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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

After plying 2 spindles of gray wool I had about 25 yards of single left over.  Normally I’d Andean ply the leftover single, but I liked the consistency of this single, nice and thin, so I decided to keep it for embroidery thread.  The only thing though, how to store it?

After thinking about a couple other posts where the authors had put together Viking/Medieval sewing kits, and, along with oh so many goodies, were small wooden cards for winding thread on.  Though it’s not definitively known what use the shaped bone pieces found in Viking age digs were for, they do strongly resemble modern embroidery floss cards.   I decided I needed a few.

Off to the workshop and a few hours later I had 4 oak thread winders.

I cut the winders from 1/8″ thick oak board I had purchased from Lose’s for another project (a Lucet tool).  After sawing off enough for the Lucet, I measured off 4 sections about 1 1/2″ wide and sawed them off individually.   I used a curved wood rasp to shape the winders, then sanded them with sandpaper till as smooth as I could get them.  While sanding I also took care of some wood Nalbinding needles and 2 bone sewing needles I’ve been working on.  (The bone needles need eyes, something I’ve been hesitating to do)

All in all they’re not to bad, uneven in size, but, that may improve if I decide to make more.

Winder blanks with wood rasp.

Mostly finished winders & needles.

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