Brocaded trim

January 31, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Posted in Fiber Arts, Tabletweaving | Leave a comment

Once Nest and I had set the date for her taking me on as an apprentice, I decided I wanted to make her a gift. She’s been working on making a Viking apron dress, and I have been meaning to do some more tablet-weaving, so I thought it would be a good idea to make some brocaded trim to go on the dress. However, I ran into a few snags, mostly to do with getting real metal thread (more on that later in the post) and in the end decided that I just couldn’t bring myself to give her the actual product because it was made with imitation thread. I actually quite like the finished product for once (one of my apprentice vows was learning to accept that “my best” is “the best I can do right now” and not “perfect in every way”) but I knew that if Nest were to wear the trim, then every single time I saw her in that dress I would cringe and be upset that it was imitation gold. Instead, I’m going to make her some different trim, which actually works out better because it will be in a better color scheme for the look she was going for with her dress. But for now, on to the original work!

To start with, I used 60/2 silk that I bought undyed from Treenway Silk. I decided to dye it with cochineal, because it is close to the period dye kermes. I got a lovely mauve color. I wish it was slightly deeper in color to act as more of a contrast to the gold thread, but that was only a problem in hindsight. When I started the project I was very pleased with how the color turned out.

Working with Agnes Geijer’s illustrations from Die Textifunde au den Grabern, I charted pieces of patterns from several different bands. I had read somewhere – and it’s driving me insane that I can’t find the reference now – that unlike modern trim most of the Viking trim did not repeat the patterns, so I wanted a variety of different designs. I also find that I get bored doing the same design over and over. This was made even more obvious to me when I decided to put an X between each design element, a feature that was displayed prominently in Bands 6, 14, and 16. I started dreading finishing the end of an element because it meant having to the same boring X again.

I initially started with most of the patterns in Band 6, omitting the swastika as inappropriate for modern attire,  and band 14. Both of these patterns were 39 cards wide. I used 41 cards so that I would have a border. After beginning to weave, however, I realized that the patterns I had charted were not going to be nearly long enough, so I adapted some of the patterns from Bands 9 and 16 which were both 45 cards wide by taking the top and bottom three cards off of the original design. This was easily achieved because the nature of the pattern on the bands is such that each line of pattern is three cards wide. I also adapted part of Band 22, originally 51 cards wide, by removing the top and bottom 6 cards.

My first major problem with the project was that I had never used real gold thread before and adapting to its difference from silk was difficult at first. Its incredible stiffness meant that I was having a hard time getting it to turn the corner without sticking out a little bit. I realized that I probably should have had more than a single card as a border. Just as I was starting to get the hang of the gold thread, I ran out.  I had ordered  only a single yard from an online seller, for reasons that escape me now. Even my husband, upon looking at the thread, realized that it wasn’t going to be enough to finish the project. I ordered more online and put the project on hold until it came in. I waited, and waited, and waited. When I contacted the seller she suggested that since we had just entered December, perhaps the upcoming  holidays were delaying mail service. So I wanted some more. Than we had a series of snowstorm, all of which truly did delay mail delivery. I waited. Finally the holidays were over and the snow was cleared away – and I had two weeks to finish a project that I was estimating to take  upwards of 20-30 hours and no thread to do it with. At this point even if I had reordered the thread, it wasn’t going to make it to me in time, so I broke down and, at the beginning of yet another blizzard, drove three towns away to buy some imitation gold thread. I was, as previously noted, very upset with the final product because it was not made with real metal. I’m not going to name the online seller, though, because I truly don’t think it was her fault. The mail service simply let me down.

The new imitation metal worked differently than the real metal thread had done, so I had to start a new learning curve. I think in the end I actually preferred working with the real metal thread. It was a lot stiffer, but the coils of metal around the core were much smaller so it made a tighter turn around the corner, and one that I was more easily able to predict. I had a hard time controlling the bits sticking out the end until I finally gave up and had to admit that I needed at the very least a two card border on each side. Once I sacrificed a card on either side to be part of the border I started getting a much more even and consistent result. Something to remember for the future!

The pictures are not coming out very well. It’s very hard to take a picture because when I use the flash it glints off of the imitation metal so much that it just turns into a blur of light, and when I don’t use the flash the picture is too dark.

Leave a Comment »

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at
Entries and comments feeds.

%d bloggers like this: