Friday, 26 February 2010

Learning a new craft - naalbinding

While waiting for spring to come, what better ways to pass the dark winter evenings than learning a new craft. My choice fell on a relatively unknown technique called nalbinding.

This seemingly obscure decision was made earlier this winter when I agreed to take part in a medieval re-enactment trip later in the early spring and the thought then occurred – this might turn out to be a quite cold experience! To avoid getting cold feet (in more than one sense) warm socks seemed to be the solution - but alas, knitting was still an unknown technique in the Middle Ages in Denmark (see article on the history of knitting). To make socks and gloves they instead used nalbinding, which literally means ‘binding with a needle’. The logical consequence was then that I would have to learn nalbinding.

At this point in time I don’t know nearly enough about the technique to write an article about it, but I can share with you the little that I do know at present:

It is a sewing technique predating both knitting and crocheting and the oldest known relic is probably a Coptic sandal sock (?) from the 4th century AD. Using a single flat needle and shorter lengths of yarn you basically a loop and pull the full length of the working thread through the loop, but leaving it loose to form a new loop. In this fashion you form a chain either in a single direction or in circles to make for example socks.

I managed to convince a good friend to show me the ropes and I’m very much still in the learning process. It is invigorating to learn something new but also a rather slow process. So far my first sock barely covers my toes and I will have too speed up not to catch a cold…

Are you keeping crafty while waiting for spring to come?

The images in this post are copyright of Helene. If you wish to use the images please request permission from Helene.


  1. John Roued-Cunliffe5 March 2010 at 07:06

    Excellent work old bean, keep up the good work! I'd definitely recommend finishing off the pair of socks before you put your foot down in the snow though :)

  2. [...] by Helene’s enthusiasm about learning naalbinding and the flowers coming out of the ground in my garden, I decided to take out the peg loom I bought [...]


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