Weave Along With Elewys, Episode 3: Birka 12, 9th c.

Welcome back! We’re jumping right into the next weave for the MIDDLE KINGDOM!

Midrealm, or Middle Kingdom, formed in 1969, currently comprises Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Scott County in Iowa, most of Kentucky (except the southwest counties), and Essex County and Windsor in Ontario, Canada.

The Birka (or Björkö) digs are some of the most famous of Norse historical finds because they are SO PLENTIFUL and have items from all over Europe! Located 30 km West of Stockholm, this trading city was founded in 750 AD and was under the protection of the King of Sweden, whose home was just a couple miles away. During the 200 years the island saw trade activity, goods came from all over Europe, as far away as the Middle East, as evidenced by a silver ring from a Viking-era grave with an Arabic inscription from that era found in Scandinavia. They have also found rare items like Chinese silk, Byzantine embroidery, pottery from Rhineland, furs and antler combs from the Sami people in Finland and Russia, and a number of silver Islamic coins called Dirhams. The trading center at Birka closed rather suddenly around 960 AD, and trade activity relocated to Sigtuna, though the reasons for the shift are disputed. Some suggest that it may have been due to land rebound from the post-glacial period; that the topography changed significantly enough to make Birka difficult to access by sea. The complete collection of archaeological finds from the excavations on Björkö are held by The Swedish History Museum in Stockholm, and many of the artifacts are on display there.

Quite a number of tablet woven fragments were found in the excavations, including today’s project, known as Birka 12, grave find 735.

Many of the bands were done in a style known as brocaded card weaving, where precious metals were woven into the surface of the tablet weaving, creating a beautiful (and shiny) pattern. Some of the pieces have rotted almost completely away, leaving only the metal threads, which still bear the impressions of the patterns on top.

From these finds, designs sketched up as to what the patterns may have looked like 1200 years ago.

The one we are working on is located in the bottom row, labeled “i”.

However brocaded card weaving is a very advanced form of weaving, and other tablet weavers have created patterns using the threaded in technique based on these designs. This is the pattern for the one we will be doing today. I have also added a lovely braided border on the edge for a little extra fun!

So get your 17 cards and either 2 or 3 colors of yarn, and let’s get warped!

Remember to face your clockwise-labeled cards to the right (counter-clockwise to the left) and thread according to the S and Z on the chart below (S through the left side of the card; Z through the right side).

Once your cards are all threaded according to the pattern, begin by turning all the cards forwards, throwing the shutting through the shed after each pick. Tighten up your weft threads after a couple of passes until the warp threads are snug against each other, but not misshapen.

Start your cards with AD at the top for this pattern (like most of them out there) and begin by turning your cards forwards–away from you– for four quarter turns.

Then separate your cards into two packs–cards numbered 4-8 slid towards you, and the rest of the cards away from you. Turn those cards in opposite directions (1-3 and 9-17 forwards; 4-8 backwards) for three quarter turns, throwing the shuttle after each pick.

Then change directions for those inner cards–1-8 and 15-17 will turn forwards and 9-14 will turn backwards for 3 quarter-turns. Once all the cards are in their ‘home’ position (AD at the top), repeat the pattern by turning all cards forwards 4 quarter-turns.

Then the border threads become over-twisted, flip the cards (so S becomes Z, and Z becomes S) and continue weaving as before.

Note the funny bump on the border where the cards changed direction.

If you want a bigger challenge, you can try the skip hole version, found in “A Simplified Guide to Historical Tablet Weaving.” by Dagný Svensdóttir and Bjorn Sæmundarson. I’ll be doing this one in An Tir colors! (As I do not yet have permission to publish the pattern, I cannot supply it here at this time.)

Ladoga Parte the Seconde

Continuing discussion on object #6…

Every once in a while, you’ll present a woven bit with documentation and someone will say, “Uhhh…that’s not quite right.”

So that just happened.

Luckily, it was presented in a very respectful manner by an influential tablet weaver that I admire…so it’s all good! Thank you, Aisling!

The Ladoga bands appear to be *skip hole* woven, not 4 threads per card. Despite the archaeological sketches and patterns provided in the research, the pattern that was provided doesn’t match the findings. You can see in the text of the Academia.edu paper that it was woven on twelve 4-hole cards with 27 warp threads total. Yeah, 12 times 4 is not 27…. so clearly something was amiss from the beginning. However, unless you add a third thread to one of the cards, you’re not going to come up with an odd number… 12 x 2 is 24; the extra four threads are for border cards; each get 4 threads, which results in 28 warp threads. Perhaps the archaeologists miscounted, or there was some other error in transcription.

So I got back on the tablet weaving generator and worked up a pattern. I warped up my loom (while my German tablet weaving friend slept) and had the pattern and weaving underway by the time she was up and checking her email. She confirmed that I got the pattern right and I was delighted! (Although I later was dissatisfied with it and made a few more alterations…) The result is this new pattern:

Skip hole technique means exactly what you think it does–some of the holes are skipped, that is, left empty, in the threading. If the box is empty, so is that hole.
Now it looks correct!

The result is a very dainty band that measures just under 1 cm wide, even with this 8/4 cotton carpet warp.

Are you confused? Overwhelmed? Not ready for this pattern?

Don’t be cast down, dear weaver; the 4-threads-per-card pattern *works* and gets approximately the right design, but the technique is not period-correct. As a beginner, this is FINE…you get the same look while learning the ropes, but now you know that the period technique is slightly different…and more difficult, so don’t fret if you’re not ready for skip hole. You’ll get there…in this series, even!

The first episode of the YouTube video is in the final stages of editing (it was very long and complex for the Getting Started video–the next ones should come out much more quickly).

Weave Along with Elewys, Episode 2: Ladoga, 10-12th c.

Celebrating East Kingdom!

The Kingdom of the East held its first coronation event in June 1968 (when my husband was only a month old!) It comprises most of New England and five Eastern provinces of Canada; Quebec, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Newfoundland. Each year, this Kingdom raises an army to battle at Pennsic War, held in Cooper’s Lake, PA. Sadly, it was cancelled for the summer of 2020 due to plague…I mean, the pandemic. Hopefully, it will be back on schedule for 2021! As a longtime member of the SCA (30 years!), the pilgrimage to this war is long overdue.

The Second Kingdom of the SCA, East Kingdom

There is nothing sweeter for a new weaver than to find a period pattern that is attractive and easy to do! While there are several of these, one of my new favorites is the Ladoga narrow band, object #6.

There are a number of tablet weaving patterns that were created during the Norse or “Viking” era—roughly the late 8th to early 11th centuries—in a number of lands that they had contact with.  This, of course, included Russia and various parts of Eastern Europe, which many researchers and re-enactors refer to as the “Viking-Rus”.  These are descendants of the Swedes who raided and traded in the lands from the Baltic Sea coast to the Black Sea.

The savage and feared men of the North reigned supreme in Scandinavia and beyond—basically, anywhere they could get their boats to float, which only requires about three feet of water—that wide, shallow boat design was key.  So while they were raiding and pillaging…I mean, spreading their cultural influence…they also picked up a number of customs, designs, and ornamentation which was brought back to their homes back in the north.

Straraja Ladoga is located about 70 miles east of St. Petersburg, just downriver from Lake Ladoga. Here is where we find the Ladoga Burial Mounds.  It was discovered in 2010 and dating estimates are between the 10th to 12th centuries; spot on with Norse contact and influence. If you’ve developed a Norse persona for the SCA or other medieval re-creation group, LARP, or costume for Halloween or any other occasion, this is a great weave to add that perfect accent to your clothing.

“The original piece has a blue design on a yellow background. The warp threads are red, yellow and blue wool, 0.8 mm thick, with twist S,2z. The weft threads are brown wool 0.6 mm thick with a double Z twist. This ribbon needed 12 tablets with 4 holes in each, producing a density of 27 warps and 8 weft threads per cm.” (https://www.academia.edu/30371327/Kochkurkina_Orfinskaya.Archaeological_textiles_of_the_10th_to_the_12th_century_from_the_Gaigovo_barrow_group_Russia_Leningrad_oblast._Archaeological_Textiles_Review_No._58)

Let’s get started with the Ladoga weave! You will need 12 cards for this pattern, and can use two or three colors, depending on what color you want to use for the borders. My sample is going to use three colors, celebrating the Kingdom of the East! (*See below)

Remember to face your clockwise-labeled cards to the right (counter-clockwise to the left) and thread according to the S and Z on the chart below (S through the left side of the card; Z through the right side).

Start your cards with AD at the top and begin by turning your cards forwards–away from you–for 12 quarter-turns (three full revolutions). Then reverse the center four cards (5, 6, 7, and 8) (turning backwards) for 13 quarter-turns to get a little dot on the side, under the “mountain”.

Then reverse again, turning forward one quarter turn. The pattern will then repeat, so you will do an additional 12 quarter-turns. Essentially, you will be doing 13 quarter turns each direction, with the border cards continuing to turn only forwards. When the border threads become over-twisted, you may flip the cards or reverse direction until they are over-twisted in the opposite direction. Repeat this to the end of the warp.

Note about the border cards: If you are a new weaver and want to keep things simple, turn all the cards forwards 13 quarter-turns, then 13 quarter-turns backwards. However, each time you change direction on the border cards, you will create a funny bump, which is not as attractive.

* I must note: this is a modification from the original, which is a skip-hole design, but this modification gives the beginner an easy pattern to follow and still have a similar result. See the next post for details about the skip-hole directions.

Let me know how yours turned out and let me know if there’s anything you think I need to add to these instructions.

Thanks for joining me!

Elewys

Weave Along with Elewys: Cards and Yarns

The first thing you’ll need to do tablet weaving is, of course, tablets or cards.

These can be made yourself with a deck of playing cards, a hole punch, sharp scissors, ruler, cutting mat, rotary cutter, template, compass, protractor, slide rule, abacus, battering ram, caffeine, and chocolate…that is, if you’re really OCD about getting the holes lined up perfectly…

OR…you just go online and buy them.  They’re inexpensive and durable!

(OK, if you DO want to make your own, here’s an instructable to do it yourself: https://www.instructables.com/id/Make-Your-Own-Tablet-Weaving-Cards/. However, if you don’t have a corner trimmer, hole punch, cutting mat and all the things they ask for, it would be cheaper and easier to order some online.)

Materials
Make your own!

There are a number of different manufacturers of tablet weaving cards. I have at least five different varieties. I like the Schacht cards that are sold at stores like HalcyonYarn.com or the Woolery (Yarn.com).  $8 for a set of 25 cards that are labeled and color coded.  I’d recommend getting two sets (50 cards total) to start.  The cards will last a long, long, long, long time, so no need to get hundreds, at least to start. Most patterns that we will be doing will require fewer than 25 cards, but it’s always good to have a second set on hand for larger patterns later.

Color coded sides and labeled corners make these a great choice for weaving!

Next, you’ll need to pick your fiber.  For a beginner, you’ll want to work with something that is strong, but forgiving, and easy to work with…so put away the silk, linen, and wool for now.  The best place to start is with cotton.  It’s cheap, strong and doesn’t bind up like other fibers can.

Crochet Cotton is my first pick for a beginner, for those who are looking for readily available and inexpensive materials, which you can find at your nearby hobby store. The limitation with this stuff is that they usually only have 4 or 5 colors at the store—white, baby blue, floofy pink, minty green and pale yellow.  If you can find more saturated colors—red, black, dark blue…go for it!  Just be sure to get contrasting colors—light and dark.  Think of what colors go well together–yellow, white and black; blue, green and white; yellow and red…anything that will make one color pop against another! If you use two colors of the same intensity, the pattern may get lost.

Aunt Lydia's Crochet Cotton Classic Size 10 | JOANN
Whatever the brand, size 10 crochet cotton is a great size to work with.

Pearl Cotton is another good choice.  They come in lots of colors and work very nicely.  Note:  the higher the number, the finer the threads; the size 5 or 8 are best. Size 10 is fine, but might be challenging. Size 12 is too fine for a beginner.  Unfortunately, they come in such small spools of about 87 yards each, so you can warp up about 5 cards per spool (depending on the length of your project).  At about $3 a ball; it can run you $15-30 per project…or more. Look for large spools online at the Woolery or the Yarn Barn of Kansas, or ask if your local hobby shop can order them for you.

Amazon.com: Crochet Thread (10 Pack) Cotton Yarn Threads Balls ...
Little balls of pearly fun!

Maysville Carpet Warp has been my go-to thread.  If you have a weaving store nearby, you can see if they carry it, or you want to order online. It has about 800 yards on a $9 spool, so it’s a great option.  It’s a bit thicker than crochet cotton (like the size 5) and comes in about 70 different colors.  Eugenetextilecenter.com, Yarn.com and the Woolery all carry it.

Rug Warp for Weavers (substitute for Maysville Carpet Warp)
A rainbow of thready fun! This is only about half of the available colors.

For the upcoming videos, this is the type of yarn I’ll be using for the demonstrations.

Ready! Let’s weave!

Weave Along with Elewys, Episode 1: Oseberg, 834 AD

I have created these blog posts as an addendum to the YouTube videos: Weave Along With Elewys. While some people learn very well from videos, others learn well from written directions and still images. This blog post will serve that need. I also need to have copies of the patterns that I use in the series available for weavers, and a central location to put them, so this blog will serve that need as well.

We haven’t been able to fully launch the project yet due to mundane demands (we expect it to be ready very soon). Despite the coronavirus Stay at Home orders, mundane work still gets in the way of filming and editing, especially the Intro to Tablet Weaving episode, which is going to be longer than the others as it covers all the materials and tools as well as techniques. I am struggling to do video taping while there are kids, a working husband, and birds in the house, so if you hear thumping, yelping, laughing, chirping, squawking, or another ambient noises, please forgive me. I’m doing the best I can with the resources at hand.

Note: one of the things that I will have to assume in this series is that the weavers are using an inkle loom. If you are using a backstrap, warp-weighted, or box loom, you may need to consult with other resources for directions on how to warp and anchor those.

Old oak inkle loom purchased second hand sometime around 1992 and has helped me produce hundreds of yards of inkle and tablet woven bands. Working on finding a name for it…

The first episode is a pattern from the Oseberg dig, dating 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, and a work in progress (known as 34D), as well as this silk piece.  The original measured only 5 mm wide–a diminutive little weave–but we’ll do ours in a larger cotton rug warp for this demonstration.

As we have just celebrated the SCA’s 55th birthday, I decided to couple this project with a celebration of the Kingdoms of the Known World in the SCA. I’ve decided to weave 20 pieces in this series in the colors of each of the Kingdoms. The first Kingdom formed was the Kingdom of the West, in 1966. It comprises Northern California, Nevada, Alaska, Japan, Korea and the Pacific Rim. This is where it all started–with a backyard party that turned into an international medieval history organization with tens of thousands of members in 20 kingdoms. All of the Kingdoms, origin dates and colors are, in order:

  1. The West Kingdom was created when the Society originated in 1966. Colors: green and yellow.
  2. The Kingdom of the East was created in 1968. Colors: yellow and purple.
  3. The Middle Kingdom was created in 1969. Colors: red, white and green.
  4. The Kingdom of Atenveldt was created in 1971. Colors: white, yellow and blue.
  5. The Kingdom of Meridies was created in 1978. Colors: black and white.
  6. The Kingdom of Caid was created in 1978. Colors: blue and white.
  7. The Kingdom of Ansteorra was created in 1979. Colors: yellow, black and red.
  8. The Kingdom of Atlantia was created in 1981. Colors: green, white and blue.
  9. The Kingdom of An Tir was created in 1982. Colors: yellow, white and black.
  10. The Kingdom of Calontir was created in 1984. Colors: purple and yellow.
  11. The Kingdom of Trimaris was created in 1985. Colors: blue and white.
  12. The Kingdom of the Outlands was created in 1986. Colors: green and yellow.
  13. The Kingdom of Drachenwald was created in 1993. Colors: red, yellow and black.
  14. The Kingdom of Artemisia was created in 1997. Colors: black and yellow.
  15. The Kingdom of Æthelmearc was created in 1997. Colors: white, red and black.
  16. The Kingdom of Ealdormere was created in 1998. Colors: white, red and green.
  17. The Kingdom of Lochac was created in 2002. Colors: red, white and blue.
  18. The Kingdom of Northshield was created in 2004. Colors: White, yellow and black.
  19. The Kingdom of Gleann Abhann was created in 2005. Colors: red, white and black.
  20. The Kingdom of Avacal was created in 2015. Colors: red, white and yellow.

So let’s get started by celebrating the Kingdom of the West!

First Kingdom of the SCA!
The Oseberg weave will make Os on one side and zig-zags on the other. Makes a great belt or trim on an apron dress or tunic.
Alternatively, this pattern, which is more historically accurate, has boxes on both sides. It is just as easy to weave!

Reading the pattern: squares with a white background are turned forward–away from the weaver. Squares with a grey background are turned backward–towards the weaver. I marked this pattern with the reverse after 10 and 12 turns so you can see what the reverses look like, but you don’t have to reverse so soon. In this particular pattern, the cards all turn the same direction until the warp is over-twisted, then all reversed until they not only become untwisted, but over-twisted in the opposite direction….then it’s back to forward turning again. Repeat this until you reach the end of your warp.

Technique refresher:

Warp your cards with the top of the card facing to the right–this is important if your cards are labeled clockwise. If they are labeled counterclockwise (anti-clockwise), face the tops of the cards to the left.

This is my preferred brand of cards–clearly labeled and colored sides are great visual cues to me while I’m weaving.

Get out your Lazy Kate (or whatever facsimile you create…mine is simply a Amazon Prime box with a couple of dowels stabbed through it) and load up your threads.

It’s not fancy, but it works.

Thread your cards, making sure to keep your S and Z diagram handy to make sure you are going through the cards correctly.

It’s easiest to tie the four threads together for each card, using a surgeon’s knot. It’s similar to a square knot, but has a double throw for the first pass, rather than a single. This makes it easier to untie to adjust tension or to correct mistakes–and trust me, you will make mistakes…we all do.

Once all your cards are threaded, double check your work to make sure they are correctly S and Z threaded and that the colors are in the correct hole. Once you have given it the final inspection, ready your shuttle! I wrap a bunch of warp around the top of the shuttle, in a figure 8 pattern, to keep the thickness of the shuttle to a minimum.

Your belt shuttle only needs to be 5″ or 6″ long, and works best if it has a tapered edge for beating.

I begin by setting all the cards with AD at the top and slip the tail through the shed so the shuttle is on the left and a 4″ tail is on the right. Turn the cards forward (away from you) and throw the shuttle and the tail in opposite directions, criss-crossing through the shed. This will help anchor the tail and prevent unraveling later. Turn the cards again, beating the weave, and throwing the shuttle, leaving a loop behind. On the next pass, turn the cards, snug up the weft, beat and pull the shuttle through. Don’t be over-zealous on the weft; gently pull the weft thread to pull the warp threads together. Do four turns total so that AD is back at the top again. The first few passes are going to look a hot mess…don’t panic. It’ll get better as you go, and your tension gets more consistent with practice.

Keep weaving along until the twist gets too tight, or every so often (maybe every 10 or 20 repeats, or whenever it moves you), then reverse direction to untwist. You will develop a funny little bump on the edge of the weave–don’t panic…it’s completely normal. The finer the threads you use, the less noticeable it is.

When the pattern changes directions, the threads on the border cards leave an odd lump. This is less noticeable using finer threads.

Every so often, you will need to release the tension on the loom, and shift it to continue your work. As you work, you will notice that the length of the weave is getting shorter and shorter…you will lose up to 20% of the warp length from start to finish.

When you get to the end of the warp, you will have 6″ or 8″ left between the end of the weave and the knots tied…remember you will also have the width of the cards and the shuttle between the beginning and end…so if you want to get a minimum length of weaving for a project, you will need to factor that into your warp length.

Some weavers carefully untie all their knots and tie up the ends in a variety of ways. I used to twist and knot the threads, but lately, I’ve decided that it’s far more effort than it’s worth, so I just leave a half inch of fringe and chop off the excess. If you plan on sewing it down as part of trim on a garment, it will likely have the ends tucked inside the seams. It hasn’t unraveled yet, at least using the carpet warp or wool, but finer threads like silk might be more trouble.

I hope this has been a helpful tutorial, and I hope you find the videos helpful as well. I look forward to hearing about my fellow weavers’ projects and anything that I have presented that you, and I’d love to see your completed projects!

Oseberg Weave finished!
The alternate pattern

I also wanted to give a shout out and direct you all to a tablet weaving generator that I use a lot, created by a British woman named Catherine. It is both super useful and periodically updated (other generators like GTT haven’t been updated in more than a decade). It can be found at: https://jamesba.github.io/tabletweave/.

Norse Apron Dress

After I finished the last couple of feet of sewing on the coat, I decided the next item to make is an apron dress. I normally wouldn’t build a wardrobe from the outside in, but nothing is as it should be this year.

No photo description available.
Sorry about the crud and boxes around–I am still in the midst of re-arranging the sewing room. Being in quarantine means that I can’t get out to donate the stuff I have to get rid of.

I “interviewed” three fabric candidates. Two were too small and one was *just* about big enough (if I reduced the length of the dress by 3″), but it’s got a very subtle stripe to it and has a right and wrong side…but only noticeable if you’re looking very closely.

No photo description available.
You’ll note the fine white chalk marks for the pattern as well as the fine grey pinstripes in the wool. I debated about using it, but thought that since they can definitely date plaids to this era, stripes aren’t a big stretch for plausibility.

I laid out and marked the fabric using the “no waste” apron dress pattern. Mistress Disa i Birkalundi has a YouTube class on how to measure and mark your fabric for this pattern.

Apron Dress - Measurements & Pattern Sizing by Katla járnkona This ...

I ended up assembling mine a little differently because I was being difficult and dumb, but also because the fabric has a right side and a wrong side; if you sew the two half side panels together, one will be reversed.

Figure 1

Anyway, it looks fine from the front, and that’s what’s important.

I plan on adding the Oseberg tablet weaving to it (the purpley-red in the weave matches the purpley-red in the fabric almost perfectly).

Because I had to make it a bit shorter, I will be adding some dark grey wool at the bottom and trimming the top with it as well. I also need to make shoulder straps, so those will be in grey as well–here’s hoping I have enough! (PS – I do!)

Image may contain: people standing
Before the grey trimmings

Meanwhile, the garden is expanding, we moved the compost bins, and hubby has invested in a rain barrel. I’m looking into the possibility of growing potatoes in buckets, but it looks like 5 gallon buckets have rather small yields–maybe 2 lbs. per bucket. A 20 gallon bucket yields about 8 lbs…so about the same yield per gallon.

Coronavirus Quarantine

Many of us around the world are on a shelter-in-place order from their local bureaucrats. Those of us in the Seattle area have been on some kind of social distancing program since about mid-February, and we have been working from home and online learning for the last 3 weeks. This is going to get old really fast…

We got what? The virus? Isn’t that what we’re trying to AVOID?

But it’s giving me an opportunity to catch up on some projects and branch out into some new territory…for me.

I’m getting the finishing touches put on a Norse coat, and plan to make a few tunics and apron dresses to wear this summer…if we ever get out of this…

The last few feet of sewing the weaving down–pattern is a reproduction from the Karelia Burial ground, dated about 600 AD.

I’ve also been working on a costume project for Their Majesties of An Tir with a group of talented costumers. I’m so honored to be part of the team! I only hope that May Crown will not be cancelled and we can see our Royals in Their new clothes!

Coming soon: I’ll be doing an online tutorial for tablet weaving. Introducing the tools & materials, warping my loom and showing viewers how to read and follow a pattern. We’ve done most of the filming and it is now in the hands of my very capable producer/director.

Oseberg pattern for the video…COMING SOON!

Collegium 2019

Last weekend, I taught at Collegium for the second time, with my co-teacher HL Aenor de Pessac. It was a great time! Sadly, I didn’t get any photos from the weekend–and we were only there on Sunday.

I had originally planned on going to the event for the full weekend, taking classes on Friday and/or Saturday, but after reviewing the schedule of classes, there were a few that were really intriguing. One was the woodworking bentwood boxes class, from the guy who made my Monster Loom (which I named Mike Wazowski). I’m not a big woodworker, though I’ve done a little (middle school shop class) and I’ve been interested in learning more.

Then there were a couple that were being taught by people who are literally five miles or less from my house. I thought, ‘Ya know, I bet I could just *walk* to Lori’s house and ask her how to make the partlet.’

Then I considered taking the lampworking class, but I thought they might be more geared towards beginners–which I am not anymore. Solid intermediate here. I belong to the Lampworkers Guild (as you know) and I needed to make beads that are due before Thanksgiving, and they said Collegium would be a perfect place to hand them over so they wouldn’t have to be mailed. I had completely forgotten about that deadline until just a day or two before, so I thought maybe I could work on making them AT Collegium…but that seemed like a lot of hassle dragging all my stuff down there, and if the class space is really limited, they’d likely want to save it for students, not just someone wanting to play. And then they’d need to be cleaned and I might not have time enough to finish them all…maybe this isn’t a good idea after all. Then I found out the classes were all full anyway. Ah, well.

In the end, I felt time might be better spent making the beads I need to finish for the guild at home on Saturday and bringing them with me on Sunday. I volunteered to make two strings at a dozen or so beads each, so I needed to make 25-30 beads done. I was able to get 18 or so finished before I started making some mistakes and clearly showing signs of flame fatigue. It was getting late and I also needed to finish packing the truck for the event, so I turned off the gas and let the beads cool down. I didn’t have time to clean them after all, so I’ll have to finish them up and mail them anyway.

This year was Collegium IV. I taught Survey of Tablet Woven Bands at Collegium II, which was a slide show of period pieces and patterns. It was a packed room–AMAZING! Apparently, my Laurel sent in a secret expert to sit in and review my information and she said that I did a good job! YEY!! I did my research! Then I skipped teaching for a year; I went to the event and took several classes, which was a lot of fun. This year, I was asked to teach something again and after discussing it with others, including my dear friend (and co-teacher), Aenor, we came up with an idea: Beginning Tablet Weaving: The Astonishingly Easy-to-Recreate 9th Century Oseberg Band!

The class included a very quick Power Point presentation that covered some basics of history, overview of materials and terms, some tips and tricks to keep in mind, and then some hands-on. To save a lot of time and stress, I pre-warped the looms with the yarn and cards, so all they had to do was start turning cards and throwing shuttles. A few of the looms even had a bit of weaving started.

I somehow screwed up one of the looms and warped up something wrong…the threads were making squares instead of zig-zags. Not sure what happened there. Now I think about it, the weaver may have had the cards in the wrong starting point…but it was a pattern and it looked cool, so….win!

Aenor was wonderful at helping get half the students started, and then I went around and checked on their work. In the last half-hour or so, she continued the slide presentation with a lot of great pictures of the archaeological dig and information about what they found. She’s a trained archaeologist and was completely in her wheelhouse there.

The students seemed to have a great time and they all walked away with a tablet woven bookmark they made….and hopefully an interest to learn more later.

It turned out to be (in my opinion) barely enough time. I wish I had been able to have a 4 hour block instead of just 2 so the students would have a lot of time to play, and have materials enough to take home with them, including a set of cards. Or include an hour of warping the loom (which is almost a class in itself because of all the time it takes to learn how to do just that), an hour of history and two hours of weaving. But all the materials needed would drive the price up to about $20 a student (minimum) and require some kind of loom.

Bed now. Pictures later.

Side-Stepping the Weaving

New projects, now that Athenaeum is over: lampworking and Royal clothing.

As part of the Lampworker’s Guild, I volunteered to make two strands of beads for gifts from the Kingdom, not realizing how close the deadlines for Athenaeum and July Coronation would be.  Honestly, I should have started it sooner, but I kept thinking I had plenty of time.  HA HA HA!  Whoops.

So, I pulled out the lampworking stuff and noticed that my bead release was, of course, bone dry.  I added a bit of water to it and let it sit for a couple days, shaking it once or twice a day.  On the second day, it was clear that the stuff was still solid sludge, so I stirred it with a mandril and added a bit more water.  I shook it again and realized (too late) that I added too much water.  It was too thin.  I left the cap off it for a couple days to dry out and it’s STILL too thin.  UGH.  I was able to make a few beads using the mandrils that I had dipped last time, but I’m down to the last 5 or 6 and then I’ll have to dip some more.  I have made arrangements to borrow some from HL Aenor to tide me over, and I may go ahead and order another bottle from Frantz.

The challenge is to make the beads using the Historical Bead Challenge samples that many of us made several months ago.  I got most of the way through the challenge before I lost momentum (ran out of gas, needed to focus on other things, etc.).  Of the 21 lessons, I think I only missed the last 2 of them, which I plan on finishing once I get the supplies I need.

The other thing I’m doing is helping make costumes for their Royal Highnesses of An Tir, the project headed up by Baroness Lorenzia & HL Margo, who live just a couple miles from me.  Duke Morgan and Duchess Livia were King and Queen a couple of times before in another Kingdom (Adenveldt?  Arizona area) but this is their first time for An Tir.  They are terrific people and fun to hang out with.  They have two lovely children (I’ve only met one so far, but I hear the other is equally delightful) and we are clothing not only TRHs, but the kiddos and His father, who is also a Duke.  This is a lot of work, but we are up to the task (and volunteered, of course, and are more than delighted to do so).  Yesterday and today I spent many hours at Lorenzia & Margo’s finishing seams, cutting out garments, and brainstorming with the team, coming up with genius ideas (not all of them are mine, mind you…but I feel that I have contributed).

One of our genius ideas was to make checky tippets for TRHs.  I said, “Gosh, that’s just like making a quilt,” so we’re cutting strips and I’m sewing my quarter-inch seams, cross-cutting flipping and sewing… Continue reading “Side-Stepping the Weaving”

Home from Athenaeum

Another brilliant event put on by Master Charles and Mistress Kerij-e! There were over 50 artisans displaying their works, talking with Laurels and other artisans, sharing their passions, their research, their creations, and their positive energy. The place was just alive with joy! It was really palpable.

This event was new last year, but it had a lot of similarities to an event that had gone on for 3 or 4 years prior that was hosted by a Laurel in the Kent/Renton area called Arts Unframed. It had a similar structure to have artisans display their works and have Laurels attend and give them the opportunity to view the stuff. It was a little less structured in that the Laurels were not required to sign up to visit with artisans and have conversations with them about their chosen passions, and the artisans were not guaranteed to have anyone stop by to talk. I did Arts Unframed twice and had only spoken with a couple of Laurels who were curious about what I was doing. I had a lot of stuff on my assigned table, so there were lots of different kinds of art to interest a wide variety of Laurels. I had weaving, spinning, costume bits, sock knitting, the warp-weighted loom, dye stuff, blackwork, lampwork, and part of a Roman doll that I was making.

This is only about 2/3 of the exhibitors. I’m to the far right, next to the staircase.

Last year at Athenaeum, like at Arts Unframed, I had my breadth of knowledge with All The Things on display…

2018…ALL THE THINGS!

…this year was depth of knowledge display on historic tablet weaving. Because I was only showing one thing, I requested a teeny tiny table. It was just barely enough room, but it worked.

2019…HISTORIC TABLET WEAVING!

I had so many visitors and each one of them was a joy to talk to. I was able to share where I started with this rather rough-looking skip hole weave, which was made in the THIRD class I took on tablet weaving…I was determined to learn this craft. This was my “ah ha!” moment.

A very simple woven band.

Then I began learning from others through published patterns. I created quite a number of pieces from books and GTT patterns on Pinterest–there are a lot of patterns available there!

Applesies & Fox Noses has been a great tool for improving my weaving skills.

Then I felt I really advanced with this piece where I was able to look at the extant piece (photo) and the archaeological drawing and figure out how it was made…

No pattern was available, but this detailed archaeological sketch was at hand.

…and then re-create it.

Noting the little dimples in the sketch, I guessed that this was a skip-hole weave method…and I was right!

And finally, taking a very detailed pattern and use very fine silk threads to create a breathtaking woven piece…if I may say so myself.

A question I was asked by a Laurel who stopped by was how big was the original and how close is mine to that measurement? I didn’t know the answer to at the time–the extant image didn’t have a ruler next to it, sadly–but have since (in the last 24 hours) discovered the answers and found out even more about this piece and the companion piece found in the tomb. The original measured 18 mm wide and was made of silk (not wool, as was originally published in another source that I found). Mine, also made of silk, is 15 mm wide. The original motifs are much more square than mine and other reproductions I’ve seen, which makes me curious to find out why…

“So what’s up next?” was a question I heard several times. There are three things I want to do. First, work in wool. I have only worked in cotton and a little in silk, but I have a project in the queue for a gent in Denmark who got in touch with me a few days ago. The item that he’s requesting is a 6 yard piece in wool using an Icelandic pattern. I just ordered some materials and am looking forward to receiving them soon…maybe this week. The specific pattern he wants is a brocade tablet weaving piece, although brocaded weaving is something I have done very little of. The last time I tried, several years ago, the process frustrated me, likely due to the materials I was using, and the difficulty of the piece that I chose. However, now that I have much more experience and confidence, I am ready to try it again–so that’s #2.

Brocade weaving from Iceland; reproduction by Aisling

The third thing I am looking forward to trying is weaving with metal. Many of the brocade pieces used gold and silver in its creation, and the Danish gent that I’ve been communicating with has some to trade for the woven piece he is asking for.

Many of the brocaded pieces found at archaeological digs have nothing but the metal remaining–the wool and/or linen rotted away over time.

At 12:30, we had a break for lunch. I lunched in the courtyard with my bestie, Aenor, who was also displaying, as well as their Excellencies of Wyewood and a couple other gentlemen. Although the Madrone Culinary Guild provided a lovely spread of food, allergens prevented me from imbibing, so we packed a lunch of chicken salad, croissants, cheese, fruit, and Millionaire’s Shortbread.

It was a long day, exhausting, but in a good way. I had to leave right after the displaying was over at 4 pm to meet up with hubby and friends at the Pride Day Sounders game. Sadly, this meant missing court and the elevation of Mistress Helewisa, and the awarding of the Lion’s Strength to my Mistress, Isolde.

The gargoyle behind me is Rick…he’s a very funny guy.

At the end of the day, I had over 14,000 steps logged on my Fitbit. I forgot to change into my comfy tennies, but kept wearing my new, not-yet-broken-in SCA loafers…by the time I got home, my feet were very sore! I need to find a way to stretch the leather over the instep.

I’m looking forward to doing this again next year. But maybe with more comfortable shoes.