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,


Recommended Costume Books

I had started making a post and had a clever title…and then forgot to save the draft. Whoops.

I was asked a few days ago for costume book recommendations for those who are interested in pursuing costume making for fun (and maybe profit, but there’s never really much profit in art…sadly). Most of my recommendations are for Medieval, Tudor and Renaissance as that is the general time parameters that are set by the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, www.SCA.org). I don’t have any books on early period Roman and Norse stuff, as they are mostly rectangular construction and sources are plentiful online. I will list some sources for later period stuff as best as I can remember from other recommendations, but these are mostly not ones that I have in my library.

My list of good quality costume resources include, but are not limited to, and in no particular order (yet…I may edit it into chronological groups later):

Jean Hunnisett – Period Costume for Stage and Screen. There are three books that I can find on Amazon–one for Medieval to 1500, 1800-1909, and one for coats, spensers, hoods and bonnets–looks Regency period. Great for that 10 foot rule, but apparently includes some shortcuts to have the right *look* but not necessarily period processes. Also, the books are all listed at $99 each…check your second hand booksellers.

Janet Arnold – just about everything she’s ever published, but mostly including her Patterns of Fashion series. There are lots of great extant examples, detail photos, patterns that you can adapt to your size (this is mostly for experienced costumers). First book: Drama Publishers, 2005. ISBN 9780896760264. Second book: Drama Publishers, 2007. ISBN 0896760278. Patterns of Fashion: The cut and construction of clothes for men and women c.1560-1620. McMillan/Drama, 1985. ISBN 0333382846. Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d. Routledge, 2015. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1909662537.

Mary Fernald & Eileen Shenton. Historic Costumes and How to Make Them. Dover, 2006. ISBN-13 ‏: ‎ 978-0486449067. Nice little paperback book…can’t find my copy just now, and I haven’t used it yet, so I can’t really give a STRONG recommendation… but it has Saxon to Victorian patterns, apparently.

Fransen, Norgaard and Ostergard. Medieval Garments Reconstructed: Norse Clothing Patterns. Aarhus Universit Press. 2011. This is another book intended for more experienced tailors with extant examples, re-created examples (all cut from the same bolt of cloth, apparently), and patterns that can be scaled to fit your measurements. ISBN 9788779342989

Mikhaila, Ninya and Jane Malcolm-Davies. The Tudor Tailor: Techniques and Patterns for Making Historically Accurate Period Clothing. Costume and Fashion Press. 2006. Great book with scalable patterns, step by step instructions, tips for doing the pieces as they were done in period from materials to embellishments. ISBN-13: 9780896762558

Juan de Alcega…Tailor’s Pattern Book 1589. This is an extant pattern book from Spain. This is a master’s level book (that is still well beyond my understanding and skills) that includes some of the very odd layout markings and requires a conversion chart that is in the front of the book. Most of it is written in Medieval Spanish, so….yeah. ISBN 0-89676-234-3

Mathew Gnagy. The Modern Maker, Vol 1: Men’s Doublets. This is the only book of his that I have in my collection at this time, but he does have other published works. It’s fantastic, walking you through step by step with lots of pictures. ISBN-13: 9780692264843.

Sarah Thursfield. The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant: Making Common Garments 1200-1500. Costume and Fashion Press, 2001. A good primer on making a pattern, fitting, seam finishes and embellishments for the average person in the high Middle Ages. ISBN 0-89676-239-4.

Kristina Harris. Authentic Victorian Dressmaking Techniques. Dover, 1998. I just got a copy of this book for fun. I have grand plans to try to make one of these one day, but chances are it’ll just be something that I think about but never start. That’s OK. Dreaming is fine.

Abby Cox and Laruen Stowell. The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking. Page Street Publishing, 2017. ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1624144530

This is not a complete list, and I may add more to it from time to time, but this is the list off the top of my head and stuff that is on my bookshelf next to me at the moment. Peruse, research, learn and enjoy!

Best regards, Elewys

11th c. Finnish Masku Humikkala

This is a lovely 11th century piece with some half-turns included, which are indicated by the ovals inside the ovals.

· Humikkala is a little town about 20 minutes northwest of Turku, Finland. Built around 1490-1510, the Masku Church and surroundings represents one of the oldest parishes in Western Finland.  dedicated to John the Baptist and St. Ursula. Next to the church is the Masku Museum, founded in 1974, which has a collection of finds from the local area.  Near the church, researchers found an Iron Age burial ground. The Humikkala cemetery, called the “hill of corpses” is on a hillside next to the Masku church.  There were 49 inhumation graves found here, and this fragment came from grave 32. Like others, this find is dated to 1000-1100.

· A note about the identification of finds at these anthropological digs.  While I couldn’t find the specific item number for THIS piece, I did find one for another one in the neighboring grave.  This item was given the code KM 8656: H32:18 ; KM is Kansallismuseo = National Museum of Finland; the number 8656 identifies the dig site for the Humikkala findings, H means hauta = grave, 31 is the number of the grave, and 18 is the object number in that grave.  Having these identifying numbers helps a great deal when you are looking for more information from the museums that store these finds.  This piece was actually found in grave 32 (H32), so we know that the item code would start KM 8656: H32… I’m still looking for the item number on this guy…but having that much information narrows down the search tremendously.

Seija Sarkki researched it in the 1970´s publishing a book in 1979 called “Suomen ristiretkiaikaiset nauhat” or The Finnish Crusades.
Volume 18 of Helsingin Yliopiston arkeologian Laitos. Moniste
Moniste (Helsingin Yliopiston Arkeologian Laitos)
Volume 18 of Moniste / Helsingin yliopiston arkeologian laitos, ISSN 0355-1881 ISBN 9514516281, 9789514516283

Sarkki, S. (1979). Suomen Ristiretkiaikaiset Nauhat. Arkeologian Laitos. Helsinki, Helsingin Yliopisto.

Sarkki was not a weaver and had a unique way to translating the textiles by trying to figure out how they were woven, and Maikki Karisto, co author of Tablet-Woven Treasures and Applesies and Fox Noses, took her drawings and created patterns from them.  This proved to be challenging for Maikki and Mervi Pasanen; the pattern above is the result of that reconstruction.

I hope you enjoy weaving this piece as much as I did! It’s got a lovely texture to it and will be a gorgeous addition to your medieval kit!

Hallstatt 123

Super quick post with the pattern…it’s been a very busy few days helping a friend get ready for her daughter’s wedding. Hemming bridesmaids’ dresses, setting tables and cooking dinner while everyone is running wild around here….

The pattern–I ended up doing blue, red, blue for the borders due to a blue thread shortage, but you get the idea.
All 72 picks…it’s long, but you can blow it up and put them side by side on a sheet of paper.

Weave Along with Elewys: 20th EPISODE! Cambridge Diamonds

As you might have gleaned from the video, I encountered All The Problems. Good times. Fun stuff. BUT, I got there in the end.

And if you follow the pattern and the turning sequences, you should be JUST FINE…

The TDD version of the Cambridge Diamonds pattern.

Once you have this warped up–double check your work–you will separate your cards into two packs. All the odd numbered cards in one pack, and all the even numbered cards in another. The exception being that card #19 will be with the even numbered pack.

Place your weft thread into the shed with the tail hanging out on the right side, and the shuttle on the right. All cards should be in the AD position on the top.

  1. Turn all the odd numbered cards forward (except 19, of course). Pass the shuttle to the right.
  2. Turn all the even numbered cards forward (including 19). Pass the shuttle to the left.

That’s it. Repeat until your warp is over-twisted. To reverse the twist, follow this sequence:

  1. Loosen your tension and flip all the cards so S are Z and vice-versa.
  2. Tighten your tension and separate your cards into two packs, like before: a set of odds and a set of evens.
  3. Move card #1 into the evens pack, and #19 back to the odds pack.
  4. Turn all the EVEN numbered cards forward (including card #1). Pass the shuttle to the right.
  5. Turn all the ODD numbered cards forward (excluding #1). Pass the shuttle to the left.
  6. Repeat 4 and 5 until the warp is over-twisted again.

To reverse again, you need to make one additional change before flipping your cards. Do two more quarter turns (one quarter turn for each pack), so that AB are at the top. Then loosen your tension, flip your cards, move 1 to the odd pack and 19 to the even pack. Begin weaving starting with the ODD pack.

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep 19: 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!

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?

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep 18: 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 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! 


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)