Duncan Kerr was elevated to the Order of the Pelican at Drachenwald Kingdom University, and I made him a small gift for the occasion. The finished band was about 1.5m long, and 21mm wide (34 cards). The colours and design were based on his arms.
Planning & design
The band had to be narrow enough to be made into a set of garters that could be finished with buckles and strap-ends already in stock. The threads needed to be fairly fine so I could use enough cards to produce a sufficiently detailed design.
This was my first time drafting and weaving a ‘standard’ doubleface pattern, so I chose to work with mercerised colorfast cotton. I found that DMC Cebelia 40 was almost equivalent in size to 30/2nm silk, which is the thinnest thread I’ve worked with on large pieces. The available colours in Cebelia 40 that were the closest match are #666 and #745. I didn’t feel confident working with narrower thread while using a new (to me) technique.
I selected one of the cinquefoils from Duncan’s arms, converted it to a monochrome bitmap and imported it into GTT, where I started refining the details. Unfortunately, try as I might, I could not produce a small detailed design that maintained the proportions of the cinquefoil as depicted in his arms.
I searched online, including on Guntram’s website where I found his article about a 13th Century tablet woven brocaded belt. His design incorporated his arms as part of the brocade. I transcribed the outline of the cinquefoil from the brocaded pattern into a standard double-face pattern within GTT, and added the central piercing. The resulting design was still too wide for the number of cards I needed to use, so I reduced it as much as possible without losing detail.
I wove a few samples, adjusting the pattern each time until I was happy with the result:
- The top petal was too big.
- Bottom two petals not the same shape as the top three.
- Petals as evenly shaped as possible without emphasising the slight size difference of the bottom two. Gaps between petals are all about the same width. Four gaps where the petals meet the centre now flare out v. slightly, like in Duncan’s arms, but the 5th gap doesn’t.
- Checking what the pattern looked like with the card orientations flipped from S to Z and Z to S. From a distance of 5 yards or more, it’s unlikely you’d notice a difference, but I still didn’t like the result.
The finalised pattern is based on option 3. It is 34 cards wide, comprising 30 pattern cards plus 2 border cards either side.
While weaving the band, I beat as hard as possible using a weighted beater to reduce elongation of the motif. A similar effect can be accomplished with a thinner weft. I used a two-pack method, moving cards between foreground and background packs between picks. I kept the border cards with whichever pack was being turned forward at the time.
I started by working 3cm plain for attaching a buckle. I then worked a motif followed by a plain section equal to the motif’s length, continuing until the band was long enough. Each motif + adjacent plain section took about an hour to complete. I finished the band with another 3cm plain for the second garter buckle.
Variation & authenticity
Many people in the SCA incorporate heraldic devices into tablet weaving, but I was concerned about whether the adjustments I’d made to the motif were a reasonable variation from the original heraldry:
- Comparing Guntram’s arms (as depicted in the Drachenwald OP) to the brocaded pattern he used, suggests that rounding the points of the cinquefoil petals in a weaving pattern is an acceptable compromise.
- A search of various digitised armorials shows that cinquefoils can be depicted as Duncan has chosen to, and as shown in the pattern I finalised. Examples from the Dering Roll (amongst others) show that my version is reasonably authentic in its proportions, when comparing the size of petals to the centre of the flower .
- Cotton would be an unlikely choice of thread in Northern Europe in the early middle ages. It’s possible it could have been used if the band was being made in southern Europe in the later middle ages, but I still think it would have been unusual. I chose cotton because it is an easy thread to work with.
- Wool, linen or silk are good choices for a more authentic band.
Writing up the charts
I thought it would be an interesting exercise to reproduce the cinquefoil chart in four different styles:
- Simplest: created in GTT, colors denoting background/foreground. I added a separate threading diagram.
- In the style of Linda Hendrikson’s charts. I found these to be the trickiest type of chart to interpret; trying to create a cinquefoil version helped me understand how they work.
- In the style that Mervi Pasanen & Maiki Karisto used in Applesies and Fox Noses. Although this chart takes up a fair bit of room, I thought it may be handy for someone who hasn’t done double-face before.
- A chart which shows foreword and backward turns only, with an outline of the motif superimposed on it. I’ve seen this style of chart attributed to Marijke van Epen. I haven’t read her work yet, but hope to in the future.
A 13th Century tablet woven brocaded belt – by Baron Guntram von Wolkenstein
Applesies and Fox Noses – Finnish Tabletwoven Bands – Maikki Karisto & Mervi Pasanen
Cinquefoile – Encyclopædia Britannica entry
Cotton is period? Really? – Lady Desamona Villani
The Dering Roll – (c.1270-1280) Heraldic roll/armorial held by the British Library
“Double-Faced Tablet Weaving” – Linda Hendrikson, Weaver’s, Spring 1997, p. 38-41
Phiala’s Stringpages: basic tablet weaving – including “double face weave”
SCA name query – Drachenwald order of precedence (OP)