June 2008

What is Nålbinding?

For this month’s article, I was looking for information about the history of knitting and crochet. My research took me to the art of Nålbinding that apparently is the basis of knitting and crochet.

Nålbinding is the technique of using a single-eyed-needle to sew continuous buttonholes. The needle goes through the first loop and is not tightened. Then the needle goes through it again. For the next row, not only the needle goes through the stitches of the previous row, it goes through the previous stitch on the same row. This technique can create a dense or a loose fabric depending on how it is worked. Here is a video for you to see how it is done.

The word Nålbinding is made up from two Norwegian words nål, which means needle, and binding, which means to bind or sew. This technique is used for making mittens and hats in Scandinavia, particularly Finland. Samples of this technique have also been found in ancient Egyptian dig sights which until recently were thought to be knitting.

As I was reading different sources, I found a reference to Nålbinding being used in Iran for making socks. Being born and raised in Iran, I could not think of seeing a sock made in any technique other than knitting. Then the light bulb came on. Iranians have summer footwear called "Giveh", which looks like knitting but it is actually Nålbinding. Mostly shepherds and farmers that work on the fields, wear it. The sole of Giveh is usually leather or worn-out rugs, which is packed tight. The top is 100% Nålbinding cotton. Therefore, the feet can breathe in hot weather and there is no need for wearing socks. Giveh

Giveh (written in Farsi script as
گیوه ) is a dry-weather footwear, as it loses its shape when wet. It is made in almost all parts of Iran, but the most famous ones are made in the province of Kermanshah. It turns out that in that area they call Giveh, Joorab, which means socks in the rest of the country and in Farsi (Persian language). Therefore, that was the source of the mistake in translation to associate Nålbinding to socks.

Many years ago, after modernization, wearing Giveh was looked down at and was considered footwear for the poor. Recently, its health benefits have been rediscovered and wearing it is now fashionable.

For more information about Nålbinding check out

For more information about Giveh check out

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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