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For years now, one of the almost forgotten techniques that are dear to my heart is (filet) netting. If you’ve seen one of those dainty, almost-nonexistent hairnets in the medieval part of a museum exhibition? Those are made by netting.

Contrary to what some people think (and some write), this is not the knot and the technique used for making fishnets. It’s a different tool, a different method, and a different result – fine, small-meshed nets that can be used as hairnets as is or embellished with embroidery.

To keep the technique from dying out, I’ve tried to do my part – I sell the filet needles (replicas after a find from 14th century London), I demonstrate netting, and I teach the technique. Since many visitors do not know what that peculiar double-eyed needle is for, I usually place a finished hairnet close to the netting needle in my stall.

And occasionally, I will get The Question. The Question is a variation of “Do you make these for sale?” or “How much is such a net?” and is hard to answer – because most of my demonstration hairnets are ones that I used to try out a new technique, or material, or embellishment (like the ones with the pearls). Some of the work time was also clocked during demonstrations or at events, and you never work full speed on events, due to all kinds of distractions. That means that even though I recorded the time needed, it’s not the realistic time for making one simple full net with suitable material, in the surroundings of the home workshop.

Netting needle eyes.

This has happened more often lately, so I have set out to do exactly that: Make a reference net of sturdy, white silk thread, in 4 mm mesh, aiming for the finished measurements of the late 13th century hairnet from London. I have started out yesterday, and I’ve about finished the crown part – next will be the interesting bit of doubling the number of mesh. (This, together with the start, is one of the fiddly bits in making a hairnet in the round.)

The clock is running. A hairnet, let me tell you, is not a thing made in an hour or so… it takes its sweet chunk of time. I’m not sure on whether it will be saleable, as it is – I have been pondering some alternatives to making it completely by hand, in order to offer a more affordable variation, but that will need some more planning.

If you have considered getting a hairnet, or have made one yourself, I would be happy to hear your input – such as how much you would be willing to pay for a (completely handmade) net, or how long it took you to make yours. Cheers!

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4 Responses to Hairnets.

  1. Panth says:

    I've not attempted any netting, but I'm interested that you say it is not the same as fisherman's nets. I'd always heard the opposite.

    Would you mind elaborating a bit more, though I understand if you want to keep your method for your taught classes.

    The one method I know of is this one:

  2. Christina says:

    Hallo zusammen,

    Mein geschriebenes Englisch ist nun wirklich nicht das Beste, also lieber auf deutsch.
    Ich habe nun schon einige Netze gemacht aber die Frage der Dauer hängt extrem von der Machengröße und damit von der Anzahl ab.
    Was mich etwas irritiert, sind die 4 mm die du für das Londonnetz an gibst. Meinst du damit eine Seitenlänge? Die Netze mit Maschenquerschnitt von 4 mm die ich mache sind deutlich kleiner und brauchen daher viel mehr Maschen. Ich lehne diese auch eher den Funden aus St.Truiden an. Und dann kommt es natürlich auch drauf an, ob man Zunahmen macht. Das größere aus London hat zum Beispiel keine.
    Langer Rede, kurzer Sinn: für ein recht feinmaschiges Netz wie aus St. Truiden brauche ich zwischen 16 und 20 Stunden. Ich hoffe das hilft vielleicht weiter.
    Liebe Grüße

  3. Panth, the silkewerk description gives the correct filet knot, and I work quite similarly to what they describe there (just with a different start, no dowel for me).
    Christina, thanks for your input – yes, that helps! Of course you are right, how long a net will take does depend on the size and therefor number of mesh. And yes, I measure the side length of a single mesh – I think that's more accurate than trying to measure the diagonal.

  4. Sola says:

    Kurzer Nachtrag.

    Ich war etwas zu verschlafen, alle Maschengrößen, die ich mir aufgeschrieben habe sind auch eine Seitenlänge einer Masche.
    Mit 4mm wird es meiner Ansicht nach aber schon zu dicht für London. Das mit den Zunahmen ist zwar auch schon recht fein aber ich meinte doch eher 5mm .
    (für alle die die sich jetzt wundern: 1 mm macht bei der Maschengröße von Haarnetzen schon sehr viel aus)
    Das Netz wird mit dem Verhältnisse 3:4 angegeben und ich habe versucht es hoch zu skalieren. Wobei ich mir nicht ganz sicher bin ob das so stimmte 🙂

    Viele Grüße

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