Historical art is a great source for understanding how the tools of the time looked and were used. Strikingly often, one can understand that the artist had little understanding of, for example, the function of looms. However, this particular one seems to work fine.
The woman in the picture is weaving a plain weave and she is holding a weave shuttle. The woman on the floor is winding a bobbin for the shuttle. Both the loom and the bobin machine are imaginative for the understanding of what they looked like at the time.
The story itself can also give clues of what is depicted. Since the weaver is weaving a shroud we are quite sure it’s supposed to be linen.
The painting is at the National Gallery in London and is dated to 1509 circa.
Today’s post is about dyes. Or in fact dyed wool fabrics that are from the beginning of the 14th century and STILL in great condition. Check out thees seal bags, protective bags in fabric for wax seals on legal documents, written 700 years ago.
They have been stored in archives from when they were written until today. And they are dated on the exact day they were created and is by far the best source we have come across when it comes to textiles.
Now in the collections of The Swedish National Archives. Please cred us if sharing photos!
A mix of slightly different things with the common denominator “a thin two-plied wool thread”. First in our batch is a tablet woven band from Gotland. Dated 800-1100 AD. Today the band is exhibit in the new exhibition The viking world. The exhibition text says: “Tablet woven ribbon of wool with individual turns. Woven with a two-plied wool yarn where the thread’s high twist gives the pattern a certain depth. The ribbon is woven with twelve tablets. The two edge tablets on each side are threaded with four threads in each tablet, while the pattern tablets are only threaded with two threads in each. The lack of threads causes a relief pattern to occur during weaving. The pattern is obtained by turning the tablets individually so that the missing threads end up in a specific pattern. Width 0.8– 0.9 centimeters, preserved length 28 centimeters. This ribbon from Gotland differs from the ribbons found in Birka as the latter have silk in the warp and picked pattern elements in gold or silver thread. Part of depot finds “in pasture”, from Lilla Ringome, Alva parish, Gotland.”
The second find is a find that is interpreted as a cushion. Grave find from Birka, Bj739, Adelsö parish, Uppland. Hhere we can see something as unusual as clear colors on an archeological textile. Both red-purple, blue-black and yellow. The weaving technique is tapestry and soumak. Dating 800-1100 AD
The last picture is from Lödöse. Here we can see a small piece of a finger loop braid. Made with two different colours on the wool yarn. Dated to 13-14century.
The viking age finds are from the collections of the Swedish History museum.
The 20/2 wool thread is versatile and can be used in many projects such as, tablet weaving, embroidery, sewing, braiding and more. It dyes really good and we always try to have a range of colours when working. The pigments we use are madder, cochineal as a kermes substitut, indigo and woad, birch, weld, tansy, walnut, gall apple. Together with alum, cream of tartar, iron and pH-modifier we can produce countless nuances.
/ Amica and Maria
Photos by: Historical Textiles CC-by please cred if sharing the pictures
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.
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 tablet found in Uppsala, Sweden. Dated to the late medieval period. It’s made of wood. We don’t know what kind of wood. It measures 6cm x 6 cm. The corners have been damaged over time and we guess it have been less round when it was new.
Today it can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.
This year we presented our paper at Nest XIV. “Colours in medieval textiles versus archeological textiles from Swedish cities” was the title of our abstract. Nest XIV was supposed to take place in Oulo in Finland but was first postponed a couple of times and then became a digital version on Zoom. All participants sent in their paper presentation in advance and only the session discussion was a live talk. A lot of interesting papers were presented! We can’t wait for the publication!!!
We are so happy that we finally can share some of our research that we have been working on the last couple of years, it has taken long due to the pandemic… But finally we can share the amazing colors and fine fabrics from the medieval seal bags from Riksarkivet / National archive
Fulled fabrics. The fabrics during the Middle Ages were often fulled. When fabrics from that time is found in the ground, the majority of the nap is often gone. That means the fabrics that we find give a different surface then the fabric originally had. Also fabrics other than archaeological, may have lost a lot of its fulled surface. Here we can see some evidence of that.
The examples are both from gilded leather coverlets, where the gilded strip ( or a twisted linen strip) has fallen off and exposes a fabric that has significantly more nap than the rest of the fabric. Both fabrics are dated to 15th or 16th century.
Today we return to the Grödinge double weave. But today we focus on the animals of the middle section. We got lions, eagles and the animal combined by the two, griffins. At first sight all animals looks the same, but at a closer look, all the animals have some small individual parts. That menas that the pattern have been picked by hand during the weaving.
The weave is made out of white and dark blue wool and is dated to the 15th century.
Today the double weave can be found in the collections of The Swedish History Museum. / Amica & Maria Please cred us if sharing photos. Click on the photo to enlage
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