After much pondering and looking at other options, including Sprang and Lucet cording, I finally figured out a ‘mostly’ stress free method of reproducing the braid from the Haithabu/Hedeby Fragment.  My main issue was trying to produce the braid without fighting with the loose ends of the strings or whipping heavy bobbins around.  My solution was to make cardboard bobbins to wrap the thread around.

Bobbins & Cord (and a sleepy Ginger)

The first bobbins I tried were too heavy, the thread had a tendency to slip off, and then I would have to chase down a cat or dog to retrieve my bobbin and thread.  Leaving the thread hanging loose caused too many tangles, both of the threads and the cats who were entirely too interested in what I was doing.

I decided on size 10 crochet cotton for the threads so that the garment could be machine washed without fear of felting wool thread or tearing silk thread.  The thread is very fine to my eyes and I had to keep taking breaks to rest my eyes. (I really need new glasses…)

I worked up around 22 inches of the braid and so far it is coming out to around 3mm wide which is about the same width as the original braid. While I’m working I’m able to slip the thread from the slit in the card and unwrap some of the length to get more working space.  I’m happy with this method and though it will be time consuming will continue in this fashion to create enough braid to cover the back darts and possibly some more for additional trim for the dress.  This is also good practice for another wool apron dress I am planning for which I hope to spin wool for the sewing stitches, embroidery and the decorative braids.

Though I’ve not been able to find any information about any patterning in the colors of the original braid,  I like the way the colors on my braid are alternating.  I’ll continue this pattern for this project but may experiment more (with thicker thread) to determine what other patterns are possible.

Detail of the patterning