Friday, November 5, 2010

Warp Spreaders Revisited

Lowrens has made me another warp spreader. The first one he made was in the style of Teffania's - a rod with hole drilled through it. This gels with what can be seen in the few manuscript pictures which show warp spreaders. There are about 7 manuscripts listed in EPAC (including the errata) which contain warp spreaders, out of a total of 33, so I suppose if there's one thing which can be concluded it is that use of the warp spreader is optional (possibly dependent on how prone the warp fibres are to tangling). Of those seven, I have managed to lay eyes on 4:
  • Book of Hours Duke John of Bedford, ca 1420-1430. Vienna, Österreichisches NationalBibliothek, ms. 1855, fol 25 (at right)
  • Book of Hours, ca. 1407. Oxford, Bedleian Library, ms. Douce 144, fol 19
  • Book of Hours, Paris, ca. 1400-1410, Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek KB 76 Fol 21
  • French tapestry in Rheims Cathedral, France, ca. 1507-1530 (below)
There are apparently another couple in Des Cleres et Noble Femmes but the picture of Arachne doesn't look like tablet weaving to me, and I can't even find the one of Penelope.

So anyway, these pictures all look consistent with a rod with holes bored in it. But it's been pointed out to me that with the perspective used in these pictures, another plausible interpretation would be a small wooden frame with sturdy thread wound tightly around it, creating slits for the warp threads to pass through. I'm not really sure I buy into this but it doesn't seem completely implausible. There are a few advantages to this setup compared to the rod:
  1. The warp is well balanced (the rod is prone to leaning into vertical position... on the other hand, that's exactly what we see in the manuscript pictures)
  2. Hypothetically (I haven't tried this) you could wind thread on spreader after warp is strung up. You certainly can't do that with the rod.
  3. The twist builds up on far side of warp spreader because the warps do not need to converge in front of the spreader. This means you can go for longer without reversing turn direction or straightening out the threads.
Lowrens is happy to produce more such spreaders (and probably other things) if anyone is interested in purchasing them. If you need his email address, you can leave a comment to this post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Amalie,

    Lovely name you have!

    Are the warp spreaders still available?