Sunday, April 13, 2008


I attended Yarnover this year for the first time when I found out that Kate, one of my college professors, would be teaching Naalbinding. This is an ancient netting technique that creates a sturdy cloth that cannot be unraveled despite wear or even cutting the fabric in two. The workshop was an all day event and even then the technique has so many variations that we could have used more time. Kate is a great instructor and this was a very helpful review of my previous instruction from my college days. 
A single needle is used with a strand of yarn that is wrapped and twisted in such a way that it creates a type of herringbone single chain. These chains can then be put together to create a variety of items including hats, mittens, slippers, tea cozies, and shoe covers to help reduce slippage on ice.  Traditionally in Scandinavia, naalbinding was used to create everything from a sieve for beer and milk to mittens in a dowry. Naalbinding is found throughout the ancient world and is often confused with knitting or crotched items. Kate stated that naalbinding was replaced by knitting when the technique moved north from Africa. In knitting, a standard gauge could be created based on the needle size whereas naalbinding depends greatly on the thumb size of the creator. Because of this, patterns cannot be written with specific instructions as in knitting. She also stated that naalbinding is much more intuitive than knitting...  You trace your hand and then begin. When the "pattern" gets larger, you increase. Add a thumb? Just leave a hole and come back later to pick it up. Come to the end? Stop picking up new and old stitches and slowly decrease until you simply weave in the end. Full a little and viola! You have created a netted piece. Sounds simple, right? Check out the basic steps....
Need more details? Check out my Flickr pages for step by step pictures. 

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