Nålbinding, nalbinding, nalebinding, nålebinding…

Whichever way you call it, this is another rabbit hole crafters can easily fall in, or at least I did! Once more the culprit is a Nålbinding for beginner workshop organised by the UK online guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers and run by Jeanine Schlauch.

In essence it consists in driving yarn over/under/through loops wound around a thumb, thereby creating chains that stitched together make a multilayered, thick and cushy fabric that in most cases will not unravel, and can be steeked without fear.

In term of portability it is similar to crochet, you only need yarn and a needle (instead of a crochet hook), or “nål”, which looks like a large sized tapestry needle. I’ve seen many in bone, horn or wood since it is quite popular with historic re-enactment fans (the craft is an ancient one), but I’ve seen many using just tapestry needle. The important thing is that the eye of the needle is large enough to accommodate multiple strands of yarn of the chosen weight – so the heavier the weight, the larger the needle size, and conversely for lace weight you’d want to use a “standard” tapestry needle.

While most of the first examples that will show up in a google search are quite likely to be some not very tailored looking hats, mittens and socks worked in heavy weight yarn quite unlike the finest knitted and crocheted items, it is possible to create something light and lacy like this:

Amy Vander Vorste’s lacy shawl, see here


Shopping bag by viticella on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

or this

Nalbinding shawl by ChawnChissy on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

As with most things yarn related, the technique can be used for the most varied of projects, including “amigrumi” style puppets:

Squid nalbinding by ChawnChissy on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

exploit the corded structure to build pretty imaginative scarves like this one:

Nalbound Karman Vortex – by cloudlakes on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

or as fringes on more traditionally looking scarves:

Dalarna scarf by SouthSoundFiber on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

or to create lattice structures as in this cowl:

Image by chawnchissy on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

– or for ornaments like this one

Heart by Pomona on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

or as decorative elements on knitted items (replacing for instance icords). And of course, one can nalbind garments:

Circle wrap by Ornamentik on Ravelry, see here (requires Ravelry login)

Nålbinding is typically worked in the round (either flat rounds, like in crochet, or tubes), however it can be worked flat with its structure exploited to achieve interesting effects as e.g. here. The very nice thing about being able to cut through the fabric without risks of it unravelling means that it is possible to create “jersey fabric” for sewing – this is most definitely something I am considering, it opens up a whole host of new possibilities for crafting.

There is a treasure trove of information in a Sanna-Mari Pihlajapiha’s site, which is a veritable repository of everything to do with nålbinding, both in Finnish and English.

In addition, some tips for using colour (in vertical stripes, horizontal stripes and spots) are here, and another site I found interesting is Shy Red Fox/Amy Vander Vorste’s blog.

It is an easy technique to pick up, requires practically no investment especially if you use “hack” a needle (or use a tapestry needle) and making stitches goes quite fast once one gets the hang of it (definitely quicker than knitting an icord I find), so worth having in the crafter’s repertoire as an additional technique for some other “main” yarn craft, even if managing to keep away from the allure of the deep end!

I have been practicing stitches for a while, time to plan a project – in the meantime, happy crafting!

Practicing nålbinding stitches

Author: lovestoswatch

I used to knit as a girl, then hanged the needles for two/three decades, and now I’m back, and loving it! The photo is my version of Linda Marveng's Aki, the first proper project after "being born again". After getting back into knitting, weaving has also become my passion (with a little sewing to turn my handweaving into garments).

6 thoughts on “Nålbinding, nalbinding, nalebinding, nålebinding…”

  1. Very interesting write-up and love the range of nalbinding projects you have displayed …. hadn’t realised the possibilities. Looking forward to your application(s).

    Liked by 1 person

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