Friday, July 26, 2013

Barony of Granite Mountain Arts and Science Collegium Nalbinding Handout.

Basic Nålbinding
M’Lady Raithnat O’Braonain
Also spelled Nälbinding, Naalbinding, Nalbinding, Nailbinding, Nahlbinding, and more…

Nålbinding is a weaving technique that was commonly used to produce hats, socks, and mittens, scarves and rugs.  There are a number of differences between nålbinding and knitting.   Most notably, is that nålbinding is done with only one needle and uses short pieces of yarn.   Another difference is that the entire length of the yarn is passed through each stitch.   And the most notable difference is that while in knitting and crochet if you mess up you can just pull the yarn and it will all come out, Nalbinding will not.  Nalbinding is more durable in that if you pull a loose thread it will tighten the knot and not run.  This makes undoing your “oops”’s more challenging.   The earliest finds of nålbinding are from Before our Current Era.   Many examples have been found around the world through the medieval times and into our current fiber arts as well.  

        Large-eyed, Blunt needle: You can get an actual Nalbinding needle made from anything from metal and plastic to wood or bone, but a tapestry and darning needle will work 
        Yarn:   I find that thicker, fuzzy yarn is easier and works faster, but truly any yarn can be used.
·         Scissors
        Patience and a sense of humor!  I can’t stress this enough while you are learning.

The Stitches

There are many nålbinding stitches and they are all variations on how the yarn is taken up onto the needle.  While there are a few different ways to categorize the known stitches, I will use the names given based on their first discovery and the Hansen system to give you a quick reference on the stitch for later.  There are actually four systems of categorizing stitches from the three main archaeologists of the textiles. First is Margrethe Hald, who categorized based on the total number of loops intersected in a stitch. Egon Hansen typified the stitches based on the course the thread takes in each stitch, using O and U when the working thread passes over or under other threads.  Third, Norlund uses a system that combines the number of loops intersected with the course the thread takes. Finally, there is the ‘user friendly’ method where stitches are named for the location where they were first found.   I will be using the “on the thumb” method for my nalbinding examples here, but there are many resources for off the thumb methods as well.  I am right handed, so the directions below are for right handed stitching.   Again there are quite a few sets of directions online for left handed methods.  I did not print those out as “lefties” account for only 2.5% of earth’s population.   


Again Nalbinding is done with sections of yarn.  Most people will learn with 5-6 foot sections.  As you get more comfortable feel free to lengthen your sections.   As with everything else in nålbinding, there are two methods to starting:  On a loop, or with free chain.  I will be teaching the free chain method in class. 

1) Make and overhand knot in your yarn. Hold it in your hand with the short tail to the right. Hold the base of this loop between your left thumb and forefinger.
2)Wrap the long end (needle end)around your thumb, catching the loop

1st Stitch- Oslo- uu/ooo
This was the first stitch I Learned and once I got my brain wrapped around to concept it was an instant favorite. 
Step 1:  make an overhand knot around your left thumb.
Step 2:  wrap around thumb.  Put needle in from the back, under the loop and cross over and snug against the thumb. Slide loop carefully off the thumb and pinch between thumb and forefinger.
Step 3:  put needle into newest loop from the front, fold needle over and push under the thumb loop from the back and under the fold over.   Slide previous thumb loop off and pinch.   Snug new loop on thumb
Step 4:  repeat step 3 until length desired.
Step 5:  connecting- pick up loop from previous row and continue as usual.

2nd Stitch- York- uo/uoo
Step 1: over hand knot on left thumb.  Make a second loop between thumb and forefinger and sliding needle through the thumb loop from the back.  Pull snug.
Step 2:  pass needle through both loops from the back.
Step 3: slide thumb loop off and snug up.
Step 4:  Repeat until desired length.
Step 5:  connecting- pick up 2 loops from below, from the front angled towards the left, continue stitch as normal.

Making a Circle (Connecting)
In order to make anything you need to be able to connect your stitches to those underneath them, or make a circular shape. Once your chain is long enough to wrap the body part in question, you pull the tail around and pick up previous stitches, before making a stitch as normal. There are two options when connecting. You can make 1 or 2 connections.  One connection will make a lighter, more elastic item. To do this, pick up a single stitch from the previous round.   Each stitch will be picked up only once.  Two connections will make a denser, sturdier item. To do this, pick up two stitches from the previous round. On the next stitch pick up one previously connected stitch and a new one.  Each stitch will be picked up twice. One connection - a single stitch from the previous round is picked up, Two connections – two stitches are picked up from the previous round
Increasing is accomplished by making two stitches with exactly the same path, essentially doubling the number of stitches ‘above’ the old one.  Decreasing is done in just the reverse; two sets of connecting loops are picked up from the row below the current stitch.

Also check out this amazing site for more Nalbinding stitches!  This site also has wonderful instructions for lefties!

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