Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Birds after Philip of Swabia's Caligae

Warp: Blue silk (Devere)
Weft: Structural weft: blue silk.  Ground brocade: Honkin "real gold". Pattern brocade: Red silk (Devere)
Pattern: Band from Philip of Swabia's caligae
Cards: 112 pattern + 2x2 border
Width: 4.2 cm
Length: Aiming for 2x120cm, woven 40cm so far.

It's been 4 years since my elevation and the dress I wore is still only embellished with bicep bands.  This year I've finally started weaving the bands for the big  cuffs... although at the rate I'm going it will be next year before I finish!

This band is based loosely on a band on Philip of Swabia's caligae (fabric boots). Philip was buried in the early 13th century, but the information I have says the band is probably 11th century Islamic. I would love to know how they made that determination but no details are provided.

The end effect of this band is going to be very similar to the bicep bands but the technique is different.  The bicep bands were 3/1 broken twill so the red was part of the warp.  In this band, the warp is all one colour and the pattern colour is a secondary brocade weft.  The pattern colour floats on the back of the band whenever not in use while the ground brocade goes through the shed while the pattern colour is on top (hooray for photographs of the back of bands!)

I've worked with two brocade wefts before, eg the Mammen band, but this is my first band where the pattern switches several times between 2 brocades in one line.  It's very hard to get the weft packed tightly under these circumstances.  According to the information I have, the original band had 40 picks per centimetre.  That's insane. I've scaled the width up by 50% and I'm still only getting about 20 per centimeter. Of course, I don't have any data on the thickness of the thread.

Here are a couple of photos of my progress so far. 

Birds 1 and 2 have a basket weave pattern behind them. In the original, the birds themselves had a basket weave pattern behind them, but the areas without any read had a patterned background. However, the photos I have aren't enough to discern the pattern and I decided this was one more thing than I could be bothered thinking about given the size of the project.

Birds 3 and 4 have diagonal lines. I'm going to alternate between these two backgrounds.

There's actually another element to the pattern of this: between each set of birds there's a thin strip of pattern that goes right across the band.  But I haven't taken any photos of that yet, mostly because I'm not very happy with the way the ones I've done so far have turned out.

Today I've finished bird 6, about 40cm in. At this rate I will finish the first cuff maybe around September. Yeesh.

Monday, January 30, 2017

What a difference appropriate materials can make II

Last year I re-wove the Mammen band.  I used exactly the same technique as the previous time but with my super-thin honkin gold rather than the gilt passing thread I used last time for the gold. I used my new favourite, Devere's tight-twist 12 thread, in red for the silk warp and the ground weft (I used 2x6 thread loose twist in pink last time). I still used the same white Bockens sewing linen for the rest of the warp, and spun silver for the silver weft.  For the soumak I used blue 6 thread loose twist silk.

This one really popped! I think I can declare victory over this band... until I encounter new research :-)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What a difference appropriate materials can make!

I spent a lot of time weaving my bicep bands based on the chasuble of St Wolfgang a few years ago, but the end result was very underwhelming.  I used 120 denier loose-spun silk and it really wasn't up to the abrasion it got from the cards.

This year I've re-woven it using 240 denier tight-spun silk and the thread came through it without any problems. I also used a better red. The result is so much better!

The cards themselves took quite a beating just like they did last time. I think I'll try painting the edges of the cards with nail polish again next time I weave with this type of thread.  Getting enough "real" cards, like wood or bone, for a project with 400+ warp ends would be pretty expensive. I also think that tensioning would be challenging with cards that much thicker since the warp threads on the outside would need to be significantly longer than the ones in the middle.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Laurel cloak band

Goodness it's been a long time since I posted anything.  I've been weaving though!  Here are a couple of photos of the band I wove for the fastening of the new Lochac Laurel Cloak. This is an extrapolation of pattern 69 "Motif from the border of a mitre band, 12th/13th century (p. 186) in EPAC. It has about 100 cards including border.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Dead End on Durham Warp Transposition

A particularly intriguing section in Collingwood (page 278 in the 2002 edition) concerns warp transposition (swapping the positions of tablets so their warp threads completely cross over).  It reads:

The controlling tablets are lifted from their place, passed over one or more tablets to the right or left and then re-inserted in the pack... the earliest example of the technique is a seal tag from Durham Cathedral, dated between 1189 and 1197 (Henshall, 1964)

Henshall, 1964 is 'Five Tablet Woven Seal Tags' in Archaeological Journal, Vol. CXXI.  I finally got my hands on this article last week.  It may blow nobody's mind to learn it details five different tablet woven bands.  They are:
  1. Braid in double-faced plain weave with geometric pattern 1194-1215
    Thora Sharptooth has written about this band.
  2. Braid in double-faced plain weave with chequer pattern 1165-1174
  3. Braid in double-faced diagonal weave with animal patterns 1189-1196
  4. Brocaded band in plain tablet weave 1371
  5. Multicoloured tablet-woven cord 1294
    Teffania has written about this band.
None of these seems to concern warp transposition.  From the dates and from the colours of the warp threads described, it seems Collingwood was referring to the third band.  This band does, in addition to its animal weave section, have a long "tail" whose pattern is described as "broken chevrons".  But again, this is definitely not described as warp transposition.  Each tablet has 2 threads in each colour, and all cards are just turned as a pack for a long distance.

Did Collingwood's imagination run away with him when he was reading this article?  Did he have information beyond what is present in the article?  Right now I don't see any evidence that warp transposition was in use in the medieval period. And I'm kinda sad about it!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Random Brocaded bands

Hi folks, long time no post, I've been having a bit of upheaval in my professional life this year and have been pouring a lot of time into my professional development rather than weaving. I've just started a new job and have a lot to learn there but hopefully things will start to settle down soon. 

Anyway, I didn't stop weaving entirely. Here are some photos of some bands I've woven in the last 6 months. 

The green one which is a cut-down Anna Neuper pattern was an experiment using the same materials as for the Chasuble of St Wolfgang, seeing if on a simpler band I could manage to use the nice fine silk without it getting eaten to pieces.  Conclusion: no. What a pity, because the effect is lovely. Photograph doesn't really do it justice.

The purple one is a Birka 22 I strung up for a talk on Viking tablet weaving to let people have a go, as per usual at these things people wove about a cm and then I went home and finished it myself.  Fibreholics silk and tambour thread from Hedgehog.

And here is a photo of a caul made by Anna de Wilde for Queen Eva's stepdown outfit, with a band I made edging it. Anna Neuper again, fibreholics silk and tambour thread.

Hopefully it won't be another 6 months before I post again, but um, right now I'm a little distracted by Italian shirring.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Crowdsourced Band

I've just got back from Canterbury Faire which is the big SCA event of the year around these parts. During the event I was elevated to the Order of the Laurel.  Since I knew about it in advance I thought it would be nice to plan something to celebrate the occasion- and celebrate tablet weaving at the same time! What I came up with was a band to be woven by the populace, with a brocaded inscription relating to the occasion.

Baron Steffan ap Kennydd provided a Latin transcription for the band.  It reads:

Populus Lochacis in Mercatu Cantuar. m.f. A.S. XLVII reg. Fel. Evaq. RR. ut induct. Dom. Hon. Amaliae Brisachensis in Ord. Laur. annotet.

Which translates roughly as:

The people of Lochac at the Canterbury Fair made me in the 47th year of the Society during the reign of Felix the King and Eva the Queen that the induction of the Honorable Lady Amalie of Brisache
into the Order of the Laurel might be recorded

Of course I never expected we could get through so much weaving in the 6 "official" days of Canterbury Faire, but this is approximately the right length of text to fill a belt.

I used the font from the Girdle of Witgarius as a model although the band does not emulate this band in other respects.  It has 30 cards and both the warp and brocade weft are a relatively thick spun silk bought from Swarog.

I set the band up on my Oseberg loom last Monday, and asked a few experienced weavers to be available to help first-time tablet weavers contribute to the band. By the end of the Saturday 44 people had woven 30 letters.  About half had never done any tablet weaving before and most of the ones who had had only been though my introductory class in previous years. I was very impressed with people's willingness to give it a go.

Teaching people how to do brocade over and over again, and watching the other experienced weavers do the same, was a very interesting experience and made me a lot more aware of my own process when weaving.

I plan to finish off the rest of the band in the coming weeks.