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
Long legged cross stitch in wool. From the embroideries Fogdö, Ramsele and Trönö, Sweden. They are all sewn with a 2-plied thread. Blue is almost always present in all medieval embroideries. Here we can see a backside from Fogdö and fronts on Trönö and the cute birds of Ramsele and a detail of their legs. They are all dated to 15th century. They bottom fabrics are a linen weave in basket weave.
All embroideries can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.
We love how often blue is represented and therefore we always dye blue in various shades. Both light and dark is needed. We use indigo and woad.
/ Amica and Maria
CC-by please cred us if sharing the pictures
Bonus- check out the diffrent style and directions of the stitches.
Gilt leather embroidery. These embroideries are as simple as they are ingenious. The same pattern shape is cut out of two different colored pieces of fabric. Most often, this is a mythological animal. Then the cut pieces change places and are sewn on with small whip stitches, edge to edge. A thin linen thread has been used for the medieval embroidery. A thin gilded leather strip is then sewn over the joining seam, also this one with whip stitches. Strips are also used for decorative elements on embroidery and of course applications, which we have already written about. Here ve can see two griffons from the Skepptuna coverlet. The animals are individually decorated.
The Skepptuna coverlet is C-14 dated to the latter part of the 15th century early 16th century. And can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.
When making embroideries you need to work with fulled wool fabrics to be able to make tiny stitches without fraying the edges since you work with basically 0 seam allowance. We like the Melton quality sold by Medeltidsmode. (scroll down) they offer a mix of colours. The white dyes very good if you are into plant dyeing. Even smaller pieces work good as a test piece. Why not make a fancy pin cushion or a purse when trying out the technique?
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.
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.
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.
Red blood drops on Jesus body. The red wool yarn is a 2-plied and have a pretty high twist. Most likely dyed with madder. This is a detail from the Fogdö embroidery, Sweden. The embroidery is BIG and measures 0,9 x 7,9 meters long, originally it believed to have been over 15 meters long. The embroidery shows scenes from the life of Christ. The stitches are long legged cross stitch.
The embroidery is dated 1480-1500 AD.
When sewing long legged cross stitch, we always use a 2-plied thread like the original. And we also sew a bit more like the medieval style, in more or less in all directions. The medieval people were less neurotic then our crafts teachers in school..
Today the embroidery can be found in the collections of the Swedish History museum.
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