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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

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I’ve done some more work on the apron dress.  I finished hemming it and took out the back darts.  The darts are repinned to the outside of the dress, like the darts on the Haithabu fragment.  I’m also experimenting with the braid that covers the edge of the dart.  I found a website http://www.seekyee.com/slings/howtos/6strand1.htm with instructions on making 6 strand braids and the back of the second braid on this page looks the same to the line drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Using some cotton punch embroidery thread in yellow and red (same colors as the origional and I think they will look nice against the green of my dress) I’ve started experimenting in making the braid to cover the darts.

image

Yes, that’s a Hello Kitty band-aid. 🙂

I measured off about 7 yards for each string, which may be a bit much but, better to err on the side of paranoia, and used a wood tv table holder to tie the strands on to for braiding. 

The instructions on seekyee.com said the method was actualy finger weaving, with each strand acting as both warp and weft at different times.  Since I had never worked finger weaving before I didn’t understand this untill I actually started working the band.  I’ve encountered some issues trying to futz through it on my own so I am going to search for instructions on finger weaving starting with Carol James’ site http://www.sashweaver.com.  Carol makes reproductions of militairy sashes for museums and reinactors. 

Also, while working the band I noticed that a mirror image was forming below the area I was working, just like in Sprang.  I may explore methods of turning out the two bands using a Sprang set up in order to produce them both simultaneously as opposed to working one and untangling the ends as I go.

Each braid needs to be 47 1/2 inches long, plus some to fold over the ends, to reach from hem to hem.  Either method for production will be an interesting experience.  🙂

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