ANST - Naalbinding and Sieves

Gunnora Hallakarva gunnora at
Wed Aug 20 19:55:46 PDT 1997

Stephan li Rous asked what naalbinding was.

Naalbinding is also known as "single-needle knitting."  The technique
produces a looped fabric, much as true knitting or crochet does.
Naalbinding is an extremely ancient technique and examples can be found in
almost every culture.  Certainly it existed in the Egypt of the pharohs, as
well as the Viking Age. 

Mistress Alix Tiburga has been working on developing instructions with
step-by-step diagrams for the technique, which is extremely simple to do
but very difficult to explain without a hands-on demonstration.  ideally,
the technique uses a thick needle with a big eye, often made of antler or
bone, but a tapestry needle can be substituted in a pinch.

A class in the technique was taught at 3YC.  Baroness Thordis
Hakonarsdatter and Master Ragnar Ulfgarsson brought it back to Ansteorra.
Thordis taught me, I taught Rhiane and Alix, and Alix has gone nuts and is
teaching anyone else she can get to sit still long enough.  

You can buy expensive $15 needles direct from Iceland on the web
(, or see for a photo of the
finished fabric), but I've been making them from antler from fallow deer
and from whitetail deer for no cost other than the labor.  The best needles
to work with are curved near the tip.  Mine looks like a finger crooked in
a "come here" gesture.  If you want to make your own needles, soak the
antler two days in cold water, then boil them for about an hour or so.  Use
a sharp knife to shape and smooth the needle.  It doesn't need a sharp
point, and in fact does better with a rounded one.  Leave the butt end
large enough for a hole up to 1/4" in diameter.  Drill the hole, and
carefully smooth the edges and inside of the hole.  Sand to finish, and
buff well with beeswax.

I notice that Stephan li Rous actually has some information about
naalbinding in his Floregium files at

Martinson and Hald both have good photos of strainers... they are made of
cow-hair, not horse-hair, to correct my earlier post.

Geijir, Agnes.  Birka III: Die Textilfunde aus den Graben.  Uppsala: Kungl.
Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akadamien. 1938.

Hald, Margrethe.  Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials: A
Comparative Study of Costume and Iron Age Textiles.
Archaeological-Historical Series 21. Copenhagen: National Museum of
Denmark.  1980.

Hutchinson, Elaine.  Nalebinding: The History, Origins, Construction and
Use of 'Needle-Binding' with Specific Reference to the 'Coppergate Sock'.

Ligon, Linda.  "The Ubiquitous Loop" Piecework.  Jan/Feb 1994. pp. 64-66.

Martinson, Kate.  "Scandinavian Nalbinding: Needle-Looped Fabric." The
Weaver's Journal. Fall 1987. pp. 12-15.  

Nordland, O.  Primitive Scandinavian Textiles in Knotless Netting.  Oslo.

Rutt, Richard.  A History of Handknitting.  Loveland, CO: Interweave Press.

Turnau, Irena.  "The Diffusion of Knitting in Medieval Europe." Cloth and
Clothing in Medieval Europe: Essays in Memory of Professor E.M. Carus
Wilson. Pasold Studies in Textile History 2. eds. B.B. Harte and K. G.
Ponting.  London: Pasold.  1983. pp.  368-389.

Wæs Þu Hæl (Waes Thu Hael)


Gunnora Hallakarva
Ek eigi visa þik hversu oðlask Lofstirrlauf-Kruna heldr hversu na Hersis-Aðal
(Ek eigi thik hversu odhlask Lofstirrlauf-Kruna heldr hversu na Hersis-Adhal)


To be removed from the Ansteorra mailing list, please send a message to
Majordomo at Ansteorra.ORG with the message body of "unsubscribe ansteorra".

More information about the Ansteorra mailing list