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!

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 two options that I’ve included:  a 56 pick pattern (without the diagonal stripes) or a 24 pick simplified pattern.  Dealer’s choice!

56 Pick sequence, no diagonal lines
Simplified 24 pick sequence

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.

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.

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

Weave Along with Elewys, Ep. 10: Estonian Siksala Snail Motif

Ok, it might not *actually* be a snail, but it looks a little snail-like to me.

The “right” side of the pattern…
…and the “wrong” side! I think I like this side better.

I had asked on the community page what kind of weaving you all would like to see next, and about half of you said something different and more challenging.  And I thought I found one…but I think I’ll put it off til next time.  That one has 38 cards; a very random, meandering pattern; and seems to go on for days…and days…and days…  In all, 182 picks to this repeat…  If you want to do that weave with me, and you don’t have that many cards, this is your fair warning to stock up!

So I looked around some more and found one that I think is much more do-able, but still a bit different because it isn’t Norse and not geometric.  I don’t have a lot of history on this one because, while there are some papers written on the subject… I don’t read Estonian.  Sure, I could rely on Google Translate to help, but many times, as many of you may have experienced, the translations leave a lot to be desired. 

The motif that I have chosen comes from a 13th or 14th century grave find in Estonia, the Siksala shawl, found in grave 200.  It is currently housed in the archaeological collection at the Tallinn University Institute of History. There are more than a dozen different motifs around this woven and beaded edge, where the weaver did two or three repeats of a design, then moved onto the next one, a bit like a skip hole weaving sampler.

The shawl’s edging is largely complete—almost the entire edge remains, but the body of the shawl has mostly disintegrated. 

Rather than try to chart out the entire thing (there is a book available on Ebay for under $8 US that does just that), I have chosen one very pretty motif, and its mirror image, to show you for this video.  It’s got really cute snail-like curls—and I love snails! 

I hunted around for a new and different piece of tablet weaving and came across a photo of a re-created piece and I absolutely fell in love with it. Unfortunately, the person who posted the image on Pinterest didn’t credit the maker (ALWAYS credit the maker!), I dug around some more and found that these photos actually belonged to my favorite weaver to stalk, Mervi Pasanen.  https://hibernaatio.blogspot.com/2012/01/lautanauhaa-virosta-tablet-weaving-from.html

The next kingdom in our Laurel Kingdoms project is the Kingdom of Atlantia, created in 1981 whose borders encompass Maryland; Virginia; North and South Carolina; Augusta, Georgia & Washington DC.  Their colors are blue and white.  Given the oceanic theme of that region, the snail-like motifs will be a perfect fit for that Kingdom.

Don’t be afraid of the length of this pattern! It’s got the same techniques that you have already done–skip hole, turning cards forwards & backwards–it’s just a lot longer. However, you don’t have to worry about twist build up in the cards–this is a zero-twist pattern. You will need to flip your border cards every couple of repeats.

The long and skinny…
…or the double-wide. This one prints on an 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheet easier.

Thanks so much for joining me again! Happy weaving, a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving to all my US viewers, and hope all your lockdowns are swift and comfortable. Check on your neighbors…we all need to look out for each other.

My Inkle Loom: Woodworker Episode

I’ve had a number of folks asking me about my loom, how it was made, where I bought it, etc. The answers are: it’s an Inkle loom–a 19th century invention (so…not medieval at all), unknown maker, and I bought it second hand more than 20 years ago. I think I bought it before I had kids…and my eldest is 23 now.

However, I am here to give you plans, dimensions, photos, and all the suggestions for improvement if I were to make it again. The discussion will be in the video, but this is where I wanted to post all the drawings (for what they’re worth–it’s been many a year since I took drafting, and I am not a proficient woodworker, so your mileage may vary).

This is a view of the back of the loom. If I were to make it again, I would make the slot for the tension peg at least an inch longer–maybe two.
This is a view of the forward end–the weaver’s end–but still the back view of the loom. I have omitted the tension peg in this drawing for simplicity. Note that this drawing is not to scale…I wasn’t sure how to do that at an angle, but I think it makes sense.
This is the view from the forward end–the weaver’s end–of the loom. Again, not to scale, and clearly, not the best drawing ever. The pegs don’t even come close to lining up…sigh.
A simple diagram of the tension peg. The threaded screw fits into the narrow slot on the base, and into the tapped end. The wooden peg pinches the base as you tighten the screw.
The front of the loom. From this angle, you can see how close together the pegs are on the left (weaver’s) end and the three pegs in the middle. If you are using this exclusively as a tablet weaving loom, those pegs can be spread out further to accommodate the warping. I might also add an additional peg on the base between the right-most peg and the one to its left, just above and to the left of the stabilizing foot.
Top view of the loom.
The back of the loom. Note that the pegs are all wedged into place. The stability foot was added later by me, but I strongly recommend it.
The end of the loom–the weaver’s end.
Here’s the loom warped up–now you can see how the pegs have been placed to accommodate the weaving. The peg at the lower right is lower than the pegs in the middle of the base, and the large gap between the top peg on the first upright and its second peg leaves room for a string to go directly from the front peg to the back peg if you are using it for inkle weaving.
Inkle loom, warped, for reference. Note how half of the strings go directly from the front peg to the back peg. The other half go through string heddles, then up to the top peg on the first upright, then to the back peg. If you are making your loom for only tablet weaving, you don’t need to worry about that gap.

I hope you are able to translate these images and drawings into a loom of your own!

And when you find that this little guy isn’t enough for you…

Weave Along with Elewys, Episode 9: Easy Peasy Applesies

Kaukola Kekomaki #379

If you were to ask me for book recommendations, and you have!, one of the books that I will recommend to every historic tablet weaver is Applesies and Fox Noses, Finnish Tabletwoven Bands from Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen.

Applesies–the Finnish Tablet Weaving Bible

This is a collection of 30 patterns ranging from very easy to difficult, and includes period motifs from tablet weaving fragments found from the Finnish Iron Age, which ranges from 500 BC to 1300 AD.

The other comments I’ve gotten from the Tablet Weaving for Absolute Beginners is that the pattern was too complex. If you want to start your first tablet woven band and want a very easy pattern to start with–this is it!

Kaukola Kekomäki drawing of the book from Theodor Schwint: Tietoja Karjalan  rautakaudestan from 1893 | Tissage tablettes, Archéologie, Carte
Theodor Schwindt’s drawing of fragment #379.

This pattern comes from a fragment found in the Kaukola Kekomaki graveyard dating from the Karelian Iron Age–as mentioned above. This three-color fragment was found on a dress, a detailed drawing of this 14 mm wide band (slightly over 1/2″) is in Theodor Schwindt’s book, Tietoja Karjalan rautakaudesta (“About the Karelian Age”), published in 1893. The item is labeled as #379.

A variation of Colorful Small Applesies from Applesies and Fox Noses, Finnish Tabletwoven Bands by Maikki Karisto and Mervi Pasanen, ISBN 978-952-5774-49-8.

Some of you may have seen this pattern or similar ones on Pinterest or come across it in Google searches. The web site for these two amazing weavers is https://hibernaatio.blogspot.com where they have several other patterns. You may panic for a moment because there are quite a lot of words you don’t recognize…yes, it’s written in Finnish. But DON’T PANIC–if you look carefully, you’ll see there is also English written in there! Not this pattern, of course, but on the web site. It’s OK.

You’ll notice that this pattern doesn’t have S and Z written under the pattern, and you’ll also see that the pattern is labeled DCBA…upside down! And the card is COUNTERCLOCKWISE! AAAAAHHHHH!

No, don’t panic. Let’s plug that into the tablet weaving draft designer: https://jamesba.github.io/tabletweave/ and make the bubbles look the same as the image.

There we go! Now, if you’ve watched my previous weaving videos, or if you’re familiar with this notation, you should be able to warp this one up! And if you’re not familiar with the Applesies charting system, you also now have the key for how their notations will translate into warping your loom.

Ansteorra where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…

This next piece in the Laurel Kingdoms project is honoring the Kingdom of Ansteorra (which means “one star”–totally appropriate for the Lone Star State!), which was elevated from a Principality to a Kingdom in 1979, which encompasses Oklahoma and Texas. Their colors are red, black and yellow.

The progress of my woven piece. Looks pretty sharp! The finished size of this piece is 17 mm, just slightly larger than the original (14 mm).