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.

cross-knit looping

Hat designed and sewn by Barbara Morrison from vintage woolen fabric (done in wool pattern darning on huck) trimmed with ribbon and Guatemalan fabric, decorated with woolen cross-knit looping figures. Photos by George Boe.

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.

cross-knit looping

Barbara Morrison’s scarf with cross-knit looping figures.

—Barbara Morrison

To read Barbara Morrison’s article, “Nasca Cross-Knit Looping” and make Barbara’s “Creations in Cross-Knit Looping,” pick up a copy of March/April 2018, PieceWork’s 25th-Anniversary issue.

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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