These blunt wood needles are used primarily for nalbinding (more info below), but can also be used as snowshoe needles or in some styles of macrame! The eyes are large enough for up to heavy worsted yarn. All of these needles were made by hand, in house. (If you saw Hollyn keeping her hands busy during the fall sale by whittling sticks, this is what she was up to!) Each has been sanded smooth and finished with linseed oil, and may show some tool marks around the eyes (left because they add character!). They were not burnished; the most satisfying polish on a wood tool comes from use!
To Order: Use the drop down menu to select the specific needle you want. Each is unique and only one is available, so if one shows sold out in the drop down menu it’s gone! Beginners- don’t worry about the number of eyes, you only need to use one!
What is nalbinding? Nålbinding (Norwegian meaning needle-binding, a.k.a. knotless knitting, knotless netting, and single-needle knitting) is a single-needle method of fabric making that far predates knitting and crochet, but produces a similar looking product. In its simplest form it is derivative of both basketry and net making, so was a widespread craft. Historically practiced throughout Eurasia, Polynesia, South America, and North Africa. The oldest piece of nalbinding is more than 8500 years old! It was largely displaced by knitting and crochet (2,000-4,000 years ago), as they require less splicing and advances in technology made making longer lengths of cordage more efficient. It is now associated with northern Eurasia, where there is still an unbroken tradition in a few areas (likely due to it being easier to make thick fabrics with nalbinding than knitting or crochet.) This unfortunately but predictably means it is now commonly referred to as “Viking knitting” in the British Isles and the USA. But we don’t have time to unpack all that. Just be aware that it was present and once widely practiced across multiple continents and very many cultures, and it’s hayday was thousands of years ago.
Is nalbinding easy to learn? It varies, of course, but most are able to learn from online videos. I find crochet and knitting confusing, but pIcked up nalbinding quickly. Some practiced in knitting or crochet have more trouble picking it up as it has a distinctly different structure. Be persistent, try different videos as different instructions make more since to different people! Don’t try to do it all in one day, let yourself sleep between attempts, particularly if you’re having trouble. Here’s the video I started with, which is a step by step through starting and a simple project. This video is even more basic for those that want to start out as simple as possible, with a particularly easy starting method. If trying other videos, stick with the ‘on the thumb’ method. ‘Off the thumb’ is harder!
What are the perks of different needle sizes/numbers of eyes? Number of eyes doesn’t matter for beginners! For a more practiced nalbinder working on larger projects, more eyes means you can have more yarn loaded on your needle at once. Not something to worry about in the beginning! Size depends on the size of yarn one wants to use- these needles are a middling size, so are perfect for beginners working common craft yarns (typical acrylic yarn is worsted weight, and these needles will take slightly larger than that). Larger needles (with larger eyes and used with larger yarn) may also be helpful for those with motor control or arthritis considerations!
Are those wood needles as easy to make as they look? Pretty much! I made these with a pocket knife, sand paper, and a rotary tool. You can definitely make your own! Antler, bone, metal, and even something like the bamboo or plastic handle of an old toothbrush can be used. So long as it can be smoothed enough that is doesn’t snag your thread!
Must the thread be pure wool? Splicing is more difficult without thread that’s mostly wool. It can be done using a Russian (knotless) join. I’ve found acrylic yarn is particularly useful for learning on since it’s cheap and many have some laying around. I recommend practicing making chains and small tubes with acrylic without bothering to splice it, and moving on to wool for bigger projects.