Nasca Cross-Knit Looping
Discover cross-knit looping, which is a form of needlework native to the Nasca people, a pre-Incan culture who lived on the south coast of Peru. Contributor Barbara Morrison explains how she came across this whimsical technique that includes what we recognize today as elements of knitting, weaving, and embroidery.
Several years ago, I chanced upon a book of astonishing needlework that started me on a quest for more information about a little-known technique. Alan R. Sawyer’s Early Nasca Needlework is a lovely book filled with photographs and diagrams of the needle arts used by the precursors to the Incan civilization on the south coast of Peru.
The particular technique that interested me has been called by various names, although the most commonly used and most accurately descriptive one seems to be cross-knit looping, which is the term I have chosen to use here. (Other names include looped-needle netting, needle-looped fabric, single-needle knitting, and eyed-needle knitting.) Although I have been researching cross-knit looping since I found the book, I’ve found that it is not a mainstream technique! (When you Google “Nasca needlework,” you will be asked, “Did you mean Nascar needlework?”) Nevertheless, I have had fun learning the strengths and limitations of cross-knit looping and finding some modern uses for it.
Barbara Morrison is a native of Montana. She attended the University of New Mexico, graduating in 1975 with a degree in English Literature. She returned to Montana and began to paint and to make textile art. Her fetish dolls have been featured in several magazines and in four books about unusual techniques in doll making. Her paintings have been used by several local groups as posters to promote their projects. She continues to make small sculptures, gouache paintings, dolls, and jewelry, and has recently started to do encaustic paintings.
Featured Image: Detail of scarf designed and made by Barbara Morrison from a found woolen knitted piece, embellished with ribbon and trim, with cross-knit looping figures in wool.
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