Wed, 16 Jun 2004 15:23:54 -0500
Subject: [SCA-AS] Links: Tangled webs--medieval weaving

Hallo, my faithful readers!

This week's Links List is on weaving--from finger weaving, to weaving for kids, to beginner weaving links, and even some pages related to loom-building.

As always, please "pay it forward" to those who will find an interest in this Links List, and use these links to update your own Links pages.

Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
(m/k/a Lisbeth Herr-Gelatt)

The Medieval Technology Pages
The Horizontal Loom
(Site Excerpt) The horizontal loom appeared in Europe in the 11th century. The first reference to it seems to be in the Talmudic commentaries of Rashi, who lived in Troyes. He indicates that such a loom was being used by professional weavers. [Mokyr 1990 p 52] By the 12th century it had been mechanized. [Gies & Gies 1995, p 119] This loom was probably adapted from a Chinese version already extant. Old looms had been vertical. The new one was horizontal and was operated by foot-treadles. Instead of weaving the heddle bar through the warp threads as had been done on the vertical loom, now the weaver had only to pump his treadles and every other warp thread rose up above the work. He then passed the heddle bar through the opening. On the next pump of the treadles, the other set of warp threads rose.

Weaving on the Warp-Weighted Loom: Some Source Materials
? 1999, 2001 Carolyn Priest-Dorman
Books and Individual Articles
(Site Excerpt) Barber, E.J.W. "The Peplos of Athena," pp. 103-118 in Jenifer Neils, ed., Goddess and Polis: The Panathenaic Festival in Ancient Athens. Hanover / Princeton: Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College / Princeton University Press, 1992.
Postulates the weaving of a figured tapestry peplos on the warp- weighted loom as an annual gift to the statue of Athena Parthenos. More generally, continues the history of weaving in the Aegean begun in her Prehistoric Textiles. Fascinating for Classicists, even though Barber apparently misunderstands some technical issues such as the attachment of long warps.

13th Century Spanish Loom
by Forest Butera, Summerisle Spinners and Weavers, Inc.
(Site Excerpt) Summerisle Spinners and Weavers, Inc. has embarked on its biggest project yet - building a replica of a 13th century Spanish floor loom! The original loom can be seen at Medieval Life Village adjacent to the Medieval Times dinner theater in Kissimmee, Florida. The loom is now finished and ready for demonstration at the South Florida Renaissance
Festival in February, 2000. Our loom builder is Allen Jones of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.Click on any of the following pictures to see an enarged version.

[Comment on the above posted by Halima to the SCA-Arts list]

Spun, Warped, and Twisted (Atlantian Fiber Arts Newsletter)
(Site Excerpt) Texture! Color! String and Fiber! S.W.A.T. stands for Spun, Warped and Twisted. We're a fiber group with the goal of spreading and sharing knowledge of the textile arts of the Middle Ages and the Current Middle Ages. We're not an official group of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.; however, most of our members are SCAdians who enjoy
researching and recreating the ideals of the Middle Ages. Basically we like to play with string & take great pleasure in learning about/creating new fiber works. Welcome and Enjoy! Want more information on S.W.A.T.? Contact Lady Tangwystl ferch Dafydd (

Regia Anglorum Textiles
(Site Excerpt) The other type of loom was the two-beam loom, which worked in a similar way to the warp weighted loom, but instead of weights, a bar was used to hold the bottom of the threads taut. Unfortunately it is hard to tell how widespread this type of loom was since it leaves little or no archaeological trace. By the early eleventh century it is likely that professional weavers were using simple, flat treadle looms, although the warp weighted and two beam loom would have continued to be used in the home.
See also Braid Weaving page at

Coptic Style Tapestry by Bronach N?lbrj?tr
(Site Excerpt) This is a tapestry woven in imitation of Coptic tapestries from the later period of Coptic textiles ranging from the 6th to as late as the 15th century. I designed it as a wall hanging, although most Coptic textile designs functioned as clothing decoration.

Cotton in the Middle Ages
Date: Fri, 31 Mar 95 12:25:16 EDT
From: drickman@ (address masked)
(Site Excerpt) A term used to designate certain woolen cloths from at least the fifteenth century, so one must be cautious in reading the term...the explanation of the use of the word cotton may lie in the fact that it had also the sense of nap or down, and the process of raising the nap of woollen cloths was called "cottoning" or "frizzing"...At the end of the sixteenth century, Manchester was "eminent for its woollen cloth or Manchester cottons"..." An 1822 source quoted by this same author notes that in America and the West Indies, cottons made of wool were chiefly used as clothing for slaves...though some were worn in Great Britain by "the poor or labouring husbandmen." This source speculates that the word could have been a corruption of "coating" i.e. fabric meant for coats. The point of this is not to say that what we call "cotton" didn't exist in the 14th century, but that when we look for evidence of its use in the written record, we need to know that, until well into the 19th century, the word probably means wool, not cotton.

[Jadwiga's Note: see Maureen Fennell Mazzaoui. The Italian cotton industry in the later Middle Ages, 1100-1600. New York : Cambridge University Press, 1981 for information about cotton fabric.]

Textile Resources for the Re-enactor by ??ra Sharptooth
(Note: I had the opportunity to learn how to use a warp-weighted loom with Mistress Thora, who also has the Weaving on the Warp-weighted Loom article, above. She's not called "sharptooth" for nothing, 'cause she owns scissors, but rarely uses them when a quick thread needs snipping. What a wonderful and knowledgeable lady! Here's a site excerpt:) Here you will find links to some articles, bibliographies, and weaving drafts I have produced on the subject of Western textile history that may be of interest to Dark Ages, medieval, and Renaissance re-enactors. Some of these are reprinted from various group newsletters inside and outside the re-enactor community; others are teaching aids from classes I have taught. Now that the website's been here over five years, though, many of the works here have been produced specifically for web publication. All of them are copyright ? by me, Carolyn Priest-Dorman.(See also: Just What Exactly Is "Whyt Samyt" Anyway? being a handweaver's bibliography of sources for technical information on divers weaves and setts of the Roman Empire, Middle Ages, and Renaissance at as well as

Bibliography of Sources for Information on Period Tablet Weaves, and many other of Mistress Thora's terrific fiber pages)

Real Medieval Fabric
Always wanted to know what those splendiferous fabrics in the Fifteenth-Century paintings were like? I had a chance to find out. Here's a travelogue. Subject: 1400s Fabric: Art Institute of Chicago by Cynthia
Virtue aka Cynthia du Pr? Argent
(Site excerpt) I'm sure many of you have seen the various paintings and such during this period that show very large brocades -- by which I mean fabrics which appear to have design elements fully a foot across, and "repeats" of several feet (for those of you who don't 'do' fabric, this means 'how often does the pattern repeat itself'). I had often assumed that this was because the painter or tapestry weaver didn't want to paint umpteen little medallions, so they went for the overall effect. Judging by the actual fabric I saw, the painters were painting entirely to scale. They did have and use as clothing, fabric with larger motifs than we'd even put on a sofa today..... The second thing that struck me was the actual composition of some of these brocades. Many of the paintings appear to be a yellow gold background with some sort of rich dark motif on them. This type of fabric is well represented in the exhibit; they are woven with a heavier metallic gold cord in the background (near the weight of a thin "couching" cord), and the dark bits are velvet. Some of the items were velvet of two colors; the one that comes to mind was of an entirely eye-popping bright red and bright blue -- colors of the sort you normally only see in books about optical

How To Build a Frame Loom
(Site Excerpt) Take one of the 16" pieces of wood and clamp it to your work bench. If you don't have a work bench clamp the wood to a table but make sure you have a thick piece of scrap wood underneath it because we're going to be drilling all the way through....

Toli's inexpensive inkle/cardweaving loom design
(Site Excerpt) The loom looks a lot like your regular inkle loom except it has two sides. The sides are made by cutting a cheap particle board shelf into two symmetrical parts. A hardwood board can also be used, but that kind of negates the part about being inexpensive. Do NOT use a soft wood like pine, the sides will just crack and break. A happy side-effect of the design
is that the loom is amazingly sturdy. You can put more tension on this loom than any warp thread can withstand(at least so far). A brief history/justification of the loom design.

Phiala's String Page
A source of a great deal of fiber information--not a ton on loom use, but other types of weaving are represented. See espescially her page on Viking Textile Tools at

Stefan's Florilegium: Textile Arts
A font of information, some articles and some gathered from email and newslist messages. There are currently 60 files of missives on textile arts.

Tournaments Illuminated Index: Textiles

Recreating period fabric production.
By Maggie Forest and Silvia Ravinet
Being an ongoing record of an attempt to weave a replicated fabric from Early Mediaeval northern Europe. This is the background for the project.
(Site Excerpt)
For the last few years, the idea of trying to recreate a fabric of a quality and type typical for the 'Dark Age' Scandinavian sphere had become the dream project for myself and Silvia. We are both interested in the technology of fabrics, spinning, weaving and dyeing, and both of us had been researching the history of it. The quality that our ancestors attained using simple
tools and enormous skill was simply mind-boggling to us. In 1997, we decided we'd focus our efforts on learning enough to be able to replicate a real fabric, rather than samplers and trial pieces. Recognizing that this would be a very long-term project, we began looking at the options. Not trying to be too fancy, a simple tunic-type cloth, woven on the upright warp-weighted loom from homespun yarn was our goal. We could spin, we had a loom that Silvia had built. All we had to do was spin enough yarn and set it up... It turned out to not be quite as simple as we thought.

Ravensgard Bibliography of Embroidery, Textiles and Weaving
(Site Excerpt) Brown, Rachel. The Weaving, Spinning, and Dyeing Book. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1984. new 7/7/97
Brunello, Franco. The Art of Dyeing in the History of Mankind. Cleveland, OH: Phoenix Dye Works, 1973. new 7/7/97
Buchanan, Rita. A Weaver's Garden. Loveland, CO: Interweave Press, Inc., 1987. new 7/7/97
Cameron. Woad

MOUNTFITCHET CASTLE weaving and dying house
This link chiefly valuable for the photo of the warp-weighted loom in situ.

The Weaving Mailing List
(Site Excerpt) There are 2 formats for subscription: digests or individual messages. Both, if you wish.
(subject is ignored)
message: (un)subscribe weaving-digest
(un)subscribe weaving

Medieval World Library: Medieval Weavers
Written by Carissa Thomas, February 24, 2001.
(Site Excerpt) Weavers either worked out of their homes, or were part of a weaver's guild. If a weaver worked out of his house, a wool merchant would sell him clean wool, and the weaver's wife would spin it into yarn with a spindle and distaff. Then the weaver would sit on a high backed chair or a stool and weave the cloth on a loom. If the weaver was poor or from a town where the wool industry was small, he would probably have an upright loom, which was more compact but produced lower-quality cloth.

Wool manufacturing
(Site Excerpt) The two main types of woven cloth are woollen and worsted. The yarn for woollen cloth is usually made from short-fibred wool and during processing the individual fibres are thoroughly intermingled. In the worsted process, which uses the longer-fibred wools, the individual fibres are separated and laid approximately parallel to each other.

The Warp-Weighted Loom, Worldwide, 7000 BCE
by Kristy Beauchesne, Sun Eoh and Kate McClosky
(Site Excerpt) The warp-weighted loom uses a system of holding the warp threads parallel under tension by tying them in small bunches to weights made of stone, pottery or metal. From the beginning of Western history until the Middle Ages, the main weaving tool was this type of loom. Loom weights have been found in Catal Huyuk, an ancient city in Anatolia that dates to
7000 BCE, and use of the warp-weighted loom persists to the present day in part of Norway. Although its particular form has varied through the ages and by locality, its essential parts remained the same.

Medieval Sourcebook:
The Regulations of the Weavers' Gild of Stendal, 1233
(Site Excerpt) 1. If any of our burgesses should wish to practice the craft of weaving he ought to have one spindle or as many as two, and he should place them in his house, and for every spindle he should pay three solidi on entry into the fraternity. But if he should not pay the denarii within the said time and he afterwards cease to be of the craft he cannot regain it except with twenty-three solidi. 2.Whoever is not of the fraternity is altogether forbidden to make cloth

Medieval Textile Study Group:
Partial Cumulative Index 1994-2003

Continuous Warping on a TWinkle Loom
Copyright 2000, 2003, L. Meyer (known in the SCA as Halima de la Lucha).
(Site Excerpt) A TWinkle loom is an inkle loom being used for Tablet Weaving (TW). It was affectionately christened this on the tablet-weaving e-mail lists, after a first posting by Jean Birch. This document shows a fast way to warp an inkle loom for tablet-weaving, using the same yarn colors in all cards (but see "Changing Colors", after you understand the basic process). It's sometimes called "the 10-minute warp". After that, it goes into advanced topics related to tablet-weaving on inkle looms. A TWinkle loom is my favorite set-up for tablet-weaving (sometimes called card-weaving), but it's important to find out what works well for you. Many people swear by inkle looms; others may swear at them. See "Is an Inkle Loom for You?", below, for details.

Jacinth's Infomine: Textile Arts

Constructing a Warp-Weighted Loom
(Site Excerpt) The warp weighted loom is a vertical loom with an upper beam, the warp held taunt by weights (hence the name) and the weft beaten up toward the beam. It was used by most early European cultures and even survived into modern times in northern Europe.

Warp-weighted Loom

Warping and weaving on a warp-weighted loom
(Not sure of the validity of this information---weaving from the bottom on a warp-weighted loom? FWIW, Site Excerpt) Instructions for warping a warp-weighted loom and weaving the warp. A recipe for sizing is included along with directions for striking the warp. The warp-weighted loom is one of the easiest looms to warp. Especially when compared to large floor loom with multiple sheds. These instructions presuppose a working knowledge of weaving and warping, but there is a brief glossary at the end of the article.
Unlike table and floor looms, the warp-weighted loom does not have treadle-operated movable sheds and heddles. It is operated with a fixed shed and three shed sticks with hand-tied string heddles. You weave from the bottom to the top, rolling the finished fabric around the top beam as you go.

Weaving on a Warp-Weighted Loom Project #1: Tabby by Karen Peterson / with help from her partner Neil Peterson
(Site Excerpt) I choose to start with a tabby pattern in the weave because it is the simplest of all patterns. Two sheds create a very simple back and forth in the weave. If X is over the warp and O is under, it looks like this:
I used Patons' Classic Wool Merino, because it was cheap and available in bulk at Len's Mill Store in Kitchener. I chose contrasting colours in off-white and blue for the warp and weft, because I wanted to be able to see the weave very clearly. I've since learned that contrasting colours in this manner isn't at all period to the Norse.

The Art and History of Weaving By Susan Wylly Professor of Art Georgia
College & State University
(Site Excerpt) Because of the perishable nature of textile goods, information found about the beginning stages of weaving is sketchy, and tracing the development of textiles is a difficult task and a tremendous challenge. Due to nature's hazards of erosion, climatic conditions, insects, and fire, few examples of early woven fabrics survived. Therefore, much of what is written about primitive weaving is based on speculation. There are, however, certain circumstances under which remnants of fabrics have survived: arid regions, bog lands, sealed tombs, and extremely cold areas. Because of these artifacts, we are fortunate to have some examples of early textiles and weaving tools.

Looms and Weaving Tools (Roman Weaving)
by Kathy Laxton
(Site Excerpt) The pieces of Roman fabric which remain for us to study were either not completely burned by fire or destroyed in other ways such as dampness or decay. Keeping these limitations in mind, it is possible to recreate a great deal about the process of Roman weaving using the evidence that is left. This evidence comes from several ancient sources. The ancient evidence is present in archaeological remains of loom tools, which were often made out of terra cotta, stone or bone, as well as in the surviving pieces of cloth.

All Fiber Arts
(Site Excerpt) Welcome to our new All Fiber Arts website. You can find over 1000 pages of information, free patterns, resources and instructions for weaving, spinning, dyeing, knitting, crochet, felting, papermaking, needlepoint, sewing, and other textile handicrafts. We also have a free Discussion Forum and Chat rooms where you can meet with all your "fiberholic friends".

Handweavers Guild of America, Inc
(Site Excerpt) We are dedicated to encouraging excellence, inspiring creativity, and preserving fiber traditions through education. Celebrate Spinning and Weaving Week . October 4-10, 2004

Easy weaving projects for kids (great results)
(Site Excerpt) With a heavy ball of string, cover the frame. Start at one of the edges and thread the frame up and around each incision. Then fasten and cut. You can use any flexible material, for example, wool, ribbon, yarn, fabric strips, raffia, twigs, etc. The more variation, the more interesting the result will be. The children could experiment with twisting yarn together before weaving, to achieve interesting texture variations. A piece of card or a ruler may be used to hold up the thread to make the weaving easier.

Ebay--How to Weave listings