Friday, May 8, 2009

Birka 7 (for tunic?)

Warp: Red silk
Weft: DMC Cotton
Brocade: Spun silver
Pattern: Birka 7
Cards: 17
Length: Approx. 1 metre
What's new: 2 holes per card threaded

This is my second project for Iarnulfr, who is now making me a bed. It is very similar to the first band I did for him, except that I have actual red silk now so don't have to dye it myself (with poor results), and I've persuaded him to let me try with only two holes in each card threaded (alternating positions on each card). There are Viking bands where this may have been done (it's also possible that they were threaded with linen and it has completely disappeared).

Iarnulfr isn't sure what this band will be going on yet but it will probably be something tunic-like.

Weaving a band with only two holes threaded per card requires a slightly different technique to 4-hole bands. With 4-hole bands, the warp threads are packed densely and you can pretty much walk away from the weaving without any fear that the cards will slip out of alignment. But because there are only half the warp threads in a 2-hole band, you have to constantly hold the cards in place. So (at least the way I do it) your left hand is always on the card, leaving only your right to manipulate the wefts, which is a bit annoying.

The other issue is that with only 2 holes threaded, and an odd number of cards turning a quarter turn each turn, at one side of the band the ground weft will be looping around one of the absent warp threads, which means that card will be completely fail to be caught up in the band. To get around this I passed the ground weft to the back between the last and second-to-last card and then came back in from the outside. Of course if I'd thought ahead the problem could also have been solved by not following a strict alternating S and Z threading.

On the plus side, the lower warp density meant it was easier to get high weft density, so the brocade coverage is excellent. The band is also a bit wider than I was fearing- about 8-8.5mm compared to 1cm for 4-hole bands with the same number of tablets. Obviously this means it's quite a bit thinner (in addition to being narrower).