Nalbinding is generally worked as you go along, measuring the circumference of your head, your foot, your hand, and trying it on as you go. The size and number of stitches to use, vary greatly depending on the yarn that you use, and the size of your thumb, (as the stitches are wrapped around your thumb during the needling). There aren’t a lot of detalied patterns available, but here a a few that I have found. I will continue to add to this list as I find them.
Over the past several weeks, I have been studying how to do nalbinding and the various stitches. I found it all a bit confusing at first, but after a bit of study, I realized that most nalbinding stitches have similarities in their production.
To start, you have to begin with a chain or a circle, such as in crochet. There are many ways to make the beginning chain, using the variety of nalbinding stitches. I found that I was getting hung up on producing the chain correctly, and not progressing much farther than this. I then realized that the beginning chain is just that – a beginning, and decided to not worry how the beginning looked but to move on to work the following rows.
Once you do this, the never ending loops start to make a bit of sense, and you can then see how they are formed.
The first 5-10 stitches in nalbinding never look quite right, as all of the loops that are needed, haven’t been made yet. So continue on and keep working. Eventually it starts to look better, and you can unpick the first few offending loops when the rest of the project has been completed.
Once you have formed a beginning chain, it becomes quite straight forward to continue with the stitching.
So – moving onto row 2 where you are picking up and adding new stitches…
There are 3 basic steps to forming any nalbinding stitch.
Most of the nalbinding stitches start with 1 loop on the thumb, and the new yarn is wrapped around the thumb.
Tthe old row where you are picking up stitches from (as in crochet, but working from the left to the right.
The new yarn is wrapped around the thumb.
Working from the Right to the Left
Pick up the new loop from the previous row onto the needle.
Pick up an old loop from the previous row onto the needle.
Pick up stitches from behind your thumb.
These will be the older loops that you have just formed from the previous stitch you created.
The number of stitches that you pick up in this step will vary depending on which nalbinding stitch you are making.
The direction that you pick up these stitches will also vary depending on which nalbinding stitch are are making.
Pass the needle through the loops that are still on your thumb.
The number of stitches that are still on your thumb will vary depending on which nalbinding stitch you are making.
Pull the needle through all of the stitches that you have picked up, and tighten your yarn.
At this stage, you can also adjust the tension of the stitch if you like.
If you use your thumb as the stitch size, this is ok, but all thumbs come in variety of sizes, so you will have some inconsistency in getting an even and uniform stitch size.
But you can tighten the tension of your stitch, by using the nalbinding needle as your tension guide.
Form the new nalbinding loop on your thumb.
Drop the new loop onto the needle.
Give a bit of a tug to tighten the nalbinding loop, using the nalbinding needle as your guide to how tight the loop should be. It should be snug, yet loose enough to allow you to pull the yarn through. This will help to give you consistency in loop size, much as with knitting needles or crochet hooks, where you work your tension to the size of the needle.
Nalbinding Stitch Summary
There are many good videos on You Tube on how to make the various stitches. I will not be reinventing the wheel, but am providing some links to these.
This stitch starts with one loop on the thumb and the new yarn wrapped around the thumb. Step 1 Pick up 1 new and 1 old stitch from previous row. Step 2 Pick up 1 loop from behind the thumb, from the back of the stitch,
so no twist is added. Step 3 1 Loop is on the thumb.
Pick up the 1 loop that is on the thumb and the new yarn that is wrapped around your thumb.
Pass the needle through all of the loops.
If you wish to tighten the stitch, drop the loop that is on your thumb onto the needle and tighten, before passing the needle through all of the loops on the needle. York Stitch on You Tube
Oslo Finnish 1+1
This stitch starts with one loop on the thumb and the new yarn wrapped around the thumb.
This is similar to the York Stitch but with an extra twist. Step 1 – Pick up 1 new and 1 old stitch from previous row. Step 2 – Pick up 1 stitch from behind thumb, from the front to the back, and turn your needle so that it point down towards your thumb. This creates a twist in the stitch. Step 3 – Pick up the 1 loop that is on your thumb and under the new yarn that is on your thumb.
Pull the needle through all of the stitches.
If you wish to tighten the stitch, drop the loop that is on your thumb onto the needle and tighten, before passing the needle through all of the loops on the needle. Oslo Stitch on You Tube
Mammen (Korgen) Finnish 1+2 Step 1 – Pick up 1 new and 1 old stitch from previous row. Step 2 – Pick up 2 stitches from behind the thumb, from the front to the back of the stitch. Turn your needle so that it point down towards your thumb. This creates a twist in the stitch. Step 3 – Pick up 1 loop from the thumb and under the new yarn that is over your thumb.
Pull the needle through all of the stitches.
If you wish to tighten the stitch, drop the loop that is on your thumb onto the needle and tighten, before passing the needle through all of the loops on the needle. Mammen Stitch on You Tube The Grave from Mammen
Finnish Stitch 2+2
This stitch starts with 2 loops on the thumb and the new yarn wrapped around the thumb. Step 1 – Pick up 1 new and 1 old stitch from previous row. Step 2 – Pick up 2 stitches from behind the thumb, from the front to the back of the stitch. Turn your needle so that it points down towards your thumb. This creates a twist in the stitch. Step 3 – Pick up the 2 loops that are on your thumb, and under the new yarn that is over your thumb.
Pull the needle through all of the stitches.
To start the next stitch, you will need to transfer the most recent old stitch that was formed back onto your thumb, before you pick up the new and old stitches, so that you are starting with 2 stitches on the thumb. Finnish 2+2 on You Tube
Nalbinding Needle Cases
I now have some hand stitched nalbinding needle cases and nalbinding needles available in my Paivatar Yarn website as well as Etsy Shop – paivataryarn.etsy.com. Perfect for storing your naalbinding needles.
What is a Russian join? A Russian join is a very effective way to join 2 yarn ends without using a knot. It works well on any type of plied yarn, especially when the yarn doesn’t felt, such as for cotton, linen or superwash wool yarns. It can be used for knitting and crochet. I also like to use this method for nalbinding.
How to Russian Join Yarn
Thread a needle with one of the yarns you wish to join.
Work the needle back through the yarn for about an inch, forming a loop.
Pull the thread through, leaving a loop in the yarn end.
Thread the second yarn end through the loop.
Thread the needle with the second yarn.
Work the needle back through the second yarn end for about an inch.
Pull the needle through the yarn, leaving a second loop.
Pull gently on both yarn ends to close the loops.
You can now trim the yarn ends leaving you with a neatly joined yarn. Nalbinding Supplies on Etsy
Look for nalbinding yarns, needles, kits and yarn in my Etsy Shop.
Nalbinding is thought to pre-date knitting. Examples of nalbinding have been found throughout the world in archaeological finds. The technique is still used in parts of Peru, in Nepal and in Scandinavia to make socks, hats, gloves and other clothing and accessories.
Naalbinding is somewhat similar to knitting and crochet but once formed, it does not unravel. If you make a mistake it is very difficult to undo.
I took a short naalbinding class a few years ago but haven’t had time to practice on the technique since. I thought that I would give it a try by making a small case for my Iphone. I think this is a good project for a beginner as it uses only 1 stitch – the Oslo stitch, and a bit of hand spun wool. If you don’t have a naalbinding needle you can use a large wool darning needle.
Here are some good tutorials and how-to instructions on how to do different nalbinding stitches and techniques.
Bernhard Dankebar’s website gives good written instructions and photos of how to start the basic stitch. The Beginning Stitch
This shows how to make the basic loop and the foundation row. This is also called the Oslo stitch.
How to Join Threads
When you work with nalbinding you will be using fairly short lengths of yarn so that it doesn’t tangle as you are working with it. It is best to use a pure wool yarn that will felt, so that you can splice and felt the ends together.
This is an excellent site (both in Finnish and English) with good instructions and how to videos that demonstrate many Nalbinding stitches. Neulakintaat
The Finnish version of this website.
Naalbinding – Oslo Stitch 1+1
Iphone Case Pattern
I have used a 2 ply hand spun wool yarn.
I did 30 Oslo stitches for the first row – or enough so that the ring measures 10 inches across.
I will be felting this once it is complete, so have allowed some extra allowance for felting and fulling.
See how to work the second row – at 5:20 in the You Tube video above.
I continued stitching using the Oslo stitch for the remaining rows.
I picked up 1 new loop and one old loop from the previous row and 1 loop from behind my thumb as well as the loop on my thumb and the new pickup thread.
Once you master the basic stitch, you will find that the naalbinding works up quite quickly. As with any type of stitching though, getting the tension right can be a bit tricky. The size of the loops are controlled by how tightly you wrap the yarn around your thumb, so you will need to practice with this. If you are working with fine yarn you can make the loops tighter by slipping the loop off your thumb and onto the naalbinding needle to adjust the tension.
After I completed nalbinding the bag I sewed the bottom and added a strap to it.
I picked up 2 loops from the side and using the Finnish 2/2 nalbinding stitch I stitched the strap and sewed attached the other end to the opposite side of the bag.
My curiosity about nalbinding began at an early age as my father used to tell me stories of how his Saami mother would make mittens.
My grandmother was a Saami from the Sor-Varanger province of Norway. My father was born in Petsamo and was raised in a small Saami community. When he grew up he married my Finnish mother. He and my mother moved to Canada after the war and settled in British Columbia. My father worked as a commercial fisherman along the west coast of Canada. Before his long fishing trips, my mother would knit him several pairs of woolen hand warmers to keep his hands warm as he worked. My father would quietly comment to me, that he wished that my mother knew how to make the mittens like his mother did. He didn’t really understand how she made them, but he tried to explain that she would wrap the yarn around her thumb and sew it with a large needle. ‘Peukalo kude’ as he described it in Finnish. He said they were much warmer, thicker and more durable. Of course, he never told my mother this as he wouldn’t want to offend her.
I didn’t understand what this strange type of knitting could be, until I attended a Fungi Dye Symposium many years later. To my surprise, there really was a way of making hats, mittens, socks by using a simple needle and wrapping the yarn around your thumb.
Examples of Fungi Dyed Naalbinding or needle knitting at the International Mushroom Dye Symposium
Step by step instructions for nalbinding including hints on how to join threads.
Instructions for a basic nalbinding stitch.
Nalbinding – Oslo Stitch
Naalbinding – Finnish Stitch
A pdf file for naalbinding instructions developed by the Handiscola project. Handiscola Naalbinding
The Handiscola website is no longer on line so I have provided a copy of the pdf file here.