My creative SCA journey on stuff I make and research I do…mostly in fibers (wool prep, spinning, weaving, tablet weaving) and glass beads, but could also include costumes, camping, cooking, and any other creative things that strike my fancy.
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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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 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!
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.
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!
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.
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.)
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!
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 Tabletweaving Draft Designer (TDD) (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!
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.
Many thanks to Julia Christie Amor for her draft from which I drew heavily for information: http://www.yrmegard.net/ee/tablets/patterns/tw_artefact_pattern_02
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.
Parte the Seconde: picks 61 to 120.
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.
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.
Ok, it might not *actually* be a snail, but it looks a little snail-like to me.
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.
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.
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).
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…