By Amelia © April 18, 2007
Nalbinding (pronounced nawl-bihn-ding) is a great craft, very portable and relaxing. It's really good for medium/coarse wools, such as Cotswold, Romney, Navajo Churro, Black Welsh Mountain, Icelandic, and English Longwool Leicester fibers. Llama is also fantastic for exotic-fiber nalbound socks!
Since patterns are made-to-fit, handspun is perfect for this craft. If using a commercial yarn, pick a 100% unbleached wool, non-superwash, as fulling (partly felting) is the final step in nalbinding. I like to spin or use a worsted weight yarn for nalbinding. I recommend a singles yarn, Z twist; but a standard two-ply also works fine.
Update Oct 2013: I am pleased to recommend two sources for nalbinding books and needles, susansfibershop.com and Mielke's Farm.
Nalbinding uses wool, or feltable, yarn, and a large eye needle. You break the wool into 1-3 yard lengths and make the nalbound stitches, joining ends when you start a new length. Why do you break the yarn? Because it is a stitch, you have to be able to pull the whole length through another loop. One to two yards is the most manageable length to work with.
Nalbinding predates knitting, and is done with 1-3 yard lengths of yarn. It is sometimes called 'knotless netting' and is experiencing a resurgence of interest from historical reenactors. It was still in fairly common use in Scandinavia through the beginning of the 20th century.
There are several good internet resources for learning this craft:
Anglo-Saxon and Viking Crafts - Nalebinding concise history
What is Nalebinding by the author of Nalbinding Made Easy
Asle Stitch Video in English! See others by the same author.
Nalbinding Videos! (even if you don't understand Finnish, a picture says a thousand words!
Viking Age Nalebinding great pictures of in-process and complete stitches
Phiala's Basic Nalbinding and more!
dilettante.info's Naalbinding Information
Bernhard's Nålbinding - links and information
PDF one-page handout on Mammen stitch (or in html on LiveJournal)
Naalbinding stitches – photos and sources
nalbinding email group - useful files, photos, and archives
Nadelbindung German Naalbinding group - email, links, and more
Neulakinnas - Finnish Nalbinding website
Kiara's Naalbinding Projects great photos of finished items!
Nalbinding Socks: Methods of Construction
Fingerless Nalbound Gloves - great directions with pictures!
Nalbound hat with notes on shaping
There is no single agreed-upon spelling for this craft - nalbinding, naalbinding, nalebinding, nadelbinden, nålebinding, nålbindning, and nålbinding are all used on various English websites, and the term is different in German, Finnish, and other languages.
I'm planning to make my son some felted slippers -- so I'm spinning up wool for that, a cochineal-dyed red coarse wool for the toes and hems and a silver-grey for the main foot.
But before that gets done, I've spun up lovely singles for a nalbound hat (the skein near the top of this page). (The had is done now, see this post: The Hat of Nalbinding!)
Be sure to read the comments on this post for more interesting links!
© April 18, 2007, by Ask The Bellwether, posted at http://askthebellwether.com/blog. Updated 25 February 2010.