair network cable and various old phone cable. It's copper or other wire, with various colored plastic coating. Phone or network installers might have some. Not too difficult to work with. I keep thinking I should crochet a doormat. Rope is often susceptible to being rotted by sun, plastic gets brittle in sunlight.
posted by theora55 at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2014

If you're not totally stuck on knitting/crocheting this, you could try doing some old fashioned chainmaille. European 4-in-1 is pretty basic. This chair was made with Japanese 3-in-1 and the creator says that are able to hop on one foot on it. This article on attaching scale maille will give you an idea of how you can incorporate the pop tops.

The site I've linked to, Maille Artisans International League is the place you want to learn about chain maille, including materials, tools, how-to and all the like. And the place I usually bought my chain maille rings was the Ring Lord, thought MAIL can also advise on where to get supplies.

If you still want to do wire knitting, though, I highly advise using wooden needles. Plastic will bend and the wire will slip off. I've only done very thin jewelry wire, so I don't have any other advice along that line.
posted by carrioncomfort at 10:54 AM on August 9, 2014

You could probably use 2mm polyester braid (braided cord). I have previously used this in situations where people stand on it (on lashings made of multiple turns of the cord), it's permanently exposed to direct sunlight and can cope with that. We prefer to use 3mm braid for that specific application (you can snap the 2mm by hand tightening it! I thought this was only a thing that really strong people could do, then I got a little bit of leverage and oops, now I have to start again!) but I think 3mm would be too thick to easily work (tbh I'm not 100% sure of the 2mm, I recommend buying a small reel for a test before going for the length you'd need to make a chair!). The load would be spread over enough strands that it would work ok. You probably don't want nylon paracord as it's more stretchy than the polyester. You definitely want some way of heat sealing the ends of the cord (a lighter is fine, a hot knife is expensive and probably not worth it to most people).

As I said, the stuff I use is permanently outdoors. In the environments I work in it doesn't go green for a few years (and doesn't lose strength), and could always be pressure washed (or just scrubbed) if necessary. YMMV depending on local climate. Also having some experience of aluminium in a marine environment, I would strongly not recommend this project for anything you intend to leave outdoors in a coastal area. And wherever you are, be careful about making sure the aluminium doesn't touch any other metal because galvanic corrosion is unhappymaking.

The video shows crochet rather than knitting, but having some minor experience of knitting wire (also jewelery, I think 28 gauge?) I would say ahahahaha no, is damn nightmare, don't do it. Crocheting would maybe not be as bad? But I don't think so. I was using metal knitting needles, fwiw.
posted by Lebannen at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2014

« Older How can we help our cats survive a construction...   |   Need a non-allergen, homemade recipe, for canine... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.