Needlebinding (or nålebinding) is an old method to produce warm clothes from yarn. It has been used in several different locations on earth, and was very common in Northern Europe several centuries before knitting. Needle binding has been traced back to 4.000 BC here, and today it is often associated with old norse traditions. However, needle binding is an easy and pretty way to make warm clothes.
In this instructable I made a pair of wrist warmers for my sister. She loves fantasy and Vikings and such, so hope it will appeal to her. When the weather gets cold these wrist warmers are really a help – you can still use your fingers, but it makes a huge difference to have your hands covered, and have the “holes” by the end of the jacket sleeves stuffed. Here in Scandinavia it’s essential to cover as much skin as you can in winter, so hopefully my sister will be happy.
These wrist warmers are simple to make, and a good start if you are not familiar with needle binding. The stitch that I use is the Oslo stitch, and the yarn is a thicker yarn, made of 100% wool. Use this kind of yarn rather than one made from several small strings. Also use I recommend using wool, both for warmth and quality, but also as it’s better when attaching new strings of yarn.
To make the project you’ll need:
- A needle (the special kind for needle binding to be more specific)
- Yarn (I chose two different colours, but it’s up to you)
- A needle for embroidery and maybe scissors
Let’s get started!
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Step 1: Learning to Do the Oslo Stitch
If you arenot familiar with needle binding, here is a guide to do the Oslo stitch.
Start out by ripping of a piece of yarn, approximately 50 – 60 cm. Then take your needle and thread it on one end of the yarn.
Grab the other end of the yarn (where there’s no needle) and tie it around two fingers on your left hand (if you are right handed that is, otherwise do the opposite) 3 – 4 times.
Now pull off the loops of yarn on your left hand, still keeping them looped. Grab your needle with the right hand, and stick it half way in to the loops. Now twist the loops so the form a shape like the number 8. The loop is shaped as the “8” and your needle is inside the “8”. Now carefully pull the needle through the number. Keep some fingers on what was before the “8” – it has to stay together. As the needle is pulled further away from the “8” area, you’ll see a loop op string that keeps getting smaller. This string is supposed to go around the thumb of your left hand.
When the loop is secured around your left thumb, choose a second loop from the mess that used to be “8”. The mess should be located right on the other side of your thumb, and usually there are several loops to choose from. Choose a loop and place it like I did on the picture, so that both loops can be seen from the “front” of your thumb.
Now you’re ready to make the first stitch. Stick the needle into the loop that is on the top of your finger (the one you just pulled out from the mess). Then twist the needle inside the loop, and stick it into the loop on your thumb. Let the needle go down through both loops on the left side of your thum, and let any excess thread that hangs down be on top of the needle.
As you pull the needle through another loop will start to take form. Once again this loop needs to go on your thumb, but it has to be further down towards the root of your thumb than the old loop. (The old loop is always the one on top.) When both loops are in place, take the old loop at the top and push ti up over your finger. Hold it in place with your index finger. It is supposed to look like the first loop we put or needle through. Now everything looks just like before you started the first stitch, and you are ready to do yet another stitch.
Step 2: Ajust the Size
Keep making the stitches like you just learned. When you’ve done 10 or 15, you can untie the mess that was made in the beginning. It looks like a huge, messy knot by the start of the string, just untie it until everything looks even.
One of the good things about needle binding is that it doesn’t unravel like knitting does. If you take it off of your finger it will stay the same. If you pull the strings it will tie a knot that can easily be untied.
When you have an even string you need to start measuring how many stitches you’ll need to fit around your wrist. Unlike knitting there’s almost no stretch in needle binding, so it really has to fit.
In these wrist warmers for my sister I have 28 stitches. (on the picture it's only 25 stitches, so don't get confused by that.) It fits me, so hopefully it will fit her too. Cound the stitches by the little pattern of strings by the bottom side of your project – the side towards your palm. In one of the pictures, I am using my needle to count the stitches.
Continue to make the stitches until you have the right amount. Then make one extra stitch before going to the next step.
Step 3: Add More String When Needed
When the piece of string that you ripped off in the beginning starts to become very short, it’s time to add more string.
Take the needle off of your string, and pull the string apart into 3 thinner pieces of string. Now grab a new piece of string from your yarn and divide one of the ends into 3 thinner strings aswell. (it’s hard for me to explain, hopefully the pictures help.)
Now bring all 6 of the thin strings together, and spin/massage them together a litte.
I’m sorry to seem gross, but now we need saliva. Stick the piece of string where the ends are joined together into your mouth, and gently soak it with saliva. Then put the string between your palms and start rolling the string together. When you can pull a bit on the string without the two parts coming apart you can keep going with the project.
It is possible to use water instead, but as it is with many things - saliva just works better. This is the original way of doing it. Also it dries up super quickly, and there will be no traces of it when the product is done.
Step 4: Cover the Wrists
When your string has the right amount of stitches to fit around your wrist + 1 extra stitch, it’s time to combine to two ends. Do this by folding the project so it looks like a circle. Make sure that it isn’t twisted!
Now take your needle, but instead of going through the top loop as you are used too, go into two of the stitches on the right of your thumb – the other end of the project. Then go through the top loop on your left thumb, and finish like you are used too. Tighten the stitch. Now the project is combined, but it’s still pretty fragile.
Next you go through just one stitch to the right of your thumb and continue as before.
There are no longer any ends of your project, now it’s a circle. Keep working on the circle by going round and round, making the Oslo stitches, until it has the length that you want. Remember to try it on now and then, both to see how it fits in with and length.
Quickly you’ll start to see, how beautiful the pattern of the stitch is.
If you should make a mistake, there’s only one way to fix it, and that is by going backwards. The stitches need to be taken apart, either by stitching backwards or by untying it like a knot. Find out what works best for you.
When you get tired, just take the project off of your hand and leave it somewhere. Nothing will need to be secured. If you have taken the project off of your hand, but you can’t remember which loop is the old one and which on is the new one, just pull gently on the string with the needle. The loop that starts to become smaller is the new loop, and that has to stay on your thumb, while the old one is pushed off.
Step 5: Hole for the Thumb
The project needs to have a hole for the thumb. When you’ve reached the length that you would like from the wrist and up to the root off your thumb it’s time to stop.
I like to have the less good looking parts of my products by the palm of the hand, as I feel like it’s better hidden there. In every project it will be possible to see where the two ends were joined in the beginning, and where the project is finished in the end. Decide with yourself what hand your first wrist warmer is supposed to go on, before making the thumb.
I decided that the first one was for my right hand. The I put it on, placed the “ugly” spot on the palm side of my hand/wrist. Then I counted how many stitches I would need to do before I reached the left side of my right thumb. Then I took the whole thing off and did those stitched needed.
When you have done that you’re ready to make the hole where the thumb comes out. All you need to do is remember how you did the very first stitches, before the ends were joined. Instead of going in the stitch to the right of your thumb, you need to go directly into the old stitch, that you just pushed off of your left thumb. Then go down through the new stitch, and you finish like you are used too. This created a loose row of stitches, that are not combined to the rest of the project.
Make as many as you think you need to fit your thumb through. For me it was enough to do 6 of the loose stitches. Don’t make the row of loose stitched too long, it won’t be pleasant to wear.
When you’ve made enough, you need to attach the loose end, so it is once again part of the project. In my case I made loose stitches, so then I counted 6 of the stitches on the main project, and on the 7th stitch I stuck my needle through it and combined the loose end – just like we did when combining the two loose ends in the beginning.
Now keep going like you did before making the hole for the thumb.
Step 6: Changing Colours
The wrist warmer is done when you can close your hand and it still covers your knuckles. That means you only need to do around 4 rounds of stitches on top of the thumb, and then the product has the right length. (Ofc this may vary)
On the very last row of stitches I would like a different colour, so here I broke of my blue string and joined the end with a grey string instead. I like doing this, so it’s easy to tell which way is up on your wrist warmers. The changing of colours happened by the palm of the hand, which is my “ugly” side of the project. Then I did one row of stitches with the grey colour, and then my project was actually done, atleast I was done with the stitches.
Step 7: Finishing Product
I finished the project by my palm. To finish you need to tighten the last 3 stitches. Just pull the strings hard – starting with the 3rd, then the 2nd (that one is right behind your thumb) and then tighten the loop that you just made.
This is fairly secure, but I like to take an embroidery needle, and sew the last string into the project a few times. The last piece of string coming out if the project, is the only piece, that I recommend cutting with scissors.
In the other end of your project there is a string hanging out aswell, stitch it down a few times too before cutting it off.
Now you are done with the first wrist warmer, but remember that you have to make two.The second project you’ll need to fit on your other hand, and the “ugly” side and the thumb will therefore not be exactly like before. But if you have successfully made one wrist warmer, the second one should be no problem whatsoever!
Step 8: And Then You're Done!
Here is my finished product! I’m wearing them on the picture, as my sister can’t model them without it ruining the surprise.
The weather on the pics supports my claim about it being cold, it’s minus a lot, and the grass and leaves in my backyard are frozen.
I hope you enjoyed this DIY project, and that the pictures can help you out all of the times that I made weird explanations.
Happy holydays and may you all stay warm out there!
Participated in the
Homemade Gifts Contest 2017