HNW - nalbinding again

Dick Eney dickeney at
Thu Oct 9 14:55:57 PDT 1997

In response to a message elsewhere, I received email from a gentleman who
recommended several books on nalbinding including his own.  When I asked,
he gave permission for me to post his email on the subject of nalbinding

=Tamar (sharing computer dickeney at

Date: Wed, 08 Oct 1997 11:09:43 -0500
From: L Schmitt <schmitt at>
To: Dick Eney <dickeney at>
Subject: Re: nalbinding

I noticed your recent comments on rec.crafts.textiles.yarns regarding
nalbinding, and I feel compelled to respond.  

First, I am troubled by your comment "Scandinavian nalbinding is tricky
because it uses one stitch to start the row, another to turn the corner,
another to do the next row, and I think still another to do subsequent
rows."  While it is true that one or two ancient examples of
Scandinavian nalbinding are worked in rows, and while it is true that a
few modern day workers especially in Denmark work in rows, the vast
majority of Scandinavian nalbinding in ancient times and in the present
is worked in rounds.  However, I do still agree with you that
Scandinavian style nalbinding is "tricky."  Scandinavian nalbinding has
achieved perhaps a higher level of sophistication than has been found in
some (but perhaps not all) of the other cultures where it is found.
Second, I would like to observe that there is much controversy regarding
the term "knotless netting."  The term has never acquired meaning or
currency, and it leads to great confusion -- sprang and nalbinding,
while quite different, have both been called knotless netting.  For this
reason, many in the English speaking world have turned to the
Scandinavian word "nalbinding" because it has always referred to one
technique without confusion.  "Nalbinding" is an old Scandinavian word,
and its borrowing into English spurred the word's revival in Scandinavia
as well (or vice versa).  This word choice is fortunate or unfortunate
depending on point of view.  Since Scandinavia is one area of the world
where nalbinding has a continuous tradition, the use of the term is
fortunate.  However, since this technique is found world wide, the term
may be unfortunate.  Still, usage of the term is gaining ground, and I
recently received correspondence from a person studying the technique as
it is found among Native Americans of the Southwest, and she felt quite
comfortable using the term "nalbinding."

Second regarding instructions for nalbinding, while there isn't much
available in English, I have been trying over the years to fill that
void.  I have published three small workbooks on nalbinding.  The most
recent "Lessons in Nalbinding: Mittens, Mittens, Mittens!" was released
just last week.  In this workbook I describe the thirty-two nalbinding
stitches that I have documented and observed in Scandinavian Mittens. 
(Contact Susan McFarland at Susan's Fiber Shop, N250 Hwy A, Columbus, WI
53925 -- 920-623-4237, for more information regarding availability of
these workbooks.)  In addition to my workbooks, I would recommend the
following three scholarly references in English:

The National Museum of Denmark (Aarhus University Press), 1980.  Still
in print!

Egon H. Hansen "Naalebinding: definition and description" from TEXTILES
IN NORTHERN ARCHAEOLOGY (NESA III), Penelope Walton and John-Peter Wild,
Eds., London: Archetype Publications, 1990

University Press, 1961.  Long out of print.  Many find this book
confusing because of Nordland's inexplicable fascination with
topological mathematics.  

However, none of the three above references provides much in the way of
sensible "how-to" information.  Without doubt, the very best "how to
book" that I have ever encountered is:

Berit Westman, NAALBINDNING: 12 VARIANTER, Vasteras: Andersson & Kagardt
Tryckeri AB 1983.  Alas, it is in Swedish.

If you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to ask!
Larry Schmitt in Cottage Grove, Wisconsin
>From schmitt at Thu Oct  9 17:35:26 1997
Date: Thu, 09 Oct 1997 14:18:53 -0500
From: L Schmitt <schmitt at>
To: Dick Eney <dickeney at>
Subject: Re: nalbinding books

> Thank you for your response.  May I forward your post (complete with
> your other comments and books recommended)  once to the Historical
> Needlework Mailing List?  I am sure it would be of interest to many
> of the subscribers.
> =Tamar (sharing computer dickeney at

Sounds OK to me!
Larry Schmitt
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