Sunday, December 27, 2009

"Anglo-Saxon" Belt

UPDATE: it seems this pattern probably isn't Anglo-Saxon after all, but medieval.

Warp: Red, green and white silk
Weft: Green silk
Pattern: Woven in diamonds
Cards: 32
Width: 1 - 2.5 cm
Length: 140cm
What's new: not brocade

OK, so this isn't a brocaded pattern. I'm getting more and more keen to try the various non-brocaded techniques and sometime next year I expect I'll drop the "brocaded" from the blog title. Not yet though because I have 3 brocaded bands queued up after this already.

This pattern comes from a belt from Anglo-Saxon Cambridge. It is described on page 122 of Collingwood (2002 edition), page 53 of Hansen and on 's site. Reproductions by and Shelagh Lewins can be seen online.

This pattern was calling out to me at this particular time because like the Mammen band it involves quarter-turning alternating left and right cards. It is the only non-brocaded piece I've done so far other than the basic eight-card chevron/diamond pattern that so many people do for their first ever tablet weaving experience. Although it looks pretty similar to that diamond pattern, it's actually cunningly designed to look the same on both sides. Instead of smooth lines on one side and jagged ones on the other, the jagged edges are spread between both sides so that neither of them look particularly bad.

I wanted to make a belt to donate to the Fighter Auction at Canterbury Faire with this pattern. I decided to increase the width of the pattern by increasing the central section a couple of times.
It's a bit of a shock to the system going from brocaded to threaded in patterns. When brocading, really the only thing of real signficance (for a somewhat sloppy weaver like myself) is that the brocade has the correct tiedowns. Change the card direction, accidentelly flip a couple of cards on the edge over, change the tension, whatever, it's not going to make a big difference. But with a pattern like this, it's essential the cards stay in configuration. A temporary change in tension can make a very obvious line in the pattern (see around the middle of the picture above). The tension on the individual threads has a major effect on the shape of the diamonds.I wove this band using the new warp spreader made for me by Lowrans Wilyamson, which I will write about in a separate post.

Because this band was for a belt and people seem to prefer their belts to be wider than 1cm, I did my best to let the band grow to a decent width. Looking back I think this was the wrong call because the resulting band is very loose weave and prone to deforming when pulled perpendicular to the warp . Also, the wider the diamonds the more jagged they look (compare my effort with Shelagh Lewins's effort linked to above. The belt ended up about 2.3cm wide although it took a while to get up there. I didn't cut my warp threads long enough so the widening section is going to have to remain as part of the belt.

To make the belt holes I ran one weft thread through each half of the shed, so there is a slit in the middle. This didn't work all that well due the to low warp density as mentioned above and the band is very uneven in width/tension in this area. It was also hard to make the two sides join up again after each hole without pulling the weft tighter and reducing the width of the band. I did get better at this as I went along. Here's a picture from the start of the hole region where it's at its worst.
I'm going to put a buckle and ends from Raymond's Quiet Press on the belt.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Medieval Archaeology (journal)

For anyone else that didn't know, the first fifty issues of Medieval Archaeology are available for free online, including among many other interesting articles Early Anglo-Saxon Gold Braids by Elisabeth Crowfoot and Sonia Chadwick Hawkes.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mammen Band Mk II

This is my second go at the Mammen cuffs after my first was lost in the mail. For the specs see the Mammen band Mk I.

This time through I decided to do away with the whole "edge tablets turn every pick" thing by dropping one tablet (Under the stave on the left side). This means there are an even number and as long as you're throwing the ground weft in the right direction one of the threads of the edge tablet is caught up every pass. Additionally it (theoretically) means that the two twines on the outside of the stave border looks symmetrical- although to be fair I'm not neat enough for it to be an issue.

Additionally I wanted to see whether I could encourage the band to be wider by using thicker tablets- the idea being that if the warp splays slightly outwards rather than inwards as it leaves the weaving the band will be more likely to widen than narrow. Since I still don't have any proper tablets yet I achieved this by gluing multiple playing cards together. It may have worked a little since this time through the band was 2cm wide rather than 1.5. I was really trying to keep the band wider though so I'm not sure how much of that can be attributed to the cards. Also they were kinda annoying due to substandard gluing. It's really time I got some proper tablets!

2cm was enough for this band to reach the hallowed goal of having a weft density as high as its warp density! Wow! You wouldn't really want it any higher than that (17 or 18 picks per cm).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Narrow Mammen band

Warp: Lilac silk
Weft: Lilac linen
Brocade: Spun gold + silver (Kreinik jap)
Pattern: Wide Mammen band
Cards: 17
Width: 1cm
Length: 70cm
What's new: 2 different brocades, turning alternating cards

This one was executed just the same as the wide mammen band. The pattern is from Egon Hansen's Tabletweaving but I had to take a stab at the location of the silver bits myself based on the Danish National Museum's photos. I didn't take any photos of this one before sending it up to Iarnulfr so I guess it lives only in my memory :(

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's going on?

I recently returned from a 7-week holiday which is why there have been no posts. Actually since then I completed the thin Mammen band to go with the wide one in the previous post. I forgot to photograph it before I posted it up to Iarnulfr with the wide one. Unfortunately, on Wednesday Iarnulfr received the envelope I posted them in- still sealed, empty! My bands have either been lost or stolen on their journey. Neither makes a whole lot of sense.

The bands have been reported missing and I will take on another small project while waiting to see of anything comes of that (I doubt it). If they haven't turned up by the time that's done, I will weave the wide one again, incorporating a couple of changes I thought of while weaving it the first time. It's more about the process than the finished result after all.

I'll post a short entry on the narrow band, which I doubt I'll be motivated enough to re-do since it was not as challenging.

I won't be sending bands through regular mail again. Seems obvious when you think that at minimum wage, there was at somewhere around NZD1500 of labour in there!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Mammen band

Warp: Lilac silk
Weft: Lilac linen
Brocade: Spun gold + silver (Kreinik jap)
Pattern: Wide Mammen band
Cards: 35
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 2 x 30cm
What's new: 2 different brocades, turning alternating cards

A couple of months ago I came across the Danish National Museum's page on the Mammen textile finds. It lets you zoom right in and look at the detail. The arm bands are gorgeous and I decided I wanted to give them a go. They differ in 2 major ways from any of the bands I've woven previously:

1. The cards aren't all turned at once. Peter Collingwood describes this band as having the cards threaded in 2 holes and turned as a pack but EPAC says they were threaded in 4 holes and the odd and even cards were turned in alternate picks (The edge cards are still turned every pick). I decided to go with EPAC's interpretation since I've already tried the 2-hole thing. Turning the cards half as often means you can get a higher weft density.

2. There are two brocading wefts: silver and gold. Thanks to the stave border, there is gold in every pick. Silver appears in most picks. You can't just pass both brocade wefts through the main shed because the brocade will bulk out the picks and lower the weft density. EPAC describes the method of using two brocade wefts on p. 112. The "background" weft (in this case the gold) passes from selvage to selvage, going through the main shed in areas showing the background colour, and then diving right to the back of the band in areas where the "foreground" (silver) brocade weft shows. The foreground weft does not go all the way to the selvage but only passes back and forth in the area where it shows on the top of the band. A consequence of this is that the background weft shows on the back (with no tiedowns) in the areas where the foreground weft shows on the front.I got the pattern for this band out of Egon Hansen's Tabletweaving. It's been tweaked slightly so that the silver diamonds show a cross motif rather than a fylfot.

I've had no luck contacting my silk supplier recently so I ended up dying some of my white silk with Rit dye. There was a brief period where I was very alarmed about the bright purple I ended up with, but enthusiastic rinsing got it down to a colour that could plausibly caused lilac!

I'm still using playing cards for my tablets. I threaded them up with alternating sides up so that (combined with the rectangular shape of the cards) it would be easy to spot when all odd cards were in one orientation and all even ones in another. This has probably saved me a lot of time.

Because of the hoopla going on with turning the cards, I couldn't really weave this band with the cards suspended in midair as I usually do. I know some people swear it's impossible to do brocaded tablet weaving without a board to rest the cards on but it hasn't been my experience- although it would probably have helped with the 2-hole band. But for this one, with the cards in different orientations, I really needed something to rest them on. I'm using a stack of boardgames and jigsaw puzzles, which is probably a bit sub-optimal, but works!

I tried separating the cards out into odd and even packs to make it quicker to turn the half packs, but it just made a huge mess. I've gone back to having them as one pack. I turn each card individually on picks 1 and 3. On pick 2 I turn the odd cards as a pack to catch up with the even cards (turning the edge cards by hand) and on pick 4 I turn the even cards backward as a pack and then rotate the whole pack forward (it's easier to move cards from a vertical to a horizontal orientation than vice versa).

The first four picks of this band went excruciatingly slowly. With the 2 brocade wefts you can't really use a pickup stick to raise the tiedowns. It's quicker to just pass the brocade weft under them individually. But I've got into the rhythm of it now and am managing to do about 2cm per hour. It's coming out at 14 picks/cm which is higher than usual but still only half as many as the original, even though the band is about the same width.

Bands with light-coloured grounds tend to looks less striking than ones with dark coloured ones, but I don't think this one is looking too bad (or too different from the original, my woeful weft density aside).

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Kentish band

Warp: Purple silk
Weft: White linen
Brocade: Gold strip
Pattern: "Sarre 94" - Kentish pattern
Cards: 9
Length: Approx. 1.2 metres
What's new: Metal strip brocade, brocade on both sides (in places)

I wanted to do a band using metal strips and the Kentish bands seemed most appropriate. The pattern is one from 's site (It's also on Ælfflæd's Saxon Rabbit which has a wider variety of Kentish patterns). I altered it slightly to make it symmetrical to my eye. I used a white linen weft because I wanted to see what it looked like- linen was often used as a weft but it probably wasn't dyed to match the warp-not always anyway. The contrasting weft shows up at the edges and looks alright if the weaving is perfect, but is very unforgiving of aberrations.

The metal strip I used was uncoiled Rajmahal Sadi thread. It makes for a very thin strip. I used it double. It didn't seem very annoying to use but I seemed to be going a lot slower than usual considering the simplicity of the pattern.

I recently bought some purple wool to make into a "day bliaut" and I decided to use this band for that despite the Dark Ages nature of the band- it's pretty hard to distinguish from bands with the Anchor Lame thread even from close up. Because I wanted the band to go around the keyhole neck of the garment I thought I'd give a go to switching the side of the band the brocade shows on, so it can turn a 90 degree corner with a fold (hope that makes sense). For about 2cm around the corner I brocaded both sides.

I wove enough for bicep bands in addition to the neck decoration. I was originally considering doing more of this pattern for the wide cuffs of the bliaut, but I got too bored so I guess that's not going to happen.Update: you can see the finished "day bliaut" here.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Neuper #29

Warp: Purple silk
Weft: Purple silk
Brocade: White silk
Pattern: Anna Neuper #29
Cards: 29
Length: Approx. 1.2 metres
What's new: Tiedowns under 1 thread

I just got a copy of Anna Neuper's Modelbuch (as published by Nancy Spies and Ute Bargmann). This is a book of brocaded tablet weaving patterns as recorded by Anna Neuper, a nun from Nuremberg, in 1517, at the time when tablet weaving was dying out in favour of other decorative fibre techqiques such as lacemaking. The patterns are all pretty obvious and geometrical. They're all pretty similar to the pattern I used on my garters back in my first brocaded tablet weaving experiment.

I was going to start the Mammen bands next but it's taking a while to get the silk. So I thought I'd make one of the patterns from this book. I don't have an immediate use for it so I may donate it as a prize for the Fighter Auction Tourney at Crescent Fence in August.
For this band I am using a double thickness of white silk for the brocade, and (for the first time) tiedowns under one thread only- except for the card at each edge, since this makes it look neater. I'm making the pickups as suggested in Peter Collingwood's Techniques of Tablet Weaving which I've also just got. The cards are rotated a 1/8 turn after passing the ground weft, so that one thread in each card is higher than all the others, and then pickups are made from there (plus some stuffing around to deal with the edge cards).

Birka 22

Warp: White wool
Weft: DMC linen
Brocade: Wool
Pattern: Birka 22
Cards: 21
Length: Approx. 0.4 metres
What's new: Wool

Birka 22 is the only pattern from Birka found with both silver and gold brocade (the rest are all silver). Next to the simple 8-card threaded in chevron pattern, it seems to be the most common tablet weaving pattern for re-enactors to follow (at least in this corner of the world). However most people don't seem to do it as a brocade pattern. Þora Sharptooth has created a "recipe" for Birka 22 that uses Egyptian diagonals to create the pattern and it seems to have taken on a life of its own. I doubt all the people that have woven it are aware the original Birka bands were brocaded. No slight intended to Þora Sharptooth, whose website is an excellent resource and who is quite clear on the fact that this isn't actually the original form of the pattern.

The wool I used for the warp is from Anna Gratton Ltd. The brocade is wool from Strand New Zealand. This was my first brocaded band woven in wool and it took a little while to adjust. With the silk I've been using (and the linen as far as I recall), you can just use the beater to shove the warp threads apart to create each new shed. With the wool, you actually have to pull the upper and lower threads apart- bashing them with the beater just makes a mess. Coverage is great with the fluffy wool.

This band is going on my linen apron dress.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

"Dogs and Flowers" Cingulum

Warp: Red silk
Weft: DMC Cotton
Brocade: Spun gold
Pattern: "Dogs and flowers", 13th/14th century cingulum, Halberstadt
Cards: 46
Length: Approx. 1.4 metres
What's new: higher number of cards. Intermittent brocade.The warp runs left to right in the pattern above. Also, I have stretched it out so it appears about in proportion to the real thing. This pattern is on page 138 of EPAC. I modified it slightly. I removed 4 picks from the flower, so that it turned out circular when I wove it (as usual I can't get my weft density up as high as the original band). The original had the dog's collar in a contrasting thread, which I couldn't be bothered with, so I also altered it to be gold brocade right through.

I used gold Kreinik jap #7 for the brocade. For the brocaded regions I used polyester thread for the ground weft so I could make the brocade as dense as possible. Between each dog/flower is a region of 20 picks with no brocade. For these regions I used the same silk as the warp for the ground weft. I thought using a thicker thread might make the transitions between the brocaded and non-brocaded regions a bit less jarring. It didn't really work very well. The band was still much thicker (not wider- well, actually the width was a bit all over the place) in the brocaded regions.

Now I'm done I've realised I don't know how to finish a double-wrapped belt so this piece is in limbo until I work that out :(

Update: you can see the finished clingulum here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Beanie Cap Trim

Warp: Blue silk
Weft: DMC Cotton
Brocade: Spun gold
Pattern: "Scrolling vine", 13th century cingulum
Cards: 17
Length: Approx. 1.2 metres
What's new: Twill

Beanie caps are one of the distinctive clothing articles of the Germanic region in the 12th century. They can be small and dishlike (kinda like Jewish skullcaps) or more hemispherical. The pictures on the left are from Katherine Barich's picture gallery which has some really awesome pictures, but they aren't well referenced so I'm not sure of their exact source.

I made a beanie cap a while ago but it fit my head pretty poorly so I decided the make another one that was stiff enough to retain its shape when it is worn. This is the first item of clothing I have made specifically to have tablet weaving on it. There are no extant women's beanie caps that I know of but EPAC lists a French 11th/12th century ecclesiastical skullcap with thin tablet-woven bands down the middle of wider bands, which is what I'm doing.

The pattern is a "Scrolling vine" motif from a cingulum (belt) attributed to St Edmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, 13th century. The pattern can be found on page 132 of EPAC.

All the previous bands I've woven had alternating S- and Z-threaded cards but for this one I tried doing a twill band which means having all the bands threaded the same way. Threading all the cards the same way causes the band to spiral when it's not under tension so it's recommended you have one or two threaded in the other direction at one edge, so the band has 15 Z-threaded tablets and 2 S-threaded ones. Warping your band up in a twill configuration lets you do all sorts of exciting things like 3/1 broken twill, but for this band I'm just doing the unexciting all-cards-turn-at-once thing I've been doing with previous bands. The main difference I've observed with weaving a twill band is that reversing the turn direction is much more obvious on the front of the band than with an alternating S and Z setup so you can't just go changing the direction whenever you feel like it.

This is a picture comparing the three ground weaves I've used so far (showing the reverse of the bands). The top one is the regular alternating S and Z 4-hole weave. The middle is the twill weave of this band and the bottom is the 2-hole of the Birka 7 band. I'm assuming the reason that on the top band the S and the Z warps do not look equally tightly wound is due to the the ply of the silk.

The spun gold I'm using for this project is Madeira Metallic No. 10 which is similar to the anchor lame but I think might actually be even thinner. Coverage is not great, but the simplicity of the pattern means this is not a huge issue.The magic of the internet has made the brocade in this pciture look silver. It's gold, I promise (And the top band above is more orangey than the bottom one, too!)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Birka 7 (for tunic?)

Warp: Red silk
Weft: DMC Cotton
Brocade: Spun silver
Pattern: Birka 7
Cards: 17
Length: Approx. 1 metre
What's new: 2 holes per card threaded

This is my second project for Iarnulfr, who is now making me a bed. It is very similar to the first band I did for him, except that I have actual red silk now so don't have to dye it myself (with poor results), and I've persuaded him to let me try with only two holes in each card threaded (alternating positions on each card). There are Viking bands where this may have been done (it's also possible that they were threaded with linen and it has completely disappeared).

Iarnulfr isn't sure what this band will be going on yet but it will probably be something tunic-like.

Weaving a band with only two holes threaded per card requires a slightly different technique to 4-hole bands. With 4-hole bands, the warp threads are packed densely and you can pretty much walk away from the weaving without any fear that the cards will slip out of alignment. But because there are only half the warp threads in a 2-hole band, you have to constantly hold the cards in place. So (at least the way I do it) your left hand is always on the card, leaving only your right to manipulate the wefts, which is a bit annoying.

The other issue is that with only 2 holes threaded, and an odd number of cards turning a quarter turn each turn, at one side of the band the ground weft will be looping around one of the absent warp threads, which means that card will be completely fail to be caught up in the band. To get around this I passed the ground weft to the back between the last and second-to-last card and then came back in from the outside. Of course if I'd thought ahead the problem could also have been solved by not following a strict alternating S and Z threading.

On the plus side, the lower warp density meant it was easier to get high weft density, so the brocade coverage is excellent. The band is also a bit wider than I was fearing- about 8-8.5mm compared to 1cm for 4-hole bands with the same number of tablets. Obviously this means it's quite a bit thinner (in addition to being narrower).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pouch Trim

Warp: Perle cotton
Weft: DMC embroidery cotton
Brocade: Kreinik jap
15ht century chasuble neckine, Braunschweig (EPAC p. 137)
Cards: 15
Width: 1.3mm
Length: Approx. 40 cm
What's new: Cotton ground, Kreinik jap brocade. No reversal of card turn direction.

This was just a "filler" project while I waited for the materials for my next plans to arrive. The pouch is of green wool with perle cotton lucet cord strings. Perle cotton is not a period material for brocaded tablet weaving but it is a good stand-in for silk for the cheap of heart (actually, the silk I'm using is cheaper by the metre than the perle cotton, but you have to buy twenty times as much). I used the leftovers from the lucet cord for the warp. I think it is DMC perle cotton #8, which is quite a thick thread. The brocade is Kreinik jap. For most of it I used a double thickness of #5, which is pretty thin, but near the end I ran out and switched to a single thickness of #12, which has a pretty similar effect.

I got the pattern from EPAC. It is from the band of a neckline of a 15th century chasuble. The original changes the orientation of the diagonals now and then, but I don't like the effect very much so I just kept going in the same direction all the way along.The weaving went alarmingly fast after the experience with a linen warp. I decided to do the whole thing without changing the direction the cards were turning, although I don't think this made any significant difference to the end result. Speaking of the end result, it is pretty striking. And by striking I mean garish. This is probably an inevitability when your warp is pink, but I also think the gold jap looks quite a bit tackier than the Anchor silver lame. I don't know whether that's a modern sensibilities thing or whether it's just unnaturally shiny.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cuffs on Linen Tunic

Warp: Linen
Weft: Linen
Brocade: Spun silver
Birka 21
Cards: 17
Width: 1cm
Length: Approx. 70cm
What's new: Linen warp

Coloured linen tunics are pretty iffy for the 12th century, but they're cool, so I wear them anyway. Likewise it's probably a bit early for linen tabletweaving, but I wanted to give weaving with a linen warp a go. I had a light brown linen tunic that was as yet unadorned.

The pattern I used was another one from Egon Hansen's Tabletweaving. It is a simplified version of Birka 21. The fylfots are omitted, although honestly I don't think anyone would have noticed if I'd included them, and there are only two scrolly things between each repeat of the tooth motif.

The ground warp and weft are both green DMC embroidery linen. The brocade weft is (again) Anchor silver lame.(The pattern doesn't exactly leap out at you on the band but this photo isn't helping)

I'd been reliably informed it wouldn't be a pleasant experience, because linen breaks very easily under tension. And yep, it isn't much fun. The first thread broke when I was about 4cm in and then they just kept breaking. Here's a picture showing all the broken warp threads sticking out the sides (it's especially bad on the left there, which is where I stopped):It isn't too hard to replace a broken thread. The part of the thread closest to the weaving I draw through the shed and out to the side. Then I thread a new length of the thread through the appropriate card and (using a needle) up into the weaving about where the original thread came out, and through the band a way and out the back where I tie it off. Then I peg the cards up and untie the other end of the warp, pull out the other end of the broken thread, add the new thread and tie it back up.

It does really cut into your progress when it starts happening regularly. Also, the newly added thread doesn't have the same twist in it that the ones that have been there all along have, so you can't just turn the cards the same number of times forward as back to end up with the warp untwisted. After a while you can start re-using the broken warp threads again (they almost always break between the cards and the weaving) but nevertheless you go through the thread you're using for the warp pretty quickly, which is more depressing than actually having to replace the broken threads.

In the end I had to stop sooner than I wanted too, just because I ran out of linen for the warp. I had been intending to do collar trim for the tunic as well as cuffs but in the end there wasn't enough.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Birka 2

Warp: Silk
Weft: Linen
Brocade: Spun silver
Pattern: Birka 2
Cards: 17
Width: 10mm
Length: 114cm
What's new: Doubled-up spun silver brocade, linen weft

This project is for my friend Iarnulfr, in return for a chest he made at Canterbury Faire. Originally it was for the cuffs and collar of his brown Russ coat, but when coat and trim were finally in the same place it was determined that the colours clashed so its final purpose is now unknown.

The pattern is Birka 2 (chosen by Iarnulfr). I got it out of "Tablet Weaving" by Egon Hansen. Iarnulf wanted the ground to be red, so I dyed some of my white silk red with Dylon- unsurprisingly it turned out sort of orange. The brocade weft is two strands of Anchor lame silver thread, which is basically a very fine jap. The original Birka bands used drawn silver, but I don't have any, so the jap will have to do.

The weaving went very smoothly although again there was a fair bit of variation in the band width.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hose Trim and Garters

Warp: Silk
Weft: Silk
Brocade: Silk
Pattern: 15th century chasuble. Munich (EPAC p. 144)
Cards: 9/21
Width: 6mm/12mm
Length: 60cm/60cm

For my first band I picked the pattern in EPAC which used the fewest cards. It is from a linen band from a 15th century chasuble. The design is a simple geometric consisting of diamonds and diagonal bars and I think it would not be out of place on 12th century garb.

The purpose of this project was to make garters for my dark blue woolen hose. We have extant hose from the 12th century with garters sewn on at either the front or the back of the hose. This is most excellent, since I've had several garters fall off during events without me noticing until it's too late to recover them. Unfortunately I don't know of any garters that were definitely tabletwoven (in pictures they mostly look like ribbons) but it doesn't sound like the most out there idea ever.

The warp, ground weft and brocade weft are all of Schappe silk from fibreholics. The warp and ground weft are an alarmingly bright blue, and the brocade weft is white. The original band had one-thread pickups but when I tried this it was hard to discern the tiedowns at all so I stuck with 2-thread tiedowns. This is the most common number in extant bands.

Since this was my first band and I wanted to tax my brain as little as possible, I brought the brocade weft all the way to the edge of the band at every pass ("Type 1" turn in EPAC). The brocade weft is clearly visible at the edges of the band.

The band went well once I got going. The chasuble the original band was from also had another, wider band on it and I decided to weave this as well, as trim for the hose. There's a pair of 13th century buskins with a tabletwoven band for trim in the V&A (or at least, fragments of the buskins are there).

The second band used 21 cards. I was unsatisfied with the results of the "Type 1" turns on the narrow band, so used EPAC's "Type 2" turns, where the brocade weft passes to the bottom of the band between the edge card and the next one in. This is the most common turn type in extant bands.

The band went pretty well but there are two aspects I'm unhappy with. One is the density of the brocade. There are clear gaps between each pass. The problem is not so bad on the narrower band so I think part of the issue is that although I was beating the weft equally hard on both bands, the force would have been more distributed on the wider one.

Ways of improving the coverage (other than beating the weft harder) would be to use a thinner thread for the ground weft than for the brocade weft, which would make the passes closer together, or to double up the brocade weft, which would make the passes wider. Both these methods are used in extant bands.

The other issue I had was that the weft tension varied wildly, so the width of the band fluctuated from about 0.9 to 1.3 cm. EPAC suggests measuring the width of the band at each pass. Personally the thought of this fills me with despair, and I just hope that with practice I become good at keeping it even by eye. It was a particular problem with this band because due to my inexperience I have no idea what the "right" width is (the 15th century band is a crazy 3cm wide so no help there).

Here's a (fuzzy) picture of the finished product. The garters are finished in plaits with one card (4 threads) in each strand of each of 3 plaits. I had re-sew the tops of the hose a bit so they were just the right width to get around my calves with a non-stretchy band on them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ecclesiastical Pomp and Aristocratic Circumstance

I'm probably going to refer frequently to this book in this blog. It's great. The first half covers the social context of tabletwoven bands, historical uses for them, and the materials and tools used. The second half starts by giving a bunch of patterns of extent bands, and then goes on to list details (but not patterns) on all the extant bands the author, Nancy Spies, could find. Apparently all the cool kids are abbreviating the book's title as EPAC, so I will do the same.

Hello There

I'm Amalie von Brisache, resident in the Barony of Southron Gaard in Lochac (or Amy, from Christchurch, New Zealand, if you prefer). I'm from 12th century Swabia but can occasinally be spotted in Viking garb. In the past I've mostly decorated my garb with embroidery, but have decided this year to branch out into brocaded tablet weaving, since it's a) quicker and b) easier to end up with something very similar to extant articles.

I don't have any experience with "real" weaving and the only tablet weaving I've done before is the simple 8-card chevron/diamond shape that most people cut their teeth on in the SCA.

I've decided to blog about the bands I weave in the hopes that this will guilt me into making steady progress- but at the moment I have plenty of ideas and motivation.