Thursday, February 25, 2010

Birka 6

Warp: Dark green silk
Brocade: Spun sterling silver (Devere)
Pattern: Birka 6
Cards: 21
Width: 1.2cm
Length: 2m

This band is for Bjorn, in return for the replica Viking beater in the previous post, as well as a bone pickup stick and some antler bobbins which I will blog about shortly. It is very similar to the other Birka patterns I have done.

Bjorn supplied me with some 28 gauge sterling silver wire to use for the brocade, but I couldn't make it turn corners sharply enough. You can see my attempt to use it at left in the picture below. When that failed I turned to Devere's sterling silver metalic thread around a cotton core. It is very nice to work with, my favourite brocade thread so far. I used it double stranded.

Bjorn liked the band, originally intended for cuffs around his tunic, enough to commission more of the same- this time to go around the neck- in return for a chest, so I'm about to start on a second metre of it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


To the right are the items I have been using as a beater. The ruler is provided not for scale, but because I used it as a beater for all my projects last year. It works very well.

Above it is a bone folder. I'm told it can be bought at any craft store and is used for things like bookbinding and paper crafts (it was a gift). It also works very well, and looks unobtrusive doing it.

The top item is based on an object found at Visby which is thought to be a beater. It is pictured below and you can read about it at ArkeoDok, although apparently since that page was written the item has been more firmly identified as a tablet weaving beater.

All these items look somewhat similar, but they are quite different from the tablet weaving warp beaters depicted in 14th/15th century manuscripts. These are of wood and resemble swords or knives (or sometimes, seem more like baseball bats or popsicles- see the lineup I have assembled below). Eventually I will get myself one of these.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tablet woven bands in Sakrale Gewänder des Mittelalters

Every now and then I get a little excited about some book just because it has some passing reference to something I'm currently researching. Sakrale Gewänder des Mittelalters (Hirmer Verlag Muenchen, 1955) piqued my curiosity a few months ago due to being cited by a few people in relation to the Girdle of Witgarius. It happened to be on offer cheap second hand on Amazon at the time and I couldn't help myself. So, what does this book say about the Girdle (my translation from the German)?

Red, tablet woven silk band with narrow, yellow-green edges, in the middle cut into two pieces and sewn together. At both ends trapezoidal end pieces sewn on. Brocade in gold thread forms the field for the inscription in red relief: "WITGARIO TRIBVTI SACRO SPIRAMINE PLENVM x HANC ZONAM REGINA NITENS SANCTISSIMA HEMMA x. On the end pieces, in red and white, the warp creates the pattern: Eagle white on red, correspondingly on the back side red on white, in which on both sides the white is covered in gold thread. The warp is collected at the ends in ten bundles, bound tightly with white silk and finished in each case with a bead. Above and beneath the eagle are diagonal stripes, which were originally studded with pearls. Only 15 such pearls remain. - Length 138cm, width 3.8cm, end pieces 5cm.

It then goes on to talk about similar bands found elsewhere. Not a lot of detail, but still some stuff of interest, so I thought I'd post it here in case anyone else is researching this item. There is also a picture of the side where the lettering is red, but it is no better than the one in Collingwood. Information on this item can also be found on p.237 of EPAC which dates it to between 860 and 876.

There is another tablet woven "belt" pictured in this book so I will include the translation for that as well. It is the Girdle of St Kunigunde:

Tablet woven band of red and blue silk with gold. Probably woven as a stole. Neck piece with checkerboard pattern in blue and red. Both end pieces with doubled brocade of gold thread, patterned with angular tendrils and sparse leaves. At the ends square applications of gilded silver with engraved representations of the evangelists' symbols. 14th century. -Length 142 cm. Cut at the ends. Width 3.8cm.

There is a picture, but all that can really be made out are the "evangelists' symbols" which appear to be an eagle on one end and a winged goat? on the other. This band is on p.238 of EPAC but the information there is just based on the above passage.

In addition to these two tablet woven articles, this book contains many lovely pictures of woven and embroidered ecclesiastical garments from medieval Germany. In retrospect it was a great purchase! In particular it has a picture of the buskins of Pope Clement II, clearly showing they have a separate sole piece, which is a question I was wanting the answer to a while back.

Although not really relevant to this blog, I think I may soon write out a list of the contents in a separate post, which may be of interest to people who a) are thinking of buying the book or b) are madly googling some item that happens to be in it in the hopes of finding a source of information.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chalton Shuttle

There is a line drawing of a shuttle on page 36 of Cloth and Clothing in Early Anglo-Saxon England. AD 450-700 by Walton Rogers described as "a bone band-weaver's shuttle, around which the weft would have been wound, from a 7th century settlement at Charlton, Hampshire".

There was some effort a few years ago on the SCA-Card-Weaving list to track down the original object, but details surrounding the 1970s dig seem to be lost to the mists of time.

At Canterbury Faire earlier this month, I had a discussion with a gentle I hadn't met before about this picture. He was a woodworker and spent quite a bit of time over the event working in our encampment, where we had various crafty things going on. Near the end of the event, I came back from somewhere or other to find the below item beside my loom. I didn't see him again to thank him! It's things like this that make Canterbury Faire really special.

This shuttle is wood rather than bone. It is about 10cm long. The flat edge can double as a beater (although the item does not have a lot of heft to it). I have not had a chance to use it yet.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Finished Items

I finally got some photos of a couple of items I finished long after the tablet weaving for them was complete, and thought I'd share. They are the Kentish band on metal strips on purple silk, which has been turned into the neck and bicep trim in my new day bliaut, and the "Dogs and Flowers" cingulum.

The cingulum lay unfinished for a long time because I couldn't work out how to finish it. I wanted it to look like the one below, which is one of the figures from Chartres cathedral. The dangly bits are tied loosely in a reef knot and the length of them seems to have many horizontal lines. I haven't managed to find any theories on how exactly this was achieved. Obviously the resulting dangly bits must be quite heavy for the knot to stay open like that.

In the end I just bound the length of the ends in (cheap, synthetic) piping. Obviously the materials are way off, but the look is pretty good I think. The knot stays in place no problem, and the weight also means that the centre of the belt stays nice and high around my waist, which I understand is something some people have problems with.

The bliaut is made of purple wool (looks much bluer in these photos than in reality). It has triangluar sleeves, although you can't see them here.

The lacing method is new to me- it is an attempt to recreate the lacing seen on one of the statues on Angers cathedral, where a spiral laced cord passes through gaps in a cord binding at the side opening. The cord binding is made of lucet cord which has itself been luceted. I don't recommend this; it takes forever.

I intended to make the sides narrow enough that the sides would gape as on the statue, but apparently I am squishier than I thought because the gaps closed completely.