Odd Torfhímir – Bone Nålbinding Needle

  • Item: Bone nålbinding needle with hand warmers done in Mammen stitch
  • Instagram: @mylkwyrm

Since I was a teenager I’ve been collecting and cleaning bones when I can, though I couldn’t tell you why besides that it feels right to take them in. I was mulling this over on the way home from a Great North-Eastern War when a message rang loud and clear. Transformed into tools and pieces of kit, the animals would be honored, given new life and held close. That was it. I chose to start with a replacement nålbinding needle as my first foray, after recently misplacing my “goldilocks” one.

The needle is made from a raccoon femur split in half lengthwise, then filed and sanded into shape. The eye of the needle was carved out using an awl until a slit big enough to thread a thin strip of sandpaper through was created, then the hole was rounded out. Although historically the needle shape may have been chiseled into the bone and then snapped free, I used a jeweler’s saw and found the bone to be fantastic to work with: an ideal balance between strong and malleable, with some flex. In use, the needle is on the smaller side but comfortable in the hand, and the natural curve from the bone’s slope is handy for picking up loops while working. I plan to make a second needle from coyote, which should allow for a thicker and larger needle. All in all, I think I’ve found a new favorite medium and will continue to experiment.

The hand warmers, made with the needle, are in the Mammen stitch from yarn dyed with onion skins and goldenrod flowers this past summer. The working ends have been left long and tucked inside so that they can be further nålbinded into mittens as the cold progresses.

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  1. This is a wonderfully made nalbinding needle, looks just like so many of the Viking Age findings in museums! I also love the needles with a slight curve, they definitely are easier on the wrist. Very glad to hear the natural behavior of the bone justifies the shape. Beautiful work on dyeing and Mammen stitch, best of luck with turning the hand warmers into full on mittens!

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