Stitchalong Blocks – Quick link

Quick link to two lovely embroidery stitchalongs.

This is mostly to remind myself of these stitchalongs when I have time again. (Stop giggling back there, I can hear you. Ditto the smirking.)

These are patterns from a lady who describes herself as follows in the About section:

I’m a needlework designer and stitcher, specializing in modern interpretations of traditional motifs from around the world. My designs are not meant to be historically accurate reproductions. I frequently adapt patterns and colors to appeal to a 21st-century sensibility, while respecting the spirit of the original source. Although I employ a variety of techniques including canvaswork and surface embroidery, I am particularly attracted to cross stitch and blackwork because of their widespread use in many cultures and time periods.

Brocading – A Lovely Link

Just a quick entry, as much so that I don’t lose it as anything else.

Anna Neuper had written a book of brocading patterns, which was translated by Nancy Spies. But it turns out that her notebook wasn’t the only book of patterns from that general time and place. Ute Bargmann wrote an article about another such manuscript. The 11 page paper is available at Woven Bands, Medicines and Recipes: Cod. Pal. Germ. 551. The Adventures, Provenance and Contents of a 15th Century Manuscript Held at the Library of Heidelberg University in Germany. and includes several patterns for leaves that would look perfect for a headband or trim.

ETA Heather English was able to find a link to the original manuscript, which is available at

Quick Post – The Fitted Dress – Links

This is a very quick entry, mostly to keep track of some links, centering around a common problem (and one I suffer from): when working with “large tracts of land”, support can be a definite issue.  In my case, I haven’t yet been comfortable enough to let go of the modern support.  But I keep thinking about it.  Once I acquire enough energy to sew, and or a personal seamstress – or someone willing to barter lots of handwoven trim for garb that is personally fitted – I will be able to act on these links.  I hope.

The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist talks about her experiences wearing tightly fitted clothes at Pennsic, and what did and didn’t work.  She links back to an article How to make a supportive smock for your medieval outfit written by a lady in Finland, who includes a hand out she has written and hosted at How to make a supportive smock – Lady, have pity on the breast! (pdf on Google Drive, opens in a new tab).

This design differs from the Lengberg dress and similar designs in that the chemise – while visible tight – is still loose enough that it can be slipped on over the head before adjusting the tracts of land into the space allotted for them.

What might complicate matters is that two years ago I discovered I get panic attacks if clothes are too tight, but I suspect that the amount of tightness needed to provide some support will slip under that level of tightness, as long as there is enough of a shelf, for lack of a better word, for things to rest on.

Danskbrogd – a Norwegian Textile technique

The Norwegian Textile Letter is a free online quarterly publication that covers – as the name suggests – a wide variety of Scandinavian textile arts.  Both the current issue and previous issues dating back to 1994 are available online as pdfs, and they make for fascinating reading.

The current issue is part one of a two-parter (part two publishes on Aug 22nd) that covers the Danskbrogd technique for weaving coverlets.  This technique is defined both by its originating location (Vest Agder, Norway) and by the geometric patterns that are woven in widthwise.  Danskbrogd, A Rich Heritage from a Small Area is the first article in part one, and includes a good overview including some lovely exemplars.  The last picture they include is of a modern design featuring honeycomb and bees.

I have some warp in a warp chain.  I need to get it on a loom and play with it.


The Art of Yami Yamauchi

When I posted briefly about Yama Yamauchi’s fireworks model, which is a flexible origami model that looks much like fireworks do, I neglected to include the link to the folding pattern.  Yama Yamauchi in fact has a whole set of web pages with patterns, that can be reached from Yami’s Corner.


But that sends you down the rabbit hole to find other flexagons, such as the tutorial at Flexagon Instructions.

And there goes my work day …

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 …

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.

A little bit of this, a little bit of that …

First off, I’ve been finding interesting articles all week, and collecting them, so without further adieu, a few links:

Secondly, I’ve been (unsuccessfully) trying to design knotwork in the Snartemo 4 colour technique, but in the process ended up digging out a lot of my old 3/1 broken twill notes. So here a very brief explanation of how I weave 3/1 broken twill.

In 3/1 broken twill, patterns will have a light and a dark colour. Each of the pattern tablets is threaded with two light and two dark colours, just as one does for doubleface.  But then, using Collingwood’s 2 pack method, the cards are divided into two groups: the odd numbered cards form one group, and the even numbered cards form the other. Each group turns as a whole; colour changes are created by flipping a card around its vertical axis – which reverse the threading – rather than by changing turning direction.


Setting up the two groups:

  • In each group flip the cards as needed so that they alternate S and Z threading.
  • In the odd group, turn the cards so that the background colour goes through the two holes closes to the weaver.  This is the “vertical” position, because the two holes threaded with the background colour are one above the other (aka vertical if the warp is held horizontal).
  • In the even group, turn the cards so that the background colour goes through the two top holes.  This is the “horizontal” position, because the two holes threaded with the background colour are beside each other (aka horizontal if the warp is held horizontal)

Turning Directions:

The cards are turned in a few turn repeat.  Each of the two groups moves 2F/2B, but there is an offset because of the differing starting positions.  Repeating this turning should yield a solid-coloured band with a structural diagonal.

Turn Odd Group Even Group
1 Forward Forward
2 Forward Back
3 Back Back
4 Back Forward


250152_198275326971392_2012513524_nI draw my patterns on a rectangular grid with a brick like pattern; Tree with Birds Pattern is a  pattern that uses 32 cards, but because of the symmetry the setup is modified slightly so that the second set of 16 cards completely mirrors the setup of the first 16 cards

In the pattern, each column represents one card over all the many turns; each rectangle represents that card for two turns.  Note how the odd and even rectangles are offset, because of the offset turning directions.  In the right side of the pattern you can see the changes needed for the colour changes; if the next rectangle switches from white to grey or vice versa, flip the card.
But that would give you some ugly edges, so sometimes we also need to flip the card when the colour is horizontal rather than vertical.  Those flips are represented in the left half of the pattern by the blue < in a rectangle.

Embroidery Links

It’s been a quiet house, since Casa Dixie Weaver is embroiled in the new Civ game.  So this week’s update is more of a links fest than anything else.


    • Medieval Silkwork posted a really nice article, back in July, about tassels and Turk’s head knots.  She includes some lovely pictures from extant medieval tassels, and prvious articles include both how to make Turk’s Head Knots and the gimp thread she uses.
    • At Gina – B Silkworks, there’s a new system to make focal beads by rolling up paper and glueing it.  (After which the focal beads can of course be painted, or decorated, at will.)  Gina is the author of “Tak v Bowes”, which is a translation of a manuscript on fingerloop braiding … A manuscript which is sadly out of print.  Poking around the website is fun, as she makes the most gorgeous wrapped buttons.  Sometimes I think her form of wrapped buttons is just another kind of weaving.
    • Opus Anglicanum has started a new stitchalong project; kits come with everything you need, but if you already have the embroidery supplies, all you have to do is download and print the pdfs.  Like last year’s project, she begins with a very good tutorial on the basic covering stitch, including pictures of what the back of the embroidery should look like.