The Bridges collection held by the University of St Andrews has been the subject of two projects, which explored different methods for producing 3D models of selected objects. The objects in the collection are of Cypriot origin, from various times including Bronze age, Iron Age and Byzantine periods.
Sixteen 3D models are in a collection on Sketchfab: https://sketchfab.com/bridges The three below are my favourites, because the diagonal and diamond designs can be reproduced easily in tablet weaving. This doesn’t mean that tablet weaving was used in Cyprus in those time periods, just that inspiration can come from any source!
Orion A is a pattern inspired by a conversation in the Facebook group “The Company of Thuban“. The Company was formed by people in Drachenwald (SCA), who are interested in the study of astronomy and astrology throughout history.
The pattern depicts a six-point star on a twill background, and it has a tubular border formed from the outermost three border cards. The star is based on those found in a picture from an anonymous German manuscript (circa 1450) held in the Crawford Collection at the Royal Observatory, Edinburgh.
I worked the sample in Häkelgarn 100 crochet cotton, colors 101, 121, 129, 130 and 134. I used two strands of standard sewing thread held together for the weft, so that the weft was less than half the thickness of a single warp thread. This helped prevent the design from becoming too elongated. Each pattern repeat is about 32mm long. The band is an average of 30mm wide.
When the warp floats over more than one pick, some weavers find that the pattern area ‘encroaches’ on the innermost border card, resulting in a wobbly line. You can see this on the underside of Orion A, where the white ‘background’ overlaps the black border card. Compare that with how the black border card sits next to the light blue…
I’m pleased with how this has turned out. It is the first four-hole twill pattern I’ve designed successfully.
I looked up from the weaving and *how many* months had gone by??!! Two very large projects have taken most of my time over this last year. To take a break from those patterns, I worked on several shorter pieces.
Samples from Applesies & Fox Noses:
Small purse made from offcuts.
Trying out silk warps for the first time:
First experiment with silk: warp in 20/2 nm silk, weft no 15 crochet cotton.
Second experiment in silk: this time with thinner threads, 30/2nm silk warp and linen weft.
Playing with 2-hole designs:
And adding the finishing touches to a garment:
I’m in the middle of making diagrams and writing up. With any luck, there may a pattern or two in the near future 🙂
The simple turning sequence allows you to get used to working with more cards, without having to manipulate each one individually. You’re working with two packs, each of which is turned on alternate rows; a technique referred to as ‘pack idling’ by Collingwood.
There are no ‘selvedge’ cards that are treated differently to the rest of the two packs. I wanted a band that was the same thickness across its entire width, and I like the edge produced when all cards are treated as pattern cards.
The width of the band depends on how firmly you pull/beat the weft. For smooth lines in the design, you’ll need to work to a much tighter tension than you normally would. The resulting band will be narrower and thicker than you’d perhaps expect for the number of cards used. Perfect for a belt!
Working to a wider width (looser weft) gives less well defined outlines within the design. When looking at the belt/strap from a distance, this isn’t an issue. The fabric of the band is also more pliable.
Inevitably, you get twist build-up when working this pattern because the cards are always turned in the same direction. I usually work on a warp weighted loom, so it is easy to push the twist out. When you need to reverse the pattern to undo the twist: flip the cards from S to Z (or vice versa), move the outermost edge (odd) card on each side between the two packs, and continue the turning sequence by repeating the row you just completed. Shelagh Lewins outlines this approach in her Anglo Saxon belt weaving instructions.
I’m off to finish weaving. There’s almost a metre of warp left on this project. I’m hoping to have a new belt for Ffair Rhaglen XI in August.
I tried tablet weaving years ago, making a couple of belts and many yards of trim. But I never really “got” how things worked, which led to me wandering away and trying other crafts instead.
Last December, I found 2 patterns for the “Birka strapwork” design on the Lautanauhat FaceBook page. I hadn’t seen patterns written in this way before. The diagrams included the position of the cards rather than the threading direction. That small detail helped me understand how card position relates to card threading and the pattern produced by the turning sequence.
Since that “Eureka!” moment I have made a few samples from the Applesies & Fox Noses book, successfully drafted a pattern from a photograph and learned more about weft tension than I thought was possible.
A big thankyou to Mervi Pasanen & Maikki Karisto for the inspiration to revisit tablet weaving!
The Lautanauhat versions of the Birka strapwork pattern: