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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


Cascade Necklace- Before

After looking at my cascade necklace again, I decided to make a few alterations.  I decided that it was too long through the strands for my taste, also, I wanted to separate the stands in case one of them broke. (Before the 3 strands were knotted together, if one of them broke I would have to remove the whole necklace to work on it.)  Though the waxed linen thread was strong I wanted something that might hold up a little better under the weight of the glass and metal.  I picked up some leather cording from Ben Franklin’s that I though would do the job.

The Viking Answer Lady has this article on Viking Beads and Necklaces that I found very helpful in deciding which beads to keep in the necklace.  I tired to select beads that more closely resembled those that were made using the same techniques and designs used by medieval bead makers.  Incidentally, most of the beads I had originally selected were made from the same techniques (though not all may have been hand made) and with the same design elements found in Roman and Medieval beads.  I kept all the patterned beads though none with the metallic patterning, they looked like they were made with glitter, eye beads and spirals were also kept as were many of the shaped beads.   The beads that I had did not reflect the entirety of designs available to ancient bead makers (I didn’t have any millefiori beads and most of the foil beads I had looked too modern in coloring but that may have been my personal dislike for fuchsia and pinks) but I hope to expand my collection of beads for future projects.

And so, after reviewing the article and other necklaces in the Upplands Museum Saffron Waldon Museum and the Historiska Museet  I started reworking the necklace and separated out the strands.  Since the leather cord I was replacing the linen with was thicker I also omitted many of the beads in the original and substituted some others.  I also got a little crazy with some wire and several of the beads in my collection and created more pendants for the strands.  The pendants on the bottom row at each end with the single beads are based off the pendant in the picture from the Historiska Museet linked above.  The next pendants in (the small round pendants) and the center pendant are all based on beaded pendants found on the Hon Necklace.

Viking Cascade Necklace- After

I also tried to utilize some of the suggestions for ‘Viking Symmetry’ mentioned in many articles. Colors, general shape, and/or materials are mirrored on the strands, not always identical beads.  Since I wasn’t working on a rounded strand necklace I didn’t work with the suggest parings at 180° found in the Hon Treasure Necklace.

Uppsala Castle Museum and The Upplands Museum- Adventures of a Far Traveler- Blog post of June 29, 2010- Accessed 02/09/2012

Viking necklace on show in Saffron Walden Museum- BBC News – 02/09/2012

Historiska Museet- Accessed 02/09/2012

Viking Treasure Necklace- Accessed 02/09/2012

This past week has been hectic.  Issues with power in my home (which still aren’t resolved), work, work, work, and helping out family with projects and such.  I did have some time to work on projects and such though.

The work on the trim for the back of my apron dress was slowed.  I tried several times with various methods of producing the 6 strand braid to make it look like the drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Though my initial try looked more like this braid, I felt I was doing something wrong.  Since the information on T.J. Potter’s page on making slings (mentioned in my last post) said that the braid was actually finger weaving I went to Carol James’ website on sash-making and followed her instructions for finger weaving.  She has some nice instructional videos on her site and you tube which gave me a better understanding of finger weaving and I may look into further projects to use this new technique on.  After working on my trim again I got this result:

  Still not the result I was looking for.  The appearance is more woven than braided, the threads don’t follow the same paths of the drawing above.  I also noticed that the red thread is thinner than the yellow.  I have more red thread that is thicker than this so I will try that next.

And since I can’t seem to work on just one project at a time I worked on lengthening the black and white dress this week.  I had to borrow my parent’s floor to lay the dress out (less pets to interfere) and set about cutting off the bottom 2″ of the dress.

  Here I’ve pinned the bottom hems together to keep them from slipping and am marking the bottom edge with a sliver of soap to show the cutting line.  I learned a hard lesson a few years ago about using colored chalk on fabric; the patterned Persian coat I made still has pink chalk marks on it…  The soap used here should come out in the wash, if not then I don’t know…

On the right of the picture is a felted wool pin cushion that I made myself of wool from my stash.  I stabbed myself about a dozen times with the felting needle while making it… dummy me should have used a sponge…

After making all my marks I cut the hem off and set it aside.  Then I set out to cut the band from the white linen.

  Here I measured the inside of the sleeve band to make sure I cut the hem band the same width.  I then laid out the white linen and measured off two 110″ lengths of 4 1/2″ wide material, marking the white linen with a water soluble quilters’ pen. The band will fit around the bottom edge of the dress, along with the bottom 2″ I cut off from the dress.

I thought I had gotten pictures of the white linen being marked and cut out but I seem to have forgotten to record that step.  Any way after cutting out the bands I put them in my sewing box to work on the hem a little later.

I realize this isn’t the best way to lengthen the hem of the dress.  Ideally I would take out the bottom hem, add some fabric to lengthen it and hem that.  Since I didn’t have any black linen to lengthen the dress (it was made by the Bored Housewife) I had to take the steps I’ve taken.

While I was at it I decided to take some pics of the wool embroidery thread I’ve been working on.

All three spindles are from the lot I refurbished with Roman era stone whorls and are working out nicely for spinning fine singles and yarns.

The one on the left has the  wool singles I spun up on the Roman spindles to test them, I spun the singles onto that spindle joining the ends as I went.  The wool is a natural colored Coopworth from Harts of the Meadow Farm in  in Big Spring, WV.  They have some awesome rovings in wonderful natural colors. It’s been nice to find such fine wool at the local Fiber Art’s Network retreats here in Ansted.

When I decided to spin some wool for embroidery I searched though my existing stash to see if I had anything with the colors I had in mind.  Not finding any, I remembered that the Ben Franklin’s store in Fayetteville had small packages of colored wool roving in the felting section of the store.  Wisteria Editions roving is made from Corriedale wool, a little coarser than Coopworth but it still spins nicely.  I’ve picked up 6 different colors so far and may order more from WE’s website. My plan is to spin up 2 packages of each color and then ply the two together to make the embroidery yarn.   This yarn will be used on an entirely hand stitched and embroidered blue wool Viking apron dress that I am planning.

My name is Dorrane and I’m a string junkie.

It started in 2004 when I took a class on Språng, a method of producing textiles by the manipulation of only warp threads.  I made the pouch below out of acrylic yarn:

My first Sprang pouch, worked in 1/1 interlinking.

That one pouch led to more pouches, and more string.   Which led to more pouches and more string.  Then someone said “Why don’t you learn how to spin and make your own yarn?”   Which led to a class in spinning on a drop spindle, which led to more string, and more spindles, and more string, and a spinning wheel, and even more string… And then, I started buying raw wool… Straight off the sheep…  And thus began my quest to create things from sheep to something!  And thus is what this blog is for, to track my progress in various stringing ventures and to display my projects as I work on them.

I am also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Minister of Arts & Sciences for the Barony of Blackstone Mountain, in the Kingdom of Aethelmearc,  and participating in the Arts and Sciences 50 Challenge.   Which will lead to more string, and things made of string…

A&S 50 Challenge