Saturday, December 11, 2010

The fylfot/swastika in tablet weaving

I think anyone reading this blog is likely to be aware that the fylfot is a very common motif in Iron Age and Medieval geometric patterns. It is present in some of the brocaded Viking patterns I wove last year, such as the Mammen band and Birka 6. Before I started work on these bands, I asked my friends what they thought about including this motif in my weaving. People seemed to fall into two camps:
  1. It would offend me, not because I think you are aligning yourself with Nazi philosophies, but because you are showing insensitivity to the fact that I may be offended. Don't do it.
  2. It wouldn't offend me, but I still wouldn't do it if I were you because it would offend other people.
I am quite annoyed that the Nazis have gone and ruined such a perfectly good motif (I mean, obviously, in terms of Bad Thing The Nazis Did, this doesn't really rate, but you know what I mean). I also find the self-perpetuating nature of camp 1 to be somewhat frustrating. I don't mean to dismiss these people's feelings, in fact, merely finding out that some of my friends feel this way is enough to make me feel a little the same way myself (before asking this question I was guessing everyone would fall into camp 2).

For in the Birka designs showing fylfots, I amended my patterns to exclude this section. In the Mammen band, I replace the fylfot section with a different motif. However, in the Snartemo V band, which features no fewer than 6 fylfots (or in my case, 7, because I repeated part of the pattern), I left the pattern intact. This is because while the Viking bands were intended for wearing, the Snartemo V and is more of a "demonstration" piece (I will probably stick it in the A&S display at Canterbury Faire). I hope this compromise does not offend too many people.

Some answers on medieval Finnish bands from Silja Penna-Haverinen

I have become interested recently in the medieval Finnish bands such as the Kaukola and Humikkala bands that appear in Hansen and the Kirkkomäki band described by Silja Penna-Haverinen in NESAT X. Imagine my delight when Silja herself commented on my previous post on the subject and said she would be willing to answer some questions I had. I thought I would share some information from her answers that might be of interest to people.

1. I feel a bit better about not being able to work out how the technique of altering the places of two adjacent tablets at the intersection of two diaonal lines works, because Silja says this research is out of date. Actually what was thought to be the two central tablets is only a single tablet (the pattern has an odd number).

2. Apparently there is no good source of photos of the Finnish bands from earlier than the 20th century (not even in Finnish publications), which is quite sad. There are some random published photos, but not any kind of compilation

3. Silja says that Hansen's 2 reconstructions of Finnish bands (Humikkala and Kaukola) were not based on a personal examination of the bands in question. He looked at some Finnish articles, and had help from a Finnish woman who might have seen the items in question in the National Museum through the showcase glass, but neither one of them have made any proper examination. Consequently they are very speculative and as someone who has seen the bands in person she can attest to the fact that they are not accurate. However, Silja knows someone who is working on a reconstruction of the Humikkala band, who has been able to study the original. I think I'll put my plans to create this band on hold until that comes out!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Snartemo V

Warp: Red, yellow, green and blue wool (fibreholics)
Weft: green wool
Pattern: Phiala's Snartemo V pattern (6th century Norwegian)
Cards: 44
Width: 3.5cm
Length: 50cm

OK, so I said I'd do Snartemo V and here it is. It is from Phiala's pattern, with a few tweaks, and also a few points where I lost track of where I was up to and did the motifs in the wrong order!

This is one of the few bands I have done where there is actually a decent pciture of the original (click through to a larger version). You can see that my own version is a lot more stretched out than the original which is if anything about shorter than square. I found it impossible to get the weft density up using sticky wool.

This is a popular band to try and it always looks great. Here are some other examples:One nice this about this band is that because the eyes are drawn to the regions with long floats, the band looks quite good on the back as well as the front, with very clear motifs with yellow and red switched.