Anglo Saxon outfits, part 2
If I’m honest, I haven’t done much work for the last few days, as I went to London.
The new medieval galleries at the Vand A are fab tho – it’s my first time down since the re fit and I was well impressed, theres far more stuff on display and it better displayed, especially the silver and jewelery – and the British Museum’s treasures of Heaven exhibition is worth a look too, as long as you don’t mind bits of dead saint.
I’ve never done brocaded tablet weave on wool before – this is the same veg dyed stuff as the rest of the tablet weave for this project – which led to a minor change in technique. The actual weaving is no problem at all, I’m quite enjoying it, in fact, but the gold thread I had in store seemed a little too thin to stand up to the wool. The gold I’m using is an antique french metal thread, very nice, but as it’s so fine I decided to use two strands at once in order to give sufficiant coverage. I think the coverage is fine, but be warned if you’re ever considering a duoble gold thread, as it is more fiddly – you have to pause and untwist at almost every pass. Because of the double thread I didn’t try to do anything fancy with the edges.
I’m still undecided as to where to go from here with this piece of weaving. It looks ok, but I may yet flatten the gold out some more, specially as the gold thread in most saxon brocading seems to be flat strip. I have done this before, but I no longer have the easy option to hand, which is to wrap the band in thin paper and pass it through jeweller’s rolling mill. The other option is to wrap it in paper again, but gently and very very carefully work over the whole thing with a planishing hammer. The second option is not only boring but slightly dodgy, as its all too easy to smack it a bit too hard and sever a thread. I’m also not sure how the wool will react (When I’ve done this before it was with silk and gold) so I think I may weave a half inch test piece and experiment with that before I wade in on this.
I’m actually never sure if I’m doing it “right” when it come to gold brocaded tablet, although I’ve never believed there is an absolute right and wrong for textile techniques, so perhaps right is the wrong term, maybe orthodox would be more accurate? The thing is that when I first did gold brocading, it was long before my internet days, and none of the weavers I knew personally were advanced enough to do it. Me being me, I just got on with it, making it up as I went along because I never could understand instructions – besides which, this was also in the days before Collingwood was re-printed, so I’d heard of it but never seen a copy. I did have a recently published copy of Hansen, but that books gibberish if you ask me, despite the pretty pictures.
Therefore, for those of you nerdy enough to take an interest, this is how I work. Feel free to tell me I’m doing it “wrong” if you belieive in such things, but do so in the full knowledge that I shall sneer and ignore you, since I am old and rather set in my ways.
Firstly, even if I have a pattern in a book, I like to re-draft it so that it makes sense to me. This is one of the wide bands from Taplow, taken from a drawing of the find rather than from a pattern book. Sorry, I should have scanned it, but I’m lazy and taking a photo was easier. As you can see, I like to break the pattern down into blocks of four. I’m not brilliant at following charts, so I find that this helps me to keep track of where I am. I have one edge of my cards painted to that I know one complete rotation corresponds with one block of the pattern, in addition to which I tend to place my ruler over the drawing and move it along so I know which block I’m up too. Obviously, once you’ve done a few repeats its easier to keep track of where you’re up too, but I find it best not to underestimate the concentration disrupting power of a ringing phone, say, or a cat who wants pettins.
See – evil!
Sorry, that table cloths a bit grubby, isn’t it. I should shove that in the wash.
My usual method is to pass the thread weft on the quarter turns and the metal weft on a 1/8 turn – this means you only have to count through one thread, whereas if you take the metal through on the quarters with the normal weft, you have to count through two wefts. I use an old and rather blunt kitchen knife to beat and to separate the warps I want to count. The tip of the knife is fine enough that I can count the thread off the end of it as I move it through.
I also prefer to weave this techinque stretched across the kitchen table, rather than streching it on a proper tablet weaving frame. On the table I can set my knife handle down and it will stay in the weaving, keeping my place for me if the phone rings and I have to wander off in the midst of a pass, and the frame would just let the knife slide out, loosing my place for me.