[HNW] Re: H-needlework Digest, Vol 6, Issue 3

Allison263@aol.com Allison263 at aol.com
Fri Nov 7 06:53:36 PST 2003

In a message dated 11/6/03 12:55:06 PM, dreamer81465 at yahoo.com writes:

<< There are other types of needle "crocheting". Naalbinding and sprang among 
them. Netting is one of the oldest types of "lace" in history. We have no 
real proof of the age of crochet or knitting and it is a subject of great debate. 
Fingerlacing is an ancient form of lacing as is macrame. >>

Lace is such a wonderful thing; it's taken on so many different forms and 
looks over the centuries. Almost all true laces evolved from openwork embroidery 
techniques, which is why so many of them look similar and include similar 

I don't think I'd categorize crochet, nalbinding, or knitting, as lace per 
se, though, although they all can be made with open, lacy designs that strongly 
resemble what we think of as lace. Crochet is made with a single hooked 
needle, nalbinding is made with a large single needle with an eye, and knitting uses 
sets of pointed sticks (two, four, five), and each one has their own unique 
stitches, structure, and appearance. In the 19th century many people made the 
mistake of thinking nalbinding was knitting, because they look very similar, so 
many early examples of nalbinding were mis-identified as knitting. 

As far as knowing when these techniques were created, it's completey true 
that no one knows exactly how old they are. We do have many extant fragments and 
items of both nalbinding and knitting, though, so that it's possible to have 
an idea of when people were making and using knitted and nalbinded items. There 
are a number of extant Egyptian knitted socks that date from the fifth 
century, and fragments of nalbinding have been found in Danish bog finds that date 
much earlier (I don't have the book in front of me so I don't know the exact 
dates). Rutt's book, "History of Hand Knitting" is a good place for information 
and some great photos of early items. I was very excited to come across a 
photo of a fragment of knitting that dates to the 14th century, it's stockinette 
stitch, crimson background with little green and cream birds marching in rows 
across it! I can't wait to finish spinning enough wool in the right colors to 
try it. (photo appears in "European Textiles in the Kier Collection") As far as 
sprang, I do know that examples of it have also been found in the Danish 
bogs, but I'm not sure on the date. 

What we think of as macrame was fairly big in Spain during the middle ages 
and Renaissance, and possibly later, the book "Hispanic Lace and Lacemaking" 
goes into some discussion of the fringes and macrame-looking decoration that 
appears in many Spanish manuscripts and paintings. I haven't done much reading on 
that particular form so I'm not sure about earlier examples, though.

Levey's book "Lace: A History" is a great resource for the history and 
evolution of true laces, it's pricey ($150) but worth adding to your library if lace 
is your thing. Most of the images in the book are of examples that date from 
the 1600s on, so it's a treasure for anyone recreating the 17th, 18th, or 19th 


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