Teaching and Weaving

The last few weeks have been a flurry of research for teaching a class at An Tir Collegium on A Brief Survey of Tablet Woven Bands, being an overview of extant tablet weaving pieces and patterns to reproduce them. It was a few weeks of preparation prior to the class, but I was able to put together a 50+ slide PowerPoint presentation. It had pieces from 500 BC Austria to 14th century Germany, and from countries all over Europe from Scandinavia to France. I arrived in the classroom a few minutes early, but spent several more struggling to get the computer to work properly.  Once we made the magic of technology cooperate with me, I looked up and realized that the classroom was not just well-attended, but standing-room-only! I thought I’d have a small handful of students and it was more than 25. No worries. I’ll just panic a little.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!

After we finally got the computer working, it went well! Most of the students were either novice or beginning weavers; only a couple were intermediate or advanced. The feedback I got was mostly excellent, which was very encouraging. I even was pulled aside by a couple of students later and told that they really enjoyed the class and that a few things that I mentioned were particularly helpful.  😀

A few days later, I sent a copy of the slide show to a prominent tablet weaver in Germany who gave me some really good feedback–just a couple of minor corrections and marking some images that I had missed–but she said, “It is one of the best summaries I’ve read.” That is high praise from such an esteemed source! (Giddiness ensued!)

My goal for teaching the class was to have as many pieces done in my own hand as possible.  The more slides I added, the fewer examples I had…so I needed to get some work done.  In preparation for this class, I made a few woven pieces to pass around. They are:

14th Century German piece.  Original was brocade (of course), but this is a very close facsimile in a threaded-in version.  This one was still on the loom, which was great for students to see all set up with all the cards needed for it…all 28 cards.

Dublin Dragons.  Original was also brocaded.  I think this is even prettier than the original.  It’s great fun to weave, too!

Hallstat 3, Austria, 500 BCE.  This was found in a salt mine with several other woven pieces.  The colors were remarkably well preserved due to the salt.  This one was fast and lovely to work, and I find it so remarkable how complex the pattern is, and this in 500 BCE…the technique was already very advanced at this time.  In Mistress Madrun’s class, she mentioned how much our weaving skills have declined in the last few centuries compared to what it was back then.

Right now I’m working on a piece that has a repeating motif from the Merovingian Queen Bathilde in Chelles, France (above).  I’m not as impressed with this selection of colors (below), but I wanted to choose something from my badge/arms.  I think the blue and green are too similar in tone, or maybe there is too much contrast with the green and white.  I’m not entirely sure, but I have a taker for it when I finish the other 3 yards of it.  It’s kind of slow going and the twist is building up on it rather quickly.  This would work much better in a warp-weighted version, if I had something set up to work on.

I have a list of about 20 other pieces in a binder, ready to go, that I’m looking forward to making, and a few patterns that I plan to make more than one length of, in various colors.

While I was getting ready to teach, I also had a commitment to make beads for the Lampworkers Guild.  These are for Aethelmarc, Northshield and Avacal.  Each grouping has one bead for An Tir’s sitting Queen and the others are gifts to the Queens of other Kingdoms, which I believe are sent to them at events in February and August.

Now that all that is done….I need a long sleep.

April Update

I’ve been doing a bit more weaving lately. Risking repeating myself (although, duh, I can edit it later), here’s what I’ve done recently.

Back in February, I finished the green “bees feet” weave that I did in really fine thread. It took me about two years to finish all of it.  What was I thinking? I dunno, but it turned out really great!

Then I warped up a couple pieces in blue and yellow in the Snartemo II pattern.  This is the period skip-hole weave that goes together really fast and is beginner-level EASY!  I really like this one.

After that, I did a woven piece for Baron Evrard in the Birka 22 pattern. I still need to get that to him.  This one is a more advanced level piece that requires following a particular order of turning cards in opposite directions.  It’s easy to get yourself turned around (get it…turned around?)

And I did another piece in WSU Cougar colorway…

Then I warped up a new piece (after I found my Applesies book again!), pattern #11.  This is listed as “challenging”.  This one has 50 steps to the repeat.

Fifty steps.

Fifty.

I’m not memorizing this ever.

The one thing I really need to do is make new kirtles for the camping season.  I need someone to measure me because doing it yourself is difficult/nigh impossible.

 

Rigid Heddle Project 2

I warped up another piece.  I measured out 5 yards of warp and started setting it up on the loom.  I intended for it to be 17″ wide, but it might be a smidge narrower, and once I full it, it will likely shrink about 10%.  We’ll see if it actually does.

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I started weaving and I was having some trouble with tension.  I also had a thread that was twisted around another, so it kept snagging as I was trying to advance.  I realized that I didn’t need to tie on every thread individually, so I backed it up and started again.

I knotted the threads in bundles, which can make for a lumpy take up bar, which I have to figure out, but at least it looks smoother and is advancing well.

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Rigid Heddle Weaving

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I saw a lady in the SCA selling her mother’s rigid heddle loom, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I started building one but got held up on the tensioning system, so I was happy to find this for such an amazing price! It’s a bit wider than the one I built, lightweight and portable.  After having worked on it, I can see myself weaving up a few yards of fabric on this to make a sheep-to-shawl project on it.

It took me a couple weeks, but I finally found some time to warp up a small project. I had four skeins wool yarn from a lady who was allergic. The yarn I pulled out was called “Olive medley” with a bit of peach and green and grey.  It was comprised of about 50% wool, 50% acrylic and a bit fuzzy.  I warped up two skeins of the yarn, thinking that I would need half for warp, half for weft (logically).  It proved to be a bit tricky to weave with at first, but it got easier as I went along.

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It took about five or six days of weaving, including at Arts Unlimited last weekend, and finished it off yesterday, tying off the ends. It’s a lovely little table runner that I will give to Mom for Christmas.

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Recapping Weaving

OK…now we are at a current post.  For the moment, I’m going to stop going back and adding posts that are 2-3 (or more) years old.  So many of the photos are missing now that I don’t know what it was I was doing at the time when it says “Saxon weave” since I did a half dozen of them.  So what I’m going to do is post pictures of stuff I’ve done without all the blah-blah-blah that went with it them, but just grouping them together into styles with a brief description.  Now that I look at it, I did a lot of weaving in the last five years.

Skip hole weave

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I really like this one.  I believe that it’s period (I’ll have to find the documentation again).  Super easy and looks great.  It was a test piece so it’s only a couple yards.

Threaded in Weaves

 

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This one I did as a commission in 2012.  Unfortunately, she never picked it up and never paid me for it.

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BUNNIES!  I made this for the Shire of Shittimwoode to put in their prize box.  This was from the Robin & Russ Handweavers’ book.

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This pattern I think I found on the Loomy Bin.

tablet-8b  Variation of the Loomy Bin pattern

tablet-12a  From EQoS on Deviant Art

I love this pattern.  tablet-15a

I’m not kidding.  tablet-5b

Seriously.  tablet-4a

I really love this pattern.  tablet-12b

Really…really….  tablet-14a

tablet-11b Gorgeous in RED!

I love it even more with really fine thread.

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Simplified version

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And another one…

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And another…

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Yet another version…

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tablet-13a  I think I made this one up.  Meh.

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Anchors Aweigh!  This was for a high school buddy to be made into suspenders.

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I drafted this “Tyr” pattern for Tyrssen of the Midrealm.  He was a middle school friend who I discovered was also in the SCA. 😀

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Super wide band for Molly McGurn!  This was also my design, although to be honest, I kind of strung this up at random.

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I think this one got donated to the Barony…An Tir and Aquaterra colors.

tablet-aq-2  A better pattern of An Tir and AQ colors.

an-tir-weave-1  Another with An Tir colors only

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Prototype of a surfboard loom for teaching a class.  Mostly worked.

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So I made a whole stack of surfboards for the class!

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Got some six-hole cards.  Mostly didn’t work on the inkle loom.  I bet they’d work fine on a backstrap or Osburg type loom with a much longer working space.  I’ll have to try that sometime.

Egyptian Diagonals

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This was assigned to me as a challenge by Master Fiacha.  This is super ugly, but I learned how the colors moved with the cards.

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This piece was what I worked on after a failed attempt at a Dragon Head weave.  I gave up on the dragon heads and made more Egyptian Diagonals instead.  I love the dark blue and silver-grey together.

Ram’s Horn Pattern

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Not a period design, but very cool-looking and popular among the Historic Tablet Weaving folks!

20141206_773  Small test piece….just a bookmark.

Brocade Card Weaving

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Didn’t like doing it.  That’s as far as I got before I decided it wasn’t for me.

Saxon Weaves

This next group has a few documentable pieces and are all double-sided patterns.  I want to get back to making more of these now that I have translated the GTT patterns onto a more easily-accessible Excel spreadsheet.

Saxon weave, 5-6th century, Cambridge.

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Anglo-Saxon #8

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Anglo Saxon 6a:  anglo-saxon-2

weaving-anglo-saxon-6b  Anglo-Saxon 6d

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Tried using fishing spinners….with little success.

Snartemo weave

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6th century Norwegian and really easy to make.  25 turns forward, 25 turns back.

Birka weaves

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birka-23

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Birka 6 end-of-nov-2015-353

Applesies & Fox Noses

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Still working on this one.  It’s also made of really fine thread and I’ve been working on it for about a year.

A Loom! Frigga lives!

(Originally posted 31 Jan 2014)

I went ahead and started on building the warp-weighted loom project today.  I consulted a BUNCH of web sites and looked for sources (books) that I could consult, but the newest books on warp-weighted looms is dated from the late 70s.

Broudy, Eric. The Book of Looms.  Brown University Press, 1979.
Broholm, H.C. and Hald, Margarethe. Costume in the Bronze Age in Denmark. Arnold Busck, 1940.
Hoffman, Marta. The Warp Weighted Loom. Robin and Russ Handweavers, 1974.
Trychkare, Tre. The Viking. Carver and Co., 1966.

Yeah.  And I looked for the Hoffman book, which had been recommended to me, just out of curiosity.  I can get a used copy for $133.  Not happening on my budget.  I’ll have to see if the Everett Public Library can get me a copy on inter-library loan.  There appear to be a couple of newer magazine articles, so I’ll seek those out as well.

There are a lot of web sites with some research (most based on the sources above) plus looking at extant pieces and experimenting with building their own.  There are differences with all of them, so other than the basic structure, there appears to be a lot of room for experimentation and setting things up so it’ll work for you.  I still need to do a little more research on weaving in general–I’ve only done inkle and card weaving, but this seems to be just a giant inkle loom.  There are possibilities for doing multiple sheds, though–this one I may eventually be setting up to be a 4 shed loom, although the first couple of projects will be 2-shed only.

Here is my process to building the prototype:

  1.  Take two 2 x 4s–I would recommend using two hard wood boards for a “finished” look, although Douglas Fir is certainly more economical and lighter for transport…I grabbed two boards from the rafters, only to realize later that the darker board was, in fact, cedar.  Whoops!

  1.  Cut two 2 x 4s to 7 feet long (84″).  Other directions said keep the 2 x 4s at 8 feet long and use a stool to reach when weaving.  To that I say, “NO SIR!”  I’m clumsy enough and being only 5 feet tall, I don’t need to risk injury.  Again, this is a prototype, so if it needs to be taller after experimenting with it, I can make it so next time.  I doubt it, though.  In fact, I’m thinking that I might be able to make it even shorter by cutting the bottom down another 6″.
  1.  Next, you take those 12″ pieces that you cut off and make the “crotches”.  These are the pieces that the top beam rests in while you weave.  It needs to be deep and wide enough for the rod to rest in.  Some directions suggest that you make it vaguely “S” shaped.  Vague, indeed.  Seems mostly stylistic, although the thinner end at the bottom makes it easier to attach to the boards with long screws.  These were shaped using the band saw…I love that toy! 
  1.  Here the rod is resting in the crotches.  The bottom of the crotch is 16″ down from the top.  
  1.  The next step was about creating the shed rod.  The top beam and heddle rod I bought were 5′ long, which determined the width of the frame.  60″ long, taking away 4″ on each side for overhang, I cut the shed rod 52″.  I drilled one hole through and secured it with a bolt and wing nut.  These are meant to be taken apart for transport to events.  I also cut a thinner piece of wood for the top of the frame, simply for stability.  Similarly, I screwed it together with wing nut and bolt (they’re WAAAY too long–I’ll have to get shorter bolts the next time I’m out at the hardware store).  
  1.  Here she is, standing up!  There are a few more steps to complete my girl, but it’s wintertime and it was just a few degrees above freezing outside.

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The loom still needs heddle rods, heddle rod supports, and weights.  The heddle rods can be scavenged from scraps leftover from the yurt project.  They don’t need to be particularly heavy and I have 3/4″ sticks that are more than long enough.  I looked for pieces of 7/8″ dowels at the hardware store, but they only had 4-foot lengths…I need 5 feet.  Figures.

The heddle rod supports will be shaped from scraps in the bin.  They need to be about 8-10″ long and Y shaped.  I can use the band saw again and carve down the point to fit into the holes I’ll be drilling on the frame.

Weights are going to be time consuming.  Some other weavers have used 1-pound bags of sand or stones for weights instead of clay circles.  I may go that route, also.  I’m also thinking that I may need to create some kind of support to make it free-standing and perhaps more stable.  This will be a blast to take with me to Ursulmas next year!

(one sleep later…)

Made some progress on the loom, which may seem like little things, but it took some ingenuity to engineer it to work the way I need it to…still need to make some adjustments, as you will see.

Here the crotches are screwed onto the uprights.

This is my first go at the heddle support rods.  I needed to adjust the shape of the Y where the heddle rod will rest–the first attempt, the heddle rod will barely stay in place, but one nudge and it’ll fall.  I looked at a couple looms and came up with an improved shape.  Now the heddle rests comfortably on there–no risk of falling off.

It needs just a couple more minor changes before it is ready to warp!

I found (again) and started watching the Sami/Norwegian video of a woman who was demonstrating how to set up the loom, starting with a woven band with weft threads that become the warp threads of a woven piece.  I have a bunch of Fisherman’s wool that was given to me recently and this will be a great project to use that yarn.  I think I’d like to try this…

Frigga shrinks!

One of the things that I realized, however, is that the woman in the video is weaving on a loom where the top beam is at her head level.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  Anything out of reach is just silly, so I decided late today that the loom needed to be shorter.  I unscrewed the crotches and top support and chopped another foot off the top.  I reassembled the pieces; now the top beam is sitting at about 62″ instead of a ridiculous 78″.  Now she feels right.  Maybe it seems weird, but she feels alive!  She even told me her name:  Frigga, named after the Goddess of weaving and wisdom.

First, though, I need to finish weaving the Perle Cotton piece I have on my inkle loom.  Better get on it!