Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Brocade Ergonomics

Ok, so remember how I said that although the illuminations show weavers sitting facing their band looms directly, I had to sit sideways to my Oseberg loom when I was weaving, because the crossbeam was at knee-height? That was true, but it wasn't the whole truth.

At Canterbury Faire I was weaving the Baltic S-motif, which is not a brocaded pattern. When I got home and set up my loom there, I realised I could turn my chest seat on its side, which would make it low enough for my knees to fit under the bar. I set up the loom so I was weaving from left to right, and I wove the rest of the band doing a passable job of sitting face-on (no pictures, sorry).

However, when I tried to do the same thing with a brocaded pattern, it just didn't work. When the band went from left to right, so the tiedowns were picked up to the left of the cards, I couldn't work out an efficient way to hold my hands. And when the band went from right to left, I just found myself gravitating to the old side-on posture. The turning the cards, passing the weft and beating were all fine face-on, but picking up the tiedowns was awkward any other way.

I'm not at all sure whether the way I'm weaving is optimal, or whether it just seems that way now from force of habit. I'd really like to hear from other people doing brocaded tablet weaving, whether they position their hands the same way I do, or whether I'm doing something freakish. You can't tell from any of the illuminations I've seen whether the weaving is brocaded (although the picture in the Hours of Catherine of Cleves seems to show two bobbins worth of weft) so there are no clues there.

It's a bit hard to explain exactly what my hands are doing so instead I've taken a short video of a couple of picks. This isn't meant to be an instructional video- there are some of those out there on YouTube though, well worth checking out- I was weaving at full speed to make my movements as natural as possible. But I'd really like to hear from any other brocaded tablet weavers out there, how my technique differs from their own.


  1. Hello you ask for having news of other brocaded weavers. I am. But I can't help you. I'm not doing like you. I use a time loosing technique. I really like your method. I have to try! Thanks.
    First for me I turn only 1/8.
    1/8 brocade weft, 1/8 normal weft , 1/8 brocade...
    (I don't know if I use the good term. I'm french and don't speek very whell).

  2. Thanks for the commnent! You may notice in this video, I am doing the tiedowns under 2 threads, and I assume with your 1/8 system you are doing them under only one. But I use the same method with 1-thread tiedowns.