On Teaching Fashion: The Dog Ate My Naalbinding


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When covering textile structures in a basic textile class, weaving and knitting are typically in the top two, followed by felted and other nonwoven textiles.  I have found it valuable in my classroom to have students weave strips of paper into plain-, basket-, and satin-weave swatches.  After that, I teach them handknitting.   

In my textile design course, in addition to knitting, I also cover crochet, however, the final technique I cover is one you may not have heard of:  Naalbinding, also called cross-knit looping, or single needle knitting.  It was used in Scandinavian cultures to make socks and mittens, and also in South American cultures, for the construction of various textile forms.  

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Here are links to some sites I have found useful in teaching the various methods and the global history of naalbinding.  Each one has various photos or illustrations to supplement their instructions.  

  • Practical NaalbindingThe simplest instructions I have found online, at the web site of The Vikings, a Dark Age re-enactment society in the UK. 
  • Bernhard Dankbar’s Nadelbinden is the most extensive resource I have found, in terms of photographs and experiments with various stitches and needles.  
  • This third source, Stringpage, begins with this wise counsel with which I agree, “naalbinding is very hard to learn from a written description, even with lots of pictures. If you can, find someone who knows the technique to demonstrate. Once you learn, it is very simple.”

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If you’re still wondering about the title of today’s post, a play on the timeworn excuse for not handing in an assignment, “the dog ate my homework,” I once asked students to create small animals for their naalbinding projects.  When it came time to turn the projects in, more than one student said their pets had been quite amused by the little animals they had made for class, and one student told me that they could not turn theirs in, because their dog had eaten it.  That’s not usually something you hear when you teach fashion, so I treasure that one.

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As for what the animals looked like, they were inspired by the handknit Peruvian finger puppets here. 

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