Natura Exenterata

February 16, 2010 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Fiber Arts, Netting | 5 Comments

I am extremely excited about my latest online find. I have become obsessed with fingerloop braiding (more about this in a later post), and have therefore spent a fair amount of time surfing around trying to locate every piece of written information about this fascinating technique. In doing so, I was directed to Natura Exenterata: or Nature Unbowelled. This is a manuscript dated 1655. It’s mostly a source of medicines, but there are appendices with information on knitting, fingerlooping, and netting.

Not only is the fingerlooping interesting, but the netting section is all about how to make patterns in the netting, what I had previously been referring to as mezza mandolina, from another SCAdian’s terminology. The terminology includes the word “knit”, but I think it is still netting. Not only is the category called “network”, but the instructions call for wrapping a stitch “twice around your pinne”, which sounds far more like netting than knitting. Also, although the instructions tell you to “knit” stitches, there is a separate section entitled “Knitting”, with the familiar terms needle and purl.

Granted I haven’t done any hardcore research into netting yet, but so far I haven’t come across any period (or, at 1655, almost-but-not-quite-period) resources for netting, never mind netting with patterns! I still can’t figure out how to do it myself and not have it come out a tangled mess, but at least now when I do manage to finally make a patterned net I’ll have a resource for more information. I am thrilled.

There is a PDF of the relevant sections – which include information on dyeing, netting knitting, and fingerlooping (referred to as “making lace”)- can be found here:


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  1. Given your interest in finger loop braiding, are you aware of “Tak V Bowes Departed”, a 15th C. braiding manual which has been reprinted recently?

    M. Iheronimus

  2. I have seen that book online. It’s at the top of my wish list right now, though currently it is still at the coveting stage. I suspect it will move to the purchasing stage sometime in the near future, since I don’t think I can get it through the library. (There are only 2 copies in WorldCat, both of them in the UK.) Thanks for the heads up though!

  3. Hello,

    I would like to know where it is possible to find this ebook complete.
    Thank you !

    • Unfortunately I don’t know where there is a full ebook online that is free. If you live in Australia, they have one at the National Library there, but otherwise you’re out of luck. I can via WorldCat that there are several libraries around the world that own copies that may be willing to lend either the book or the book in microform to you through your local library’s ILL program. They may say no, but you’d be surprised how many rare books I’ve gotten through ILL.

      • Thank you for your answer, no, I live in france, so, I imagine it will not be very easy to have this book !

        Thank you !

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