Saturday, October 22, 2011

Qualities of a good nalbinding needle

Hail, all!

Needles as a subject have been on my mind for some time. I have contacted two of my favorite suppliers to ask them if they'd consent to being interviewed, and I hope that they will be.

I have to admit, back when I started I used a simple metal tapestry needle. That did the trick, but in my humble opinion, the things you use to create should be beautiful, too. And the needle didn't feel good in my hands, and it didn't look good, either. Just metal and soulless.

My next set of needles were wood, but far too thin and flimsy. I broke all but one, and decided I would find some proper needles. So I went a-viking to find some proper ones.

Thus I found Grizzly Mountain Arts and Chestnut Tree. Both have absolutely beautiful needles. I ordered some from Chestnut Tree and were very impressed with the quality Deanna offers.

I've been drooling over the blue mammoth ivory and ancient walrus ivory needles that the folks at Grizzly Mountain arts use as a base, but as I live in Germany, there's not way to export them. Which makes me a very sad nalbinder.

Anyway, as I go on and on, I find I have particular likes in my needles:

- a nice thickness to it. No flimsy slits.
- a nice wide and long hole. I tend to work with thicker yarns and I can make many more passes with a proper amount of yarn on my needle.
- beauty. I want something nice to look at as I make it
- a slight curve to the needle. My current favorite is from Chestnut Tree and is a bit on the thin and small side for my tastes, but it has a slight curve to it that just makes the needle sing to the wool. I really love it.
- not too long, but no dwarf, either.

I would like to make my own needles at some point, but right now with everything else going on, I'll wait.

And you? Have you made your own needles? What are your favorites?

Do you have a favorite provider of your needles? Do you make your own?

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Ms. Krista Vajanto's Master Thesis (PDF) is amazing, as it shows some of the oldest examples of nalbinding in Finland. I particularly like how orderly the stripes are, and it appears they've made sure any switches of color (when adding new wool, you'll usually not have a straight transfer but a blocked transfer) happen on the inside of the mit. Very, very interesting.

You should definitely check it out!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mittens for my kitten

I have a 19 month old daughter. She is a sprightly thing and full of excess energy. She's a runner, and a partier, but she does have cold hands. And feet. And since her mama is a nalbinder, her mama is making her some nice winter wear. However, I'm dreaming of making her a version of these in red wool:

With blue flowers, instead of red. Aren't they gorgeous? I need to look into Scandinavian embroidery designs, in order that I could find her the perfect match. Hmmmm....girlfriend loves dogs. I wonder if they've got a special pattern with dogs? Doubt it.

My current projects include:

1. Finnish stitch mittens for me (multi coloured wool) - half done!
I will start the second when I'm finished with Loki's socks. Her tootsies are kaaaaalt.

2. Broden stitch tomte hat for me (matching) - just started!
An observation: Broden takes a heck of a lot of wool. But it is a pretty stitch, no denying. The stitch thickness is right under the Finnish, but waaay thicker than the Oslo and Asle stitches. I'll do a discussion of this over the weekend.

3. Loki-daughter socks - half done!
In red. Of course. And she doesn't like me making her try them on. I'm working these in Oslo stitch and they're coming along swimmingly.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fun nalbindet wrist warmers

Once upon a time there was a Mimi (grandmother) who wanted to have some nalbindet wrist warmers. It was cold in Dortmund, you see, and her house full of tile and wood - not necessarily the best of surfaces for a warm winter environment. Also, her mother knitted and she didn't want knitted mitts, she wanted NALBINDET mitts. A quite intelligent woman, imo.

So her darling, most wonderful and talented daughter in law brought some lovely thin wool thread to the hospital where she currently sat to get a type of chemo for her foot and made these from a tight Oslo stitch:

And then the lovely wonderful daughter in law had to try them on. Heh. Because well, that's what I do. Try things on I make.

Don't you think my fingers are skinny and nice? Pity about my rear end. For the record, I added the fluff at the bottom as an experiment to see how it would look. It looks very good on.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

What I'm working on...

Egg mitts for me in Finnish stitch, quite old school. (With a Tomte hat to come later!)

What about you?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nalbinding stitches!

So far, I'm excellent at the:

Finnish turning

stitches. Here are some I want to excel at next, I just need to find the proper project:

Double danish

Want to choose your fav? G0 here.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Nalbinding: a sonnet

Well, I tell you one thing. Humans certainly didn't sit around with four needles to knit socks for a long time.

But in Egypt around 400-600 BC, they rocked nalbindet socks. To quote the amazing Neulakinna:

"The oldest fragment, supposedly a piece of a mesh sieve made of plant fibers, is from Israel, Nahal Hemar, approximately 6500 BCE. Fragments found in Denmark date from 4200 BCE. In West China, Tarim basin area (Zaghunluq), several well preserved mummies with beautiful clothes have been found, from 1000 BCE. There are two hats, supposedly made by nalbinding techniques."

An excellent example of red nalbindet socks can be seen here. The author of the piece argues:

Termed 'one needle knitting' by some museums, it is similar to knitting in structure, but stronger, less stretchy, and a lot more difficult to create. The resulting fabric would look very sloppy unless done by a master, and it wasn't something you could have the kids do while tending the sheep -- unlike knitting.

OK. I can see where it could be considered difficult, if you're looking at it from the outside and you've never tried it before. But I learned how to nalbind through Youtube. YOUTUBE. And I tried to learn to knit via youtube, and failed miserably. The author of the above piece is correct, though. You can be dead dumb and brainless and knit a good enough scarf to wear.

Whereas a piece of nalbinding is exceptional. Every stitch, watched. Every warm thought or protective instinct is stitched along into the material just as you make it. No, not everyone does it. (Pity). Should they?

I guess that's for them to answer. But for me, I'll choose nalbinding.

What about you?