Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Fulling and Fringing

To Full (Felt) or Not to Full (Felt)

Once the mitten was completed with the exception of the fringe I had to look at whether or not to full it. Where there have been several naalbinded items found that show the fibers either matted or felted together this is not the case with the Åsle mitten. In looking at the photos provided by Holger Arbman and Elisabeth Stromberg (shown below) I determined that this mitten was not fulled after construction. The photos clearly show the stitches in the construction of the mitten. Also, Ms. Strömberg ponders the original makers decision not the full (felt) the item. (Strömberg, 81)

The Fringe

The fringe is described as having been attached 3 to 4 stands together in a running stitch with the loops puled to the outside. There are no knots holding them on. A photograph from Elisabeth Strömberg’s article in Fataburen (1934) definitely shows a running type stitch on the inside of the cuff. A diagram in the summary by Karen Finch on an article by Lundwall and Nockert clearly shows the outside stitches being pulled and lengthened for a fringe.

Figure 2. Photo from Åselvanten Technique by Elisabeth Strömberg, page 81

Figure 3. Enlarged section of photo from Åslevanten I by Holger Arbman and Elisabeth Strömberg, page 69.

Figure 4. Diagram from Summary by Karen Finch showing technique for sewing in fringe, page 3.

Due to time constraints I have not had the opportunity to spin the yarn or to order the natural dye materials to dye them with for the fringe. I, therefore, opted to use wool thread by Renaissance Dyeing as they use natural dyes for their threads. These threads were gifted to me some time ago so I already had them on hand. I used colors in natural, madder red, and green created by dyeing with weld and then overdyeing with woad.

I threaded my wooden needle with a strand of each color of the threads being used to create the fringe in preparation for following the steps as illustrated by the diagram. Starting on the outside edge of the cuff I took one running stitch the width of one naalbinding stitch and brought the needle back to the outside of the cuff. Laying my thumb on the cuff against the thread as it comes out of the fabric I put the needle back into the fabric to create the next running stitch. I used my thumb as the gage for the size of the loop creating the fringe. My theory for the gage size is that you are already using your thumb for the stitch gage in the mitten itself so it is already available to be used again for the fringe gage.

By repeating the above steps I created the fringe completely around the cuff of each mitten. (See Appendix B for steps with photographs - to be posted later)


This technique takes much longer than knitting; however, it creates a nice thick fabric perfect for cold weather garments. In future attempts I would like to spin the yarn for the fringe and attempt to use natural dyes to obtain the colors.

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