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Netting Needles

In addition to fishing and trapping, nets are a great way to carry and store things around camp. You can make nets from a bunch of parallel strings, but for single string netmaking you need something to hold the yarn you need and still fit through the net meshes. That's where netting needles come in.

Empty Netting Needle.

Figure 1: Netting Needles


Netting needles are simple tools for holding and controlling string when you're making nets. The two most common shapes are shown in Figure 1, above. The top needle is mostly associated with fishing nets. The bottom one is very similar to a weaver's shuttle.


Like a lucet, if you look at one, you know how it's made. There are no moving parts, nothing to assemble. Some thoughts to keep in mind when you make your own netting needles are:


To make the "U" shaped hole in the top needle in Figure 1, above, it's easiest to drill a chain of holes along the "U", then cut out the pieces in between.

A coping saw does a good job of cutting the shape, but you can make a perfectly good netting needles with just a pocket knife. It just takes more time and patience.

Scrape or sand for a smooth surface. If you feel the need, add a coat of wax or varnish to prevent snagging your netting string.

I've made needles from Oak (Quercus rubra), Dogwood (Cornus florida), Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera), Black Walnut (Juglans nigra), and a couple I can't identify any more. Antique examples are also made from bone, ivory, horn, and sometimes, in later years, metal.


Partially Full Netting Needle.

Figure 2: A Partially Filled Netting Needle.


For the upper type netting needle, slip a bight of twine over the center prong, then run the twine under the bottom notch to the other side, put another bight over the center notch from this side, then back down under the center notch, and so on.

For the lower of the two needles in Figure 1, the obvious thing to do is wrap your line along the length of the shuttle, between the end notches, as in Figure 3, below. This works, and is a perfectly satisfactory method.

Twine Wrapped around center of shuttle.

Figure 3: Shuttle with Twine Wrapped Along the Center.


The other method consists of wrapping figure eights around the sides of the shuttle as in Figure 4.

Twine wrapped around edge of shuttle in a figure eight.

Figure 4: Shuttle with Twine Wrapped Around the Edge in a Figure Eight.


When one side of the shuttle is full, continue wrapping the other edge of the shuttle.

Twine wrapped around both edges of shuttle in a figure eight.

Figure 5: Shuttle with Twine Wrapped Around Both Edges.


As you can see from the pictures above, the way you wrap changes the shape of the full shuttle. The first virsion is round and fat, the second is wide and flat. Experiment with both methods, see which works best for you. I haven't settled on the one I like best. Yet.



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