On Nalbinding, Net Making, and Novels

Back in January, I shared some stuff on Mastodon about yarn crafting and my Building Family wip.

The short version is that for REASONS, I needed to figure out if nalbinding (a precursor to knitting, for my non-crafty friends) could have been invented off of net making.

Since research failed me, I decided to do an experiment.

First, Net Making

I pulled up some net making videos on YouTube, and tried following them. BUT I didn’t use a spacer. In net making, a spacer is used to determine how wide the holes in the net are. Without a spacer, the knots would be right next to each other.

This is the first video I looked at:

But when I ended up trying my experiment last week, I used this video:

I went with the crab making video because it used fingers for the spacer initially (I really like his net making gizmo he pulls out halfway through though!) and because it is worked in the round. Those two similarities to nalbinding just made it easier for my brain to grok.

Then, Experimenting

I initially tried to copy it using just my thumb for a spacer, instead of multiple fingers (as shown in the video). Instead of the metal ring, I started with a magic-ring type yarn loop from crochet as the center of my work.

There were definitely parts that felt very similar to nalbinding, places I needed to pinch the yarn to keep it in place or run the needle until a loop that was around my thumb. But the result was essentially a very tiny net, not fabric.

(I wish I thought to take a picture of it.)

Now, I’m pretty sure, if I had the spoons/matches, a good knot dictionary, and time, I could put the net making video (which essentially uses repeated half-hitches) next to a good nalbinding tutorial (the oslo stitch starts with paired half hitches), and figure out a way one could have evolved into the other.

I didn’t have the matches, and for my purposes I didn’t specifically need to make nalbinding. I just needed to use net making to create fabric.

Finally, Results

So I took the simple solution and just stopped using any spacer at all. This is the result:

nalbinding netmaking

The holes where initially the result of my keeping the stitches loose so I could recognize where I needed to put the needle. As I got more comfortable the holes got smaller, as you may be able to see. Unfortunately, the needle I have (as you can see in that picture) is very wide at the eye, and there are several places where the eye forced those holes wider than they would otherwise have been.

In any case, the end result looks a lot like a miniature granny square from crochet.

Fin

At this point, I have what I need. I can see how someone could do the same thing I did and not have holes or gaps. So someone starting with net making could end up with a fabric that would have different properties, and therefore different appeal, from weaving.

I am curious how far I could take this. Could I really figure out how to get to nalbinding from net making? Could I develop a new and different type of yarncraft? Where could this go?

Unfortunately, I don’t have matches or time for that kind of experimentation. I’ll go back to working on my crochet and learning new-to-me nalbinding stitches that other people already figured out how to do. And the characters in my next novel will invent a new kind of yarncrafting for their world.

But if any of my yarncrafting friends decides to pick this up where I left off… let me know what happens, ‘kay?

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