Thursday, September 22, 2011

Snartemo part II - Tiny Diamonds

Initially I had planned on doing the interlocking open diamonds from Phiala's String page for Sven's tunic trim.  However, with a side by side repeat, it was going to take me forever to weave a piece that was not putting as much emphasis on the orange as requested.  While backing out the open diamonds, I screwed up and wound up with a partial little teal diamond.  So I backed that out, and decided to do the same little diamonds in orange.

/ / / / / / / / / \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
/ / / / / / / / / \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
/ / / / / / / / / \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \
/ / / / / / / / / \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \ \

This is the first twenty cards from Phiala's pattern.  The set up is still the same, except doubled.  So it is 40 cards wide instead of 20.  It's the basic diamond set up, without any cards flipped from S to Z.  Instead half the cards will roll backwards (which is actually the same thing). Because it uses four colors instead of 2, you will only have two options for a diamond color unless you shift the cards to bring the other two colors together in the center.  If you want to change to the other color options simply pack 2 twice in the same direction, repeating the double roll with pack 4.  Packs 1 and 3 will not roll.  If you do this in the middle of your piece it will be obvious, so I recommend sticking with one color set.

Roll the first ten cards towards your body, leaving them separate from the original pack.  Roll the next ten cards away from your body.  Repeat with the next two sets of ten cards.  You should now have four working packs in two lines.  Pack three will do the same as pack 1, and pack 4 will do the same as pack 2.  The cards closest to your body will roll towards your body, the cards farthest away will roll away from your body.  When you weave this you will get two rows of side by side inverted chevrons.  Do this until you have the desired number of chevrons in your chosen color.  I will refer to this as orange so it matches the pictures.  I did all pattern changes at the 3rd chevron.  When the two orange threads reach the center point of the chevrons, you are ready to start the diamonds.  Roll only 9 cards towards you, and roll the remaining card away from you.  On the next pack roll the first card towards you, then the remaining cards away from you.  Repeat with packs 3 and 4.  As you can hopefully see from the picture, I let the cards stay offset to make it easier for me to keep track of them. 

The orange threads should begin to float.

Next on the 1st pack, roll 8 cards towards you, the next one away from you, and the final one towards you again.  On the 2nd pack roll the first card away from you, the next towards you, and the remainder away from you.  Repeat with packs 3 and 4.  The photo below shows my offset cards between packs 3 and 4.

The floats are getting wider.

Now comes the hardest part to keep track of.  You will be reversing what you just did.  On the 1st pack roll the first 8 cards away from you.  Roll card 9 towards you and join it back into the 8 cards.  Roll card 10 away, and leave it offset.  On the 2nd pack, roll card 11 backwards, leaving it offset.  Roll card 12 forwards, and roll the remainder backwards joining them to card 12.  Repeat this for packs 3 and 4.  This should result in the end floats being brought back into the regular weave.

On the 1st pack, roll cards 1-9 away from you, 10 towards you, and join it into the pack.  On the 2nd pack 11 rolls away from you, while 12-20 roll towards you.  Once again becoming a single pack.  Repeat with packs 3 and 4.  You should have 4 packs with no cards offset.  Now roll pack 1 away from you and move it to the further away position.  Roll pack 2 towards you, moving it to the closer position.  Repeat with packs 3 and 4.  The positions of the pack have been reversed, but packs close to you still roll towards you, and packs further away still roll away from you.  Weaving this should now result in regular chevrons.  Continue weaving until you have the same number of chevrons you had before starting the tiny diamonds.  Then change the rolling direction of each of the packs, once again shifting them in position.  This means that pack 1 will roll towards you, and move closest to you, and pack 2 will roll away and move furthest from you.  You are now back at the beginning of the pattern, and weaving should result in inverted chevrons.

You can fill in the open diamond in the center where you changed direction, or you can change color on any of the diamonds, by repeating the same process except using the opposite corner color.

Just for grins and giggles this is what the back looks like:

Monday, September 19, 2011

Salmon Balls Penthalon entry May 2009

Culinary: Tourney Dish

This is a dish that could have been eaten in Jorvik (York) during the Dane-law.    I wanted something to take to events that required very little on-site preparation, but was something my persona might have eaten.  I preferred something I could share with others that was different, but would not require bravery to try.  I decided to make fish and herb meatballs.

There are no Viking or Anglo-Saxon cookbooks that we know of.  Attempts to recreate the food they might have eaten rely on archaeological remains, Leechdoms (medical texts), and the sagas.  We also have descriptions by visiting Romans and recipes from Rome that could have influenced the Anglo-Saxons during the Roman Conquest.

I looked through the records of meats that the people of Jorvik were known to have had available.  I chose to use salmon as many of my friends like it, and I thought it would be a welcome change from the usual foods I see at events.  Although much of their fish would have been smoked or dried, they also ate fresh fish.  I am not that fond of smoked salmon, and am unsure if the smoked salmon available today would be comparable to their smoked fish, so I used fresh.

According to my sources, the primary method of cooking meat would have been boiling.  In the past, when I have boiled fish, it had a tendency to fall apart.  Because of this, I looked for ways to prepare fish that was no longer a solid slab.  I ruled out soups and stews because I wanted a dish that I would be comfortable eating cold.  I also wanted to keep needed utensils to a minimum, hoping for something that could be eaten as a finger food.  In “Apicius” I found several recipes that involved grinding meat with a mortar and pestle.  These all included putting the meat into a casing or into a patty or ball.  I did not want to fry it, as fried food is often best served hot, but some of these patty recipes were also boiled.  Minced meat of all kinds were commonly used in sausages and puddings, and there are references to both having been boiled.

Dill and cumin have been found in the digs at Jorvik.  Neither of these herbs originated in Great Britain and would likely have been obtained through trade.  With this thought in mind, I used dried herbs, grinding each to a powder using a mortar and pestle.

I obtained a side of wild caught Atlantic salmon with skin on but without bones.  I cut the salmon into chunks about the size of my hand, and boiled them in a saucepan for about 20 minutes.  I did not want too strong an herb flavor so the only thing I added to the water was a pinch of salt.  Because I left the skin on while boiling, the salmon did not fall apart in the water.  They may or may not have left the skin on the salmon in Jorvik , as minced meat usually included offal.  Because I do not like the skin, I chose to remove it after the pieces had been boiled.  This also fits with the Roman recipes I found.  I ground all of the salmon using the mortar and pestle.  Taking 1/3 cup of salmon, I ground it with 1/8 tsp of cumin and 1/8 tsp of dill.  Because these would be refrigerated, and the flavors might intensify, I wanted to be careful not to over spice them.  Spices were expensive and would probably have been used sparingly.

For a binder, I used water and barley flour.  Barley was the predominate grain used to make bread in Jorvik.  Mills were well established, so I purchased pre-milled flour rather than grind my own.  Into the fish and herb mixture, I added 1 tsp of barley flour and 1 tsp of water.  Once again, I ground the mixture into a homogenous paste.  Taking a teaspoon full, I rolled small balls using the palms of my hands.  This resulted in five balls per third of a cup of salmon.  Using the spoon, I gently lowered these into water that was at a low rolling boil.  After boiling for 5 minutes, each floated to the top of the water.  They were then removed and placed on a plate to rest.

Barley bread and butter would have been a part of every meal.  I also added blackberries, as they would have been available in Jorvik, and my modern brain wanted a more balanced meal.


Cockayne, Oswald “Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England Volume III”.  “A Glossary of Names of Plants of the Cathedral, Durham” pp 302 (346) & “Saxon Names of Plants” pp 321 (365). London: Longmans, Green, Reader, & Dyer, 1866. ( ) is the page number if accessed through Google Books.

Giacosa, Ilaria Gozzini “A Taste of Ancient Rome” Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992, pp 12-13, 122, 131-137,182-183.

Hagen, Ann “A Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food: Processing and Consumption” Wiltshire: Anthony Rowe Ltd, 1993.

Hagen, Ann “A Second Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Food & Drink: Production & Distribution” Norfolk: Anglo-Saxon Books, 1995.

Priest-Dorman, Carolyn “Archaeological Finds of 9th and 10th Century Viking Foodstuffs”:

Regia Anglorum “Food and Drink in Anglo-Saxon England”:

Tannahill, Reay “Food in History” London: Penguin Books, 1988 pp 82, 247.

Toussaint-Samat, Maguelonne “History of Food” New York: Barnes and Nobel Books, 1992, pp 125-143, 296-306. 532.

Vehling, Joseph Dommers “Apicus : Cooking and Dining in Imperial Rome”  New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1977.  pp 61-70.

The Viking Answer Lady “Viking Food”:

********This was my least favorite entry, probably because I did not figure out what I was entering until the Monday before Pentathlon weekend.  It was weird making up a recipe rather than redacting one.  They came out blander than I liked, and dried out easily in the open air.  I'll be doing this one again with smoked salmon, mashing the salmon before boiling, decreasing the flour, and increasing the spices.  Considering that I did not manage to do a test run of this recipe, I am not displeased with how they came out.

Brocade Pentahalon entry May 2009

Move over from LJ.  Eventually I need to edit this post to include the inital attempt with wire.  Unfortunately I did not find the reference to the doubling of wire weft until after I had moved on to spun silver.  And I should probably include a warning that the real silver spun thread is serrated, and will actually cut warp threads as it passes over them.

Fiber Arts: Journeyman Tablet or Card Weaving

This is a piece of brocaded tablet weaving.  It is intended for use on a 10th century Viking apron.  It will be placed at the top front between the fibulae (broaches) like the piece found in a grave at Kostrup, Denmark.   Due to the expense of the materials used, it would likely have belonged to a woman of wealth.

Weaving with the use of tablets has been done since at least 4 bc.  Warp threads are the threads that pass through a tablet and run the length of a piece.  Weft threads pass through these threads, and hold them in place.  In brocade, a supplemental weft is introduced.  It is only tied in place by some of the warp threads, and is not structurally integral to the band.  The patterns it forms float on top of the weaving.  Several examples of this technique have survived, the majority of them in Anglo-Saxon and Viking sites.  A variety of fibers were used, with the bands containing metal or silk surviving the best.

Inspiration for this piece came from the brocaded tablet woven pieces found in the 8th to 10th century burial grounds at Birka, Sweden.  The majority of the pieces were silk brocaded with metal threads.  The metal threads used included wire, flat metal strips, and “spun” thread (thin metal strips wrapped around a fiber core).  The silk threads were very fine, probably about the thickness of sewing thread.

Plate 92 d-g Bands from Birka (Geijer “A History of Textile Art”)

I was nervous about the durability of such fine thread, so I decided to try it first with a larger fiber.  I used 20/2 spun silk from Aurora Silk.  I requested that it be dyed using indigo, because indigotin was one of the chemical traces found in the silk at Birka.  I was warned that their dye pot was almost exhausted, and that the color would not be very dark.  Because indigotin is also found in Woad to a lesser extent, I asked them to go ahead.  Silk threads were imported, but woad might have been used on undyed threads.  Dye was also expensive, so it would be worthwhile to dye successively light and lighter colors until it was used up.  Thread of this color could have been dyed using Indigo or Woad.

For the supplemental weft thread, I used #5 Real Silver Passing Thread from Van Sciver Bobbin Lace.  This is silver foil wrapped around a silk core.  This thread did not make sharp turns.  Because of this it was not providing adequate coverage of the warp threads, so I doubled it.  No examples of doubling this type of metal thread exist at Birka, but the supplemental wire weft ones had been doubled.

Most of the brocaded pieces from this time period were warped by alternately threading “S” and “Z”.  This refers to the direction the thread passes through the card and determines the direction the stitch will be slanted.  My pattern had seventeen cards, with an additional two cards on each side to provide a selvedge edge.  Because I wanted my selvedge to be identical on each side, I skipped one “Z” threaded card in the middle of the pattern.  The silk in the Birka pieces was so fine that the bands were very thin.  Because I used thicker thread, I used about half as many cards as they did.

Geometric and “S” patterns were in common use by the Vikings.  Initially, I tried to chart a pattern from a photocopy picture of a band with only wire remaining.  Instead, I found a geometric “S” I liked in the middle of one of the 12th to 13th century patterns from Norway (Spies pg 148).  It looked very similar to the one in my copy of the picture, so I modified it for my use.

My pattern.

12th century pattern from Norway (Spies pg 148)

There are several different techniques used in brocading.  Because I used a thicker silk and wanted the silver to stand out as much as possible, I used a single thread tie-down.  This is a single thread that passes over the supplemental weft to hold it in place.  In this piece the tie downs denote the pattern.  The supplemental weft is not carried all the way to the ends.  Instead, it is usually dropped to the back a few cards from the edge.  I wanted as thin a selvedge edge as possible, so I only dropped to the back one card in from the edge.  On the second cards in from the edge, I did a double tie down to make the selvedge edge look the same.  When this technique is done on regular fiber the part that drops to the back is easily pulled into the warp, disappearing from view.  The metal thread is not good at turning corners, and I wound up with a scalloped effect up both sides of the back.  If you look at the first band in the Birka picture, it seems that they had much the same problem.


Collingwood, Peter “The Techniques of Tablet Weaving” Oregon: Robinson & Ross Handweavers, 1996.

Crowfoot, Elizabeth, Francis Pritchard, and Kay Staniland “Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450 “ Suffolk: Boydell Press, 2006 pp 130-138.

Geijer, Agnes “A History of Textile Art” London: Sotheby Parke Publications, 1979 pp 69, 219-221, 229, 242-246 plate 92 d-g.

Geijer, Agnes "The Textile Finds from Birka." Cloth and Clothing in Medieval Europe: Essays in Memory of Professor E.M. Carus-Wilson. Studies in Textile History 2. N.B. Harte and K.G. Ponting, eds. London: Heinemann Educational Books, 1983, pp. 80-99.

Gartz, Eckhard “A Practical Examination of Wefts used in Medieval Brocaded Tabletweaving”:

Hald, Margrethe “Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials: A Comparative Study of Costume and Iron Age Textiles”, trans. Jean Olsen. Archaeological-Historical Series Vol. XXI. Copenhagen: The National Museum of Denmark, 1980 pp 225-226.

Ingram, Elizabeth “Thread of Gold: The Embroideries and Textiles in York Minister” Singapore: Tien Wah Press, 1987 pp 11, 20-22.

Ingstad, Anne Stine “The Textiles in the Oseberg Ship”:

Jaacks, G., and Tidow, K., eds. “Archäologische Texilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster 4.-7.5. 1993. NESAT V” Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster, 1994. Articles:  Peacock, Elizabeth “SEM-EDS Analysis of Metal Threads from Tronheim” pp 256-260.  Aud, Bergli and Inger Raknes Pedersen “The Textiles from the Ruins of Hamar Cathedral” pp 253-264.

Priest-Dorman, Carolyn “Metallic Trims for Some Early Period Personae”:

Regia Anglorum “Braid Weaving”:

Schweitzer, Robert “Brocaded Tablet Weaving”:

Spies, Nancy “Ecclesiastical Pomp & Aristocratic Circumstance” Jarrettsville, Maryland: Arelate Studio, 2000. pp 1, 93-96.

Wooden cards Pentathalon entry May 2009

I'm trying to move all blog entries from my LJ, so all weaving and craft blog entries are in the same place.

Functional Arts:  Apprentice Fiber Arts Tools

This is a set of wooden weaving tablets. Tablets like these would have been used to weave thin bands of fabric in a process known as tablet or card weaving. Weaving tablets have been documented as early as 4 BC, and some may have been used as early as 200 BC. The tablets found in archeological sites have all been triangular or square, but other shapes are shown in paintings. All have holes at each corner, with some having additional holes drilled in the center or sides. The tablets found are made of wood, bone, antler, ivory, metal or leather. Woods used include: Beech, Sycamore, Maple, Pine, and Oak. Sizes of the wooden tablets range from 2.3 cm to 5.5 cm. The only reference to the width I found was 3 mm. My goal with this project was to increase the authenticity of my weaving by using wooden tablets instead of paper cards.

Tablets still attached to a linen warp. Part of the Oseberg Ship burial.

Detached tablets in a display case at the The Viking Ship Museum


I am indebted to Klaus von Mainz for allowing me to use his shop and tools, as well as providing the material for this project. He demonstrated the procedures and allowed me to complete each process after he began it.


5 cm W x 5 cm D x 1’L pre-milled quarter sawn Hard Maple, cut into four approximately 3” lengths. In period the wood for an Anglo-Saxon or Viking would probably have come from radially split logs. Hard Maple was chosen because it is extremely long wearing and tends not to splinter. It is also a good choice because it has a tendency to burnish when finished with hand tools.

Tools Used:

Ryoba Saw, Tenon or Western Backsaw, Drill Press, Band Saw, Jointer Plane, Block Plane, Countersink or Center Reamer with a T Handle, Carving Knife.

There are several finds of woodworking tools contemporary with the use of wooden tablets. Two of the largest finds are the Hurbuck Hoard (County Durham, England) and the Mastermyr Tool Chest (Gotland, Sweden). The Bayeux Tapestry shows many of these tools in use. It appears that manual woodworking tools have remained relatively unchanged over the centuries. These tools look and function much the same as their modern equivalents.

The Hurbuck Hoard: Examples of 9th early 10th century woodworking tools.

The Mastermyr tools shown with modern wood hafts.


A block was marked at 5mm from the end rather than 3mm so the saw marks could be planed away later. After marking one tablet, it was attached to the woodworking bench using a vice. I hand sawed halfway through the block. This was then removed from the vice, and turned over so I could saw the remaining half. I did this twice, using two different kinds of saws.

Example #1 was sawn using a Ryoba Saw.

Example #2 was sawn using a Tenon Saw

In period the holes would probably have been drilled using a spoon bit auger. Because I wanted the holes to be as uniform as possible, I used a drill press. Once the blocks had been drilled, the remaining tablets were sawn using a band saw. The tablets were smoothed, and reduced to their final thickness of approximately 3mm, using a jointer plane (Example #3). Initially a block plane was tried, but the jointer plane was easier for me to manage because of the greater length. Modern planes have changed in appearance, but the process and the end result remain almost the same.

Block Plane

Jointer Plane

On three of the tablets, I used a carving knife to chamfer (bevel) the side edges and the holes the fiber passes through (Examples #4, #5, & #6). Due to the quantity of cards and time constraints, the remaining cards were not done with the carving knife. The remaining sides were chamfered using a block plane, while a countersink was used on the holes. The cards were left unfinished because there is no evidence they would have received any finish in period.

Countersink bit


Arnold, C.J. “An Archaeology of the Early Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms.” London and New York: Routledge, 1988. pg 20.

Arwidsson, Greta and Gösta Berg. "Mästermyr Image Library”:

British Museum: “The Hurbuck Hoard”:

Collingwood, Peter “The Techniques of Tablet Weaving” Oregon: Robinson & Ross Handweavers, 1996 pp 10-30.

Crockett, Candace “Card Weaving” Denver, Colorado: Interweave Press, 1991 pg 13.

Hampshire Museums Service: “A Brief History of Hand Tools”:

Geijer, Agnes “A History of Textile Art” London: Sotheby Parke Publications, 1979 pp 38-39.

Arwidsson, Greta and Gösta Berg. “The Mästermyr Find: A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland” Lompoc, CA: Larson Publishing Company. 1999.

Hald, Margrethe “Ancient Danish Textiles from Bogs and Burials: A Comparative Study of Costume and Iron Age Textiles”, trans. Jean Olsen. Archaeological-Historical Series Vol. XXI. Copenhagen: The National Museum of Denmark, 1980 pp 225-226.

Held, Shirley “Weaving, A Handbook of the Fiber Arts” New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1978. pg 244.

Ingstad, Anne Stine “The Textiles in the Oseberg Ship:

Jaacks, G., and Tidow, K., eds. Archäologische Texilfunde--Archaeological Textiles: Textilsymposium Neumünster 4.-7.5. 1993. NESAT V. Neumünster: Textilmuseum Neumünster, 1994. Pritchard, Francis “Weaving Tablets from Roman London” pp 157-161.

Lewins, Shelagh “The Partly-Completed Tablet Weaving from the Oseberg Ship Burial”:

mac Alasdair, Findlaech “A Carpenter’s Chest: Tools of the 15th Century”:

Ostergard, Else “Woven into the Earth. Textiles from Norse Greenland.” Denmark. Narayana Press. 2004. pg 104 & 113.

Perigrin, Tom "Reconstruction and Use of a Saxon Plane":

Regia Anglorum “Anglo-Saxon and Viking Crafts- Woodworking”:

Seaton, Frank “The Bayeux Tapestry, A Comprehensive Survey” London: Phaidon Press, 1965 Plates 37-39.

Spies, Nancy “Ecclesiastical Pomp & Aristocratic Circumstance” Jarrettsville, Maryland: Arelate Studio, 2000. pp 1, 93-96.

Steane, John, “The Archaeology of Medieval England and Wales.” Taylor & Francis, 1985 pp 234-237.

The Viking Answer Lady “Woodworking in the Viking Age”:

The Viking Ship Museum “Welcome on Board! The Sea Stallion from Glendalough, a Viking Longship Recreated” Denmark: Nofoprint A/S 2007 pp 52-53.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some interesting websites

I'm always running across cool weaving blogs and other neat things on the internet, but I really can't bookmark them all.  As I run across interesting stuff, I am going to post it here, so I can find it again.

I need to translate this one, and contact her since she apparently has booklets she produces.

Brocade lions