It is time for me to finally post about my nalbinding endeavors! Now, this is my third nalbinding project, but this is the only one I have managed to take pictures of or post about. And this project, I’m doing from scratch.
This spring, my mom washed an Icelandic lamb fleece for me, one from one of our brown and white spotted sheep. It is BEAUTIFUL:
Icelandic Lamb Fleece!
See how it nearly has ringlets, and how the locks just shine?
So, since nalbinding is kindof a Viking/ Ancient Scandinavian craft, I thought, well, I should do this whole project the Viking way! So, I began to comb the fleece, in small bunches, combing from root end to tip end, and discarding all the short fibers and bits with matted-in vegetable matter. Once the wool was combed, I pulled it gently off the comb, drafting it into a smooth, long bunch of wool, also known as “top”, ready for spinning, and began spinning with my drop spindle.
Spindle and Combs
You can see here I am currently using a set of Louet double-row mini-combs, but I can’t wait until the day I can try a pair of Indigo Hound Viking combs. I’ve heard people say the Viking combs are really sharp, but they seem like they would be very sturdy, and they look decidedly more traditional than the Louet combs. (Nice as they are.) I am also using my favorite trusty drop spindle, which is a very traditional spindle, made all of wood. (I liked this spindle so much, I had a woodworker make some for me for my store. http://spindleshuttleandneedle.com/hatrdrsp.html They really spin nice, with just enough weight in the whorl to keep spinning smoothly all the way to the floor.)
After quite a while of spinning, I was able to fill my drop spindle to the point where I couldn’t actually spin any more yarn onto it, so I decided to wind the yarn onto my niddy noddy and “kill” the yarn.
Viking-Style Niddy Noddy
Yes, I know, this niddy noddy is put together weird. Well, due to my love of all things Viking, when I got an Ashford niddy noddy early this spring, I put it together with the two arms parallel to each other, rather than perpendicular like a modern niddy noddy, to reflect this Viking Age find:
REAL Viking Niddy Noddy
Then I skeined the yarn. . .
Icelandic Wool Yarn
. . . and wound it into a ball.
Then I was ready to start nalbinding.
Halfway through my first pair of nalbinding socks, I picked up a neat book in Sweden called “Soma, Nala, Binda” which has a wonderful diagram near the back on how to assemble a nalbinding sock. Here is that diagram, to better explain to you how I am doing this:
Swedish Book, Swedish Words
Actually, that probably doesn’t explain much.
The best way to start a nalbinding sock is to start with an oval for the toes and work your way up until just by the heel, at which point you stop, leave a tail hanging, and nalbind a circle for the heel. Once you are done with that, you sew the two together– half of the heel and half of the foot, and then proceed to nalbind around for the cuff of the sock. Once you have reached the desired height of the sock, you end off, and your sock is done!
Of course, there is a little more to it than that, but that is the basic method. Here is what I have so far on the socks I am making for my brother, Kyle:
Nalbinding in Progress
Close-up of the Stitches
Here is a close-up of the stiches. So far I have only just gotten to the point where I stop adding more stitches and start fitting the sock back to the foot. As I work more on these socks, I plan to post more pictures of my progress.
If you want to do some nalbinding yourself, you can buy needles and yarn here: http://spindleshuttleandneedle.com/nalbinding.html and I recommend this website (http://viking-history.wetpaint.com/page/N%C3%A5lbinding) for very good instructions and illustrations for a variety of stitches.
Til next time!