To unknown backside of the Ärentuna embroidery. Ärentuna is not one but two different embroideries. The big piece have red contours and the small piece have brown contours. They are made in the same pattern but in different colors. This is most likely a recycled bit from another embroidery. The yarn is a wool yarn.
The cushion is dated to 14-15th century. And the original is in the collections of the parish.
When making embroideries it’s a good idea to have many colors in to work with. We plant dye our threads ourself and to make brown we use walnut, sometimes in combination with iron to get a really dark nuance.
A selected mix of medieval embroidery with applications made in different fabrics. The medieval gilt leather embroideries often have several different fabrics, often in different colors and in different qualities. Here we can see applications from the coverlet Dalhem 1. The Ilsbo coverlet, unlike Dalhem 1, does not have gilt leather strips on the edge but twisted linen strips. Skepptuna have lovely hearts in gilt leather. Masku coverlet have cute flowers in purple.
There is also a chasuble with nice little applications on. It has silk, wool fabric, gold thread and wool yarn in a wonderful mix. The wool yarn is used a bit as a contour or here as a stem.
Bonus is the Bexheda coverlet, also this embroidery has gilt leather strips on the edge and appliqués in fun colors. This one is not 15th century as the others but from the 17th century. So the tradition lives on.
Applique embroidery is not a Swedish phenomenon, but since we have access to museum collections here, we often write about it, but there is a fine embroidery from today’s Germany. The Tristan wall hanging that is available at V&A is a wonderful example of just application. This embroidery is dated to the latter part of the 14th century and it is easy to see that the people in the embroidery have fashion clothes from the era. This one also have silk embroidery and additional spangles. And of course gilt leather.
Small pieces of wool fabric are invaluable when embroidering appliqué. If you also want to embark on embroidery with gold leather, gilt leather strips are very necessary. Even small pieces of gilt leather are good to have! Pieces of wool are also very good to have if you are going to repair clothes that have broken. Maybe you need to repair a hose? Then put on a patch! It can feel fancy to have a plant dyed patch under your foot.
A the patterned part of a Danish wool textile. This is a textile find from Hvilehøj in Jutland. The bottom fabric is analyzed and is in a red color, the pigment is kermes. Although today it is mostly brown. But it can be seen that the patterned thread is of a different quality and of a different color. The bottom fabric is woven in plain weave and the pattern is picked. The pattern thread is originally assumed to have been white. It is 2-plied and the thread in the weave is a single in both warp and weft.
HERE you can read more about the entire reconstruction work done by researchers from the National Museum in Copenhagen. Scroll down in the text.
The fabric is dated 900AD.
With a 2-plied thin wool thread you could weave such lovely patterns. But you can off course also use it as warp in a tablet woven weave. Or as sewing thread. Or make embroideries with it. We love our white 2-plied thread since it’s strong and natural white and not bleached.
A selection of spindel whorls. All made out of lead. Lead spindle whorls are found all over Europe during the Middle ages. They seems to vary in style over time. Here you can see a number of spindle whorls from a private collection. All in lead. from 6 grams up to 42grams. Both flax and wool have been spun with spindled whorls like these. Did they only use lead during the period? No. Spindel whorls comes in a number of different materials. Femoral heads, horn, ceramics, amber, tin, stone are even wood. The most durable materials are the ones that can withstand degradation best and therefore they are just common among the archaeological finds. Few of tin and wood have survived to our days. The whorls on the pictures are dated from the 800. 1400 AD. They are all found in Germany and England. The sticks are rare and have off course a secondary use as firewood.
We like to spin on spindles. But we are staying off the lead when making whorls ourself. The singel whorl on the picture have been measured and have been modelling for us when we have made a copy of that one, but in tin rater than lead. A stick is also needed when spinning. That can be a simple stick carved by yourself or you can get one fancy stick made by our friend Helena Åberg. The stick on the picture is a simple sushi stick…
A selection of blue linen linings. Quite often chasubles, copes, embroideries, purses have a lining made out of blue linen (or hemp) lining. Even queen Margaretha’s golden gown have a small piece of blue lining inside the dress, attached at the neckline. The chasuble from Ösmo have a lovely dark blue fabric. Dated 15th century. The embroidered altar frontlet from the Birtgittin nuns in Vadstena dates to 15th century and have lovely piecing on the backside. The linings are dyed as fabric and not as yarn. The dyes is most likely woad. There are also relic purses with blue linen lining.
Today, you find these finds in the collection of the Swedish History museum.
With a woad or indigo dyed fabric you could line the neck of your kirtle. Or use as lining in a small embroidered purse. Why indigo? Indigo and woad a chemical siblings and not even a color analysis can determine which pigment was used, we use indigo since we find the quality of indigo powder higher than wood.
/ Amica and Maria
CC-by please cred us/ Historiska if sharing the pictures
Bonus- Check out the pretty lousy sewing that was going on on the backside of the embroidery. White sewing thread to blue fabric is also very common.
Today, we go back in time and visit Högom, Sweden. The chieftain of Högom is famous for his grave and the amazing items in it. The textile fragments in the grave shows sophisticated and specialised crafts, like the table woven bands with soumac in horse hair. Hopefully, we will have reason to return to those later, but today we focus on the cloak of the chieftain; more specifically, the tassels of the cloak. They are made with a red 2-plied wool thread and have a cute braid ridge on the flat side.
The cloak is dated to the 400-550 AD.
Today, you find the cloak in the collection of the Swedish History museum.
With red 2-plied wool thread you can make your own tassels in this style.
Today we turn our eyes towards a cope from Ösmö church, south of Stockholm Sweden. Its a cope in green damask silk and with lovely embroideries. But we don’t care about those today. We look at the cool tablet woven fringe. The fringe is woven with 4 tablets. The warp is in silk. The tablets are treaded left-right-left-right. The green and the red ( today orange) weft is a 2-plied silk thread. The white is a single linen thread. The tablets are turned in the same directions and changed when needed. You can see a turn of direction in the red fringe part.
Once again a detail from the Ärentuna cushion. But this time we focus on the bottom weave. It’s a linen , or hemp, fabric. Quite coarse and very evenly woven. It measures 8 threads per centimeter in both warp and weft, making it perfect for counted embroidery. The thread in the weave is a single thread. If you look closely on the bottom fabric you can see the imprints of the now missing embroidery.
The cushion is dated to 14-15th century. And the original is in the collections of the parish.
We use a 8th/cm in our reconstruction of the Ärentuna embroidery. If weaving a narrow weave with this thread count one could for an example use that narrow weave and make a small purse in counted embroidery.
A detail from an Icelandic wool embroidery. The embroidery is an antependium and is in really good condition consider it’s age. The technique is surface couching. The background is a linen fabric.
” Laid and Couched Work, is a form of embroidery where a thread (usually wool ) is laid on a ground fabric (usually wool or linen ). This stitch is created by laying a set of ground threads, that work from one side of the pattern to the other. Over these threads, in the opposite direction, are laid another set of threads at regular intervals . These cross threads are then held down by a series of couching stitches . The whole process results in an area completely covered in thread. This technique allows for large areas of pattern to be covered very quickly.” ref. Historical needlework
The yellow wool thread have faded over time, as yellow does, and was originally much brighter. The wool thread is thin and 2-plied.
The embroidery is dated to the 14th century.
We dye our own wool thread to be able to get a thin thread with a bright yellow. Reseda is the plant we use, as they did in the Middle ages too. To get is really neon-yellow, we add a small amount of ammonium. They used urin.
Sewing needles from the lake Furen, Sweden. They come in many sizes. Many of the needles have corroded badly over time and are difficult to separate from one another. The have round eyes and are very delicate and a sign of hand from a skilled crafts person.
The needles are dated 1100-1499 AD.
When sewing one need to have a good needle. To be able to press the metal through the fabric it needs to be sharp and have a small eye. A good steel needle is possibly to sharpen. Therefor we choose needles of high quality when sewing. A good tool makes the task more fun.
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