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Netting: Concepts in Shaping a Net

Once you learn how to make a basic knot for netting, making your net the shape you want it becomes the next big challenge. It is especially confusing since in most cases you will be making the net as a series of diamonds, but want the end result to be viewed as squares. To gradually get used to the concept, we will first work on shapes that stay diamonds (like tubular netting) and then learn how to form flat shapes.

Tubular Netting

This type of netting can be very useful for fishnets on circular frames, bags and hairnets. To make tubular netting, you net onto a starter cord, and once you have enough knots for a foundation row you knot onto the first loop you made and continue in a spiral.

Exercise 1: Basic Tube (spiral)

Take about 6 in (15 cm) of cord and tie the ends together to make a starter loop. Hang it over something (hook, stick with notch, etc.) so it can rotate as you work. Tie the netting thread onto the starter loop.

Knot onto the starter loop, spreading out the knots and rotating the loop as you work until you get back to your starting knot. Whenever 10 or more loops build up on the gauge you will want to remove your gauge to spread out the loops, and then re-insert it only in the last 1-2 loops before continuing to knot. Continue until you have enough loops to make it around the starter loop.

Then knot onto the first loop you made. The first loop of the second row will be much larger than the others, since the thread has to travel from the first row to the second row in addition to connecting to the next loop. Continue around knotting into each loop in a spiral. After a few rows the join should no longer be noticeable.

Exercise 2: Increasing

Make 2 knots in every loop from the previous row.

OR net into the meshes from the row BEFORE the previous row. This is the increase method found on extant hairnets. It is more difficult to master, but makes for a less jarring change in the net density.

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Exercise 3: Decreasing

Pick up 2 loops from the previous row in every knot.


Flat Shapes

Flat shapes are used for lacis lace, rectangular fishing nets, etc. First we'll look at how the diamonds naturally look when pulled into squares, and then learn how to make a square or rectangle.

Some general rules are:

  • Make one more knot on your first row than you think you need.
  • The first loop of a new row will always be larger than the other loops because it has to travel from the previous row
  • Increasing and decreasing for a flat shape are always done at the end of the row
  • When done, stair-step outside lines will be a single thread or loop, and straight lines will contain doubled or tripled threads (collapsed loops)
  • It is impossible to create some shapes exactly; if dealing with a complicated shape, make the netting larger than you need and then cut off excess if necessary and bind the outside edge to the correct shape with a buttonhole stitch.

Exercise 4: 5x6 Diamond

Make a new starter cord as in Exercise 1.
Row 1: Tie on your netting thread and make three additional knots onto the starter cord.
Rows 2-7: Turn your work and knot into each of the existing loops.

Flatten and stretch the work until the diamonds are squares.

Note that the edges stair-step. Also note that the shape is not a completely symmetrical diamond; that would be more difficult because you would need to adjust the shape at the ends of the rows. "Ins" happen naturally at the beginning of rows, and "outs" happen naturally at the ends of rows, so a shape where some rows have "ins" at both ends or "outs" at both ends is not easily possible.

Exercise 5: 4x5 Square

Make a new starter cord as in Exercise 1.
Row 1: Tie on the netting thread and make 2 additional knots onto the starter cord.
Rows 2-5: Turn your work and knot onto each of the existing loops. Increase at the end of each row by making 2 knots in the last loop.
Rows 6-9: Continue to turn your work and knot into each loop, but this time Decrease at the end of each row by knotting the last two loops into one knot.
Row 10: You should only have two loops left. Knot those two loops together without using the gauge. Flatten out the shape. You should have a 4x5 Square.

Note that the edges become double thick; each increase at the end flattens out rather than becoming a new square.

Exercise 6: 4x8 Rectangle

Make a new starter cord as in Exercise 1.
Row 1: Tie on the netting thread and make 2 additional knots onto the starter cord.
Rows 2-5: Turn your work and knot onto each of the existing loops. Increase at the end of each row by making 2 knots in the last loop.
Row 6: Decrease at the end of the row.
Row 7: Increase at the end of the row.
Row 8: Decrease at the end of the row.
Row 9: Increase at the end of the row.
Rows 10-13: Decrease at the end of each row.
Row 14: You should only have two loops left. Knot those two loops together without using the gauge. When you flatten out this shape, it should be a 4x8 rectangle.

Running out of Thread

When you run out of thread, it's best to try to hide the spot where you ran out. With flat work, always join new threads at an edge (end of a row). I usually make a weaver's knot or lace maker's knot as follows:

  • Make a somewhat loose slip knot on the end of the new thread.
  • Slide the old thread through the slip knot as far as possible.
  • Pull the slip knot tight around the old thread, and then give it an extra pull so it "pops" the old thread through the slip knot.
  • Cut off ends.

When working in the round, there really is no good place to join, so only join as needed. I found that knotting the old and new threads directly together had too much potential to come undone, so when netting in the round I net with the old and the new thread together for at least 3 knots. This is difficult and I'd be interested to hear how others have dealt with the same issue.

All content copyright the author, Jennifer Munson munson.jennifer@gmail.com The author makes no guarantees for instructions and recipes on this site; neither does she accept responsibility for their outcomes. Verbatim copies may be made for educational purposes only provided they contain original copyright marking.

This page created August 4, 2001

Last updated August 05, 2005