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.
Sorry it took a couple days to get this posted. Ooops!
This is the third of the tablet weaving pieces (the most famous, anyway) that were found in an Austrian salt mine that date from 400-500 BC.
Here’s the pattern!
If you produce this, or any of the patterns that I have provided through my videos and on this forum, please post them to Instagram or Facebook (or your social media platforms that you use) and use #weavealongwithelewys or #elewysoffinchingefeld. You can find me on Instagram at Elewys_Finchingefeld.
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.
If you have seen the video on Brocade Tablet Weaving, you will (hopefully) have a good idea how this technique is done. If you haven’t seen the video, you can go to it from this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY3KibRfwP4
If you would like to use the fragment of the Birka 2f pattern that I was using, you can print out my pattern here:
The two outside cards are border cards and will be skipped. The inside cards are blue=background and white=silver foreground.
The blue yarn I used for the ground fabric is the Maurice Brassard 8/2 cotton. You can use two strings of 8/2 for the brocade, or use Maysville 8/4 cotton, or use all 6 strands of embroidery floss, whether a color or metal (or synthetic).
This pattern requires 13 cards–4 border cards and 9 pattern cards–and all cards are threaded alternating S and Z. It doesn’t matter if you start with S or Z, just as long as they alternate all the way across.
You also don’t need to have numbered cards or have them labeled clockwise or counterclockwise, or indeed labeled ABCD at all! You also don’t need to have AD at the top when you start the pattern. All threads are the same color!
This pattern is, therefore, one of the most forgiving in terms of set up.
Following along with the pattern, go OVER both of the threads in the white boxes and UNDER the threads (through the shed) where there are blue boxes. Drop the silver shuttle down at the border cards–the shuttle will not go through that shed. It will come up between the border cards and pattern cards, go over and under through the pattern cards, and back down before the border cards on the other side. This will create a sort of silver stitching on both sides of the back of the band, but not have the silver on the selvedge edge.
I had chosen to do just a small portion of the 2f pattern, but if you would like to chart out the entire pattern, you can do so yourself on grid paper (or an Excel spreadsheet, if you’re so inclined).
I was thinking a bit tonight on period looms. We all want to go to a demo and use a period loom and wear our historic clothing and really look the part. Like we just stepped out of a medieval illustration.
In the SCA and in our modern lives, however, we often have to make concessions for budget, availability, accessibility, and ergonomics. I have usually done all my weaving on an inkle loom, which, to be frank, is a 19th century invention. However, I find it much more easy to work on, transport, maintain tension on my work, and most importantly, not hurt my back.
I have made a few other looms to weave on and have experimented with weaving on them with varying degrees of success.
The biggest one I made was this warp-weighted loom that I created using scraps from the garage. I based it on a number of drawings from books like Marta Hoffman’s “The Warp Weighted Loom” and several historic images.
Overall, it worked well, although I did decide that it could be a little bit shorter to better accommodate my height (or lack thereof). The weights were just bags of gravel, the yarn was wool, and the selvedge edge (across the top) was a woven piece with long wefts that became the warps of the project. I was able to weave a little bit on it, but it required standing and a fair amount of wall space. As this was a prototype and an experiment, I ended up packing it away and it’s living in the garage at the moment. I didn’t do any tablet weaving on it, however, and it seemed like much more tool than necessary for a narrow band. I have read about people doing the fabric weaving and using tablet weaving as part of the side selvedges, but this wasn’t included in my experiment.
Many people LOVE backstrap weaving, but I have tried it several times with NO success. It is ergonomically challenging and always ends in back pain for me. I did see this option of using two fixed points to weave, but this is also difficult to do in a place like a hotel lobby…
Looking to make something more portable, and easy to manufacture in bulk to teach a class, my friend and I made a bunch of “surfboard” looms. It was 1 x 4 lumber, a couple small blocks and some long screws and nuts (although this prototype has hex nuts, we swapped them out for wing nuts as they were easier to tighten by hand). It worked…mostly… There were some tension issues, but overall it was a workable loom for a class…but still not very period.
The next couple of experiments were rigid heddle and I didn’t do much with them as I was struggling with the tensioning systems…but then I tried making a 3D printed loom. Hubby has a printer and I thought it would be fun to try making it. After making several modifications from the original rigid heddle loom, I created this simple frame loom. In the end, very few parts were 3D printed–just the corner pieces and the ratchet and pawl assembly, which didn’t work quite as well as I needed–the pawl keeps popping out under tension. I did weave a couple pieces on it and it worked OK. It was a fun experiment, at least!
This is similar (at least in method) to the box looms of the later Middle Ages, like this image: La Noble Pastorale from c 1500. It is rather hard to see what’s going on here (blurry), but it’s clearly meant for narrow band weaving. It is more box-like, not a frame.
The next collection of looms are based on this pile of sticks–the Oseberg loom.
This remarkable find from the Oseberg farm in Norway dates to the 9th century which includes an unfinished piece of weaving with a whole bunch of cards. This is an upright loom that looks something like this:
I love this modified loom design because it looks like it breaks down for easy transport! This is ideal for demo purposes and small vehicles.
Also, there are a number of medieval images of women using similar set ups for weaving, like this one:
The plans for this loom were found on Pinterest, also.
I took a class many years ago (in the 90s) from Master Fiacha, also a tablet weaver in An Tir, and he created these portable Oseberg-style table looms. It is a simple 2 x 4 and a couple dowels, and requires a clamp to hold it on the table, but it is a fairly usable tool.
It was rather LONG, however, so I thought I’d try to create a more portable size using the original loom as inspiration.
With just a couple of pieces of dimensional lumber, a couple of dowels, and 4 screws, this little loom went together quickly. It stands just over a foot tall and about 18″ long. It fits easily into a carry on bag, ready to fly off to exotic locales for vacation weaving!
I loaded up a project on it and worked it for a while, getting used to the angle and the wobbly nature of the cards as I worked. It was different, but not unmanageable.
So for future demos, I will be bringing the little Oseberg table loom with me to work on projects. It’s small and portable and fun to work on!
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:
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:
Skip hole sample and 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.
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…
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.
Turn all the odd numbered cards forward (except 19, of course). Pass the shuttle to the right.
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:
Loosen your tension and flip all the cards so S are Z and vice-versa.
Tighten your tension and separate your cards into two packs, like before: a set of odds and a set of evens.
Move card #1 into the evens pack, and #19 back to the odds pack.
Turn all the EVEN numbered cards forward (including card #1). Pass the shuttle to the right.
Turn all the ODD numbered cards forward (excluding #1). Pass the shuttle to the left.
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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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!