What is Nalbinding?

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

Wikipidea: Nålebinding

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.


Adrienne said...

You have TOTALLY made my day with this post. I've been wanting a video demonstration for nalebinding forever, it seems. I "get it" now! My inner Norsewoman thanks you :)

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Here's a link to the blog of the lady who made the Asle Stitch video (translated from German by Google):


It has some great nalbinding photos. Enjoy!

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Two more sightings:

nalbinding on flickr great finished item shots! wow! pointer from a nalbinding yahoogroups member.

and I've started a nalbinding topic for nalbinding-related postings on my blog. Of which, to date, there are two.


Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Talk about trends! A fun new website, complete with instructions and a pattern for a nalbound bag:

The Mad Naalbinder

Anonymous said...

I couldn't find any naalbinding-appropriate needles on Lacis. The bone weaving needles are narrow and sharp. I have some, and while they're great for stitching heavy cloth, they wouldn't work for naalbinding. I'm very excited to have just ordered some antler needles from a place called Shrew Wood, and of course Mielke's has wood and bone needles.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Thanks for letting me know! I did some investigating and found that it looks like the one Lacis has now (TS86) is not the one they used to sell for nalbinding, which I can't find on their website either; the metal bodkins (LB81, LG02) they sell work fairly well, those are what I use if I'm nalbinding on the go and don't want to lose my wooden needles.

I've also seen needles at Spanish Peacock, and of course, The Bellwether sells wooden nalbinding needles too.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

Wow! Dilettante.info now has a very nice 2-page PDF on Oslo Stitch and there's a nice (in German!) collection of nalbinding links at nadelbindung.de.

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

A new nalbinding site with FO's and patterns:

Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

A fun recent blog post on nalbinding ... by another new nalbinder!


Amelia of Ask The Bellwether said...

A new nalbinding link to share:

Instructions for Saltdal Stitch in Finnish and English, with photos by Sanna-Maria in Finland.

Pysselfarmor said...

In Swedish it´s called Nålbindning and I do it.