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.
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.
Here’s pattern A. It’s not twist-neutral by itself, but weaving the reverse will untwist that pattern! See pattern B…
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 just for a little more variety, there were a couple other motif ideas that I saw, so I drafted those up as well.
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.
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! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU1dKfMIEUQ&list=PL_Y6Qui9KStOQ9rVrBzOLkJO8hNiDtl8c
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…
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?
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.
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.
Every once in a while, you’ll present a woven bit with documentation and someone will say, “Uhhh…that’s not quite right.”
So that just happened.
Luckily, it was presented in a very respectful manner by an influential tablet weaver that I admire…so it’s all good! Thank you, Aisling!
The Ladoga bands appear to be *skip hole* woven, not 4 threads per card. Despite the archaeological sketches and patterns provided in the research, the pattern that was provided doesn’t match the findings. You can see in the text of the Academia.edu paper that it was woven on twelve 4-hole cards with 27 warp threads total. Yeah, 12 times 4 is not 27…. so clearly something was amiss from the beginning. However, unless you add a third thread to one of the cards, you’re not going to come up with an odd number… 12 x 2 is 24; the extra four threads are for border cards; each get 4 threads, which results in 28 warp threads. Perhaps the archaeologists miscounted, or there was some other error in transcription.
So I got back on the tablet weaving generator and worked up a pattern. I warped up my loom (while my German tablet weaving friend slept) and had the pattern and weaving underway by the time she was up and checking her email. She confirmed that I got the pattern right and I was delighted! (Although I later was dissatisfied with it and made a few more alterations…) The result is this new pattern:
The result is a very dainty band that measures just under 1 cm wide, even with this 8/4 cotton carpet warp.
Are you confused? Overwhelmed? Not ready for this pattern?
Don’t be cast down, dear weaver; the 4-threads-per-card pattern *works* and gets approximately the right design, but the technique is not period-correct. As a beginner, this is FINE…you get the same look while learning the ropes, but now you know that the period technique is slightly different…and more difficult, so don’t fret if you’re not ready for skip hole. You’ll get there…in this series, even!
The first episode of the YouTube video is in the final stages of editing (it was very long and complex for the Getting Started video–the next ones should come out much more quickly).