Hops on Net
Q: How do you actually make a net? Is there a loom or frame or something for making them?
A: The best website I know of for learning to make a net is Rita Bartholomew's "Beautiful and Practical Netting" website. This website has instructions for both the string method (used for making nets out of heavier materials) and the thread method (used for making doilies out of fine thread). Check out the eye candy under "Patterns & Images"!
Nets are made using two tools, three if you count the extra loop of thread you start on. No frame or loom is required.
The first tool is the netting shuttle or netting needle. It carries the thread or string, and has to be long and narrow, even when filled, in order to go through the meshes of the net.
Here is part of my collection of various netting shuttles. The white plastic ones on the left I purchased from The Mannings. They were very cheap! They sell four sizes, from 5 inches to 10 inches long, and the big one is only $1.60. I load the big one up with garden string when I make nets like the one for the hops vines in the picture.
I bought the wooden netting shuttle to the right of the ruler on eBay years ago. Although the end looks fragile, I've used this one a lot, and it's very sturdy. The other homemade one was made for me by my brother out of a piece of brass welding rod. He pounded the ends flat and sawed slits in the flattened ends, then sanded them smooth.
The netting needles that you can't see very well in this shot came from Lacis, but I bought them from Mielke's booth at the Michigan Fiber Festival. They are fine metal netting needles that I load with fine thread to make bags.
The other tool needed to make a net is the gauge or mesh stick. The mesh stick keeps each mesh of the net the same size. My brother made the maple burl and curly maple gauges to the left of the ruler, and Georgia Sietz made the small walnut ones on the right. I have also used heavy cardboard and rulers as gauges.
These gauges are flat. Rita Bartholomew uses round gauges for her doilies, and often uses a knitting needle as the gauge. (The other thing that sneaked into this picture is a Norwegian-style netting shuttle.)
When you make a net, you bring the shuttle around the mesh stick and through a mesh of the last round of netting, and tie a netting knot. This is the sheet bend or weaver's knot. It's also the knot used to tie a bowline knot, which I learned to tie as a Brownie scout. The big deal about the netting knot is that it doesn't slip or capsize, and your meshes don't change size. It is possible to make a mistake and end up with a slip knot instead of a netting knot, and then the new round will slip back and forth on the last round. Rita has a great picture of the slip knot that you don't want.
The hops are almost to the roof line already. They make great summer shade for our west windows. Last summer, we had some warblers that never come to the bird feeder hopping around in them, hunting insects. I was too slow fetching the field guide to identify them beyond "warbler".