Ermine 3: Tiniest Ermine

Here I offer three patterns for “mini” ermine points. Worked in wool thread, they require a maximum of 18 cards. Each can be reproduced with as few as 12 cards (8 pattern cards plus 2 border cards either side). Do you want to try doubleface tablet weaving? Have a go with these 🙂

A couple of years ago, I started making ermine trim. When designing the patterns, I looked at hundreds of different images:

  • Shields in original armorials that had been digitised. Heraldica Nova has collected links to several armorials all in one place.
  • Illustrations in other illuminated manuscripts that either depicted ermine in heraldry or ermine as trim or lining on clothing.
  • Various images found via Mistholme, Wikimedia commons or the Book of traceable heraldic art, for example.

I learned that the way ermine points (ermine spots) are drawn varies wildly depending on where and when in history the original source material comes from. Yes, there are the commonly accepted “3 dots 3 tail” variants, but there are so many more possibilities.

As I worked on more complex designs, I used more and more cards to allow for the level of detail necessary. After a while, I took a step back and considered the other end of the scale. What about trying to weave ermine points with as few cards as possible?

After some trial and error, I found that it is just about feasible to weave an ermine point with eight cards – as long as you don’t want borders. Realistically, though, you want space around a motif so that it ‘pops’. This means adding extra pattern cards and border cards either side.

Working with the smallest patterns has opened up another channel of design possibilities – creating all-over patterns, or using ermine as a fill on other objects. The journey with doubleface tablet weaving will go on for a long time yet!!

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