HSF 2 – UFO: The Mystery Warp

Sew fortnightly

So, it’s due day for yet another challenge, and as usual, I get stuck in the Facebook group where everyone puts up their projects rather than writing the post of my own project… But here we go, pictures taken, thing done, let’s tell the story of the mystery warp.

(I really like the name for this thing. UFO – The Mystery Warp. It sounds like it could be set in space.)

As you may remember, I had a UFO tablet weave warp, which I didn’t remember my plan for, and I didn’t have any tablets left either. How to solve the latter part can be seen in this post.

Let's do the Mystery Warp again

Let’s do the Mystery Warp again

To the left of the warp is the most important thing: The shed. Without this, the warp is basically just a bunch of threads.

The threading of the tablets

The threading of the tablets

When threading the tablets, the shed is still in place. This helps to thread the tablets in the right order, since the shed is made in order. To keep the threads still, I placed a weight on the threads just above the shed. For this project the plan drawing is made slightly backwards. Usually, the plan drawing is made before making the warp. This has been the case here as well, but that drawing is long gone. So, I made a new one, thread by thread, tablet by tablet.

The mystery unfolds

The mystery unfolds

As you can see, there are 11 tablets, each with 4 holes (A-D). The lines above show the threading direction of the tablets. The observant can see that ideally, there should have been one more tablet between 6 and 7, duplicating the 6th tablet, but threaded in the other direction. I might have forgotten that tablet when I was making the warp, but the pattern works anyway. This pattern can be varied in many ways when weaving, but it’s also one of the most simple patterns.

Work in process

Work in process

When all the tablets are threaded, the warp should be stretched. I tied it between a table leg in the living room and a belt around my waist. After this, the weaving can begin. I used an orange thread for weft, which is a rather difficult colour to get by plant dyes. The orange-red colours are obtainable, but I’m not too sure about the pure orange.

The tablets are turned one quarter, shifting the shed each time. I turned all the tablets at once, since this is a simple pattern. To make this pattern, I changed turning direction by every 6th turn. Also, for this part of the project, I really recommend audio books!

The yarn for this project is not ideal for weaving, as the yarns have a tendency to felt together. There are better wool qualities for weaving than this yarn, which however is great for knitting and needlebinding.

The mystery warp done.

The mystery warp solved.

By the end of the weave, it will get difficult to turn the tablets. This is the cue that your weave is finished. I cut off the yarns and took off the tablets. As you can see on the picture above, the threads are rather entangled by the tablets. I took off the tablets and made plats of the threads by the ends of the weave.

The finished weave

The finished weave

As the weave was slightly bubbly, I decided to try an experiment and iron it on the back. To my surprise it worked rather well. It’s much flatter now.

On the iron board

On the iron board

Lessons learned from this project:

  • Think about your work positions when weaving, especially if you’ve attached your weave to a rather low table leg.
  • Always have exciting audio books at hand.
  • Experiment more – this is a very simple pattern!

Historical notions:

I’m not entirely sure when tablet weaving was first used, but it was known to the Vikings, so in the Iron Age at least. They have found tablets with the finds from Herjolfnes in Grönland, and there are tablets depicted in a weave in the Codex Manesse. This illustration features two different shed-making tools, tablets and a thing called ”bandgrind” in Swedish (no idea of English terminology here). I’ve never heard of anyone using both those in the same project, so it might be an artistic liberty, to show that both tools were used in the work, although not on the same weave? The tablets are furthermore rather advanced, with 6 holes instead of 4. Klick on the image to go to the full scanned Codex Manesse.

From Codex Manesse, the different weaving tools and the girl to the right does needlebindning.

From Codex Manesse, the different weaving tools to the left, and the girl to the right might be doing a needlebindning project.

It’s also very possible that the weave I’ve made is on the same level as a child’s work in the Viking Age. The tablet weaves found are way more intricate than this very simple one. But I hope to get better.

Close-up before ironing.

Close-up before ironing. The orange dots are the weft threads being visible.

The facts

The Challenge: #2 – UFO

Fabric: Wool thread

Pattern: Made up, though very simple.

Year: Iron Age and forward, and possibly backward too. I love how definite some projects are in time frame!

Notions: Tablets made out of very modern carton of milk. Pens, paper and bits of wood to draw the plan and keep the shed intact before threading the tablets.

How historically accurate is it? The technique is very historically accurate, though perhaps a little on the simple side. You can get the red and red-orange colour by roots of special plants (latin names: Rubia tinctorum – how’s that for hint of usage to dye red?! – and, growing closer to home, the Galium sp. I only know these plants names in Swedish, so the latin names will help to find them in your language.) but I’m uncertain of the orange. The wool thread is accurate. The tablets are accurate in shape but not material. I’d say on the whole it’s rather good.

Hours to complete: Rather many, once again I forgot to time it, but it’s a 167 cm (3 cm shorter than me!) weave, so around 10-15 hours including the tablet making and everything.

First worn: I still don’t really know what to make of it – decoration or belt? So it hasn’t been worn yet.

Total cost: Well. All in stash. Possibly 9.50 SEK (approx € 1.10) for the milk. But that also counts as stash, really…

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Filed under Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge

2 responses to “HSF 2 – UFO: The Mystery Warp

  1. Could the thing you call a ”bandgrind” be a warp separator? Mine is from this seller:
    http://www.lucets.com/pages/weaving-tools.html
    And I use it on the roller beam loom I also purchased from Lynn the Waver:
    http://www.lucets.com/pages/looms.html
    Sue H

    • Thanks for the links, it’s good to have images to English words sometimes! I think ”bandgrind” translates more to a heddle, because it has the line of holes on the small wooden sticks as well, and some of them are decorated in a similar way as the illustration. But it makes more sense to have a warp separator and tablets on the same warp too! This illustration is the new mystery to me… 🙂

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