Books,  Books - Nailbinding,  Projects,  Projects - Nailbinding

…and, for a change, some nailbinding again and some personal news…

2018-02 - Racaire - nailbinding - medieval handicrafts - medieval techniques - mittelalterliche HandarbeitstechnikenYes, you see right, I’ve done some nailbinding again… 🙂 

It is really nice to finally find a moment of peace which allows me to catch my breath. I feel like I just got off a roller coaster. The last year finished with quite a surprise and it was unfortunatelly not the kind one would normally appreciate.

After some initial struggles to find a doctor who would see me on short notice around christmas, I finally received the information that I had to undergo a small surgery. And though the thought scared me quite a bit, I was at the same time also very thankful that my doctor could fit me into his quite busy schedule just two days later…

Well, it was my very first surgery and as you can imagine, I was quite frightened. My sweetheart did his very best to ease my concerns and stood by my side. However, to cut a long story short – I made it through the surgery without any troubles. Thankfully, due to some really good painkillers, I just barely remember the end of the last year and the first two weeks of the new year besides that I was really bored whenever I wasn’t asleep.

I even started to nailbind this new cap as the painkillers made it hard for me to focus. Though I thought about it, tablet weaving unfortunately turned out to be too painful. Before you ask – yes, I thought about doing some embroidery too. But the one embroidery project I try to work on whenever I find enough time and peace – Talina’ s 14th century hood – requires a great amount of delicate work and focus which was simply not possible. And I definitely didn’t feel like going through my embroidery stash to start a new embroidery project.

However, as I figured out very fast, I really didn’t need to. I knew where my nailbinding needle was and I had some hanks of some awesome wool which I recently “rescued” from the “I am lonely” bin at Crafty Hands, our local yarn store.

2018-02 - Racaire - nailbinding - medieval handicrafts - medieval techniques - mittelalterliche Handarbeitstechniken

Yes, “Crafty Hands”, our local wool and yarn store, is a very dangerous place for me. They have so many lovely yarns which I would love to take home but for the sake of my marriage and my bank account, I try to restrain myself as much as possible.

Not that I don’t already have a quite lovely collection of many different yarns and threads. But, on the other hand, can a crafty girl really ever have too many threads, or wool, or beads, or fabric, or…?! *lol* Well, I simply call it collecting what could be useful for present or future projects. Though, I think, if you had asked my husband one or two years ago, he might have told you that I am quite a hoarder when it comes to art and craft supplies. And now that he gets used to getting nice things for himself, he became quite an enabler. *lol*

But back to todays topic. Nailbinding is an easy and quite rewarding technique which can be easily executed with just a big needle and some yarn… Though it might look quite intimidating at first, the system behind this craft is really very simple.   

It could be actually describes as a simple series of connected loops. The amount or size of the loops can vary as well as the points where they connect depending if the loop was worked above or beneath the thread of the previous loop(s). And in this simple connection of loops lies the strength as well as the weakness of this craft.

Let’s start with the weakness:
One of the major differences between nailbinding and other needlework techniques like knitting or crochet, with which some of you might be more familiar, are worked with a continuous supply of thread. That means that these techniques are directly worked from the skein/hank. This is not really possible when it comes to nailbinding. The nailbinding loops require a thread with an ending to be pulled through which restricts the possible length of the work thread. With some practise and some tricks – like working with a double or tripple thread going through the needle – the amount of thread can be extended but still remains somehow limited regardless all possible tricks as you still need to be able to pull the thread through your loop connections.

…and that brings me to the great pro side of this technique:
As annoying the work with the “short” threads might be – in relation to knitting and crochet – the weave created by the nailbinding loops doesn’t unravel as soon as one of the binding links gets destroyed. No, on the contrary – the connections are so strong and sufficient on their own. It would be even possible to simply cut a nailbinded piece in two and the two pieces left, given that they are both big enough, would still contain a stable connection due to the remaining loops. Only thing one would have to do is to remove the cut loops along the edge. Furthermore one could even add more nailbinding or elaboration along this new cut edge if one works deep enough into the established loop system

And this brings me right to another thing some people might experience more as a weakness than a strength. And that is that you can’t simply unravel a piece with which you aren’t happy. No, you have to either trace back all the connecting loop points and pull your thread back through them or you cut the piece off. Or, if you don’t mind too much, you just discard the piece or use it for something else.    

But however simple and exciting the nailbinded technique is and can be, even the most simple craft can be quite difficult if you don’t know where to start or don’t know how to do it. But don’t worry, Ulrike Claßen-Büttner wrote a wonderful book about nailbinding which is available in German and which was recently also translated into English:

What in the World is that?
by Ulrike Claßen-Büttner 

 This book contains easy to follow step by step instructions which make it quite easy for everyone who wants to try the technique on their own. Furthermore Ulrike Claßen-Büttner found a great way to explain the nailbinding notation which makes it even for the nailbinding newcomer rather easy to decipher it. And last but not least, this book also contains a great amount of information about extant nailbinded pieces from the medieval time which is definitely a great plus.

Yes, you could say that this is definitely my most favorite book about nailbinding. I would even go so far as to say that it is also the best book about nailbinding. However, given that is just one of very very few books about this great and ancient craft, there are unfortunately not many other books I could compare this book to. But well, one can only hope that the more people get to know about this technique, the more popular this technique will become and that the amount of publications will rise with its popularity.

Apropos popularity – there is a quite active nailbinding group on Facebook where you can definitely find some really nice inspiration for nice nailbinding projects:

Nailbinding group on Facebook    

So much about my little side project through my surgery recovery… So many projects and always just so little time….

Best regards Racaire