Stitching, pinning, binding
Different names for the same activity. The technique used to make the mitten has been called many things during its thousand-year history. Today it is often known as needle-binding.
The Lödöse mitten
During an excavation on Långgatan in Lödöse in 1972, a needle-bound mitten was found dating back to the 12th century. The mitten was made of wool mixed with cow hair, which was quite common before the advent of synthetic materials. The cow hair made the mitten warmer and more hard-wearing.
It is in such good condition you would almost think that it was lost yesterday. One’s thoughts turn quickly to the person who made it and to the person who wore it. The question is whether it has ever been worn. It looks virtually unused, despite having spent almost 1,000 years buried in the soil. This mitten is an outstanding example as it is so unusually well preserved.
This is a very old craft, used in particular for making smaller garments such as mittens, socks and caps, and it involves sewing loops around your thumb. It requires very little equipment – just a needle and some yarn – although the variations on what can be achieved are almost limitless. There are thousands of different stitches to choose from, some local, some from farther afield, and some even personal.