31 July 2015

An Old Band-Woven Bookmark

A while back, a private book collector in the Midwest sent me a textile to examine.  It had come to him as a bookmark in a sixteenth-century bound manuscript.  With his permission, I am sharing my analysis here.

The bookmark is what's known as a "portable register" type.  Rather than being attached to the binding or a page of the book, it is removable.  Specifically, it's a multiple-strand bar anchor bookmark.  Several textile strips are secured to a bar (the "anchor") that is designed to rest on or at the top of a book.  See this article for an introduction to medieval bookmarks, and see the sources at the bottom of this post for more information.


Description:

This bookmark is composed of what appears to be a hand-whittled wooden bar anchor around which are sewn five lengths of band-woven textile.  The strands vary in condition from bright, flat, and flexible to crusty, dirty, curled, and stiff.  Only one of the ends has any finishing treatment; most are quite ragged and torn. 



The anchor is is about 2-1/4" (56mm) long by 1/4" (6mm) at its widest diameter.  The carved away portion of the bar is about 1-1/4" (32mm) long.  The wood is a light-colored, fine-grained hardwood, slightly bowed along its length.  Wear has chipped and pitted the surface at the two ends, which were originally smooth.  The collars at either side of the carved away area are still sharply cut into the wood, as if by a small but very sharp knife.

The five individual lengths of band-woven textile have been looped around the anchor for an original count of ten hanging tails, the strands.  A line of coarse stitching worked with a naturally colored linen thread holds together the entire set of looped bands.  The sewing thread is wrapped several times around each of the two outside bands. 


Six of the original ten strands survive in a usable length.  Both sides of the middle strand have been torn away leaving nothing but frayed ends next to the anchor.  One entire side of each of two strands has also been torn away, again leaving frayed ends next to the peg.  Two strands are substantially complete although one end of each is shorter than the other end; both the shorter ends are also frayed. 

The two longest remaining ends are approximately 22" long.  One terminates in an overhand knot.  The other has some broken warps and comes to what looks like a blind end.  It may be that these 22" lengths reflect the original lengths of the strips.  The book in which the bookmark was found is about 12.5" tall, which corresponds to the area of each long length that is comparatively clean and bright in appearance.

The textiles appear to be five strips cut from a single long narrow band.  The band is of warp-faced tabby, i.e., either rigid heddle or inkle woven.  The warp is two-ply linen of approximately 0.4-0.5mm diameter.  The band varies between 4mm and 5mm in width, and the beat is very regular.

one of the best preserved pieces of the band
The eleven warp ends are in four colors—bleached, golden yellow, light greenish blue, and dark blue—and the weft is more of the light blue linen.   The blue threads are finer than the gold and white ones.

weaving draft for band

Conclusions:

There doesn't seem to be a good solid hook from which to hang a specific date on this bookmark.  There is no reason to assume it was necessarily as old as the manuscript.  While some portable register bookmarks found in medieval books are likely to have been original (Swales & Blatt 2007, 167), others are not.  This bookmark could easily have been an afterthought, added to the book centuries after it was bound.  Perhaps someone retrofitted an existing anchor by giving it new textile strands in a later century.  Or perhaps the present bookmark might have completely replaced an earlier marker whose anchor was in poor repair but whose existence was helpful.

Although some parts of it are worn and dirty, proving that it's been around for a while, the linen for the most part is in extremely good shape, supple and not deteriorating.  It is hard to imagine linen strands would be in that fine a shape after hundreds of years closed between two layers of vellum; over so long a period of time surely the pH of the vellum would prove damaging to the linen.  Also, the use of several colors in the linen tape is, as nearly as I am aware, more likely to be a product of the eighteenth or nineteenth century than of the sixteenth or seventeenth.  I could not find any examples in Swales & Blatt's catalogue that were even remotely similar to this one save #2, "plain-woven red/blue/white wool and linen tape," which the authors could not examine (Swales & Blatt 2007, 148).  A mixed wool and linen tape seems even less likely to date back that far than the one at hand.

Accordingly, I'm going to hazard a guess that the textile portions of this bookmark are nineteenth century, at the earliest.  About the anchor, I've no idea, but it seems to have been fairly amateurishly produced, perhaps by someone bookish who needed a replacement anchor for a special book.

I appreciate the opportunity to have examined this piece as well as the challenge it posed to my knowledge of historic bookmarks.  I learned a lot!


Appendix:

I created the weaving draft to match the original colors using KXStitch* and the Anchor color palette.  The exact Anchor colors I used for this draft are as follows.
  • gold:  295 Jonquil
  • white:  2 White
  • light blue:  1062 Peacock Blue
  • dark blue:  131 Blue

Sources:

Janzen, Jenneka.  "Mark Their Words:  Medieval Bookmarks."  https://medievalfragments.wordpress.com/2014/07/11/mark-their-words-medieval-bookmarks/.  Accessed 31 July 2015.

Kwakkel, Erik.  "Smart Medieval Bookmarks."  http://medievalbooks.nl/2014/09/22/smart-medieval-bookmarks/.  Accessed 31 July 2015.

Swales, Lois, and Heather Blatt.  "The Bookmark."  In Das Hainricus-Missale. Vollständige Faksimile-Ausgabe der Handschrift Ms. M. 711 der Pierpont Morgan Library New York. Kommentar, hrsg. von Hans Ulrich Rudolf, 165-175.  Graz, Austria: Akademische Druck- und Verlagsanstalt, 2010.  (See also pages 179-181 in the German translation, which have the informative schematics and photos.)

Swales, Lois, and Heather Blatt.  "Tiny Textiles Hidden in Books:  Toward a Categorization of Multiple-Strand Bookmarkers."  In Medieval Clothing and Textiles, vol. 3, ed. Robin Netherton and Gale. R. Owen-Crocker, 145-179.  Woodbridge:  The Boydell Press, 2007. 


* KXStitch is an open source cross-stitch graphing program for KDE.  It comes pre-loaded with the Anchor, DMC, and Madeira color palettes.  When using KXStitch for graphing textile patterns, I habitually use the Anchor palette rather than the DMC or Madeira one; I find it better represents naturally dyed textile colors, which are the colors I am accustomed to using.


01 July 2015

2/1 Twills: Rippenköper

© Carolyn Priest-Dorman, 2000

The “rippenköper,” or “repp twill,” has no standard equivalent name in English. The weave was first identified, named, and explained in 1967 by Hans-Jürgen Hundt in an archaeological publication. Rippenköper is a catch-all term for those twills, usually 2/1, whose basic structure alternates bands of warp-faced twill with bands of weft-faced twill, “usually after every third pick” (Bender Jørgensen, p. 14). Although it is a very simple
weave, I haven’t found it yet in a modern book.

28 June 2015

Two Asymmetrical Pavy Weaves

© Carolyn Priest-Dorman, 2003

A year ago my article “Some More Medieval Linen Weaves” presented a number of multishaft medieval liseré weaves of pavy design. One important design feature common to all these textiles was that the wales of the pattern all lined up and met perfectly. Accordingly, when I was attempting to draft an 8-shaft version of a pavy liseré weave for that article I focused a lot of attention on getting the diagonals to line up perfectly.

Last summer, however, I ran across two historic pavy weaves that are markedly irregular; their float arrangements are not perfect, and the wales do not line up perfectly. Further, the structure of these particular two textiles is not a liseré; it is a gebrochene. That is, it is an “Ms and Ws” structure with twill floats in both warp and weft systems, not just in the weft system as with a pavy liseré.

Middelburg-Nassau-Grimbergen, draft no. 1

One is part of an antependium from Middelburg-Nassau-Grimbergen, now in the Koninklijk Instituut voor het Kunstpatrimonium in Brussels. It dates to the first third of the 16th century. A complete analysis was not available to me, but the drawdown by J. Vynckier (de Jonghe, p. 70) was. The other is a large fragment of linen (Tx 63) in the collection of the Abbey of St. Truiden in Tongeren, Belgium. It was analyzed by Daniël de Jonghe (pp. 270-272), who assigns it a date similar to that of the Middelburg piece. Although the piece is a fragment, the complete width of 33.6 cm survives, including both tabby selvedges. Like most medieval ecclesiastical linens, it is woven with Z-spun singles line linen. The thread count is about 60 ends and 45 picks per inch, and the cloth is bleached.

If the structural analyses by de Jonghe and Vynckier are correct as printed, then the two textiles are curious inversions of one another. Both textiles are identically drawn in, yet their tie-ups are exact opposites. If, however, the structural analysis by Vynckier is drawn using a different convention than that by de Jonghe, then the two textiles may be closely related.

Middelberg-Nassau-Grimbergen draft no. 2

De Jonghe’s textile analysis can be checked against the photo of Tx 63; as always, he represents the warp with black and the weft with white. I was not able to check Vynckier’s analysis against the antependium because I do not currently have access to a photo of the actual textile. But if Vynckier’s drawdown uses white to represent the warp and black the weft, then the two textiles could be woven on the same warp using the same tie-up by simply changing the treadling sequence. Because de Jonghe dates them together due to their commonalities, it’s worth considering that they might be closely related, perhaps from the same production center. Accordingly, I give two different versions of the Middleburg draft, for those who’d like to try weaving them both on one warp without switching tie-ups.

St.-Truiden Tx 63


The draft called “Middleburg 1” is the one I first derived from the drawdown. It assumes the black-warp, white-weft CIETA convention that de Jonghe uses. The “Middleburg 2” draft I based on my hunch that the two textiles are related, and that Vynckier might have represented the textile “backward” from the CIETA convention. Instead, it is predicated on a white-warp, black-weft convention. The draft for Tx 63 is cut down and reworked from that of de Jonghe (p. 272), whose drawup and draft present more than a complete repeat and are tied up differently than I would do it.


Sources:

Daniël de Jonghe, “De Textieldocumenten uit Sint-Truiden: Technologische Bevindingen,” pp. 63-105 in Stof uit de Kist: De middeleeuwse textileschat uit de abdij van Sint-Truiden. Leuven, Belgium: Uitgeverij Peeters, 1991.

Daniël de Jonghe, catalogue entry for Tx 63, pp. 270-272 in Stof uit de Kist: De middeleeuwse textileschat uit de abdij van Sint-Truiden. Leuven, Belgium:  Uitgeverij Peeters, 1991.


*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

This article was originally published in Issue 35 (March 2003) of Medieval Textiles, the newsletter of the medieval textiles study group of Complex Weavers.  The drafts and drawdowns I submitted were created using the freeware drafting program, WinWeave.  Using GIMP, I have turned the original drafts into graphics for republishing here.







25 June 2015

Jorvík 1307: This Project Grew in the Planning

Or, "what I did with the rest of that handspun warp."

It all started when I realized I'd spun a good bit more warp than I needed for my yard of  Jorvík 1307.  I thought I should probably try some other weft with it so I'd have a sample for teaching aids.

I should say here that I have a good-sized collection of samples I use as visual aids when discussing various weaving concepts, structures, treatments, and colors.  They're mostly offcuts from larger projects.  Once in a while, though, I weave something specifically for use as a teaching sample.  Jorvík 1307 was turning out to be the occasion for doing that again.

I looked through my stash of handspun worsted yarn in appropriate fibers—Icelandic, Manx Laoghtan, Shetland.  I noticed I had a fairish quantity of Shetland singles yarn in the 0.6mm diameter range, some Z-spun and some S-spun.  The yarn size was in the zone for Jorvík textiles, although not dead-on accurate for any of them when combined with the pre-existing 0.4mm warp.  But the Z-Z versus Z-S textile divide has been on my mind since I first read Lise Bender Jørgensen's work on spin direction nearly 25 years ago.  Here by happenstance I had an opportunity to experiment with it at period-correct setts using period-correct yarns.  I decided I'd weave some of the warp off with each of the two types of yarns so I would have an example of two cloths sharing the same sett, with the same size and fiber type of weft yarn but differing in their direction of spin.

Partly as a relief from the attentive work I'd put into making the first part of the textile as correct as I could, I decided to beat this part of the textile by instinct, until it looked and felt "right."  Purely subjective!  The 17-18 picks per inch of Jorvík 1307 was too loose for this smaller weft.  I didn't count my picks, but I worked hard to beat evenly, especially when it came to matching the beat I'd used in the S section when it became time to weave the Z section.  Overall the weaving went speedily and without incident.  I did not notice anything to differentiate the ways the two yarns behaved as weft.

It was difficult to get a good representative photo of the section woven with S-spun weft.  This washed-out shot (taken on the loom) shows the texture more clearly than any of the others I took.  You can make out the lozenges, but they're indistinct.


S-spun weft

When I switched to the Z-spun weft, the structure was immediately more clear.  Here's a shot taken off-loom that shows mostly the Z-spun weft area.

Transition from S-spun weft (below) to Z-spun weft (above)

Here's a better shot of them both together.

Z-spun weft at top, S-spun weft at bottom


After finishing, the S-spun section of the cloth has about 27 picks per inch, while the Z-spun section has only 25 picks per inch.  I am at a loss to know whether this result stems from my having failed to beat precisely across different portions of the warp or from some property of the weft yarns themselves.

I have let some other string geeks (mostly spinners) play with the finished cloth to see what they thought.  Everyone agrees that the Z-Z textile shows the weave structure most clearly.  That could explain why so many broken lozenge twills are woven with Z yarns in both systems.  If you're going to go to the trouble of knitting heddles for and then weaving a broken lozenge, I should think you'd want your work to be noticed!

But if that's the case, then why would Z-S broken lozenge twills even exist?  The answer to that question may have something to do not with appearance, but with handling.

The Z-S textile, like the Jorvík 1307 one, gives a thick and cushy impression.  Everything about it seems like it's smooshed a little more together, from the pick count to its appearance and handling.  It's more limp, less dynamic than the Z-Z textile.  It reminds me of a tablet-woven band with alternating threading:  the twists cancel each other out, leaving the textile neutral.  The Z-Z textile responds more quickly to movement, which gives it a more lively hand.

Refreshing my memory about the numbers and distributions of Z-S broken lozenge twills will be a research pleasure.  Perhaps it will even lead to some practical conclusions, or at least a testable hypothesis.  But for production purposes I will probably stick as much as I can to Z-Z spun twills, since I enjoy the look and dynamism of them.  Also, my Z yarns are much better spun than my S yarns!

22 June 2015

Jorvík 1307: Finishing and Conclusions

Previous posts here and here.

After I finished the second part of the weaving (see next post), I cut the web off the loom.  I washed it by hand in warm water with gentle soap, then spun it out and hung it up to dry.  (Warp-weighted looms serve many useful purposes in the modern home; mine is also good for hanging string things up to dry.)  I gently ironed it, and then I played with it a bit.

Because this structure is so weft-faced, the weft yarn exerts a lot of control over the handling of the cloth.  The texture is supple, but thick and cushy owing to the soft weft yarn.  It isn't exactly felted, but it fulled together very nicely.

After I played with it for a while, I carefully measured it. 

Take-up and finishing gave me a 6% shrinkage rate in the warp and a 4% shrinkage rate in the weft.  I had expected a little more shrinkage in the weft direction, maybe 7%-8%, but at 26 ends per inch I was pretty close to my target warp count of 27.5 ends per inch.  As for my target weft count, it was 17.5 picks per inch.  In most spots I exceeded my target by a bit, sometimes getting as much as 20 picks per finished inch, partly because I underestimated warp take-up and partly because I incompletely compensated for my linen weaving habit of a firm beat.

Next it was time for the photo session!  With bright indirect sunlight and a grey background (yes, I know it looks blue, but it's grey), I got a pretty representative couple of photos.  Here's the whole five feet of cloth.

the two-yard piece
And here's the diva closeup shot.

detail


Conclusions and Other Thoughts

I'm really happy with how well this turned out; given my inexpertness with a spindle, it could have gone much worse.  I'm especially proud of how well my first foray into warp spinning succeeded; it's given me courage to reach for a larger project.  But I'm even more happy about what I've learned about relative yarn sizes.

Many factors led to me choosing Jorvík 1307 as my target textile.  One of those factors was definitely the size disparity between the yarns used in the two systems of this textile.  I wanted to examine the common premise that Viking Age textiles are best recreated with yarns of similar grist in warp and weft.  I already knew that most of the Jorvík wool textiles are woven with differently sized yarns in warp and weft.  With Jorvík 1307 I would be working with an extreme example of that phenomenon.

Jorvik 1307 displays a warp yarn is among the very finest of the Jorvík, i.e., Viking Age York, wool finds.  Of the 31 wool textiles from Viking Age York in Walton's catalogue, only four (1261, 1299, 1308, 1382) have warps as fine as Jorvík 1307.  Only one textile has a finer warp, Jorvík 1300, which has warps in the 0.3mm size range but is an unevenly spun warp with other yarns up to the 0.7mm size.

Differences also come to light when considering the weft yarn.  Among those 31 Jorvík textiles there are four (1257, 1258, 1296, 1297) coarse tabbies with thicker wefts than 1307; another (1379) with a thicker weft is a coarse 2/2 twill.  The herringbone twills 1264 and 1302 have weft the same size as 1307 but their warps are not nearly as fine, making them more evenweave.  Jorvík 1300 has wefts in the same size range as 1307, but again it is uneven, with the wefts varying between 1.0mm and 1.5mm. 

In other words, Jorvík 1307 has a finer warp than about 83% of the Jorvík textiles, and a thicker weft than about 74% of them.  The contrast between its warp and weft—with warp at the small end of the scale and weft at the large end—is remarkable even among its own peer textiles.  And that doesn't even take into account the question of sett; I'll have to take that up with another project down the line.

I will use the shrinkage and take-up factors from this textile to inform future projects.  I expect these factors depend to some extent on loom type, yarn diameter, and degree of spin.  I think I'll change yarn diameter first in order to see how that affects the overall picture.

I will definitely be spinning another wool warp.  Next time I'll pick a textile with a slightly heavier warp and less size disparity between warp and weft.  That still gives me plenty of Jorvík textiles to choose from even if I stick to my favorite period.

I will definitely be separating and spinning þel for weft again, too.  The uneven S-spun weft was, I think, the weakest part of this project; there's lots of room to improve that particular skill!  The processing of fine undercoat wool is somewhat of a mystery to me, since my big combs didn't work with it.  The cards I used are inappropriate tools for Viking Age textiles.  While I did not use them in the way that would have been typical in the Middle Ages, to produce rolags of coiled fibers for woollen spinning, it still bothered me that I was using them at all.  As an interim solution they worked pretty well to get the fibers straight, but I'd like to move to a less anachronistic tool.  Next time I will try smaller combs.  If need be, I will resort to hair combs to get the fibers straightened out a bit before I try spinning them.

I'll do at least one more piece on the table loom before trying my homespun on the warp-weighted loom.  I'd rather not push my luck.

In the final installment:  what I did with the rest of the warp.

18 June 2015

Jorvík 1307: Warping and Weaving

 Previous post here.

I drew up a weaving draft for Jorvík 1307 based on the graphic in Figure 137a in Penelope Walton's Textiles, Cordage and Raw Fibre from 16-22 Coppergate.  Jorvík 1307 has a section that is regular broken lozenge twill and a bit that is point repeat lozenge twill.  Walton puts that down to warp disarray based on "muddled or torn areas" (page 331).  I suspect it was a threading error.  But either way, I don't think it was an intentional part of a greater pattern of broken and point repeats across the cloth.  Accordingly, I decided to make the entire textile a broken lozenge twill.

weave draft and draw-up I used
The loom I picked to weave this textile on is a Louet Kombo four-shaft table loom.  I would have preferred to use my Icelandic style warp-weighted loom, but it's in storage in the basement.  That's because the place on the dining room wall where I would have set it up is currently taken up with the project on my 7' ancient Greek style warp-weighted loom (see other blog).  But I've had good results weaving small lengths of Viking Age type textiles on the Kombo; at least for loom type, I was on familiar territory.

I worked out the math for the warp based on a thread count of 25 ends per inch (11 ends per centimeter according to Penelope Walton's analysis).  This got me within a couple of ends of the correct count, 27.5 ends per inch.  I figured the take-up and wet finishing at the end of the project would likely adjust the count to right about where I wanted it to be.

The Jorvík 1307 fragment did not survive with an intact selvedge.  Since I knew the selvedge of my textile would become the edge of a hat, I wanted it to be as strong as it could be without being too obviously modern.  I looked at other wool textiles from the same time and place as Jorvík 1307 to see what selvedge treatments might be appropriate.  All of the selvedges Walton mentioned were "simple," i.e., had no additional reinforcing threads or crammed ends or any of the other tricks modern weavers use to keep them strong.  All the twill ones suffered from the usual problem of the weft not always binding with the outside thread.  It was fun to see the different expressions of that problem in Walton's drawings.  In the end I decided to ply some of my warp double and use one strand of that as a floating selvedge at each side.  The thick weft would obscure it pretty much completely, but it would add structural integrity.

When it finally came time to wind the warp, I freaked out a little bit.  I had purposely avoided thinking about what might happen if I had critical warp failure.  What if the yarn were too hairy?  I hadn't considered using sizing on this project; for that matter, I'd never used it whether on linen or wool.  What if I got a lot of breakage?  Was there enough extra warp that I could handle several broken ends?  I didn't know.  But when I handled the yarn, it seemed to be very stable even with the high degree of twist.  I tied up the cross more securely than I usually do, just in case it wriggled once I took it off the warping pegs.  But it didn't!  It lay cooperative in my hands without twisting.  It wasn't the smoothest yarn of that size I'd ever seen, but I'd managed to work with several hairier ones in the past.  I was optimistic, and so I set to work.

My Kombo reed is ten dents per inch; I alternated sleying it 2 and 3 ends per dent to get my 25 ends per inch.  I threaded the heddles, triple-checking at the end of every lozenge to make sure I'd done it properly.  I added a couple of ends at each side just to give a little padding to the pattern.  Since I fully expected I'd lose threads at the selvedge, I figured I'd give the piece a few disposable threads.

I wound it onto the back beam without incident and tied it off.  The warp behaved beautifully throughout this process, better in fact than some of the commercial warps I'd used.  It also wasn't casting off fibers, which I thought was a good sign.

I was in a hurry to get a look at my handspun interacting on the loom, so I wove a complete pass (18 shots, one lozenge tall) right after the header cord, to see what it would look like.  The warp was not grabbing at all!  I felt like the Spinning Queen!  (I'll probably have to blog separately about this some day, because it's really sort of a rant about how people tend not to put enough twist in their yarn when weaving to period spec.)  But the warp was still not spread out as well as I'd like it to be, and the dark colors made the pattern hard to see.

One of the commercial yarns I considered using for a weft on this project is an undyed singles tapestry yarn from Wild West Weaver.  It was the correct diameter for this piece (1.2mm), so I used some of it as a high-contrast weft to help me establish my beat and weft count.  It also spread the warp out a little more evenly for the beginning of the usable portion of the cloth.

the first couple of inches
Once I tweaked my beat to get the weft count I wanted, the rest of the weaving went quickly and well.  Let's face it:  after you've gotten past sourcing and creating the yarn, weaving it up is the fun, fast, and easy part of a project.  The problem I've had keeping my place when I treadle a broken lozenge twill didn't occur when I was lifting shafts by using the pegs on the Kombo.  One of these days, after I get decent at weaving twill on the Icelandic loom, I'll have to try a BLT and see how lost I get.

Over the entire two yards of warp, I only lost three ends to breakage.  All of them were in the group of the two outermost yarns on each side of the warp, and they all snapped within the first few inches of the weaving.  Since I'd added a few extra yarns to the warp at each side, these breakages didn't even impinge on the lozenge pattern, so I didn't bother to replace them when they snapped.

I found it almost impossible to take photos of the cloth on the loom.  My weaving space for this project was in a darkish room.  The best condition for viewing the cloth, the conditions that allowed me to actually see the lozenges clearly, was when it was late in the day and the lights were off.  Both the indirect daytime sunlight and any electrical lighting washed out the surface; flash photography was even worse.  Here's the best photo I was able to take.

on the loom

You can see the contrast between the warp and weft yarn sizes at the top of the fell.

During the weaving I realized I wasn't entirely happy with giving away every inch of this cloth.  I wanted to keep a bit of it for myself, so I kept weaving after my target length had been achieved.  I used up all the weft yarn I had spun, down to the last four or five inches that were left on the shuttle after the last possible pick.  That gave me another few inches of completed cloth that I could keep for my teaching stash.

In the next installment:  finishing and conclusions.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

The weave draft and drawdown I created for this project were produced using the freeware drafting program, WinWeave.  I took a screenshot of the completed draft.  Using GIMP, I edited the screenshot to produce the .jpg for posting.

16 June 2015

Jorvík 1307: Fiber and Spinning

I recently had occasion to weave a reproduction textile.  Since I only needed about a yard of 8" wide cloth, I decided to challenge myself by spinning the warp and weft myself.  Even though I am a slow and not very accomplished spinner, with no experience of weaving from my handspun before this project, it seemed like the best decision.  I wanted to make this project very memorable, to try something new.  Spinning my own yarns would also place within my grasp a much greater range of textiles from my chosen time and location (Period 4B at Jorvík, i.e., the mid-tenth century Anglo-Scandinavian culture of York, England) than I would usually have to choose from based on the availability of commercial yarns in the right fiber content, fiber diameter, spin direction, and yarn diameter.

After looking through my stash of spun yarn and spinnable fiber, I chose Jorvík 1307 to reproduce.  It was from the right period in a classic weave structure for the period, the 20/18 (or 10/9, if you prefer thinking of it that way) broken lozenge twill.  Although I've woven other BLTs (that's my shorthand for broken lozenge twills), I'd never done a 20/18 one before.  It was also apparently an undyed textile, although brown in appearance.  I decided to do it in naturally pigmented wool because I thought the recipient would appreciate that more than plain off-white.

The first hurdle was warp yarn.  According to Penelope Walton's book Textiles, Cordage and Raw Fibre from 16-22 Coppergate I needed tightly spun, smooth worsted singles yarn about 0.4mm in diameter of a hairy medium fleece type.  In mundane terms, that's a warp yarn about the size of a doubled piece of standard sewing machine thread, and I needed nearly 500 yards of it for my project.  (This project grew in the planning.)  The mode for fiber diameter in the Jorvík 1307 warp was 24 microns.   Luckily, I had plenty of Manx Laoghtan combed top which met that standard pretty well.  It's a heritage breed found only on the Isle of Man and believed to be period to the Viking Age.

Manx Laoghtan combed top


Although the Manx Laoghtan top was a little kempy, I succeeded in pulling out many of the kemps during the spinning.  Since I apparently like to spin small and tight, working to this fine a specification was significantly less of a problem than I expected.  I spun it to about 35 degrees of Z twist on a handspindle using a reproduction soapstone whorl; I set the twist with hot water and weighted drying.

warp yarn, twist set and ready to warp

So far, so good, and the project even managed to survive my energetic young cat's frequent "help" with the spinning.

I'm sure there's some cat hair in that yarn.
 Next I needed a really soft weft yarn.  The mode fiber diameter for wefts in the Jorvík 1307 textile was 20 microns, making them even finer and softer than the fibers in the warp yarns.  The original is very weft-faced, which would have accentuated the properties of the weft yarn.  Of the period-appropriate sheep breeds, only the þel (undercoat) from a purebred Icelandic lamb was likely to get me close to the micron count I needed.  After considering and discarding a number of possibilities, I bought an Icelandic moorit lamb fleece.

some of the washed locks
I washed some of it up, hand-separated the tog (guard hairs) from the þel, and spun only the þel into my yarn.
 
 separated tog (guard hairs) and þel (undercoat)

Manageable fiber prep was key to this part of the process.  The fluffy þel proved too unstructured for me to spin from the cloud.  I knew combing was the correct technology to use, but the þel was too short to mount properly onto my Indigo Hound Viking combs.  I gritted my teeth and tried using a flick carder on it.  That didn't work well.  Eventually I cursed and brought out my hand carders.  I used them to card the fibers parallel and doffed the carded fibers sideways.  I rolled the batts from the side edges too, making sure to keep the fibers parallel instead of coiling them into the more typical rolags.  This made reasonably manageable short lengths of not-quite-top for me to spin.  

The yarn needed to be 1.2mm in diameter, a "well-spun" S singles.  That's way outside the size range for the weaving yarns I am accustomed to use; it's more like a fingering weight knitting yarn (roughly a 4 ply size in the standard used at Ravelry).  I don't spin yarns as thick as 1.2mm by choice, and I rarely spin in the S direction either. I needed all the help I could get!  Fortunately I only needed about 150 yards of this weft.  I wound up doing a lot of park and draft spinning, and it took me about five times as long to spin as had the warp.  The result, while falling short of "well spun," was at least respectable enough to use for weaving.  I spun it to about 25 degrees of S spin, setting the twist with warm water followed by a light weighting.

I didn't take any photos of the completed weft yarn, and I used up every single scrap of it in the weaving, so I don't have any photos of just the weft to share here.

In the next installment:  warping and weaving.