Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Oseberg Loom

Here's the long-promised post about the Oseberg loom made for me by Iarnulf. Here's a link to Plate 13 from Osebergfunnet Vol. 2 with line drawings of the loom. Iarnulf has copied the dimensions closely. The wood is spruce and macrocarpa while the original was beech. The loom stands about a metre tall and is just under 2m in length. Here's a photo, taken before it was oiled.

It feels great to be weaving on a documentable loom. Because it breaks down into pieces it's also very convenient for taking to camping events. The goodly length means you can go for a long time without having to reverse your twine direction (As I've mentioned before, it does make it very inconvenient for setting up in the living room!).

If I had one complaint it would be that the crossbar is right where my knees want to be when sitting on my chest seat which means I can't have my lap directly below where I'm weaving so the bobbins can drop there when not in use. This could easily be fixed with a lower or higher seat of course (the chest seat does OK when turned on its side). It does show the upside of the overhead crossbar as seen in many 14th and 15th century illuminations such as the picture at right from a festal missal of Savoy, ca. 1460 (The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, KB 128 D 30).

I'll end with a picture of me using the loom; as you can see, in contrast to the ladies sitting at their looms in illuminations who are facing more or less perpendicular to the loom, I am sitting at an oblique angle due to the knee-high crossbeam. There seems to be no consensus in illumnations as to whether the weaving progresses from right to left as in this photo, or from left to right. I'll touch on this topic more in a later post.


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  2. Second time lucky: as I made it as close as possible to the original dimensions, then given that the average person at the time was probably shorter than you, it's not surprising that the cross beam is at your knee height, and if you wanted one that allowed you to sit at a better angle, we could make another set of uprights to the same dimensions, but with the crossbar about 15-20 cm higher to allow knee room.

    Failing that, We could convert it to the top beam type from later periods. But then it wouldn't be an Oseberg loom :-(

  3. Does your wobble a bit Mine doesn't seem as sturdy as I'd hoped it would be.

  4. I continuous warp around the poles or use the loom as a warping board, but then at least one end needs to be pulled off and tied to a loop around the poles instead, since there is not much flexibility for retensioning as the warp tightens up as you weave.

    There is some wobble but nothing that affects usability.