Monday, December 5, 2011


Warp: White and blue wool
Weft: White wool
Pattern: Laceby
Cards: 12 pattern + 2x2 border
Length: Approx. 1.1 metres

So you may have noticed, I'm kinda obsessed with two-hole patterns at the moment, and this is one that people mention a lot.  It is described by Grace Crowfoot in Antiquaries Journal 36 (1956), in the article Anglo-Saxon sites in Lincolnshire by F.H. Thompson. The preserved fragment is only 3x1.1cm, found in the back of a 6th century brooch from Laceby, England. The original is made of linen.

Crowfoot posits two different ways of weaving the band, one using a heddle (ie not using tablets), and one using "six 2-hole tablets, with two threads in each hole".  I'm utterly unable to explain how the latter system would result in the pattern reconstruction given (same as the one pictured) so I assume that the reconstruction was a bit of a stab in the dark.   This reconstruction uses a tabby weave.  You can see a similar (possibly identical) reconstruction on Phiala's website

I originally threaded this pattern up with extra border tablets in the hopes that I could use it as one of my mattress straps, but even with the extra tablets, it was way too narrow, so I ditched them.

The pattern is relatively fast but I found it easy to lose track of where I was up to, and I was too lazy to fix some of my mistakes!

This will probably be my last band for the year.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Neuper #32

Warp: Thin white silk
Weft: Light green silk
Brocade: Yellow silk
Pattern: Anna Neuper #32
Cards: 27
Length: Approx. 1.1 metres

I had some time to kill while I waited for some books and materials to arrive so I did another band from Anna Neuper's Modelbuch using colours I don't like very much.  I'll donate it to something.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

12th Century Latvian Band

Warp: Wool (fibreholics)
Weft: Wool (fibreholics)
Pattern: from Latviesu Jostas
Cards: 20 pattern + 2x3 border
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 55cm
This technique came up on the SCA-Card-Weaving list recently and I was inspired to give it a go.  The pattern is from Latviesu Jostas by Aleksandra Dzérvítis & Lilija Treimanis.  Wonder of wonders, this book was in the National Library of New Zealand (Finding a book I'm looking for domestically is a minor miracle).  The book is in Latvian and English.  Mostly it covers traditional patterns but it also has some 12th century patterns, although information from an archaeological perspective is lacking.  This one is described as "Stameriene, blue wrap".

The book is pretty emphatic about getting the colours to have the characteristic greenish tinge of local dyes.  I gave this a crack by overdying my blue, red and yellow wools with green dye.  It didn't really result in the right colours, but they are still quite striking together.
This technique is quite similar to that of the Swiss band I did recently.  Both feature a two-hole weave where the weft sometimes passes above both threads in a card to form a brocade.  This is the green in the pattern (with the exception of the green cards in the border).  The main difference is that this band has warp twining, although not as sharply as in a four-hole pattern.  Here's the back, where it's easier to see this effect.
If I was doing this again I'd make the green border tablet be on the outside, where it would mask the "blips" where the weft turns.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evebo Band

Warp: Blue (fibreholics) and white (Anna Gratton) wool
Weft: white wool
Pattern: Evebo band, pattern by Maikki Karisto
Cards: 22 pattern + 2x1 border (original has a wide border)
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 76cm (43 cm for 1 full repeat of pattern)

I had just strung up my inkle loom with the intent of weaving the Evebo band using this pattern - which I believe is based on Lise Raeder Knudsen's pattern which is the one in Hansen- when Maikki Karisto coincidentally emailed me with suggestions of bands I might like to try- including this one, which she offered to share her pattern for. 

Maikki's pattern has 22 pattern tablets as opposed to the 23 in the GTT pattern.  It also includes the partial 6th figure from the edge of the band.  

The GTT pattern also does not include the zigzag region which occurs twice in the pattern.  This region is particularly interesting because the tablets lose their offset to one another so that the zigzag is symmetrical.

This band was a lot more fun to weave than the Mammen 3/1 twill band I did earlier in the year, presumably because the figures are so much cuter!  I had some trouble controlling the width of the band- it tended to inflate when I entered the plain areas.

I will use this band as the second of my straps for my straw mattress.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Two-Hole Plain Weave and Warp Floats

Warp: Red, white, yellow and green silk (fibreholics) (original in wool)
Weft: White silk (fibreholics) (original in linen)
Pattern: St Maurice monestary, 8-10th century (Collingwood p. 156)
Cards: 18 pattern + 2x2 border (2x3 in original).  2 holes per pattern card
Width: 7mm (original 11mm)
Length: 78cm

This band is quite different to any I have done before.  The pattern area is woven with 9 pairs of 2 tablets, each threaded in two holes.  One tablet carries a red and a white warp thread, and the other a yellow and a green (note: these are the colours I used; discussion on the colours of the original below).  The tablets are manipulated individually to form the pattern.  The interesting point is that there is no warp twining: tablets "rock" from one colour to another but never complete a full rotation.  In the pattern to the right, the coloured squares show the colour that is up.  In the squares with the grey line through them, no colour is up, and the white warp thread passes on top of the band, as though it is a brocade thread.

The original band had a border on each side of 2 white and 1 red cards threaded in all 4 holes and alternately S and Z threaded; I somehow managed to misread this completely so mine has a 2-card white border (threaded in all 4 holes) threaded S on one side and Z on the other.

The pattern I used is from page 156 of Collingwood (2002 edition). Collingwood reconstructed the pattern himself. I flubbed a couple of squares but they don't make a difference to the appearance. Collingwood says the band has black where I have green.  This band is also covered on page 171 of Brigitte Schmedding's Mittelalterliche Texitilien in Kirchen und Klöstern der Schweiz but there the colours are given as red, yellow, orange and dark blue wool, and white linen.  The dark blue is definitely in place of the black (the text refers to "St Andrews Crosses) and I'm going to guess that the white linen takes the place of the white wool (Collingwood does say the weft is white linen).  Not sure where the orange comes into it though.

(Aside: Look at that lovely clear photograph!  I've worked out I can take detailed photos with my camera, I just need direct sunlight)

To weave this bands I punched holes in the middle of the top and bottom edges of playing cards.  This gives a much greater stability to the orientation of your cards than having opposite diagonal corners threaded.  When the weft passed over both threads in a card, I turned the card on its side.  This made for a vey clear shed.

I think I wove this band a lot tighter than it should have been since the patterns were elongated.

One thing that was interesting (also, super annoying) about this band is that because the edge tablets were warp twined and the pattern tablets were not, the takeup on the edge tablets was way greater (about 10cm over the length of the band).  I was weaving on my inkle loom and I had to keep resorting to ever more elaborate techniques to mitigate the effect.  Would have been worse on the Oseberg loom though I suppose.

Also interesting is the back of the band. It appears as long floats of yellow and white, but if you "peel back" the floats you can see there are further floats of red behind the yellow and green behind the white.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Warp: Dark green silk (fibreholics)
Weft: Dark green silk (devere)
Brocade:  Tambour thread (Hedgehog handworks)
Pattern: Taplow Barrow
Cards: 23 pattern + 2x2 border
Width: 1.2cm
Length: 85cm

This is just a quick brocade pattern I did while waiting for some other stuff to come together. The pattern caught my eye when it was executed by opusanglicanum not long ago.  Since them I've also spotted a version by Gina-B which made me want to buy the metal strip she used on the spot.  Unfortunately Benton and Johnson's website is under maintenance so I will just have to be patient.

The pattern is from page 45 of Crowfoot and Hawkes's Early Anglo-Saxon Gold Braids.

I used the tambour thread which I bought after having trouble with the cornering in the Mammen band.  It's definitely more supple- whether it's supple enough I'm not sure yet because the fibreholics silk I used for this warp is about 5x thicker than the devere stuff I used for the Mammen band.  I'll need to test on a band with a thinner warp and see how it goes.

I did my usual brocade-under-both-upward threads thing here and I think this is a case where it would have made a particular improvement to the band has I only gone under one.  Oh well.

I have no use for this band so I think I'll donate it as a prize in the Canterbury Faire fighter auction tourney or something.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Mammen cuffs... again!

Warp: Candy silk (devere) and sewing linen
Weft: Candy silk
Brocade: Spun silver (devere) and gilt passing thread (Hedgehog handworks)
Soumak: Red silk (devere)
Pattern: Mammen
Cards: 23 pattern + 2x7 border
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 80cm

I think this pattern is going to be my nemesis. As you may recall, I have already woven it twice, after New Zealand Post managed to lose it the first time. At the time, pretty much all my information on the band came from Hansen. However, since then I came across Lise Ræder Knudsen's article Brocaded Tablet-Woven Bands: Same Appearance, Different Weaving Technique in NESAT VII, which talks about this band and also some others in a similar style. She has a quite different idea about how the band is constructed:

Hansen says that all cards are threaded with silk and the band is executed with "card idling"- ie turn the odd-numbered cards in one pass and the even-numbered ones in the next. Knudsen says that all 4 holes were threaded, but that excepting the 3 tablets on each border that never show brocade, alternating holes were threaded with a vegetable fibre (probably flax) which has since completely deteriorated (leaving the remains indistinguishable from a 2-hole band- a theory put forth by Collingwood).

The cunningness of this plan is that your band ends up looking like it's made entirely expensive silk, when really a lot of it is just linen! Super cunning. There are some further steps you have to take to make this effect work:
  1. The tiedown should always be one thread only (and always the silk thread of course!).
  2. Brocade floats should always cover an odd number of cards. This means your tiedown will always be the right type of thread. My original Mammen pattern was mistranscribed from Hansen and had some floats over 4 cards, so I had to adjust it.
  3. In areas where there are more than one adjacent tiedown (ie the border between the gold and the silver in the pattern) the tiedown that is of the wrong fibre can be hidden by covering the tiedowns with soumak. I've never done soumak before. There are some descriptions in Hansen and Collingwood but no pictures, and in Gertrud Grenander-Nyberg's artivle in NESAT IV, Soumak Techniquie in Swedish Medieval Textiles, there is good information including diagrams on soumak in the context of (non tablet-) weaving. Hopefully I did it right. I can describe in more detail of anyone's interested (Conversely, if there's already a good description online I'd like to know)
So, here's the finished result! Generally speaking, I was amazed at how well these techniques combined. It really does look like the whole band is silk. And the band is very beautiful (sorry most of the scan is fuzzy! I tried!) But... and it's a big but... the proportions are all wrong. The band is the right width, but everything is far too stretched out along the warp. Those silver diamonds should be square.

I'm pretty sure the problem comes down to my choice in gold thread. I tried hard for this band to use high quality materials which is why I use the gilt passing thread. But it's just not nearly flexible enough. If you zoom in on the picture you can see that the gold thread always comes in pairs, two close together, then a gap. That gap is the inside of the loop where the gold thread turns around. It won't corner any sharper (without resorting to special tools or something, anyway). Passing thread appears to be completely the wrong choice.

I've bought myself some tambour thread, which is meant to be more flexible, and am going to have a test to see if that's any better. But it's quite thick, and I don't like my chances. It seems that if I want a dense weft I'm going to need to stick with naff synthetic spun gold.

So I'm going to need to weave this band one more time, once I've sorted out my issues with the brocade thread. I will leave it for a while though, in case some other article comes along with more insight into its construction :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Mouse Guard Pouch

I do have something more interesting to write about, but work has been a bit draining recently, and I have really not felt like sitting in front of the computer during Fun Time. So in the meantime, here's a picture of a Mouse Guard pouch I made last week with tubular tabletwoven cords. There are 3 cords 80cm each, woven on 4 cards in wool. The spiral is against the twist so the end result does not look spiral-y.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Mammen 3/1 Broken Twill

Warp: Blue and white wool (fibreholics)
Weft: Blue and white wool (fibreholics)
Pattern: Mammen band
Cards: 17 pattern + 2x2 border
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 80cm

This is the first "vanilla" 3/1 broken twill band I have done and it was a bit unexciting after Humikkala. I am generally pretty good at doing the same thing over and over again but I got quite bored with this one. I don't think it's the technique for me although I'm sure I'll end up doing more of it- I do want to try the Evebo band and at least pattern out that Chinese lion from Collingwood.

This band will form one of the straps that hold my straw mattress to my Oseberg bed. That means 3 other random bits of tablet weaving to do in the next 6 months.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Bird garters

UPDATE: Those of you who wanted a higher-res picture, here is a sample.
Warp: Red silk (fibreholics)
Weft: Red sewing silk
Brocade weft: Anchor gold lame, green and good DMC cotton
Pattern: 13th century German, birds and zigzags. EPAC p.143
Cards: 18 (EPAC pattern has 16, original band had 17)
Width: 1.5cm
Length: 2 x 40cm

It's been an odd 3 months, with earthquake and moving house and other interruptions. This is the first project I've managed to finish in that time. It is a pair of garters to go with a pair of silk hose I made earlier in the year.

The pattern can be found on page 143 of EPAC and is from a 13th century band from Memmelsforf bei Bamberg. It depicts birds (eagles?) in two different colours of silk, separated by gold zigzags. That's 3 different brocading wefts- never more than two on the same line though, thank goodness.

I wove this band backstrap-style and it's somewhate uneven.

The hose are made of red silk lined with pink silk. They were so much more fiddly to make than woolen hose, I don't think I'll be doing that again any time soon! With less stretch they don't fit as snugly either, but I think they did OK in the end. The buckles on the garters are X-41 from Raymond's Quiet Press.

Sorry for the fuzzy photo, I no longer cohabitate with a scanner!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Still here

Hi, just a quick note to say that I and everyone I know is fine after the quake on Tuesday. Our house is in a bad way and it may not be getting water again for some time so I am staying at my parents' right now and my work will be flying me up to Auckland for a couple of weeks when they can get me a seat. Blogging unlikely in the near future.

28 Feb: Enjoy some photos taken by my flatmate of our house:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Humikkala H31:18

Warp: Red, white and blue wool (fibreholics)
Weft: blue wool (the original was a plant fibre)
Pattern: Humikkala H31:18 -3/1 broken twill
Cards: 33
Width: 2.8
Length: 14cm

OK, here is my best effort at Humikkala H31:18. This band is covered in Hansen, and Hansen's pattern is converted into something that actually works by Guido (I think he tried to reconstruct the band based on the photo of the reconstructed band in Hansen, which differs from the actual pattern given). However after hearing from Silja Penna-Haverinen that there were some problems with Hansen's reconstruction, I really wanted to have a go at this band using other sources. Silja put me in contact with Maikki Karisto, who is working on a book which covers this band and many others, and who has examined the band closely.

Maikki is understandably a little cagey about sharing all her information, since a) it is still evolving as she researches, b) she would like people to buy her book when it comes out and c) the Finnish National Museum won't let her distribute photos of the original band anyway. So I had neither photos of the original band, nor an actual pattern to work from. She provided detailed textual information, some diagrams of the motifs, and a photo of an early attempt of her own at the band (although many elements of her analysis have changed since then). Although this is all still rather indirect, I'm optimistic that the result is closer to the original band than Hansen's pattern.

Maikki has asked me to include the following facts about the original band:
  • The finding place is Humikkala in Masku parish church yard in Finland. The find is dated to 1000-1100. Masku (nowadays a town) lies near Turku on the south-western part of Finland
  • The code is KM 8656: H31:18 which means KM is Kansallismuseo = National museum, the number 8656 has been given to the Humikkala finding, H means hauta = grave, 31 is the number of the grave, and 18 is the object number in the grave
  • The band was found near the waist on a woolen apron in a female grave. On the band there was hanging a knife sheath (due to the metal parts small pieces of the band had been preserved)
  • There are three pieces of the band, total length 26 cm. They are very badly preserved, because of the sour soil in Finland
  • The warp is wool, s-plied, thickness about tex 55x2 (1000m=110g) or a little thinner, weft is plant fiber, could be linen or nettle, of which only little had been preserved
  • The warp has three colors: natural white (or some pale color), blue and green – this is what you can guess/see with your eyes [Note: in more recent communication Maikki indicated that the colours were white, blue and red, as seen in Hansen]
  • The width of the band is 28 mm
  • The band has been woven with 33 tablets: pattern part had 25 tablets and edges 4+4 tablets. On both edges there is a tubular selvedge (this is a real speciality)
The picture on this post represents my effort at reproducing the band incorporating all the information about it I have. I also wove over a metre of band based on a pattern with several deviations from this pattern (some deliberate and some discovered after the fact) which I will write about separately.

Here's a rundown on the differences between this pattern and Hansen's (this gets a bit confusing, since Hansen's pattern and the photo of the reconstructed band in Hansen are different)
  • I suppose the biggest one is that Hansen's pattern is 27 tablets wide (it does not include the border) whereas Maikki's is 25.
  • The information Maikki has given me about the tooth motif indicates that it is a lot less regular than Hansen's pattern suggests (He does mention that this motif in particular has a lot of guesswork in it)
  • In the interlocking diamond section, Hansen's pattern made a fairly weird decision to make the twist of the warp go aganst the grain of the pattern (making jagged lines). I think this might be an error in the pattern since the reconstructed band photo doesn't have this issue Also, Maikki tells me all the internal coloured diamonds are actually the same size (true in Guido's pattern, but not the photo in Hansen or the pattern) and the pattern is asymmetrical along the weft axis (true in the pattern but not the photo)
  • Maikki's reconstruction of the toothed swastika motif is quite different to Hansen's (where it is not toothed), and much prettier I think.
  • There are some differences in the border motifs as well
  • Hansen does not mention the tubular selvedge (he indicates that each border contains 2 tablets not 4) or the use of the half-turns (Which I have cheerfully inserted everywhere they could possibly go- this may be overenthusiastic!)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Snartemo II

Warp: Red and yellow wool (fibreholics)
Weft: red wool
Pattern: Snartemo II
Cards: 16
Width: 1cm
Length: 110cm

I haven't had much time to post recently; most of my time has been going into organising the meal plan for Canterbury Faire. But the event is now over (and went very well!) so back to blogging...

I wanted to have a simple-but-period band warped up for demonstration/teaching, and having just recently done Masku Humikkala, 8658:H17 I thought that Snartemo II would be good, since patterns where the cards turn as a pack are much easier for people to get their head around.

I finally got the band warped up on the Thursday, halfway through the event. As usual, a lot of people came over and opined that the band looked lovely, but they couldn't possibly do anything like that themselves. In fact the majority of the people brave enough to give it a go were children!

The band took form ridiculously quickly compared to other bands I've been doing recently. Strung up on the Oseberg loom there were not a lot of problems with the cards being threaded in 2 holes only. Remembering to do the reversals was the biggest issue!

Lacking any migration era garb (or knowledge thereof) I don't have any use for this band at present- although it is the sort of thing I wouldn't feel *too* guilty about putting on later garb, especially since there were very similar bands being made in Finland over 500 years later.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Masku Humikkala, 8658:H17

Warp: Red, yellow and blue wool (fibreholics)
Weft: blue
Pattern: Masku Humikkala, 8658:H17
Cards: 14
Width: 7mm
Length: 110cm

Don't get too excited, this is not the well-known Masku Humikkala band covered by Hansen, but a simpler band from the same site. My information on this band comes from Maikki Karisto who is a weaving teacher from Finland. Her information comes from Seija Sarkki's 1979 thesis "Suomen ristiretkiaikaiset nauhat" which covers bands from the Finnish crusade period.

The diagram above is from Maikki but doctored by me. The original diagram was missing the outer tablet on each side. Sarkki was unaware of these tablets because the band has a tubular selvedge and as a result the outer warps were hidden on the reverse of the band.

The technique of the band is very similar to Snartemo II. The border tablets contain 4 threads of the same colour while the pattern tablets have two threads, diagonally opposite and alternating positions and threading (S vs Z) in each tablet. The cards are turned as a pack and if you reverse at the right stage the reversals are hard to spot.

The band started out narrow and grew to about 7.5mm over the course of the weaving. I think it looked neater when it was more like 5mm. The picture below shows the start and end of my weaving so you can make up your own mind.

This band also puts me in mind of the "Anglo-Saxon" band although that one used card idling rather than tablets threaded in two holes to achieve the effect. Since there are tablets in that one with three colours, the two-hole technique would not work there.

This band is very cute and as far as I'm aware about as close as one can get (along with other bands in a similar technique like Snartemo II) to a period threaded-in design more complicated than plain stripes.. It would be a good pattern to teach beginners who are afraid that period patterns have to be complicated.

The only thing to watch out for is that tablets threaded in two holes only are quite unstable- it's ok when they are at rest under tension but if you bump them or are fiddling with them to clear out the shed they will easily fall out of position. They need to be held or tied up.