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Nålbinding

naalbound socks and mittensWhat the heck is nalbinding? Funny you should ask...In order to portray a historically accurate viking-age gal, I need to have warm and historically accurate socks, mittens and hats. During the Viking-age (793-1066 AD) knitting and crochet were unknown to the good folks in Scandinavia, so they used another very effective and very old method for making these necessary garments: nalbinding.

Nalbinding (also spelled nålbinding, naalbinding, nalebinding) is a method of creating a stretchy textile using short lengths of yarn and a single-eyed needle. Fabric is formed by looping the yarn through at least two previously created loops, gradually building up row upon row of loops. Gauge depends on the size of yarn and the looseness/tightness of the individual naalbinder.

Nalbinding predates both knitting and crochet by at least 2000 years. Ancient samples have historically been misidentified as knitting by archaeologists and hopeful textile historians. Fragments of fabric with the appearance of knitting, excavated from third century AD Dura-Europos, in the Middle East, turn out to be nalbinding. Additional samples of toed anklet socks from fifth and sixth century AD Egypt are also examples of nalbinding, previously misidentified as knitting.

Nalbinding as a practical needle craft survived longest in Scandinavia before it was supplanted by easier to produce knitting. Nalbinding was regarded as a superior craft because it required more skill to produce and the fabric created was thicker and warmer.

Photos of my Nålbinding:

Nalbiding Resources and Downloads

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