Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Birds after Philip of Swabia's Caligae

Warp: Blue silk (Devere)
Weft: Structural weft: blue silk.  Ground brocade: Honkin "real gold". Pattern brocade: Red silk (Devere)
Pattern: Band from Philip of Swabia's caligae
Cards: 112 pattern + 2x2 border
Width: 4.2 cm
Length: Aiming for 2x120cm, woven 40cm so far.

It's been 4 years since my elevation and the dress I wore is still only embellished with bicep bands.  This year I've finally started weaving the bands for the big  cuffs... although at the rate I'm going it will be next year before I finish!

This band is based loosely on a band on Philip of Swabia's caligae (fabric boots). Philip was buried in the early 13th century, but the information I have says the band is probably 11th century Islamic. I would love to know how they made that determination but no details are provided.

The end effect of this band is going to be very similar to the bicep bands but the technique is different.  The bicep bands were 3/1 broken twill so the red was part of the warp.  In this band, the warp is all one colour and the pattern colour is a secondary brocade weft.  The pattern colour floats on the back of the band whenever not in use while the ground brocade goes through the shed while the pattern colour is on top (hooray for photographs of the back of bands!)

I've worked with two brocade wefts before, eg the Mammen band, but this is my first band where the pattern switches several times between 2 brocades in one line.  It's very hard to get the weft packed tightly under these circumstances.  According to the information I have, the original band had 40 picks per centimetre.  That's insane. I've scaled the width up by 50% and I'm still only getting about 20 per centimeter. Of course, I don't have any data on the thickness of the thread.

Here are a couple of photos of my progress so far. 
 

Birds 1 and 2 have a basket weave pattern behind them. In the original, the birds themselves had a basket weave pattern behind them, but the areas without any read had a patterned background. However, the photos I have aren't enough to discern the pattern and I decided this was one more thing than I could be bothered thinking about given the size of the project.


Birds 3 and 4 have diagonal lines. I'm going to alternate between these two backgrounds.

There's actually another element to the pattern of this: between each set of birds there's a thin strip of pattern that goes right across the band.  But I haven't taken any photos of that yet, mostly because I'm not very happy with the way the ones I've done so far have turned out.

Today I've finished bird 6, about 40cm in. At this rate I will finish the first cuff maybe around September. Yeesh.