Thursday, June 17, 2010

Brocaded Collar

Warp: White silk
Weft: Really thin white silk
Brocade weft: #5 Kreinik jap
Pattern: brocade
Cards: 42
Width: 2.3cm
Length: 44cm

This band is for my friend Kotek. He wanted a band that looked something like the one in the pictured below, which is from Leonhart Fuchs's De Historia Stirpium There's no particular reason to think this band was tabletwoven; it could well have been embroidered. But there were tabletwoven bands around at the time.

I designed a pattern that looked like it would be at home in Anna Neuper's Modelbuch. It didn't really turn out with as much brocade showing as I wanted because I failed to take into account the way that alternating under-over-under with the brocade just looks like it's under all the time (I guess it would have looked better if my pickups had been under one strand only). But it still looks very pretty.

I wove the whole thing at the Lindisfarne encampment held by Ordo Cygni over Queen's Birthday weekend (5-7 June). I had to weave like a mad thing to get it done in time but I made it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brocade Ergonomics

Ok, so remember how I said that although the illuminations show weavers sitting facing their band looms directly, I had to sit sideways to my Oseberg loom when I was weaving, because the crossbeam was at knee-height? That was true, but it wasn't the whole truth.

At Canterbury Faire I was weaving the Baltic S-motif, which is not a brocaded pattern. When I got home and set up my loom there, I realised I could turn my chest seat on its side, which would make it low enough for my knees to fit under the bar. I set up the loom so I was weaving from left to right, and I wove the rest of the band doing a passable job of sitting face-on (no pictures, sorry).

However, when I tried to do the same thing with a brocaded pattern, it just didn't work. When the band went from left to right, so the tiedowns were picked up to the left of the cards, I couldn't work out an efficient way to hold my hands. And when the band went from right to left, I just found myself gravitating to the old side-on posture. The turning the cards, passing the weft and beating were all fine face-on, but picking up the tiedowns was awkward any other way.

I'm not at all sure whether the way I'm weaving is optimal, or whether it just seems that way now from force of habit. I'd really like to hear from other people doing brocaded tablet weaving, whether they position their hands the same way I do, or whether I'm doing something freakish. You can't tell from any of the illuminations I've seen whether the weaving is brocaded (although the picture in the Hours of Catherine of Cleves seems to show two bobbins worth of weft) so there are no clues there.

It's a bit hard to explain exactly what my hands are doing so instead I've taken a short video of a couple of picks. This isn't meant to be an instructional video- there are some of those out there on YouTube though, well worth checking out- I was weaving at full speed to make my movements as natural as possible. But I'd really like to hear from any other brocaded tablet weavers out there, how my technique differs from their own.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oseberg Loom

Here's the long-promised post about the Oseberg loom made for me by Iarnulf. Here's a link to Plate 13 from Osebergfunnet Vol. 2 with line drawings of the loom. Iarnulf has copied the dimensions closely. The wood is spruce and macrocarpa while the original was beech. The loom stands about a metre tall and is just under 2m in length. Here's a photo, taken before it was oiled.

It feels great to be weaving on a documentable loom. Because it breaks down into pieces it's also very convenient for taking to camping events. The goodly length means you can go for a long time without having to reverse your twine direction (As I've mentioned before, it does make it very inconvenient for setting up in the living room!).

If I had one complaint it would be that the crossbar is right where my knees want to be when sitting on my chest seat which means I can't have my lap directly below where I'm weaving so the bobbins can drop there when not in use. This could easily be fixed with a lower or higher seat of course (the chest seat does OK when turned on its side). It does show the upside of the overhead crossbar as seen in many 14th and 15th century illuminations such as the picture at right from a festal missal of Savoy, ca. 1460 (The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB 128 D 30).

I'll end with a picture of me using the loom; as you can see, in contrast to the ladies sitting at their looms in illuminations who are facing more or less perpendicular to the loom, I am sitting at an oblique angle due to the knee-high crossbeam. There seems to be no consensus in illumnations as to whether the weaving progresses from right to left as in this photo, or from left to right. I'll touch on this topic more in a later post.