If asked, I’d describe myself as a multi-crafter, whose default is always set to knitting. I love trying other crafts, but ever since I can remember, there has always been my knitting.
I’ve picked other things up along the way, some like spinning, sewing, rag rug making, crochet and weaving, have sort of stuck, whilst others like card making, scrapbooking and tapestry haven’t been able to sustain my interest. My love of stained glass is still very much there, but my hands probably aren’t up to the job anymore, which is also why I won’t be pursuing my fascination with basket making.
When you look at them like that, it’s easy to see that my interests lie in fibre crafts, which might explain how I ended up at a Skills Taster Day last Saturday. Held in The Copper Coast Geopark Visitor Centre, a former church in the coastal village of Bunmahon, a lovely group of ladies (Katherine, Shirley, Helen, Liz and Orlaith) taught traditional needle craft, Naalbinding, spinning, finger loop braiding and, appropriate for February, St. Bridget Cross weaving.
Confession time here, there are only two things on that list, that I’ve never done before and I’m pretty sure I sort of knew how to do at least one of them. (In case you’re wondering I’ve never made a Finger Loop Braid, nor have I woven a St. Bridget’s Cross.)
So why go?
Well apart from the fact that the tutors are a lovely bunch of ladies, there’s a chance to learn something new, meet like minded folk, enjoy a lovely homemade lunch and most importantly, there was going to be NAALBINDING!!!
I couldn’t tell you why it fascinates me so much but it does. I have tried it before at a Medieval Skills Day at The National Heritage Park in Wexford, hosted by the Léine Medieval Crafters. Katherine, a member of the group, was also the tutor at that time and her basket full of Naalbound goodies fascinated me then. Ever since then, my interest for the craft has grown, but I haven’t been focused enough to try it again myself.
‘Naalbinding (nålbinding, nålebinding nålbindning or naalebinding) is an ancient form of fabric production pre-dating both knitting and crochet. The oldest known samples of Naalbinding include the colour-patterned sandal socks of the Coptic Christians of Egypt (4th century CE). See here for more information.’
So whilst I did thoroughly enjoy the rest of the days activities…..
Making a traditional St. Bridget’s Cross and the original Pagan version. The paper one is a great way of learning the technique before moving on to reeds.
Finger Loop Braiding, there’s three techniques on this one braid here, although I’m not sure it’s that obvious.
Liz even managed to persuade me to do a little spinning on a Drop Spindle (completely over spun, I love my wheel)
It was all about the Naalbinding.
Daft really, considering I barely managed to do a 30cm length of Oslo stitch and practiced joining a second row, but I loved it.
I’ve been dreaming of a pair of Naalbound socks/slippers ever since, or a hat, or mittens, or….? I think thought, that I might need to work on my stitches a little bit more before then.
Perhaps I should aim a little lower to begin with and make a pot holder like this one that Katherine very kindly made me a while ago now. It’s used and loved, hence the couple of stains.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Naalbinding, there is a Facebook Group and Ravelry Group. I’m told there are also lots of videos on YouTube, so excuse me while I slip down that rabbit hole.
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