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Hairnet: Finished and Reloaded

Though I hadn’t posted about it anymore, I have obviously continued working on the blue hairnet, since it’s finished now. I have sewn it to a drawstring made from birch-leaf-dyed silk (a thin silk ribbon), using one of the handmade steel needles (which worked like a dream).
Here it is, already brought into shape on a styrofoam head. That is also the form in which this net will be exhibited at Bad Staffelstein.

It took me about 30 hours to net (again); the large meshes with the pearls in the middle did obviously save some rounds, while fiddling on the pearls took up that time again.
The large mesh is something that has to be worked with utter and extreme care, though, or they will come out slightly uneven, resulting in netting problems further down.
It took me another hour for the finishing works – sewing on and inserting the drawstring and rinsing the net as well as bringing it into form over the styrofoam head. It has about 30 cm diameter; because it is cast on with rather few meshes (only 68), the circumference at the bottom is not too great.

Altogether, I think that the next time around, I’d rather attach the pearls afterwards by sewing them over individual knots of the mesh. I’m not too content with some of the parts of the net, where there are irregularities and where you can see how often the thread broke at places, I guess because of increased friction with the pearls. Overall, I’d say it looks quite nice, though – and my respect for the medieval net-makers is growing and growing!

Because I’ve grown quite fond of netting as a show-and-tell procedure (as the regular readers here know already), and I want to include netting in the demonstrations at the exhibition vernissage, I have spent yesterday evening doing the cast-on for another net. And this time around it’s really close to an original net, found in London and published in Crowfoot et al’s “Textiles and Clothing”. Ages ago, I had already done some analysis and counting for one of the nets, coming up with 210 loops for cast-on, doubled after about 14 rows of mesh. After misfiring the first cast-on start (the loops grew nastily in length), I have now finished about 210 meshes and their connecting row successfully. I’d love to know how often I have mis-counted during the three hours I needed, but I’m much too lazy to count the loops again. I can however tell you that 210 loops is a lot.

The netting is done in extra-fine silk thread, and with a gauge of 2 mm diameter, resulting in meshes with 3 mm side length. This just fits with the large netting needle – which in turn fits in well with the fact that 3 mm seems to have been a quite common mesh size. If it comes out like the find (read: if I have not mis-counted ages ago when doing the analysis), it will have a lower edge circumference of a whooping 960 mm. That is almost one darn metre to net for about 50 rounds! I’m really curious to see how this net will turn out. And I can promise you that it won’t take only 30 hours to complete, this time, since I have about tripled the mesh count…

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4 Responses to Hairnet: Finished and Reloaded

  1. Sachi says:

    Beautiful work, the pearls are a lovely addition. congratulations on getting it finished.


  2. Thank you, Lisa!
    I did enjoy working on it, but as usual, on the last rows, I was really looking forward to the next (and a little different-looking) net. I was a bit surprised at how little extra time fiddling on the pearls did take – I would have expected more than 30 hours, but then I didn't realise that the long mesh (four rows of it) would mean about two hours less netting time.

  3. Cindy Myers says:

    I'm very curious how the second net turned out – the one with 210 stitches cast on, and then doubled. My own analysis was vastly different, although I agree that the mesh doubles after 14 rows.

    Do you have examples of surviving medieval nets that used pearls as decoration? The effect you achieved is quite lovely.

  4. The second net is currently taking some quality time in the "hibernating due to other things being done" spot. Since netting is one of my presentation crafts, most of netting work is done during the summer months when I'm on events. (In addition to that, at the moment, I actually don't know in which of the last boxes of the move the hibernation spot is.) Once I have relocated it, I will make and post a photo for you to see – and I would love to hear more about your own analysis!
    And no, I have no examples of extant nets with pearls – unfortunately.

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