Tabletweaving for the Kostrup smokkr: Part 2

So once the skeins of wool were wound up  into balls it was time to warp the loom.  The trim that I am trying to reproduce was 1.2 cm wide, on 17 cards that were each threaded with 2 threads.  It looked like there was selvage in the picture, so I added 4 cards of selvage, and alternated the threading of the selvage cards, as well as the pattern cards.   By alternating the threading direction (or rather, warping and then flipping every other card) the ribbon should naturally lie flat.


Brocading Kostrup: the beginning When you zoom in on the picture you can see the interesting weaving structure created by the missed hole threading in the pattern tablets. The weft is a navy 60/2 silk and just about invisible on the edges, and the brocading threads are doubled threads of the 20/2 wool,  dropped down below two cards from the edge so that you don’t see them at the edge.  Right now the ends are also visible; those will be trimmed flush with the band when it comes off the loom.

What I find particularly interesting is the effect of the weaving structure on the diagonal edges of the brocading; for instance in the cross over X part of the yellow fish it looks like two rows have the same end point, but they don’t.  I think this effect is due to the fact that the threads in each card are basically floating two above and two below, which affects the appearance.

What I find more frustrating is that the emergency brocading shuttle I’m using – a tatting shuttle whose bobbins can be traded out – is not really long enough and difficult to manipulate with the left hand, making every second row trickier.  This is exacerbated by the pattern cards’ desire to shift …

Unless I find a way to speed up, this is going to be one of those projects where the pace is measured in cm per hour.  So far, roughly 2 cm per hour.

Another Program in Another Lab …

Sometimes I like to rewrite the words of songs … often those of musicals. In this case, Evita’s “Another Suitcase in Another Hall”

I don’t expect my programs to compile at first,
Never fool myself that my typing is true.
Being used to errors, I anticipate it,
But all the same I hate it, wouldn’t you?

Eva: So what’s compiling now?
Che: Another program in another lab …
Eva: So what’s compiling now?
Che: Printf, echo, take another stab…
Eva: Where is this silly bug?
Che: You’ll compile, you always have before …
Eva: Where is this silly bug?

Time and time again, I’ve said it’s in NP,
That it just can’t be done, in polynomial time,
But every time we argue, all the proofs desert me,
And back I go trying, one more time …


Call in three months time, I’ll be fine, I know,
The problem solved, though the code might be slow.
I won’t recall the names and places of this complication
But that’s no consolation here and now …

[chorus – but now Che’s lines are sung by nerdlets]

Tabletweaving for the Kostrup smokkr: Part 1

A bartering agreement has been made, and I will be trying to recreate the tabletwoven band that sits between the brooches but above the pleated fabric of the actual smokkr, as described in the paper The aprondress from Køstrup (grave ACQ).
Step one was acquisition of the wool; I will be going with commercially dyed wool since this needs to be done by late May (which is sooner than it sounds).  I bought 20/2 Mora wool in four colours: blue for the background and then white, yellow, and red for the brocading.  As you can see from the pictures below, I may have a slight surfeit of the brocading wool.  Luckily wool can be used for more than one project at a time, no?

Wool_As_It_Arrived_From_StoreThis is how the wool arrives from the vendor; in skeins that need to be wound off into balls to be useful for warping.






Step two was turning the acquired skeins of yarn into something I could warp.  Swift and ball winder to the rescue.  Note that the swift is constructed similarly to an old Viking horizontal swift, and is made entirely of wood, with the exception of the metal washer I added to facilitate the turning of the arms.  The ball winder, in contrast, is thoroughly modern but faster than a nostepinne.  And while it’s sunny, it’s not that warm outside.


Wool_on_SwiftSwift_Plus_BallWinderThe skein is mounted on a horizontal swift and then the end is found.  After untying the skein, the end is fed into a ball winder and the turning begins.  Each skein was wound into four very roughly equal balls of wool; sizes were eyeballed.

The advantage of having four balls is that I can quickwarp, when I get t that stage.



Wool_Wound_In_BallsSeveral hours later, all four skeins have been turned into center-pull balls of wool, ready for the next stage.






To be continued …

Gulf Wars is Coming!

Which means I’m winding off spools of silk for Dixie Weaver, and working on class notes.

I’ve updated the Starter handout by adding more patterns, and have added a second handout with patterns for the Egyptian Diagonals class.  I’m planning on using the old hand out for days 4 (doubleface) and 5 (3/1 broken twill).

So the new handouts are added to the Class Notes section and we’re slowly getting more and more ready.

Losing track of time …

We’re heading to the middle of February, and time has been getting seriously away from me.  Gulfwars XXV is just over a month away, and there’s a lot I have to get done before then.

I’m teaching a week long series of tabletweaving classes; we start warping on Monday, and end on Friday with 3/1 broken twill, stopping to play with simple patterns, as well as Egyptian Diagonals and doubleface before we get there.

Which means I have been writing teaching handouts; it was time to take some of the old ones out and refurbish them.  And I’ve added a new one which introduces some very simple patterns on the same warp you can use for the fancier patterns: Tabletweaving Starter Class Handout.


And while working on that, I also found an old class handout from a few years ago, that explains how to play Rithmomachy (Rithmomachy Class Handout)- a game that was played from the 11th through the 17th century, primarily in monastery schools, where it served as an excellent way of reinforcing students’ abilities to add, subtract, and factor.  I keep wondering if we could reintroduce the game to modern students …

Using inkscape to draft tabletweaving patterns

I draft a lot of patterns for tabletweaving, and the way I like to display the pattern includes both the turning directions and a guideline as to what the pattern should look like.

When I first started drafting patterns, I would work in pencil on gridded paper where each square represented one card in one row; first I would outline the main shapes, and then use a highlighter to add the turning directions for each card — highlighted for backwards, not highlighted for forwards. The biggest downside was that even at 5 squares per inch, a sheet of standard letter paper didn’t really hold room for a lot of cards. And heck, the squares could be smaller in any case.

I use computers a great deal, so casting around for solutions I experimented (briefly) with spreadsheets and discovered that this was too fiddly for me. Then I discovered Adobe Illustrator, which is a vector based graphics editor that has all the bells and whistles one could desire. Sadly, it also had a price tag to match, and I was at the time a graduate student, and student discounts are nice, but not *that* nice.

Which brought me to inkscape which is free, opensource, and available for Windows, Mac OS, and most importantly linux, aka my operating system of choice.  Inkscape is a very powerful program, but I take advantage of a limited number of features.

blank_patternI use layers extensively, as each part of the pattern is in its own layer, including the grid. In fact, I usually use the following layers from top to bottom:

  • Grid lines – black grid lines 0.5 px wide
  • White grid lines – white grid lines 3.5 px thick
  • Pattern – one layer per colour to make colours easy to manipulate
    • Colour 1 – line 3 px wide
    • Colour 2 – line 3 px wide
    • Rough Pattern
  • Threading – the colour in the dots indicates the colour of thread in the two top holes.
  • Greyscale – used to indicate the turning directions forward and back.  Grey squares are turned towards the weaver, and white squares means the cards are turned away from the weaver.

Setting the layers up in this way allows me to take advantage of the order in which they’re drawn (bottom up) so that the diagonal lines I draw in the pattern colours become small individual diagonals.

rough_patternOnce I have the layers set up and the grid built I usually save the file as a blank.svg file, so that I don’t have to keep rebuilding the grid.

In this case, I’m planning a very simple pattern where the cards turn continuously in one direction until twist builds up, and then they reverse direction. I’ve roughed it in and now it’s just a matter of adding the colours.

finished_patternThe basic design has all cards threaded the same way with two dark and two light colours, and we will be turning the cards forwards 12 times, and then backwards 12 times.

pattern_2In this simple variation, we have turned every second card around its vertical axis, so that half the cards are threaded from left to right, and the other half are threaded from right to left.

Starting over with SCA Garb

PC240223For lo, I did look at my SCA grb, and I did see that it was … lack luster.  And I did find unto the nets an interesting tutorial at Making a Mathless Draft which uses velcro to grid out the upper body as it were, and I did convince my husband that this was a righteous thing to ty, and we did grid my body, discovering it very busty, and did create velcro pattern pieces that looked like this.

And we copied it out onto grid paper and decided not to fuss about the arm scyes yet because they are deep and are easier to adjust in fitting …

And then it was time for some christmas whiskety.

Weaving Class 19 Dec, 2015

Today I am teaching two classes on tabletweaving covering the methods of doubleface and brocading.  This post is primarily intended as a resource for that class, and includes links:

It’s that Christmas time again

One of my favourite Christmas songs is a dutch song that dates back to the middle ages.  It was recorded in the Wettener Liederhandschrift in 1650 ( as recorded in the Dutch Song Database) and there’s a copy of the music at database – transcription.  The words are simple:

Hoe leit dit kindeke

Hoe leit dit kindeke hier in de kou
Ziet eens hoe alle zijn ledekens beven.
Ziet eens hoe dat het weent en krijt van rouw!
Na, na, na, na, na, na, kindeke teer,
Ei zwijg toch stil, sus, sus! En krijt niet meer

Sa ras dan, herderkens komt naar de stal
Speelt een zoet liedeke voor dit teer lammeken
Het dunkt mij dat het nu haast slapen zal.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, kindeke teer,
Ei zwijg toch stil, sus, sus! En krijt niet meer

En gij, o engeltjes, komt ook hier bij
Zingt een motetteke voor uwen koning
Wilt hem vermaken met uw melodij.
Na, na, na, na, na, na, kindeke teer,
Ei zwijg toch stil, sus, sus! En krijt niet meer .

This is my translation of the lyrics, with an attempt to keep both the sense of the words and the scansion accurate (although I wasn’t able to maintain the rhyming scheme)

How lies this little child, here in the cold,
See here how all his little limbs shiver,
See here how that it wails and cries of sorrow,
Na na na na na na, little child dear,
Eh, hush now still, sus sus, en cry no more.

So quick then, shepherds young, come to the stall,
Play a sweet little song for this dear little lamb,
I think that it now will fall asleep soon.
Na na na na na na, little child dear,
Eh, hush now still, sus sus, en cry no more.

And thee, oh angels small, come too near by
Sing a motet so small for your king
Will him amuse here with your melody
Na na na na na na, little child dear,
Eh, hush now still, sus sus, en cry no more.

The song is a lullaby, sung to quieten a bitterly cold child.  While the song was recorded in a book in 1650, the words suggest that the song is much older.  The motet so small that the angels sing is a multi-part choral, and could have dated all the way back to the 13th century.  The terms in the original for the shepherds, angels, and the motet all use the “-ken” ending, which refers to small or young things; as applied to the motet I think it indicates a small motet suitable for a young child.

This Christmas song is still sung today, and given its simple melody is often used as an early teaching song for students learning the recorder and the piano (which is where I first encountered it lo these many years ago).

For those who can read dutch,  an interesting article written in 2010, arguing for the song being written in the fifteenth century, when the little ice age was in full flow.  And on that note, I’m going to be diving into  The Snowmen of 1511, which describes in academic detail the snow festivals of 1511.

Some Actual Inkle Weaving …

‘Tis the day after Thanksgiving and it was more than time to unwarp the loom; I had tried to set up for some inkle weaving, but had horribly miscounted, and nothing was working right, and I’d put up the loom (on the top of a six foot bookcase so it would stop taunting me) until I was ready to face it.
And today it was finally cool enough on the porch to enjoy sitting outside in the fresh, fragrant air and unwind the warp onto four cones while admiring the lizards as they hunted bugs.  The joys of living in the south definitely preclude snow.
Threading Pattern
Closeup of Chains and startAfter unwarping, I warped up a simpler set-up as seen in this pattern.  The yellow and white threads are the pattern threads, and the background is red and black.  With simple inkle weaving I end up with short yellow and white bars on a red and black background.

However, add a few extra loops and we can turn this into something more interesting.  One set of loops went around pattern strings 1, 2, 5, and 6 of each colour, and the other went around pattern strings 3 and 4.  Now when inkle weaving, you alternately push the open strings below and above the heddled strings to make the shed.  But to make this pattern, when the open strings are pushed down, the loops are pulled back up to create floats.  By alternating between sets of loops, I could create squared off boxes, that look like chains if you tilt your head sideways a little.



IMG_20151127_150644801In this picture showing more of the loom, you can see how I’ve run large kilt pins through the two sets of supplemental loops so that I only have to grab one pin or the other as needed.

Now all I need to do is find a good tv-show to marathon, and I can finally finish this weaving project.