Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Fny Method: Needlebinding a sweater

   This post was really supposed to be called "The Fny Method: Needlebinding a sweater without using a pattern" but that was just ridiculously long! Anyways... This is not a needlebinding PATTERN for a sweater, but rather a TUTORIAL or an explanation of how to do it in more general terms. In other words there will be no counting of stitches. Why? It's simple, I just really don't like counting! But what this post will tell you is how to put together a sweater just by using your own body as a sort of template, in which order to do things and what to look out for. 

1. Create a long line of loops to start with. Check the length against your own body size – this is the circumference at the bottom of the sweater, down below your tummy. Make sure that not only does it reach around your bottom/tummy (depending on how long you want it to be!), it is also long enough to slip your entire upper body through without it stretching too much.

2. When you are happy with the circumference close the first round. Make sure the line of loops hasn’t twisted
3. Continuneedlebinding, decreasing just a few stitches per round.

4.Carry on needlebinding, checking it regularly against your own body to see how much to decrease to make it fit well. For my bodytype I felt it best to decrease the circumference at the waist, but if you want the sweater to hang completely straight then feel free not to do so!

5.Once you reach just below the armpit (once again, try it on!) you should do a loop of unfastened stitches to go around the arm. Fasten it with just a few stitches at first (or use a safety pin!) so that you can try it and feel how tight it is around the arm. Make sure it's wide enough to let you lift your arm!

6. Once you are happy with the width of the arm-to-be then go ahead around to the other side, making a loop of the same width there.

7. Continue needlebinding around and around, slightly decreasing with a few stitches each row. I find it best to do the decreasing just above the point where the arm loop starts.

8. When you reach the shoulder it is time to drastically decrease the amount of stitches, decreasing one for each stitch you sew.

9. Try it on and figure out exactly where you want your neckline, making sure it's not too tight to get on or off!

10. When you've finished the neckline it's time to start with the arms.With a new piece of string, start right at the point where you previously began doing the unfastened stitches, at the back. Move around the arm-opening, decreasing one or two stitches at each side.

11. Once more, try it on! Depending on how thin your arms are and how tight you want it, you will want to decrease more or less. I chose to decrease very little, and not change the circumference after the first 2 or 3 rounds.

12. Continue with the stitches until  the arms are as long as you like, making sure you do the left and right as identical as possible.

13. Now you are almost done! You just need to fasten the end pieces of yarn, tucking them in and 
smoothening out the edge as much as you can.

14. You know what? You've just finished your sweater! 

I hope these instructions aren't too messy! The most important thing to remember is to keep checking the sweater against your own body and make the appropriate adjustments to make it fit. If you have any questions (if, for example, my instructions aren't clear enough...) I'll be more than happy to clarify it for you! I have never actually seen anyone else needlebind sweaters, which I think is a bit sad. It's not difficult! You don't need complicated counting or measuring, you just need to do it. And it really doesn't take THAT much time either! 

If you have ever seen or made a similar sweater I'd love to hear about it, and perhaps we could compare notes? Anyways, I hope my instructions are helpful!


  1. Oh, nice! Thanks for sharing. How much yarn did you wind up using for this? (Sure that will change for the next person, and depend on the thickness of the yarn, but by comparing our size with yours it is a good place to start from in guessing how much we might need).

    I am used to sewing medieval style clothing--when dealing with fabric it is good to add a square gusset in the underarm area to have full movement, but needlebinding is a very different creature to woven fabric. How comfortable is the movement of the arm using this technique? Do you have a full range of motion over your head?

    I have a strong preference for the sorts of sweaters which are open at the front, and have considered trying to make one with needlebinding by just going back and forth. I am ambidextrous, so switching from working right handed to working left handed makes changing direction easy, but that means that half of the time the yarn wants to untwist in the stitches, and I haven't brought myself to try it yet.

  2. Hi Kareina! I'm glad you liked the post. The yarn I used is 100% wool, from eskimo. It's thick... You can see approximately how thick in the first picture, where my hands are in the frame as well. I'm trying to figure out how much I used for the entire sweater... Each ball of yarn contained some 50 meters of yarn, and I must have used at least 12 or 14 of them. I should have noted it every time I bought more yarn! But at least I know that just for the arms I used 4 balls of yarn.

    I am myself very surprised at how well I can move in the sweater, without any problems I can lift the arms all the way up or swing them around, it allows for a full range of motion!

    Now about making sweaters with an open front... I have also wondered about how to best do that. I've been curious if it's actually possible to cut an opening! I mean, if you cut along the other direction the needlebinding doesn't fall apart, so I wonder if one can't cut it lengthwise as well and secure the edge with a heavy seam... It would be so much easier if that was possible! I'll do some experimenting and post the result for sure! =)

  3. Fin tröja!
    Har nyligen färdiggjort min 7de nålbundna tröja. Binder i vanligt 2trådigt ullgarn. Går åt ca 500 g till en normal vuxenstorlek.
    Har även bundit mamelucker, långkalsonger och en massa annat kul! :-)
    Lycka till med framtida arbeten!

    Evendim hantverk

  4. Anneli, tack så hemskt mycket! Nu blir jag enormt nyfiken på dina alster, måste ta och leta reda på din hemsida (om du har någon!)...

  5. Hej. Jag har just börjat nålbinda en tröja, men jag skulle vilja göra den ärmlös. Har du några tips på hur jag kan gå till väga?

    1. Ursäkta att det dröjt med svar. Men det var en bra fråga... Att göra den kortärmad är busenkelt, eftersom du då egentligen bara låter bli att fortsätta med armarna efter att ha lämnat hål för dem. Men helt ärmlös? Det lättaste är antagligen att inte nålbinda runt runt i cirklar som den här är gjord, utan istället nålbinda i rader fram och tillbaka och i slutändan sy ihop sidorna, om du förstår vad jag menar?

    2. Tack så mycket för att du svarade. Jag ska pröva mig fram, måste bara komma på hur man får det att inte bli runt.