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Brain Benders.

Apart from the work on the Bernuthsfeld tunic, I’m also preparing for my bit of programme for the European Textile Forum, which is drawing closer and closer. In the usual mix of optimism (“I can do that! In time! No problem! At all!”), enthusiasm (“This is such a fascinating topic!”) and anti-procrastination planning (“If I hand in a title and abstract for this conference, I will finally make the time to sit down and actually get some more research done on this, just what I wanted to do for so long”), I signed myself up for a presentation and practical session about tablet-weaving.

With, of course, an angle – I’m trying to figure out possible ways in which medieval tablet-weavers might have arrived at their patterns, which are sometimes really, really breathtakingly complicated. There’s rules to tablet-weaving, so you can’t just place a carton with a drawing behind your warp and tapestry away; you have to plan ahead for the patterns and know when to reverse which direction, and keep track of your main direction of turning when you are doing twill, and so on and so forth.

While the basic rules and structures are fairly simple (I usually say that you need to be able to tell light from dark and count to two), keeping track of what has to go where in a complicated pattern can quickly bend your brain into knots. I’ve tried to figure out a few strategies using a part of the pattern of the Maniple of St. Ulrich, but that, alas, turned out to be a hard start. You can see how the pattern degenerates from my trying to use less of the written pattern draft and more of my own brain:


until I finally gave up and transitioned again into nice, clean pink background twill. (There’s even a fault in the twill lines where I gave up, and a little bit of erring in the twill later on, as you can see from the floats and the blue spots.)

So. Next step was taking a step back and trying to build up things from the base line – in this case, from a single or double blue line on twill background. (It would of course be possible to forego the twill background and just do diagonals, but I think it’s clearer to see the pattern afterwards if it is on a solid colour background. So there you go. Also… I like twill in tablet weaving.)

There are certain patterns and rhythms to much of the weaving, and I think that a large part of the trick is to learn those patterns and basic rhythms, and learn when to look where to make sure nothing unplanned is happening. Also: Rules. Hard and firm rules regarding the sequence of the individual steps to be done (turning tablets, inserting wefts, and re-sorting tablets) as well as the base setup (one direction of turning will always result in the stripes running the same way for me, or I will go crazy).


And then, more patterns can be built up on that. Next step: lines branching out from lines, and figuring out how to figure out when to reverse directions for pointy bits growing out of nowhere…

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3 Responses to Brain Benders.

  1. Kleine Frage: Arbeitest du mit Richtungswechsel oder klappst du die Brettchen? Meine Vermutung ist, dass die damals geklappt haben, aber dafür müsste ich auf meine heißgeliebten Pappbrettchen verzichten.

    Liebe Grüße


    • Katrin says:

      Ich arbeite ausschließlich mit Richtungswechsel. Die Klapperei habe ich probiert, aber meine Vermutung ist genau entgegengesetzt zu deiner – nämlich daß Richtungswechsel die übliche Methode war. Brettchenklappen spreizt die Kette immer ganz schön auseinander, mit der Gefahr, andere Brettchen zu verheddern/zu verdrehen. Bei relativ wenig Brettchen mag das noch gehen, aber wenn es dann viele in mehreren Sektionen werden… oi. Außerdem ist bei der Richtungswechsel-Zweipakete-Methode auf einen Blick zu sehen, was gerade in welche Richtung läuft. Das finde ich unglaublich hilfreich.

      • Ich habe mit der Staudigel-2-Pack Methode angefangen und dann die Brettchen innerhalb der Packen gecklappt – das ging eigentlich sehr gut, aber die Pappbrettchen haben nicht mitgespielt…

        Das würde ich auch nicht bei Mustern machen, wo du alle paar Drehungen einen Farbwechsel hast, sondern bei Mustern, wo mit recht viel Fläche gearbeitet wird…

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