Posts Tagged With: SCA

Skjoldehamn Garb – Finding the Right Yarns

I am not a spinner.  Even if I was I haven’t had the time to learn to do it well – certainly not well enough to even contemplate it for a project of this magnitude.  So, one of the first steps I will need to tackle is finding a commercial supplier of a ‘close enough’ yarn for the project.  So, lets talk about what who know about the yarns used in the extant pieces that I plan (for sure) on weaving – the coloured striped fabric, and the kirtle fabric.

All fabrics used in the garments, with the exception of breast flap and the collar of the shirt (the coloured striped bits), is 2/2 twill weave wool.  The coloured striped fabric is a weft-faced 2/1 twill weave wool.  Both have a Z-spun warp and a S-spun weft.


  • On the body and the back gore there is a strip of lighter-coloured weft.
  • Woven with two shuttles, except in the lighter weft stripe.
  • Warp contain highly pigmented wools.  Would likely have been dark grey.
  • Weft contains from white to medium pigmented wool.Would likely have been from grey to light grey.
  • EPI (main): 9.4/cm =~ 24
  • EPI (front/back gores): 10.5 & 10/cm =~ 26
  • PPI (main): 6.9/cm =~ 17.5
  • PPI (front/back gores): 7.3 & 7.5 /cm =~ 19
  • Warp diameter: 0.8 mm
  • Weft diameter: 1-1.2 mm


  • Two warp yarns, one lighter/thinner.  Dark warp contains come white wool blended with much darker fibres.  Lighter warp is white wool to white mixed with darker fibres.  The colour difference is believed to have been obscured by light felting and appearing light grey in colour.
  • Two weft yarns, with significant variation in size. Weft is white to medium pigmented wool (light grey to grey).
  • Pigment source is unknown, likely natural to the wool.
  • EPI (main – light warp): 10 – 10.9/cm =~ 25-27
  • EPI (main – dark warp): 6.5-6.7/cm =~ 16.7-17
  • EPI (sleeves/gores – light warp): 10.2 – 12/cm =~ 25-30
  • EPI (sleeves/gores – dark warp): 10.8-12.4/cm =~ 27-31
  • EPI (red collar): 11/cm =~ 28
  • PPI: 6-7.4/cm =~ 15-19
  • PPI (red collar): 7.2/cm =~18
  • Warp diameter (light): 0.80 mm
  • Warp diameter (dark): 0.72 mm
  • Weft diameter: 0.9mm / 1.37 mm

Striped Fabric

  • Weave: 2/1 (weft-dominant) twill
  • EPI: 14.5/cm =~ 37
  • PPI (red/green): 8.2/cm =~ 21
  • PPI (gold): 21.3/cm =~ 54
  • PPI (green): 27.2/cm =~ 69
  • Warp diameter (warp is green): 0.56 mm
  • Weft diameter (red): 0.73 mm
  • Weft diameter (green in green-red): 0.90 mm
  • Weft diameter (green): 0.46 mm
  • Weft diameter (gold): 0.64 mm

Unfortunately, I don’t think I will be able to find this much variety in commercial yarns.  Over the next while I’ll be ordering some samples to test with.

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Next Big Project – Skjoldehamn Garb

For someone who sews a lot of 16th century clothing, I sure do seem to like to weave earlier Scandinavian stuff.

For those who are not familiar with the Skjoldehamn find, a body was found in 1936 in a peat bog in northern Norway (near Skjoldehamn, which is how it got its name). For a long while it was interpreted to be late 15th or early 16th century.  Carbon dating changed all that, marking it as most likely 11th century.  The body is believed to be that of a Sami male or female, or a Norwegian female.

The body was dressed in  hood, undertunic, kirtle, trousers, socks, ankle wraps and bands, shoes, and a cord belt.

You can read more about the find here.

I’ve been thinking about this find for some time now.  Though wildly inaccurate, I’ve affectionately nicknamed it the ‘Rainbow Viking Pantsuit’.  I love the use of colour in the cuffs, collar, etc.

The garments are unusual in their tailoring.  The individual pattern pieces are not symmetrical or even.  For example, on the one side of the kirtle has been cut on the straight (it uses the selvedge) while the other is cut angled, and then the sleeves are made in different lengths to compensate.  It’s maddening.

My current plan is to handweave at least all of the custom-coloured parts of the garment, so the striped fabrics (including the kirtle body and possibly the hood).  The remaining fabric will be handwoven or bought, depending on how my budget fares.  Since this is an outfit I intend to wear, I will be evening out the worst of the asymmetry to make something that won’t drive me crazy.  I think I will also make a ‘wonky’ copy in less expensive materials.  Should be fun to compare the two.

Any ways, my goal is to have this finished by Spring of 2018 for our Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship.  Wish me luck!


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Weaving for a Queen

I’ve been asked to do a small weaving project for our Queen for her step-down. I haven’t been asked to do any projects for royalty before, and it’s an exciting prospect.

This project is a front panel for an apron dress, appropriate for a 9th century Norsewoman in England.

Doing some digging, I found a draft from excavations in London dating to the late 9th/early 10th century for a wool broken lozenge twill with narrow reversals in the warp, and longer reversals in the weft. The original was undyed white sheep with 11 threads/cm in the warp, and 10 threads/cm. in the weft. I tried to find a yarn that would give me close to these results, but I’ve chosen to do it in ‘brown sheep’ and ‘white sheep’ to make the pattern stand out. This is woven out of some 2/8 Jaggerspun Heather I had set aside (edelweiss and brindle). While uncommon, textiles with contrasting warp/weft yarns have been found in Scandinavian (or Scandinavian-occupied) sited during this era. The extant textile had a reversal every 10 warp threads and every 41/33 weft picks. My weaving does the same.

Draft 2/2 broken lozenge twill
Sett 20 epi
Ends 390
Length 2.5 yds
Warp 975 yds (7 oz)
Weft 500.5 yds (3.6 oz)
Broken Lozenge Twill

Computer-generated drawdown


Completed fabric

Once completed, I added a tabletwoven border using the warp as weft to one end to mimic the starting band on a warp weighted loom.

Tablet woven end


The selvedges didn’t turn out well on this piece. I had been futzing with a tubular selvedge that didn’t work, and the wool was very grabby. To reinforce the edges I did a small rolled hem along the selvedge instead, and then hemmed the bottom.

And here it is all finished.

After finishing, I ended up with a thread count of 10 threads/cm. in the warp, and 9 threads/cm. in the weft. So, pretty close to the original.


Full panel


Detail showing tabletwoven top and brooch loops.

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Baronial Kneeling Pillow

We’ve needed a new kneeling pillow in the Baronial regalia for quite some time.  Something heavy duty and machine washable.  I finally made one.

New pillow

Pillow front

New pillow

Pillow back

New pillow

Showing the hidden heavy-duty zipper

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This blog has been unusually silent, but I have not been idle.  I’ve been working on a set of garb for my elevation to the Order of the Laurel.  It might not sound like much, but it’s a big honour in my club. I now have pictures to share with you all.

Vigil Ceremony. Photo by Lord Dafydd ap Alan.

Vigil Ceremony. Photo by Lord Dafydd ap Alan.

Elevation. Photo by Lord Dafydd ap Alan.

Elevation. Photo by Lord Dafydd ap Alan.

Laurel Scroll. Wording by The Honrouable Lord Colyne Stewart. Calligraphy by Maestro Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza.

Laurel Scroll. Wording by The Honrouable Lord Colyne Stewart. Calligraphy by Maestro Piero di Paxiti da Vincenza.

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Damask Research

What is Damask?

Silk; damask weave. Italy ca. 1550.

Damask  weave as defined by CIETA vocabulary is a figured textile with one warp and one weft in which the pattern is formed by a contrast of binding systems. In its classic form, it is reversible, and the contrast is produced by the use of the warp and weft faces of the same weave. By extension, two distinct binding systems may also be employed.

Where/When was Damask Produced?

It is debated whether damask originated in China or Syria.  Wherever it originated, the earliest extant damask textiles were from Palmyra and were woven before 276 C.E.  They are believed to be of Chinese origin.  Examples of  3/1 – 1/3 twill block damasks have been found throughout second to fourth century Europe, and is believed to be of Roman origin.  Damask was considered to be one of the five main weaves of Byzantine and Islamic centres.  Damask weaving was becoming scarce by the 8th or 9th centuries, except for Islamic Spain, but was revived in some places in the 13th century.  By the 14th century, damask weaving was found in Italy.  Damask linen tablecloths and napkins were very popular in the 16th century in northern Europe

Silk damask. China, 200-400 C.E.

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Perugia Towels

I’ve been collecting images of Perugia towels for quite some time now with the goal of eventually weaving some.

All of the Perugia towels I have seen follow a common design standard: a ground fabric of white linen twill (chevron or lozenge), with bands of a supplementary pattern weft  in a heavier cotton (usually blue) on a tabby ground.  Point twill and tabby go well together, since the threading for the twill is always alternated between even and odd shafts.

From the V&A Museum:

The name usually given in English to textiles like these is ‘Perugia towels’, deriving from tovaglie perugine. Tovaglia would usually be translated as tablecloth, and tovagliolo as napkin, so towel is not necessarily the best defining term for them; their use was in both ecclesiastical and secular contexts, and their function also included napkin and table cover, as well as altar cloth and sacristy hand towel. (In a painting by Antonio da Fabriano in the Museo Piersanti, Matelica, one is depicted as a loincloth for Christ).They were woven in mixed twill, ofter diaper, with white linen warp and weft, and had the characteristic feature of bands of pattern created with a supplementary weft of cotton, almost always dyed blue with indigo or woad, though occasionally in red or brown. Endrei (see bibliography) speculates that they were woven by fustian weavers, who were prohibited by statute from weaving in pure linen, or in plain weave. He thinks it plausible that as cotton takes indigo dye much more successfully than linen, fustian weavers were motivated to produce these textiles with strongly coloured bands of cotton decoration which linen weavers could not achieve.

Antonino Santangelo in The Development of Italian Textile Design(1964) quotes from an inventory of 1482, which describes two napkins being ‘…in the style of Perugia’ (banbagia a la perugina); if we infer that these are the blue banded towels under discussion, the association of them with this region appears to date back to at least the 15th century. However, Peter Thornton (The Italian Renaissance Interior 1991), while mentioning a reference to tovallie alla perugina in a 1574 inventory for Vasari’s house in Venice, cautions that transcribers of inventories might misread alla parigina, meaning ‘in the Parisian fashion’, which he thinks likely to mean simply diaper-patterned; the finest table linen was produced in northern France, particularly Paris. Endrei suggests that the towels’ origin, influenced by designs from silks woven in Lucca, could go back to the 14th or even 13th century.

Perugia towel at the V&A Museum

Perugia towels come in a wide range of sizes, so I could choose whatever I wanted (within reason).   I thought I’d go with a small hand towel width to keep it under budget.  I haven’t found any drafts for extant towels, but inspecting photo that gave me as much detail as possible it appears some of them are woven in a 3/3 bird’s eye twill, so that’s what I’ll use.  The white is 40/2 linen, and the blue is 8/2 unmercerized cotton.

The designs are mirrored – in some there is even text that ends up backwards in places.  This points to some sort of secondary harness rather than pick-up, which makes sense for the time and place these textiles are woven.  For this project I wanted to try half-heddle pick-up to simulate the second harness.

In half-heddle pick-up, the second harness is created with individual sticks (heddle rods), rather than integrated shafts.  The heddles on these are looped around the threads in question, and then pack up over the save stick (thus creating a ‘half’ heddle).  The heddle rods are then manually lifted as needed and a weaving sword (another big stick) is inserted to maintain the lift on the pattern threads while weaving.

Unfortunately, I got over ambitious in what my loom could handle.  I see why the recommendation is no more than 10 heddle rods.  The 20 I tried just did not work with the length of my loom.  So I’m doing regular pick-up instead.  I still learned a fair bit about the mechanics of compound harness weaving, so the time was not ‘wasted’.

My particular plan uses 6 shafts and 10 treadles. The first 6 treadles are used for the 3/3 lozenge twill. The next two for tabby, and the last two for binding down the floats.

And here is the finished towel…


Finished towel


Close up of the patterned band

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Dame Helen has been kind enough to begin fitting me for a cotehardie pattern.

My inspiration is the dress here.  I love the squared off outer sleeves (and the veils).

Christine de Pisan instructs her son, circa 1413

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Ottoman for the Woman

I’ve been toying with the idea of Ottoman garb (to match my husband) for some time now.  With our first Pennsic coming up is seemed like a good time to start.

Some useful information on the layers is here, and photos of the layers are here.

On my to do list is:

  • A gomlek (undershirt) or two.
  • Salwar (the trousers).  I already have one pair of these, but I might make another.
  • Chirka (fitted undertunic)
  • Entari (overcoat)

I found some fantastic fabric that I plan to use for the entari, and will base the colours of the rest of the outfit around that.

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Lampas – Documentation

Here is a link to the documentation for my lampas project.

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