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Weave Along with Elewys, Ep 15: Zaltys 10th century Lithuanian

Archaeologists have produced a few tablet weaving pieces in their searches, including this one that was found in the 10th century grave of a woman from Paragaudis.  In a book called North European Symposium for Archaeological Textiles X (edited by Eva B. Andersson Strand, Margarita Gleba, Ulla Mannering, Cherine Munkholt) there is a mention of this textile fragment that was found in grave 59.  It’s a colorful wool band of red, grey and brown, although they are unsure what dye stuffs were used.  The pattern of the stylized S motif is known as the ‘serpent’ pattern, which is found frequently in western Baltic countries; known as a žaltys in Lithuanian mythology, it is a sacred animal of the sun goddess Saulė, the guardian of the home and a symbol of fertility. Killing žaltys was said to bring great misfortunes upon the household, so people would find them in the fields, give it milk to befriend the creatures and sometimes even bring it home to keep as a pet, as it promised good harvests and wealth.  Snakes in the house.  That’s a nope.

I came across this archaeological image a few years ago, but I couldn’t find a pattern with it, so I had to figure it out on my own based on experience…but I’m always up for a challenge!  Looking at the drawings, I guessed that it was probably a skip hole weave, based on the little dots on the edges between the S motifs.  It looks very similar to a couple other patterns I had seen, so I was pretty sure that’s what I was looking at.

Drawing these sorts of things on paper is not easy…and doing physical experiments would be time consuming and use up a lot of materials, so I needed a better option.  Luckily, I had just discovered the TDD!  If you haven’t checked out the Tablet Weaving Draft Designer site, you should do that!  It’s a very easy to use program, and Catherine and her husband James just did some updates recently, and Catherine made a YouTube video that walks you through how to use it. 

So after tinkering with the pattern a bit, I came up with this…and warped it up to see how it looked…and it was a match! 

SNAKES!

Today’s Laurel Kingdom is the Kingdom of the Outlands! It was created in 1986 and encompasses New Mexico and Colorado, parts of Wyoming, the Nebraska panhandle, El Paso County and the Hudspeth County in Texas. Their colors are green and yellow.  My favorite part is their heraldic banner, which has the same deer on it as the Deer Xing signs.  Of course, the banners for An Tir has the Lowenbrau lion.

The original piece appears that it started with 16 picks of diagonal lines, but then follows with 56 picks to the sequence.  If you want to weave the diagonal stripes into your piece, you can do that, or you can use one of the other options that I’ve included:  a 56 pick pattern (without the diagonal stripes) or a 24 pick simplified pattern.  I’ve also included options to untwist the pattern by weaving S motifs instead of Z. Dealer’s choice!

56 Pick sequence, no diagonal lines
Simplified 24 pick sequence

In the video, I erroneously identified this as a twist-neutral pattern, but discovered after doing several repeats that the twist was, in fact, building up. I modified the pattern to create a twist-neutral version, which is below:

Twist Neutral Serpents, simplified (24 picks x 2)

For this pattern, you can weave as-is, or you can weave picks 1-24 until it’s over-twisted, then weave picks 25-48 until it’s over-twisted in the opposite direction.

If you want to do the long version, here are the two parts to make it twist neutral.

56 pick version, Part I
56 pick version, Part II (reverse)

Enjoy!

Elewys

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep 17: Hochdorf 39

This is the finished piece I made after I figured out the pattern a few years ago.

The Hochdorf Chieftain’s Grave is a richly-furnished Celtic burial chamber found near Hochdorf an der Enz in Baden-Württemberg, Germany, dating from 530 BC in the Hallstatt culture period. This is the same time period we also find the woven pieces in the salt mines of Austria that I shared with you a few weeks ago.

Most of the time, we think of Celts being almost exclusively in the British Isles, but that isn’t the only place where this cultural group was found 2500 years ago. The Celts are a collection of Indo-European peoples in parts of Western Europe that included modern day Poland, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, as well as the British Isles. There were also tribes of Celts that expanded as far East as Romania and Turkey.

They are identified by their use of the Celtic languages and other cultural similarities. They had no written language, so there is a lot we don’t know about how they expanded so far and why their culture died out everywhere except for the British Isles, remaining most notably in Ireland and Scotland. Many of the people were assimilated into the local cultures where they lived, logically, but it was the Romans that had the biggest influence of defeating the Celtic peoples throughout most of Europe, and only in pockets of the UK were the Celts able to hold back the Roman armies and maintain their culture and traditions long after the Romans left.

The burial chamber at Hochdorf dates to 520 to 530 BC. It was discovered in 1968 by an amateur archaeologist and excavated 10 years later from 1978 to 1979. By then, the burial mound covering the grave, which they estimate to have been originally 6 m (20 ft) in height and about 60 m (200 ft) in diameter, had shrunk to about 1 m (3 ft) in height due to centuries of erosion and agricultural use.

To completely dispel the myth that the Medieval people were all short and died young, the man found inside the chamber was roughly 6 ft 2 in (187 cm) tall and died at the ripe old age of 40. OK, 40 is young…but six feet TALL! Holy moly!

So this giant of a man, who they determined was a chieftain of a nearby village, was laid out on an a fantastic 9 ft (275 cm) bronze couch with eight wheels inside the burial chamber. He had been buried with a gold-plated torc on his neck, a bracelet on his right arm, a hat made of birch bark, a gold-plated dagger made of bronze and iron, amber jewelry, a razor knife, a nail clipper, a comb, fishing hooks, arrows, and most notably, thin embossed gold plaques which were on his now-disintegrated shoes. At the foot of the couch was a large cauldron decorated with three lions around the brim. This cauldron was originally filled with about 100 gallons (380 litres, or 666 pints) of mead. That’s a party for the afterlife! The east side of the tomb contained a wooden four-wheeled wagon with iron-plating holding a set of bronze dishes—along with the drinking horns found on the walls enough to serve nine people. The items found are kept at the museum Alte Schloss in Stuttgart.

Treasures from the burial mound (reconstruction)

The burial mound has been reconstructed for the museum with replicas of all the goods that were found to really give us a visual understanding of what ancient grave sites looked like, how it was laid out and just how dang impressive it was with all the items that were buried with those who had passed on. During the construction of the museum’s burial mound, the foundations of an ancient Celtic village were found, more than likely the one to which the chieftain belonged. These were, of course, incorporated into the museum. So in the building of the museum’s display for the Celtic Chieftain, they accidentally found his village. Some things are meant to be…and now he’s home. 😀

This dig was featured in a series called The Celts: Rich Traditions and Ancient Myths…and it’s on YOUTUBE!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU1dKfMIEUQ&list=PL_Y6Qui9KStOQ9rVrBzOLkJO8hNiDtl8c

This is Hochdorf V, woven by Lise Raeder Knudsen.

In addition to all the riches, there were several pieces of tablet weaving found both on the wall hangings and other textiles. Dr. Johanna Banck-Burgess analysed the textiles and wrote her disertation on the research of the preserved textiles (Johanna Banck-Burgess: Hochdorf IV. Stuttgart 1999). You can read a little bit about Hochdorf IV here: http://tabletweaving.dk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Hochdorf-IV-bidrag.pdf. Hochdorf IV (object 1.42) is really complex…A reconstruction was woven using 98 tablets, and 6 cm wide using very fine thread. This is a life goal for me…

Actual learning piece that I struggled with, eventually chopping it off the loom in frustration.

The piece we’re going to look at today is this significantly simpler, jagged diamond piece called Hochdorf 39. This tablet woven border edged one of the wall hangings in the tomb and was made using the skip hole method. I’ve made it once before and it took several tries, three patterns, phoning a friend, and a lot of swearing it get it to work. Hopefully I can show you how to do this in a way that doesn’t cause you to curse like a sailor. If you’ve been weaving along with me, you’ll be familiar with this technique now, so you know what you need. (pencil)

Note: this is not a twist-neutral pattern, but I suspect that you can weave in reverse, as I showed in a previous video. Flip all your cards (S to Z or Z to S), and start weaving from line 32 (or 36–wherever you start) and work your way down to row 1.

We’re getting down to the last few Kingdoms in our Laurel Kingdoms project. This time we’re celebrating the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was created in 1997 from the Kingdom of the East. It covers northeastern/central/western Pennsylvania, central/western New York, and West Virginia. Their colors are gules, argent and or. That’s silver, red, and gold, for the non-heralds out there…or white, red and yellow, if your hoards of precious metals are depleted. It’s been a long, lean year….

This is a biggun…you’ll need 36 cards for this thing. Ready?

Elisenhof E-417

This is a piece that is not as well known in the tablet weaving community and information is a little thin on the ground (at least in English). However, we do have this lovely image:

We also have a couple of experts who have put in their two cents on it: Egon Hansen in his book Tablet Weaving (pub 1990 Hovedland Press; ISBN 978-8777390470), and Hans-Jürgen Hundt, who wrote about it in a series of studies on the Coastal Archaeology of Schleswig-Holstein. Hansen suggested it was a 3-1 twill woven in wool and linen, whereas Hundt thought it was a single-color skip hole weave that gave it its texture. Other tablet weavers have tested out these theories and while the jury is still out, I am using a modified version of Hansen’s pattern using two colors.

Guido Gehlhaar from http://www.steinmaus.de/Mittelalter/weben/hansen/elisenhof.html provided a corrected version of the pattern, however it appeared to have a 14 pick repeat. I revised it to a 16 pick repeat here:

This is actually a modified pattern from what I used in the video–adjusting the threading pattern and putting pick #16 in the pick #1 position. It turns out exactly the same.

Edit, 7/5/2021: I was finally able to tinker with the pattern and created a method to reverse the pattern to untwist almost seamlessly. Weavers can just do picks 1-16 until the twist is unmanageable, then weave 17-32 until it is over-twisted in the other direction, then begin at 1-16 again. Alternatively, one could just weave 1-32 and repeat.

And this is the next installment in the Laurel Kingdom Project!  The Kingdom of Artemisia was formed in AS XXIII (1997), the 14th Kingdom of the SCA. It currently covers Utah, Montana, southern Idaho and the parts of Colorado and Wyoming that are west of the Continental Divide.  Their colors are black and yellow. 

Special thanks to Aisling, a German tablet weaver, who gave me some jumping off points for research and provided her own theories about the construction of this piece.

Weave Along with Elewys: Ep 16, Dublin Dragons of Drachenwald

I was very excited to show you all a piece from something other than the Norse or Baltic countries, but it turns out that during the 10th century, from when this piece was made, Ireland–especially the coastal cities like Dublin–were occupied by the Vikings.

However, this is such a well-loved design and I had gotten several requests for it, so here it is!

The extant fragment, c 950 AD

The pattern:

This is a double-sided pattern, so if you have golden dragons on a fire-red sky, on the other side will be fire dragons in a golden sky.

Weave Along 14: 11th c. Selonian

I had seen a couple questions recently about grave digs. “Why,” they ask, “are they digging up GRAVES?” Graves are only one thing that an archaeologist will excavate; they will also carefully, respectfully, and diligently sift through former homes, farmsteads, garbage dumps, and cesspits (toilets). Their job is to piece together human history and prehistory, learning about their lives through the shape and size of their homes, the layout of their villages, their places of worship, the contents of their pantries, the types of ceramics used, ornamentations they wore or treasures they kept, the animals they raised, the clothing they wore, and so much more. This is largely accomplished by excavating these sites, which also include tombs and burial grounds because humans have a long history of burying items with the person who has died—either because it is important to them or their community, or will be important in the afterlife according to their faith. These objects can tell an archaeologist a lot about the people who lived then.

But is it science? Or thievery? Well, some people think there is a fine line between archaeology and grave robbing, but really, it’s pretty simple—archaeologists intend to use the artifacts they uncover to learn about human activity in the past, while grave robbers are motivated by selling their findings for profit. Essentially, if you have gotten permission from the government to dig in an area, and those items that are found are cataloged, preserved, and stored properly, it’s archaeology. If you’re just digging for treasure in the cover of darkness, it’s robbery.

A number of tombs in Egypt were robbed within days—or even hours—of being sealed up with the freshly embalmed pharaoh inside. The treasure stolen, melted down, and sold for profit. A few—a very few—had been hidden well enough to be discovered in more recent history, like King Tut’s tomb, found in 1923, the contents of which have been preserved and displayed for millions of people to see and marvel at. I was lucky enough to see one collection that toured through Seattle a few years ago.

There is a great movie on Netflix called The Dig, which is a true story about the Sutton Hoo Ship burial found in Suffolk, England at the dawn of WWII—1938. Now, the completely irrelevant love story on the side is thrown in there as a draw for modern audiences (and is mostly fictitious), but most of us came here for the history and archaeology, because that is the interesting part anyway, right? The Sutton Hoo ship is another grave dig that contained a massive hoard of artifacts that gives us a remarkable insight into the life of 7th century Anglo-Saxon life. These pieces are all part of the British Museum and is on my bucket list of places to visit.

This piece I’m showing you today is another such grave find, dated to the 11th century in Latvia. The garment—whatever it is (I had a lot of difficulty translating this) was made in dark blue wool, and it was decorated with tablet weaving, and the ends are adorned with brass hoops. It was found in Priednieki, Latvia, near the Daugava River. The item is from the grave of a Selonian man, Selonians being a tribe of people that lived between present day Latvia and Lithuania.  Not much is known about this Baltic tribe except that they had been around since at least the 1st millennium AD when they lived on both sides of the Daugava River.  By the 6th and 7th centuries, their settlements were found only on the left bank of the river.  In the late Iron Age, these people had already partly merged with the Latgalians, and by the 13th century, they were conquered and agreed to be Christianized and ruled by the Germans.  The last mention of the Selonian people is in the 15th century.

This is another skip-hole weave and most times I’ve seen people do it in two colors.  The original, however, is three-colored, so feel free to add a third color if you choose.

As part of the Laurel Kingdoms project, this piece celebrates the Kingdom of Trimaris, created in 1985.  It is made up of Florida and Panama, but also claims Antarctica, much to the consternation of the Kingdom of Lochac (Australia), who apparently claimed it first (and let’s be honest–they’re closer). Also, the Kingdoms aren’t just about warring over lands—while Ansteorra (Texas) claims the International Space Station, a triskele—the symbol of Trimaris, was sent into space on a shuttle, so Trimaris claims space.  Houston, we have a problem.

This is starting to look a lot like Medieval Star Wars. Granted, Star Wars characters already wear tunics and cloaks…so we were halfway there already. Art imitating life imitating art… Their colors are blue and white.

I drew up the pattern in yellow and green, then realized I needed it in blue and white for the project. Oh well.

I hope you enjoy weaving this pattern! It’s much faster than the Mammen pattern from last time, so I’m making a lot of progress already! Enjoy!

Elewys

Getting Untwisted with Fishing Swivels

When looking for tablet weaving supplies, one might not think that one would wander through the fishing aisles at the hardware store, but this is where you can absolutely find something very useful for your tablet weaving kit.

Size 3 brass fishing barrel swivels; 6 for $1.49



Fishing Swivels!

These are size 3 brass fishing barrel swivels that I purchased at the local Fred Meyer (one of those one-stop-shopping kinds of places that has everything from school supplies to sockeye salmon; food, housewares, office supplies, and more). There were six swivels for $1.49.

To attach them to your weaving, tie the strings for each card on the two ends of the swivel (be sure to use square knots!). Then, as the threads get over-twisted, you can chase those twists to the swivel and it will untwist.

Things to keep in mind–you will need to trim the loose ends shorter to prevent them tangling on neighboring cards, and it’s good to keep them offset from the rest of the knots, again, to prevent tangling.

I hope this is helpful to you and your continued weaving success!

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep. 13: Oseberg 21

There are several tablet weaving fragments that were found in the Oseberg burial, and this is one that I designed based on images I have found on the internet. I cannot vouch for its historical accuracy, but it is one interpretation of the design and it looks FABULOUS!

As I mentioned in the previous pattern from the Oseberg dig, these finds date solidly in the Norse era, 834 AD. A large burial mound was discovered at the Oseberg farm near Tønsberg in Vestfold county, Norway. The ship and some of its contents are displayed at the Viking Ship Museum at Bygdøy, Oslo. Among its finds were a loom (commonly called the Oseberg loom), weaving tablets, a sled, a cart, animal carvings, quite a number of textile remnants, including a work in progress (known as 34D). The burial contained the remains of two women–one about 80 years old, and the other somewhere between 25 and 50 years old (opinions vary) and she may have been a slave or a relative to the elder.

This weaving piece is being done in the colors of the Kingdom of Calontir as part of the Laurel Kingdoms project–halfway through the list! The Kingdom is made up of the states of Iowa (but not Davenport or Bettendorf), Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and the city of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Their colors are purple and gold.

Heraldic arms for the Kingdom of Calontir, founded in 1984.

Edit: A comment from Amy Bischoff suggested that I make a couple of minor changes to the pattern to make it twist-neutral! Thanks, Amy! The pattern here is the new-and-improved version.

There is a pair of books written by Bente Skogsaas that has patterns for many other pieces found in the dig if you are interested in doing more of them (the newest book is on my wish list…). She is self-published and is doing all the sales and distribution of the book, so you may contact her directly through Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bente.skogsaas. (PS – I am not getting any kickbacks from the sale…just putting it out there for those interested in adding to their library.)


Weave Along with Elewys, Ep. 12: 10th Century Mammen

In the mid 1800s, in the town of Mammen, just outside of Viborg, Denmark, a farmer discovered a grave from the 10th century. Inside was a treasure trove of rich textiles and weapons, laid there to honor a man who was in the service of King Harold Bluetooth. Among the many finds, which included wax candles, silver axes, and silks, was this lovely piece of tablet weaving.

My middle kid, Cam, asked for a piece of weaving for Christmas, and sent me a photo (from Pinterest) with this pattern on it. I recognized it as a period pattern, and knew that I had to share it all with you. She chose the colors–so it’s not part of the Laurel Kingdoms project. And it’s not exactly like the period piece–apparently the original had 17 cards, was made from both wool and a vegetable fiber (probably linen) that degraded, and the pattern was likely done in a brocade technique. However, this double-sided, skip-hole weave is so lovely, I think you’re going to enjoy it!

Because the black threads in this piece were threaded ABBA, it made me think of music from my very young childhood…and I named this piece Mamman Mia. I know…terrible joke, but I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors….the weather is dreary and the endless months of virus lockdowns have taken their toll.

Despite 2020 being the dumpster fire that it is, I have a lot to be grateful for–my family, my friends, YouTube, and my faithful viewers. Here’s to a much better 2021. Thanks for a terrific year!

Elewys

Christmas Spirit

It is mid-December and the holidays draw near
I found it imperative that I spread good cheer.

You’ll find here below a pattern for you.
Its turns are complex, I admit that is true.

But with the skills you have learned here so far,
You will do just fine and earn a gold star.

I’ve changed just a few things to make it more merry.
Now I’m going to get me a big class of sherry.

(OK, I don’t actually drink sherry–maybe a bottle of hard cider instead.)

I was asked this morning by a viewer about the red, yellow and black piece in the opening sequence of the video, and where that pattern could be found. The answer is that the original is on Pinterest, but it’s written in a rather hard-to-read format, so I set out to “translate” it into the TDD (Bazzalisk) (jamesba.github.io/tabletweave) charting system.

However, the original pattern has a little hidden swastika in the middle of it, which always gave me a level of consternation. For those who are outside of North America, the swastika–although used extensively in the Medieval period–is still very much a symbol used in hate crimes and the sight of it causes distress to some people in minority communities. It wasn’t really IN YOUR FACE, but still…it was there, so I hesitated in including it in some displays or teaching the pattern. Today, I set about altering the middle of the design to remove the symbol while maintaining the amazing movement and color that so many people remark on with this piece.

I hope you enjoy weaving it!

With much love and appreciation, and wishing you all a very happy holiday season and a fantastic, healthy and happy new year!

Elewys

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep. 11: Estonian Virunuka

Here’s the big one, folks…hold onto your hats!

This is the recreation based on the three extant pieces that were found dating from the 12-14th centuries in Estonia. The fragments are housed in the University of History in Tallinn.

Many thanks to Julia Christie Amor for her draft from which I drew heavily for information: http://www.yrmegard.net/ee/tablets/patterns/tw_artefact_pattern_02

Due to the size of the image, I had to paste it in here in three parts or it would be blurry. I tried a couple different ways and neither of them worked…so three chunks it is.

Parte the Firste: picks 1 to 60.

Note that card #3 should be S threaded, not Z; I had completed it, saved it and started a new project and much later discovered that error. The only way to correct it now is to re-draft the entire thing, which took hours the first time….SO that’s not happening just yet. Just make card #3 S threaded, K?

Parte the Seconde: picks 61 to 120.

Middle bit of the pattern.

Parte the thirde: picks 121 to 184. I discovered that the pattern was missing the last two picks (somehow I didn’t clue in that 182 was not divisible by 4, so the cards would not be back in the ‘home’ position at the end). Oops…not sure if that was my error or that of the original that I was translating from. So, I created two extra picks that I added on afterwards and while they’re not perfect, it creates pattern continuity.

You’ll note the last couple of picks in the above pattern–what should be 183 and 184–were added when I discovered it was missing from the pattern.

Print out all three parts for the complete pattern. I have them on separate sheets of paper so they’re large enough to read easily.

This piece celebrates my Kingdom, An Tir! It was created in 1982, formerly a principality of the Kingdom of the West, it covers the states of Washington, Oregon, Northern Idaho, and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia*, Yukon and Northern Territories. Our colors are black, white and yellow.

*A small chunk of BC is actually part of the Kingdom of Avacal…geographical distance and topography being what it is…you know…

This piece is not any more *difficult* than any of the other pieces we’ve done, but there are a lot more picks to complete for each repeat (184, to be exact), but if you take your time, be patient, and follow the directions, you should do just fine.

Good luck, and have fun!

Elewys