Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hose Trim and Garters

Warp: Silk
Weft: Silk
Brocade: Silk
Pattern: 15th century chasuble. Munich (EPAC p. 144)
Cards: 9/21
Width: 6mm/12mm
Length: 60cm/60cm

For my first band I picked the pattern in EPAC which used the fewest cards. It is from a linen band from a 15th century chasuble. The design is a simple geometric consisting of diamonds and diagonal bars and I think it would not be out of place on 12th century garb.

The purpose of this project was to make garters for my dark blue woolen hose. We have extant hose from the 12th century with garters sewn on at either the front or the back of the hose. This is most excellent, since I've had several garters fall off during events without me noticing until it's too late to recover them. Unfortunately I don't know of any garters that were definitely tabletwoven (in pictures they mostly look like ribbons) but it doesn't sound like the most out there idea ever.

The warp, ground weft and brocade weft are all of Schappe silk from fibreholics. The warp and ground weft are an alarmingly bright blue, and the brocade weft is white. The original band had one-thread pickups but when I tried this it was hard to discern the tiedowns at all so I stuck with 2-thread tiedowns. This is the most common number in extant bands.

Since this was my first band and I wanted to tax my brain as little as possible, I brought the brocade weft all the way to the edge of the band at every pass ("Type 1" turn in EPAC). The brocade weft is clearly visible at the edges of the band.

The band went well once I got going. The chasuble the original band was from also had another, wider band on it and I decided to weave this as well, as trim for the hose. There's a pair of 13th century buskins with a tabletwoven band for trim in the V&A (or at least, fragments of the buskins are there).

The second band used 21 cards. I was unsatisfied with the results of the "Type 1" turns on the narrow band, so used EPAC's "Type 2" turns, where the brocade weft passes to the bottom of the band between the edge card and the next one in. This is the most common turn type in extant bands.

The band went pretty well but there are two aspects I'm unhappy with. One is the density of the brocade. There are clear gaps between each pass. The problem is not so bad on the narrower band so I think part of the issue is that although I was beating the weft equally hard on both bands, the force would have been more distributed on the wider one.

Ways of improving the coverage (other than beating the weft harder) would be to use a thinner thread for the ground weft than for the brocade weft, which would make the passes closer together, or to double up the brocade weft, which would make the passes wider. Both these methods are used in extant bands.

The other issue I had was that the weft tension varied wildly, so the width of the band fluctuated from about 0.9 to 1.3 cm. EPAC suggests measuring the width of the band at each pass. Personally the thought of this fills me with despair, and I just hope that with practice I become good at keeping it even by eye. It was a particular problem with this band because due to my inexperience I have no idea what the "right" width is (the 15th century band is a crazy 3cm wide so no help there).

Here's a (fuzzy) picture of the finished product. The garters are finished in plaits with one card (4 threads) in each strand of each of 3 plaits. I had re-sew the tops of the hose a bit so they were just the right width to get around my calves with a non-stretchy band on them.