17 February 2015

2/2 Twills: Kreuzköper

© Carolyn Priest-Dorman, 2000

The "kreuzköper," or "cross twill," is often called a "broken twill" in English.  It is identical to Marguerite Porter Davison's "Halvorsen #5 Pebble Weave," treadling VII (Davison, p. 5).  In north Europe, during the centuries leading up to the Norman Conquest, such weaves were executed in singles wool threads at medium to coarse setts and served as blankets, cloaks, outer clothing, and the like.

This particular draft is taken from Jorvík 1304, a mid-tenth century textile found at the Coppergate site in York, England.  The count is 10 Z-spun by 8 S-spun threads per centimeter, and the thread size is 0.8mm throughout (Walton, p. 435).

The identical structure has also been found in other places and times. The earliest known piece of a textile that might be woven in kreuzköper (it's apparently hard to tell) dates to fourth or fifth century Lithuania.  Its thread count is 10Zx9S/cm (Bender Jørgensen, p.249).  The earliest securely identified kreuzköper weaves, however, are 8th century; they come from north Germany (Bender Jørgensen, p. 79).  There's also an Alamannic one from Baden-Wurttemberg (Bender Jørgensen, p. 70) in approximately the same period.

Examples from Middelburg and Elisenhof (north Germany) during the early Viking Age parallel the later London and York ones and are sometimes a bit finer (Hägg, p. 243).  An Austrian kreuzköper of roughly contemporary date has paired Z-spun warps and S-spun weft.  The warp count is 17, the weft 8 (Bender Jørgensen, p. 112). If the weft were twice the size of the warp (not an uncommon occurrence in pre-Conquest textiles), this would lead to an interesting evenweave effect.

A ninth-century example from a woman's grave at the trading city of Birka (Sweden) was heavily fulled, partially obscuring the weave structure.  The thread count is 16Zx11S/cm; the warp is firmly spun and the weft loosely spun (Geijer, p. 39).

A surprising 5.9% of the Viking Age textile finds from the harbor town of Haithabu (north Germany) were woven in kreuzköper (Bender Jørgensen, p. 79).  They were fragments of heavy outerwear--vests and coats. Thread sizes ranged from 0.7mm to 4.25mm in diameter, with thread counts varying from 3 to 11.5/cm.  Unlike the York and London examples, these were not typically evenweaves; ratio of warp to weft could be as disparate as 4:1 (Hägg, pp. 242).

An example from Milk Street, a late Saxon site in London, dates to the late tenth century.  Its thread count is 9Zx8-9S/cm, and the thread sizes are 0.5mm in the warp and 1.0mm in the weft (Pritchard, pp. 53, 55). 

Two later examples from Göttingen, Germany, date to the 13th or 14th century; no thread counts are available (Tidow, pp. 203-4).


Bender Jørgensen, Lise. North European Textiles until AD 1000. Aarhus, Denmark: Aarhus University Press, 1991.

Davison, Marguerite Porter.  A Handweaver's Pattern Book, Revised Edition.  Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: Marguerite P. Davison, 1993 [1950].

Geijer, Agnes.  Die Textilfunde aus den Gräbern. Birka: Untersuchungen und Studien, III. Uppsala: Almqvist & Wiksells, 1938.

Hägg, Inga. Die Textilfunde aus dem Hafen von Haithabu. Berichte über die Ausgrabungen in Haithabu, Bericht 20. Neumünster: Karl Wachholtz Verlag, 1984.

Pritchard, Frances A. "Late Saxon Textiles from the City of London." Medieval Archaeology, vol. 28 (1984), pp. 46-76.

Tidow, Klaus.  "Neue Funde von Mittelalterlichen Wollgeweben aus Norddeutschland," pp. 197-210 in Lise Bender Jørgensen, Bente Magnus, and Elisabeth Munksgaard, eds., Archaeological Textiles: Report from the 2nd NESAT Symposium 1.-4.V.1984. Arkaeologiske Skrifter 2. Købnhavn: Arkaeologisk Institut, 1988.

Walton, Penelope. Textiles, Cordage and Raw Fibre from 16-22 Coppergate. The Archaeology of York, Volume 17, Fascicule 5. York: York Archaeological Trust and the Council for British Archaeology, 1989.  [Now available from Pangur Press at this link.]

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This article was originally published in Issue 24 (June 2000) of Medieval Textiles, the newsletter of the medieval textiles study group of Complex Weavers.  The draft and drawdown I submitted were created using the freeware drafting program, WinWeave.  Using GIMP, I have turned the original draft into a graphic for republishing here.

An important additional array of wool kreuzköper textiles was found in the Oseberg ship burial.  (Ingstad, pp. 202-203, 390).  Ingstad calls them korskypert, which is translated "broken twill."  Many were fine, but one was apparently blanket weight, which is a perfect use for this nubbly structure. 

The draft for this one was one of the earliest I made on WinWeave.  I was still in the "very confused" stage of both treadle loom weaving and using weaving software.  Accordingly, I drafted this one in two different colors in order to help me learn both the structure and the program I was using to draw the structure.  Playing with it for republishing here showed me that there's no less confusing way to draft this one so that it also looks good, so I'm leaving it two-tone.  That doesn't mean the historic ones are two-tone; to the best of my knowledge none of them are.  But this approach does make the draft easier on the eyes.  Also, on a personal note:  I like to set up my treadles so I can walk them (as much as the pattern will let me) by alternating my two feet.  If my tie-up looks weird to you, that's why.

Additional Source:

Ingstad, Anne Stine.  "Brukstekstilene," pp. 185-275 in Arne Emil Christensen and Margareta Nockert, eds., Tekstilene.  Osebergfunnet, Bind IV.  Oslo, 2006.  There is an uncredited English summary of this chapter on pages 390-393.

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