Sunday, March 11, 2012

Split Pack Saxon Tablet Woven Braid class handout

Trying to put my class handouts up here.  Some of the formatting doesn't translate, but the chart should still be legible.

 Split Pack Saxon Tablet Woven Braid
By Aldgytha of Ashwood (Erin Alderson)

This is a recreation of the earliest known Saxon threaded in tablet weaving (approx 6th century). The original piece was found in St. John’s Cricket Field, Cambridge, and resides in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge. Only a small scrap of the weaving was found attached to half of a metal strap end. It shows one complete diamond, and a partial one above and below it. The band is blue with a white line down each side, and white outlining a pale blue diamond. The original fiber appears to be flax.
A picture of the fragment.
Here is what the pattern looks like.

This piece is one of four existent pieces done in this technique. One of the pieces has a chevron pattern, and probably dates from the early medieval period. The other two pieces are solid color with brocading, both from the 13th century. This piece is unusual because most Saxon textile finds have been plain weave with or without brocading. In addition it is the earliest example of a textile used as a belt by the Saxons. The chart for this pattern comes from Grace Crowfoot’s examination of this piece.






The technique used to weave this piece involves splitting your cards into two packs: All even numbered cards in one, and all odd numbered cards in another. Numbering is from left to right.   Each pack takes a turn being rolled forward or idling (not being moved). To start pass your weft thread from left to right. Then roll your even pack ¼ turn forwards, and pass your weft thread again (right to left). Then roll the odd pack ¼ turn forwards, again passing the weft (left to right).  Continue.  Only one pack will turn with each passing of the weft thread. The pattern repeat is 8 turns of the cards.
You can keep track of which pack should be moved next by which direction the weft thread has passed. From right to left, is followed by the odd cards. From left to right is followed by the even cards. This is important; otherwise the weft thread will not be caught by the selvedge warp. If you want to add an extra card to make the pattern symmetrical, it will need to be treated as an even card despite being an odd card. This applies any time the number of cards is uneven, because there needs to be an even and an odd selvedge edge (the extra card is actually outside the selvedge). Bands woven in this technique are twice as thick as regular card woven bands.
Peter Collingwood “The Techniques of Tablet Weaving” (New York: Watson-Guptill, 1982), pp. 121-122.
Crowfoot, Grace "Textiles of the Saxon Period in the Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology", in Proc. Cambridge Antiquarian Soc. vol. XLIV, 1951, pp. 27-30.
Lewins, Shelagh “Anglo-Saxon Belt Weaving Instructions”:
Polak, Gudrun “Anglo-Saxon or Split Pack Card Weaving Technique”, Twist Volume XIV Issue 1 Spring 2007, pp. 6-7.
Priest-Dorman, Carolyn “A Saxon Threaded-In Tablet Weave”:
If you have questions, suggestions, or want to send me pictures of what you wove, I can be contacted at

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