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.

1 comment:

  1. Wow--so many decisions and so much knowledge go into this kind of implementation. Thank you for writing up the process so far. It's fascinating to read.