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What is Nalbinding?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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Literally translated as "needle binding" or "binding with a needle," nalbinding is a time-honored method of creating fabric that is considered to be older than crocheting or knitting. Alternately spelled as naalbinding or nalebinding, the process is based on the use of one needle rather than two, and a technique that employs the entire length of the strand of yarn. Here is some information about the art of nalbinding, as well as a couple of applications for the art form.

Nalbinding is considered to be a form of single needle knitting that makes use of short strands of yarn. This is different from many other techniques, in that an entire piece of yarn is involved in the creation of each lop in the pattern. The needle that is employed in nalbinding is relatively flat in structure. Beginning with a short piece of yarn, a loop is created, and the needle is passed through the loop. However, the knot that results from this action is not snugged. Instead, the knot is left loose, allowing the needle to be passed through the loop created by the first movement.

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What this series of steps creates is a chain of loops that are meant to be more or less uniform. When the end of the row is reached, work on the second row commences. This is accomplished by passing the needle and the attached yarn through the last loop in the first row as well as the first loop in the second row. That process is repeated throughout the second line, joining each new loop with the corresponding loop in the first row.

Nalbinding relies on this unique method of looping yarn to create a number of useful items. Some of the more common items that can result from nalbinding are winter scarves and mittens. Interest in nalbinding as folk art has also led to the use of the art form to create attractive vests, decorative belts, and stocking caps. Because the technique relies on the use of relatively short pieces of yarn, it is possible to mix in a variety of colors into the design, making each creation something that is one of a kind.

Patterns for nalbinding projects can be found online, as well as in many craft and fabric shops. The complexity of the patterns range from simple projects that are suitable for the beginner to intricate works that will hold the attention of the seasoned nalbinding enthusiast for several months.

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