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This page describes my first attempt at a Køstrup brocade, based on the superb writeup by Hilde Thunem of her reconstructed apron-dress:
The large versions of the pictures of the original band are especially useful:
My final band is not of the first quality but I found the journey so interesting that I thought I'd share it here, hoping that it will help other weavers and that maybe somebody who knows the band better can correct me where I have made an error.
I have struggled with brocading using metal threads and hoped I'd have more success with wool as a brocade weft.
Thunem states that the band was constructed using a two-hole tablet weave technique on 14 tablets, so I set up my tablets with threads in holes A and C, and the tablets alternately arranged S, Z across the band. There seemed to be no border to the band, and some of the motifs go right to the edge with brocade weft wrapped around it.
I've cross-referenced my notes below with numbers on the photo of my band.
1. Establishing a ground weave, turning each tablet forwards a quarter turn, before starting to brocade with coloured threads.
2. I rapidly gave up trying to do the edge motifs as well as a main motif. My brocade looked awful and I found that as I should have predicted, the structural weft was only caught by the warps every other pick. I switched to giving the tablets a half turn every pick. Progress was very slow: the missed-hole tablets kept trying to fall out of alignment and I struggled with the brocade weft.
3. The first ten million years were the worst.
3a. The second ten million years, they were the worst too.
4. After that I went into a bit of a decline.
4a. Oh god I'm so depressed.
5. This motif isn't so bad, my blue thread is nice and thick.
6. I'm going to crawl into a hole and cry.
I took a break and re-examined the photos of the original band more carefully. Two things struck me:
- the ground weave did not have the "stocking stitch" effect of alternately threaded tablets, but instead looked to have a diagonal structure not unlike 3/1 broken twill.
- the brocade threads did not have long floats, but instead seemed to pass over not more than two warp threads at a time.
I rearranged the tablets so they were alternately threaded A/C, B/D, but still oriented alternately S and Z. This gave an attractive ground weave with a slight diagonal effect, and it had the advantage that the weft was caught under the warps every pick - so long as I passed it from the correct direction. This reminds me of the Anglo-Saxon band from St John's Field, Cambridge, in which the tablets are turned alternately and the weft must be passed in the correct direction.
7. I wove one thin blue motif and it packed down much better now that I was turning the tablets only a quarter pick. The tablets were even harder to handle, so progess slowed further, but it began to look more like a real thing.
I now rearranged the tablets again to be all oriented in the same direction (I can't remember whether it was S or Z but I don't think it matters), but still alternating the warp threads in holes A/C and B/D. This gave a ground weave that I thought looked more like that in the photos, and although I knew the fabric would twist, I stuck with this for the rest of the band.
8. I like the effect of the thick motifs made of shorter brocade floats, which I wrapped underneath so it was really more like soumak. This reminds me of the soumak band from the relics of St Cuthbert. I think the thick motifs are now more in keeping with the thin ones instead of looking completely unrelated.
9. Finally I see why the 'arrow' motifs on the edges are placed where they are - it's where neighbouring motifs leave a suitable gap.
10. Oops. I allowed the tablets to fall so the threads were all together, A/C. My ground weave lost its diagonals and had to be reset.
11. This is still slow but I'm starting to like it. I'm going to have a go at the whole pattern and see if I can avoid making too much of a mess.
12. Two complete patttern repeats! Not perfect but not completely awful.
To my eye, my ground weave and brocading look consistent with the photos of the original band, but I haven't examined the original band and I may well be mistaken. Still, I think it's a valid interpretation and I like the technique which allows for a lot of creativity in the designs and is a bit different from anything I've done before.
The final band has some twist, but I moistened and ironed it hot and the twist is not severe. It could certainly be used as garment trim, and it might be OK used as a short suspended length as on the original apron dress. The twist could be avoided altogether by arranging the tablets alternately S/Z but to my eye this would have less of the diagonal structure that I see in the original band's ground weave.
I like the effect of the short brocade floats.
It's a great way to use leftover coloured wools.
The two-hole ground weave is thinner than a four-hole would be, so it's more flexible and uses less warp thread.
My band came out a little narrower than the original. I'd like to try again with a thicker warp.
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