Heritage Crafts

Net making

The making of nets, an open textile in which threads are fused, looped or knotted at their intersections, historically for fishing and trapping animals.
Currently viable
Craft category
Historic area of significance
UK, especially rural areas
Area practiced currently


Historically nets were used for fishing and animal trapping. Today, hand-knitted nets are are rarely used for fishing (instead, industrially produced sheet netting is used), a notable exception being the hand-knitted nets used by the Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery in Wales. Hand-knitted nets are still used for pest control and for sport, such as ferreting for rabbits. Today, there are very few commercial net makers – but there are many makers knitting nets as a hobby and for their own use.

Purse net making in particular is strong and popular, carried out on a small scale by many people for their own use and local sales. No large scale commercial hand making. Long net making is less common.


  • purse nets (for rabbits)
  • fox nets
  • gate nets
  • long nets
  • lave nets

Issues affecting the viability

  • There has been a marked reduction in rabbit populations over the last couple of years – if this continues many net makers will stop.
  • Availability of materials.
  • Viability of the sport these nets support, i.e. ferreting.
  • A change in the law could end it.
  • The internet and YouTube have been a huge help in documenting and transferring the skills.

Support organisations

No formal organisations – but plenty of Facebook sites and YouTube channels

Craftspeople currently known

National Lottery Heritage Fund
Swire Charitable Trust
The Royal Mint
Pilgrim Trust
Maxwell/Hanrahan Foundation
William Grant Foundation

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