Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A Really Brief Introduction on Naalbinding

Extant finds of naalbinded items have shown materials such as silk, linen, and wool being used to create these items.  A pair of stockings dating to the 12th century from Delsberg (Delemont), Switzerland are constructed from linen. (Hald 309)  The Staatlisches Museum in Berlin houses a cap from the 9th-10th century made from silk. (Hald 310)  There is also a set of pennants from a Mammen grave find made from gold thread. (Hald 299)
        The material used in the Åsle mitten was a 2-ply coarse wool, S-spun (left or counter-clockwise) and Z-plied (right or clockwise).  The direction of the spinning is important in that the yarn tends to unspin itself during the naalbinding process when it is a Z-spun thread. The yarn was 2-4mm in diameter and was undyed.  The current coloring as seen comes from the bog water. (Hald 302)
        On the cuff was a simple striped fringe of red (obtained from madder), green, and undyed natural wool.  The red yarn was a softer, shinier yarn in a single-ply and S-Spin. It measures 2mm in diameter.  The green is also a softer, shinier yarn but in a 2-ply measuring 2-4mm. It is also S-spun and Z-plied like the yarn from the body of the mitten.  The fringe is applied in 3 to 4 strands at a time using a simple running stitch with the loops pulled to the outside.(Strömberg 80)
        The extant mitten was created using a technique most commonly called naalbindning.  Other names for this technique include schlingentecknika (german), neulaskinnatecknika (Finnish), Vantsöm (Swedish), and “knotless-netting” (English).  Naalbindning is a technique that uses a large “sewing” needle and short lengths of yarn to create interconnected loops which in turn make small fabric items such as hats and caps, mittens, socks, shawls, and milk strainers.  The needles used for making these items were typically made of wood, bone, and antler.
        The technique dates back prior to knitting and crochet.  Some of the oldest known pieces date back as far as 6500. (Briansdottir 3)  Historic samples are often mistaken for knitting.
        There are literally hundreds of variants of naalbinding “stitches”.  There are several different classification systems in use for naming stitches.  Each have a different name or classification category based on where the items made using the stitch were found or the number of threads or loops other loops cross.    Margrethe Hald introduced a classification system based on the number of loops newer loops pass through. (Hald 285)  Type 1 describes passing through one loop where Type 2 describes passing through 2 loops and so on.  Odd Nordlund created a classification system that describes a thread loop as a circle and the new loops pass through “quadrants” of that circle.  This classification system was quickly rejected. (Hansen 21)

        In his article presented to the NESAT conference in 1990 Egon Hanson describes a classification system based on whether a new loop passes over or under a previous loop in addition to where it attaches to the previous row. (Hansen 23)  This is one of the most widely used systems for describing stitches.  For example, the Åsle stitch would be described as U (U) O/U O:U OO F1+1.  Each U corresponds to going under a loop thread where an O corresponds to a pass over a loop thread.  The F1+1 is the indicator as to where to connect to the previous row.  “F” indicates that the connecting stitch will go through the front of the stitch on the previous row where the number “1” indicates that it will only go through one stitch.  The “+1” directs you to drop down another row and pass through a stitch on that row before making the F1 connection.

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