Ermine 1

Ermine1- thumbnail of pdf showing simple chart
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Viscount Richard the Rampant was elevated to the Order of the Pelican at Drachenwald Spring Crown, and I made a couple of gifts for the occasion.  One was a length of trim depicting ermine points, to be sewn onto a cap of maintenance. The finished band was around 75cm long, and 23-25 mm wide (31 cards: 20 pattern cards, 11 border cards).

Planning, design & authenticity

The band needed to be narrow enough for hat trim. The threads had to be fine, allowing me to use enough cards to produce a sufficiently detailed design.  The main fabric of the hat was to be wool, so I decided this was a good time to try double-face on a 2/16wc wool warp. I used linen for the weft, to make life easier. (I’m not a fan of the ‘grabby’ qualities of wool thread.)

Duncan Kerr reassured me that the ermine points can be depicted in any direction; they don’t have to be perpendicular to the borders of the band. I used the image to the right as inspiration for the initial draft, and as Richard usually depicts a viking persona,  I added an Oseberg-style border on one side.

A wool warp and linen weft is in keeping with various tablet weaving finds, where the weft has disintegrated leaving the twined warp behind. The ermine points are not in keeping with a viking persona, but they are appropriate for Pelican regalia.


I used a backstrap setup rather than my usual warp-weighted system, because I was concerned my weights would be too heavy for the threads.

It took several trials to settle on the finalised pattern. I played around with:

  1. Turning border cards on alternate rows.
  2. Repositioning the dots,  and flipping cards from s to z position (and back) while working them.
  3. Elongating the point near the dots. It is this version that I chose to continue using.

During testing, I was having problems keeping the width consistent.  I found the wool warp to be much spongier than cotton, linen or high-twist wool, all of which I can control relatively easily.  To try and resolve this issue, I decided to check the width far more regularly when I started work on the actual band.

Weaving & finishing

Using a two-pack method, I started by working ~1 cm plain doubleface. Then I worked a motif followed by a 1cm plain section, continuing until the band was long enough, finishing with 4cm plain.  I switched turning direction on the border cards after every second repeat. Each motif + adjacent plain section took about an hour to complete.

I checked width every cm while using a weighted beater every other row. I wasn’t as worried about beating the weft in hard, because this time I wanted to take advantage of tablet weaving’s tendency to elongate a pattern. The regular width checks kept the width variation to within 2-3mm, but there were still a lot of width “wobbles” within the 75cm.

The finished band generally looked a lot more uneven than I expected. Wet finishing(1)  smoothed out most of the irregularities.

The charts

Three charts are included in the pdf. Just print the one you like, and have a go!

Ermine1- thumbnail of pdf showing simple chart
Download pattern
  1. Simplest: created in GTT, colors denoting background/foreground. I added a separate threading diagram.
  2. Another version from GTT: each row is represented separately; twist direction is shown on the pattern; you can also show turning direction, but I chose not to.
  3. A chart which shows foreword and backward turns only, with an outline of the motif superimposed on it.


Drachenwald:  Titles, Precedence, Forms of Address, and Regalia (8. Order of the Pelican)

Guntram’s tablet weaving thingy (GTT)

Handweaver’s Studio: 2/16 wc wool yarns

Mistholme: Pictorial dictionary of heraldry – Hat  (cap of maintenance)

Shelagh Lewins: The Narrow Oseberg Band (pdf)

Swicofil: Yarn count converter

Viking Answer Lady: Ermine Spots

1) Wet finishing: I hand-washed the band gently in lukewarm water with a mild detergent. I rinsed it thoroughly, and patted out excess water using a clean linen tea towel. I then sandwiched the band in a fresh linen cloth, and pressed gently with an iron. I took care to *not* pull on the band or otherwise stretch it while using the iron.

Double-face Cinquefoil

The arms of Master Duncan Kerr, retrieved from the Drachenwald order of precedence.

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.

Download pattern

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.

The arms of Baron Guntram von Wolkenstein, as a brocaded pattern. Retrieved from

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:

  1. The top petal was too big.
  2. Bottom two petals not the same shape as the top three.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

Screen Shot 2017-12-11 at 13.41.56
The arms of Norman Darci, retrieved from the Dering Roll: last line on page/membrane 2

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 .

Materials used:

  • 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

Download pattern

I thought it would be an interesting exercise to reproduce the cinquefoil chart in four different styles:

  1. Simplest: created in GTT, colors denoting background/foreground. I added a separate threading diagram.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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

DMC Cebelia 40

“Double-Faced Tablet Weaving” – Linda Hendrikson, Weaver’s, Spring 1997, p. 38-41

Guntram’s tablet weaving thingy (GTT)

Phiala’s Stringpages: basic tablet weaving – including “double face weave”

SCA name query – Drachenwald order of precedence (OP)

Reversible Parquet 1


Download pattern

The design for this band was inspired by numerous variations of ‘Birka-style’ threaded-in patterns available online. Experimenting with Saxon patterns helped me figure out how to make it reversible.

If you like the colours I used, look for Grundl Häkelgarn 100 crochet cotton, colors 129, 130 and 134. Various online craft stores (and Amazon) stock it.

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.

Edge of band

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!

Bands of 2.6cm (left) and 2cm (right)

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.

Reversing the pattern.

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.

Plenty of time 😉 closing-img-DSC_0076