Hallstatt 186

Sorry it took a couple days to get this posted. Ooops!

This is the third of the tablet weaving pieces (the most famous, anyway) that were found in an Austrian salt mine that date from 400-500 BC.

Here’s the pattern!

If you produce this, or any of the patterns that I have provided through my videos and on this forum, please post them to Instagram or Facebook (or your social media platforms that you use) and use #weavealongwithelewys or #elewysoffinchingefeld. You can find me on Instagram at Elewys_Finchingefeld.

Have a great day!

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep. 33: Seydisfjordur Smokkr Weave

A landslide in 2020 uncovered a bunch of archaeological finds in a small village on the East coast of Iceland. Beads, a ring, and this fragment from a woman’s smokkr were found, and this piece of tablet weaving on the smokkr is a beautiful example of weaving from the 9th-11th centuries.

Top of the smokkr with woven trim, about 2 cm wide, and a loop for a broach
I think this is a decorative broach! Maybe not one that went with this dress….

Here’s pattern A. It’s not twist-neutral by itself, but weaving the reverse will untwist that pattern! See pattern B…

Pattern A courtesy of Marcelo Oliviera, Brazilian Speed Weaver 😀

Updated pattern B! If you were here on the first day, you will have noted there was an issue with the pattern–a few of the picks were missing at the end. I rebuilt the pattern and here it is!

And this is part B…weave both parts and it will create a twist-neutral repeat.

And just for a little more variety, there were a couple other motif ideas that I saw, so I drafted those up as well.

Another option with a “scissors” motif, version A
Another option with a “scissors” motif, version B

Brocade Tablet Weaving 101

If you have seen the video on Brocade Tablet Weaving, you will (hopefully) have a good idea how this technique is done. If you haven’t seen the video, you can go to it from this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY3KibRfwP4

If you would like to use the fragment of the Birka 2f pattern that I was using, you can print out my pattern here:

I probably should have colored the border cards blue, just to be clear…

The two outside cards are border cards and will be skipped. The inside cards are blue=background and white=silver foreground.

The blue yarn I used for the ground fabric is the Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton. You can use two strings of 8/2 for the brocade, or use Maysville 8/4 cotton, or use all 6 strands of embroidery floss, whether a color or metal (or synthetic).

This pattern requires 13 cards–4 border cards and 9 pattern cards–and all cards are threaded alternating S and Z. It doesn’t matter if you start with S or Z, just as long as they alternate all the way across.

You also don’t need to have numbered cards or have them labeled clockwise or counterclockwise, or indeed labeled ABCD at all! You also don’t need to have AD at the top when you start the pattern. All threads are the same color!

This pattern is, therefore, one of the most forgiving in terms of set up.

Following along with the pattern, go OVER both of the threads in the white boxes and UNDER the threads (through the shed) where there are blue boxes. Drop the silver shuttle down at the border cards–the shuttle will not go through that shed. It will come up between the border cards and pattern cards, go over and under through the pattern cards, and back down before the border cards on the other side. This will create a sort of silver stitching on both sides of the back of the band, but not have the silver on the selvedge edge.

I had chosen to do just a small portion of the 2f pattern, but if you would like to chart out the entire pattern, you can do so yourself on grid paper (or an Excel spreadsheet, if you’re so inclined).

Good luck! And happy weaving!

Thoughts on Period Looms

I was thinking a bit tonight on period looms. We all want to go to a demo and use a period loom and wear our historic clothing and really look the part. Like we just stepped out of a medieval illustration.

In the SCA and in our modern lives, however, we often have to make concessions for budget, availability, accessibility, and ergonomics. I have usually done all my weaving on an inkle loom, which, to be frank, is a 19th century invention. However, I find it much more easy to work on, transport, maintain tension on my work, and most importantly, not hurt my back.


I have made a few other looms to weave on and have experimented with weaving on them with varying degrees of success.

The biggest one I made was this warp-weighted loom that I created using scraps from the garage. I based it on a number of drawings from books like Marta Hoffman’s “The Warp Weighted Loom” and several historic images.

Warp Weighted Loom, prototype

Overall, it worked well, although I did decide that it could be a little bit shorter to better accommodate my height (or lack thereof). The weights were just bags of gravel, the yarn was wool, and the selvedge edge (across the top) was a woven piece with long wefts that became the warps of the project. I was able to weave a little bit on it, but it required standing and a fair amount of wall space. As this was a prototype and an experiment, I ended up packing it away and it’s living in the garage at the moment. I didn’t do any tablet weaving on it, however, and it seemed like much more tool than necessary for a narrow band. I have read about people doing the fabric weaving and using tablet weaving as part of the side selvedges, but this wasn’t included in my experiment.

Many people LOVE backstrap weaving, but I have tried it several times with NO success. It is ergonomically challenging and always ends in back pain for me. I did see this option of using two fixed points to weave, but this is also difficult to do in a place like a hotel lobby…

Estonian woman weaving

Looking to make something more portable, and easy to manufacture in bulk to teach a class, my friend and I made a bunch of “surfboard” looms. It was 1 x 4 lumber, a couple small blocks and some long screws and nuts (although this prototype has hex nuts, we swapped them out for wing nuts as they were easier to tighten by hand). It worked…mostly… There were some tension issues, but overall it was a workable loom for a class…but still not very period.

This loom was hexed, but later had wingnuts

The next couple of experiments were rigid heddle and I didn’t do much with them as I was struggling with the tensioning systems…but then I tried making a 3D printed loom. Hubby has a printer and I thought it would be fun to try making it. After making several modifications from the original rigid heddle loom, I created this simple frame loom. In the end, very few parts were 3D printed–just the corner pieces and the ratchet and pawl assembly, which didn’t work quite as well as I needed–the pawl keeps popping out under tension. I did weave a couple pieces on it and it worked OK. It was a fun experiment, at least!

Boxy frame loom

This is similar (at least in method) to the box looms of the later Middle Ages, like this image: La Noble Pastorale from c 1500. It is rather hard to see what’s going on here (blurry), but it’s clearly meant for narrow band weaving. It is more box-like, not a frame.

La Noble Pastorale (tapestry) Loire region about 1500 Paris, Musee du Louvre Scan from Medieval Tapestry Dora Heinz Crown 1965 plate 14 (Detail)

The next collection of looms are based on this pile of sticks–the Oseberg loom.

Grave robbers took all the valuables, but they left the good stuff behind!

This remarkable find from the Oseberg farm in Norway dates to the 9th century which includes an unfinished piece of weaving with a whole bunch of cards. This is an upright loom that looks something like this:

From Machtdasglücklich Oderkanndasweg, found on Pinterest.

I love this modified loom design because it looks like it breaks down for easy transport! This is ideal for demo purposes and small vehicles.

Also, there are a number of medieval images of women using similar set ups for weaving, like this one:

The plans for this loom were found on Pinterest, also.

With a few modifications, it can be made into a break-down loom!

I took a class many years ago (in the 90s) from Master Fiacha, also a tablet weaver in An Tir, and he created these portable Oseberg-style table looms. It is a simple 2 x 4 and a couple dowels, and requires a clamp to hold it on the table, but it is a fairly usable tool.

It was rather LONG, however, so I thought I’d try to create a more portable size using the original loom as inspiration.

Osebert, the Oseberg table loom

With just a couple of pieces of dimensional lumber, a couple of dowels, and 4 screws, this little loom went together quickly. It stands just over a foot tall and about 18″ long. It fits easily into a carry on bag, ready to fly off to exotic locales for vacation weaving!

I loaded up a project on it and worked it for a while, getting used to the angle and the wobbly nature of the cards as I worked. It was different, but not unmanageable.

Osebert in Paradise

So for future demos, I will be bringing the little Oseberg table loom with me to work on projects. It’s small and portable and fun to work on!


Weave Along 27: Roger II of Sicily

Here’s the pattern for the 12th century tablet woven piece found on the coronation cloak of Roger II of Sicily.

The original was a brocaded piece, and this is an interpretation of that pattern in a threaded-in style.

I added two cards on each side to create a border, which I would recommend, but I forgot to add it to the turning sequence.

Pattern and turning sequence without the border cards

I borrowed heavily from the pattern created by Sylvia Dominguez, though her pattern has an additional motif which is not included in the cloak, as far as I can tell.

EDIT!! I was asked about making a twist-neutral pattern, and here it is! You can repeat 1-40 until the center cards are over-twisted, then weave 41-80 until it is over-twisted in the other direction. Enjoy! –E

Materials for Getting Started

I recently got a question about what tools and materials you need to get started weaving. I thought I had done a video (I did…sort of) or a blog post (a long time ago), so I figured it was time for an update. I have learned a lot in the last couple of years and found some new tricks and materials, so let’s start at the beginning.

This is one of those hobbies that doesn’t require a great deal of expensive tools and machinery to get started. There are few things that you need, and depending on your budget, you can make some economical choices or go hog wild and get All The Things!

The two things that you definitely need are cards and thread.

The cards can be purchased from most spinning and weaving stores, or you can find them on Amazon. I have an Amazon storefront that will give me a small commission for referrals–this is the link, which is also in the video description. There are a few different brands of cards to choose from. I have Schacht cards, which I quite like, but there are some cheaper options, also. There may also be some made from wood, although I find that many of the wood cards are a bit thick for my taste–the cardboard and 3D printed ones that are between .5mm and 1mm are the best size.

You can also get 3D printed cards from sellers on Etsy. Rowanberry Jam had some 3D printed cards you could buy, but appears to not be selling on Etsy at this time. I will keep looking for where Lidiya may have wandered off to…. In the meantime, there are some 3D printing patterns available on Thingiverse–so if you or someone you know has a 3D printer, you can print your own. I have quite a few and I love them!

On the left, 2″ Rowanberry Jam cards; on the right, 2 1/2″ home printed cards

You can also make the cards from cardstock–something like cereal box thickness. If you have a penchant for crafting, have the time and patience, or some fancy scrapbooking tools to help speed up the process, you may enjoy making your own. Round the corners of those homemade cards so they turn easier and avoid snagging on the threads as you weave. I have made some from granola bar boxes, from file folders, and gift boxes. Many people recommend making them from playing cards! Square them off, round the corners, and punch holes for the yarn.

Next you will need yarn. I have a preference for cotton–in the Medieval period, it was much more common to see wool, linen, and silk (and combinations of these), but I tend to use what is easily accessible and affordable. If you are just starting out, you may want to get some inexpensive stuff to start with.

Crochet cotton is some of the most accessible, inexpensive, and colorful options out there. Every craft store carries it; Michael’s carries Aunt Lydia’s Classic 10 which is perfect for this kind of weaving. It’s a #0 lace weight yarn, comes in 350-400 yard balls (varies by color), and comes in around 45 different colors. The ad I just looked at listed them at $3.69 per ball, so for under $10, you can get yarn enough for a few projects to help you decide if this craft is right for you. Choose 2 or 3 colors, using a variety of light and dark colors. Maybe choose the colors of your favorite sports team, your alma mater, your heraldry, or the heraldry of your favorite nation’s flag.

Maurice Brassard

Another yarn option, which is a bit more expensive and more difficult to acquire, is either Maysville Carpet Warp, an 8/4 cotton; or Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton. From the images, they look almost identical, but from this close-up of the yarn, side by side, you can see the Maysville is quite a bit thicker than the Maurice Brassard.

Maysville, being 8/4, has four threads twisted together. Maurice is 8/2, which has 2 threads twisted together.

I have recently made the switch to the 8/2, and find that I prefer the lighter yarn for weaving. Those are generally not available at the local craft stores, but might be found at a specialty weaving store, or you can find them online at WEBS (www.yarn.com) or The Woolery (www.woolery.com).

The 100 yard spools and the wide variety of colors available in the 20/2 silk. Just check out that shine!

If you really want to up your weaving game or looking for something very luxurious for a special occasion or gift, you can’t go wrong with SILK. Eowyn de Wever has been my go-to silk supplier, and she can be found at www.eowyndewever.com. The 60/2 is super fine…it’s like weaving with sewing thread, and unless you’re doing something with dozens of cards, this is probably not what you’re looking for. The 20/2 is more like a fine crochet cotton and is what I would recommend for most silk weaving. She has some available in cones or in 100 yard spools which is enough for a single project.

The only other thing you need is something to hold the work. There are looms, like the inkle looms I use (I own both a Beka loom and a Schacht loom, as well as an unmarked homemade loom that I bought second hand); a box loom; backstrap weaving, or warp weighted weaving. There are pros and cons to each of those, and you will have to do the research to determine what is right for you. I will cover those on the next blog post.

Stay cool, my friends…it’s a hot one out there! At least it has been here for the last week. 91 F (33 C). I know…it could be worse, but it’s just exhausting when you don’t have AC in the house. Definitely something we need to invest in.


Weave Along 26: Ladoga’s Easiest Pattern Ever

If you are new to tablet weaving and would like a very easy pattern to start with, this is a great one. It gives you the opportunity to work on your tension, your selvedge and beating between throws, and getting a nice overall finished product without getting lost in the turning sequences.

As always you will thread the cards labeled S from left to right, and Z from right to left.

All cards will turn forward, throwing your shuttle after every quarter-turn, until the threads are over-twisted, and then you simply reverse direction until the threads become twisted in the opposite direction. It’s as easy as that!

Weave Along 25: Double Face Tablet Weaving: Laurel Leaves

The pattern I used for the Laurel Leaves pattern

I found this pattern years ago from Carolyn Priest-Dorman. She has a number of great articles and research on Norse-related topics here: https://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/vikresource.html

I had wanted to try double face weaving again–it’s been years since I tried it–so I chose this pattern:

 Laurel sprig with thin stem

The pattern for this double face pattern can be found here: https://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/laurel.html

But not being used to this kind of pattern and having reservations about trying to accurately follow this unusual draft, I decided to translate it into the TDD software and came up with this pattern:

This should be pretty easy to follow, if you’re familiar with the TDD threading and turning notations.

Weave Along 24: Birka 2f

The last installment in the Laurel Kingdom series! Avacal!

I thought I would do one more Birka pattern to finish the set, this time choosing a design that I couldn’t find a pattern for. It gave me the opportunity to challenge myself to create a pattern from just a sketch. This is the sketch of Birka 2f that I found:

Birka 2f, found in Sweden, dated 8th-10th centuries

I used the Tabletweaving Draft Designer to create the patterns, which can be found at https://jamespbarrett.github.io/tabletweave/. A video to help you navigate the program and learn some of the features can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmPy61SSTP0&t=3s.

4-hole sample and pattern:

It really didn’t turn out how I imagined. It’s not terrible, but I wonder if it would look better using finer threads? That’s something I’ll have to try in the future.
Birka 2f: 4 hole pattern

Skip hole sample and pattern:

This turned out far better! Skip hole pattern. The border is the same but the middle cards create a much narrower piece with more defined designs.
Birka 2f: Skip hole pattern

Avacal is the newest Kingdom in the SCA, formed from Saskatchewan, Alberta and a tiny bit of BC; the eastern slope of the Rocky mountains.  Their colors are yellow, white and red.

So there you have it! The final installment of the Laurel Kingdom series! I hope you enjoyed it and will start weaving up your own pieces and creating patterns of your own to share with others. I’m not sure what my next projects will be–perhaps I will go through Tablets at Work and learn all the different types of techniques that have been found through history.

Yours, the warped and twisted,