Monday, 11 July 2011

What I'm Up To

As Genevieve put it, "just what you need: another sedentary hobby to take up the spare time you don't have", or words to that effect.

I have been reading Crowfoot, Pritchard and Staniland, Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 recently. Something I found striking was the ilustration (fig. 134 on p. 161) of braid being directly tablet-woven onto the edge of a garment. (I'd put in a link to Google Books, but the figure doesn't show up at all well online.)

The illustration shows four square tablets holding the warp and a needle and thread providing the weft as well as attaching it directly to the fabric edge.

Most people reading this will have seen my blue wool gothic gown lined in burnt-orange silk. I habitually wear my belt over my kirtle but under my gown, and so use a vent (as seen in various 14th Century examples) to access my chatelaine and beads and things. I've never properly finished that vent (is there a name for that vent?), so I made that my first tablet weaving project.

I bought an ash tablet weaving loom from Dennis Riley of Sheffield. Like 14th Century tablet weaving looms, it is two uprights (each a yard long), two crosspieces (likewise a yard long), a hemp cord and tensioner to balance the tension of the warp, and a couple of pegs to keep things from slipping off. I bought walnut cards from Gunnar Karro of Tartu, Estonia; as well as two thin shuttles. Gunnar also makes cards in other woods, and I'm thinking of getting some in a light wood to use for the border cards, or for cards that are meant to turn the opposite way from the rest of the pack.

I've since noticed that 14th Century illuminations show weavers using these looms with a raddle to space the warp opposite the shed and a great big sword beater instead of a tidy little shuttle to beat down the weaving. I'm currently designing both to be executed by woodworker Michael Williams of Sheffield.

The thread I used was medium-weight silk from Patricia Wood. I'd bought some of her thick silk at the bead shop in Covent Garden, and as you can see from the illustration I managed through some email discussion to match the colours pretty closely.

It was a bit awkward to get a very heavy garment alongside the weaving (the dress weighs 2.2kg, partly because of the weight of fabric and partly because of the weight of 60 lampwork bead buttons), and I had to start with the loom laid over on its side. For the weft I used a chenille needle and with each stitch sewed the blue fashion fabric, the silk noil interlining and the silk taffeta lining (here acting as a facing) together before weaving it through the warp. It was hard work to get it all together, weaving one side in a sprawled position on the floor, and the other side with the loom upright, and the dress heaped over one of the loom's posts.

Because the braid was integrated with the dress, once I finished the edging for the vent I still had a dress attached to my loom. So I continued to weave braid, but without integrating it, to finish off the warp. As I did this my tablet-weaving skills improved and I made a lot fewer errors and didn't leave the weft thread showing nearly so much.

Now that I wasn't attaching it to the dress, rather than using a chenille needle to hold the weft I was using one of Gunnar's shuttles. I discovered that while the shuttle's straight edge was good for beating down the weft, the shape tended to get hooked onto the warp if I wasn't deucedly careful. After peering again at the illuminations I noticed that the Virgin Mary (and it always seems to be the Virgin Mary who's doing the tablet weaving) doesn't use a shuttle. She generally seems to use a bobbin. The antique shop in my village has lots of old hardwood lacemaking bobbins for 50 pence apiece, and the lady let me have four for £1.50 so I'll have some bobbins to use instead.

Just now (in fact this very minute) I'm dyeing some wool yarn with madder so that I'll be able to weave some garters, and some tussah silk yarn too. I've also found some other sources of dyed silk and worsted weaving yarn here and here (I've discovered the hard way while fingerloop braiding that knitting yarn doesn't stand up well to tension).

Thanks to Lady Katherine Weaver for her support and inspiration! Also see this blog. Also see the Soper Lane website.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Show and Tell?

Hello folks!
I know there are many of us here. Might I coax 5 or 6 of you into photographing recent projects and posting them here for us all to see?
I also welcome any ideas about what you would like to do as a group?

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Playing cards

I have a fancy to tablet-weave silk braid onto the edges of some of my clothes. If I'm going to start tablet weaving, I figure I might like to try it on a loom. I've found an eBayer who makes tablet looms that look just like the ones in illuminations: a plain frame with a fulcrum and a tensioner. They take 30 quid for this, which seems reasonable. Any thoughts?

Also, I've seen cards in Boxwood or bone for about 3 quid, in other woods for one or two quid and possibly in leather for £1.50. Thoughts on cards, how many, how big or what materials?

I'd just email Lady Catherine Weaver, but it occurred to me that it might be cool to crowdsource the question to this list.

Leonet Covenham

Monday, 28 March 2011

Textile Symposium at Raglan

Mistress Melisende is looking to expand the Textile Day that the ID FIG sponsored last year into a full Textile Symposium for Raglan 2011. I would urge all ID FIG Members to consider teaching a class during the Symposium. I know several of you already have, and I thank you for your generosity.
I was so pleased with the knowledge that was shared at our informal meeting at Coronet. I know that through the Textile Symposium we can all teach others so much more, and learn more in the process. If you are interested in teaching a class, please contact Mistress Melisende Fitzwalter at
Many thanks in advance.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Looking for Teachers for Double Wars

Greetings Drachenwald!
I have heard from some of you and we allready have a few classes on
the schedule for this years Double Wars – but we need more!
Share your knowledge!!!
Make Drachenwald even prettier, better, stronger and well informed! :D
You are also welcome to make class wishes ofcourse and I will do my
best to find teachers.
Contact me off list at

Katheryn Hebenstreitz
A&S coordinator at Double Wars

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

ID FIG Update

Greetings unto the Illustrious Fibre Interest Group,
I am pleased to say that this past weekend, we had 11 people at the FIG Crafts and Carafes. The work being done was most impressive and the company and companionship was beyond measure. Members were knitting, embroidering, making cords/braids and sharing their knowledge of these subjects and much more! Our group has grown in numbers and renowned. No less than three people said to me that they thought we had reached the Guild level. In that vain, I will be consulting the Kingdom Laws and discussing the possiblity of moving to formal Guild status with Their Celestial Hignesses Insulae Draconis and Their Royal Majesties. Before I do this, I would know your opinions on the matter.
In order that you might form your opinion, I provide here the list of members by my reckoning. If I have mispelled your name, or have the wrong group listed, please send me a correction. Anyone who is reading this post and is not listed here please e-mail your intent to join the group to me and you will be added post haste!
Member Group
LadyTrinite Ducalon Flintheath
Lady Genevieve la flechiere Tamesreach
Vicountess Sagadis Eplahiemer
Lady Marian Myndd Gwynn
Jahanarabanu Flintheath
Jenny Flintheath
Mistress Melisende Fitzwalter Flintheath
Baroness Siubhan Out of Kingdom
Ormsweird ???
Caelainn ???
Lady Ysabella-Maria Myndd Gwynn
Lord Gilbere Du Chateau La Mer Lough Devnaree
thorngrove ???
Lady Lynette West Dragoningshire
Duchess Alessandra Melusine West Dragoningshire

Monday, 3 January 2011

Pennsic Gift Basket Challenge

Greetings unto this illustrious group!
Katheryn Hebenstreitz recently distributed a missive reminding all Artisans that this year the Kingdom of Æthelmearc will host Pennsic 40! As always our King and Queen will travel to Pennsic and exchange largesse with another Kingdom. To date we do not know which Kingdom will receive our largesse basket. However you can still plan and begin to create your donations for the gift basket. Please see Katheryn's guidelines for suitable items.
"Due to luggage limitations we can't transport to heavy or bulky items, but there are lots of small things that can be made that are equally fantastic!
At Double Wars we will have a workshop where we will make items for the giftbasket together.As it looks right now we will make shoulder bags with some small kits fit for a King and a Queen!"
I would like to personally challenge members of the Group to make one item to submit to the gift basket. This is our opportunity to show that Insualae Draconis is home to some of the finest artisans in this fair Kingdom. If you intent to take up the challenge please leave a comment on this post and contact Katheryn Hebenstreitz (