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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

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.

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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