As the winter approaches, people start to appreciate the real value of woollen sweaters and the warmth they provide. We all have a pair of woollen socks knitted by our grandma, but needlebinded ones are still very much exotic.
Hearing about the Nalbinding for the first time usually makes people’s ears perk up. “Knitting with a sewing needle? How”. Turns out that long long time ago, when there were no knitting needles, such items as socks, gloves, hats and scarfs were knitted using a sewing needle. Basically, it is done by binding a lot of little knots and items done in this way will not be as elastic and fluffy as those that we are normally used to. However, at least for me personally, it is easier to knit a sock or a glove in this way than trying to handle five knitting needles. Maybe some people would find it easier as well. Nalbinding is still widely used in the Scandinavian region, while in Lithuania it is only seen in historical reconstruction. Fixing a mistake in Nalbinding is more complicated than it is in traditional knitting. There were some cases when, upon losing patience, I simply cut off the “faulty” part of the knitted item. On the positive side, there are no dropped stitches and the stitches in the knitted item do not undo by accident like it might when doing traditional or crochet knitting.

You will need:
- Wool yarn.
For the beginners, it is recommended to use a thicker yarn. It is better if the yarn is made of two or three strands twined together (it will be explained later). Of course, it is possible to use synthetic yarn or even a thin rope (then the number of threads is no longer relevant)
Differently than when knitting with knitting needles or a crochet hook, we will use not a ball of yarn, but a length of yarn that has been cut off. For me, it is best to use yarn that is two or three times longer than the length between the wide-spread arms. At the bottom of the article I will explain how to add another length of yarn when you run out of it.
- A knitting needle.

A needle for knitting can be made from various materials. In the old days, the needles were mostly made from bones, horns, wood, etc., while nowadays you can buy needles made from either metal or plastic. The needle has to be blunt, so as not to hurt your fingers while knitting. Even in a knitting shop, people might not have heard about the Nalbinding so simply ask for a dull needle. These kinds of needles are also used for making other types of textile items.

From left to right: bone, two made from horn and store-bought metal needles

How it is done:

1) Insert the yarn through the eye of the needle. I used a double yarn as it was thin. Notice that the needle is not inside the loop (it is important!).

2) Then tie a simple knot without pulling it all the way through. If you are using a double yarn, I recommend to tie the knot on the end which has the lose ends and not the loop (it will be explained later).

3) Put the needle inside the loop and finish the knot.

Then pull the needle clockwise. It is important that the remaining yarn is under the needle, as seen in the picture above. This step is very similar to making a knot at the end of sewing something.

4) After pulling out the needle and yarn (don’t tighten it), it should look something like that.

5) Then do the same to make a second “stitch”.

6) This is how it looks after a few “stitches” are done

When the whole circle has been done.

Essentially, it is possible to knit using this method, but the process is boring and takes too much time (as the knots are so tiny). Therefore, I will show one of the easiest stitches – the Oslo stitch. It is named after the place of the first archeological finding knitted using this stitch.

A glove knitted in Oslo stitch, found near Oslo.

A knitted fragment found near Upsala (XIV c.).

A hat knitted nowadays in Oslo stitch.

A pair of socks knitted nowadays in York stitch.

A pair of gloves knitted nowadays in Mamen stitch.

There are tons of different stitches, which possibly is a result of younger generation forgetting how the elders used to do it, and just inventing their own, adding something new. Now, let’s concentrate on the Oslo stitch.

7) After finishing the first circle, end it by stabbing the needle not in to the loop, but in to the first “stitch” instead. As before, do not tighten the knot till the end.

8) Hold the circle between your thumb and index finger. In the next two pictures you can see the path of the yarn which is shown as a dotted line.

9) Then, angle the formed loop towards yourself and put it on your thumb. It is important to make sure that the yarn is below the loop, not above it. Let it lay freely on your left hand.

You can see how it looks when you move away the index finger from your thumb.

Now we can begin doing the Oslo stitch!

The Oslo stitch

10) Stab the needle into the second loop of the first row

11) Then, using the tip of the needle, hook the preceding loop (not the one on the thumb)

12) Lead the needle further below the yarn laying under the hand

13) Press everything firmly between the thumb and the index finger and pull out the needle in a clockwise motion (don't tighten to the end)

14) This creates a loop (the old loop is marked in red)

15) Then take the old loop away from the thumb and carefully drag it by the place marked with a black arrow and tighten it. Then move the new loop over by dragging it by the leftover loose yarn

How it looks when facing it...

...and from above.
Thats the Oslo stitch.

16) Continue by repeating everything starting with step 10: using the needle, hook the second loop in the first row, then the loop that you have just finished

Lead the needle under the yarn laying on top of your hand and pull out the needle again.

This is how it should look when two stitches are done

This is how it looks when the whole row is finished
Notice that there are no rows, instead it Is forming a spiral.

Continuing further.


Because the knitted item needs to get wider, sometimes you will need to do two stitches in the same loop, instead of one. However, there are no rules for that and you need to “sense” whether you should do one or two stitches. Same as when doing crochet, if you notice that the sides of the knitted item start to roll up, you need to make it wider. Sometimes you may need to make it narrower. In that case, you need to knit not in to every loop, but every second loop.

Making a plait

If you want to knit various shapes, such as socks or gloves, you will need a plait first. It is also possible to knit a cap using a plait as the widest part and then narrowing it down as you knit.
It is very simple: when knitting, we only hook the loop that is the last one, not the second one.

A) Hook the loop that has just been pulled out.

B) Then simply lead the needle under the loop on your thumb and pull out the needle.

When you have made a plait of your desired length, connect it to the knitted item by using the stitch you learned earlier – hooking the second loop.
These pictures show this technique being used for knitting a glove.

In order to knit a thumb for the glove, I had to connect new yarn (see below).

How to connect new yarn

A) If you are using 2-ply or 3-ply wool yarn:
This method is based on wool’s natural ability to felt. It is my favorite method, as it leaves no loose strands of yarn after the connection is made.

1) Take apart the ends of “old” and “new” yarn which you want to connect.

2) Twirl them together.

3) Dampen the connection and roll it between your palms all while squeezing it hard – all done!
You can also do it by using a crochet hook or knitting needles, however, it might not work with silken soft yarn...

B) If you used synthetic yarn, rope or something else that isn’t wool:
To make it clearer, I used two different colors of yarn.

1) Transfer the leftover end of yarn to the “bad side” of the knitted item and secure the end of new yarn to the same spot.

2) Place the new yarn under the loop on your thumb (remember, the yarn always has to stay under the loop on your thumb, on your left hand)

C) If you used double yarn:
Now it will be made clear, why you needed to start knitting on the end with two loose threads.

1) Push the new yarn through the loop.

2) Take the two leftover ends and pull them through the needle.


This method only works for the first time, while you have different ends to your yarn. When connecting new yarn for a second time, you will have to use other methods.

Article by Elena