Check in #1

Well, I’ve begun! There has been a lot of spinning this week so far, both for what will eventually be madder dyed wool applique, and for tablet woven trim. Also all the sewing threads have been spun, both in linen and in two colors of wool. I also finished the flax snot I made a couple weeks ago that has been fermenting away, so I’ve been sort of sizing things and hanging them to dry and set with weights as I go. I’ve chosen to size my woolen sewing threads as I don’t like to use wax on wool. this is an experiment to see if like waxed linen, sized wool is easier to sew with. I will report back once I get so far. All the spinning has either been done on one of my two reproduction viking spindles, or on my great wheel which is kinda like super accelerated spindle spinning. By the 13th century the use of a hand crank wheel that is the little sib of my great wheel was common across europe, but it doesn’t seem to have existed in the viking era. That said, I find the quality of the yarn to be very similar off the great wheel as it is off the spindle, because it’s static spun, then wound on, which rather changes your control of the twist.

Spinning So far:
5 skeins of white romney, spun and flax sized
1 skein of grey icelandic, spun and flax sized
1 skein of black blue face liester spun and flax sized
1 skein grey icelandic guard hair for sewing, spun and wet set for dying.
1 skein coars natural black wool (unknown remnant rather like icelandic guard hair) for sewing, spun and sized
1 skein flax thread, lap drafted from a strick, then wet spun and wet set.

Linen Fabric for undergarments is washed and ready to go, finding this was the source of much waffling. Vikings were exceptionally talented weavers, producing very fine textiles both woolen and of flax/hemp/nettle fibers. Haithabu provides several fragments with thread counts. The pleated fragment from 5/1964 was turned every 6th thread. The pleats were 2mm deep. If you count that out you end up with a mind boggling 72 EPI. Another Haithabu smokkr fragment counts out to about 30 EPI. The checked fabric has 11 threads for every 4mm check. Coming out to another astounding thread count of around 66 EPI. Grave B 4864 at Hyrt has fragments of fine blue linen, counting the threads in he photos, they look to be at about 12 threads per CM so in that round of 25-30 EPI. Kostrup has fragments of linen between 48-60 EPI. the viborg shirt has about 30 warp ends per inch. It is my theory that the coarser end of this would be for serks not worn under a gown, and that the very fine weights were either very heavily pleated OR worn under a gown, or both. I was unable to source thread to weave this fabric at a reasonable price, and my flax spinning skills are not up to snuff for that, so I made a shot in the dark and bought greyline natural linen handkerchief weight (mostly because I’d waffled around for so long being undecided that I didn’t have time to order a sample). pre washed it looks really good, and I can’t wait to iron it. it looks at a guess to be between 30-40 EPI, I will do a count once I’ve pressed it. but it should be in range of a viking textile, although not as fine as their best work. That’s fine for me because I’ll be using it under a woolen gown, and it’s not to be pleated, which many of the ultra fine fabrics seem to have been.

The thing that has been really underlined to me at this moment of having the fabrics in my hands and trying to manufacture some of them myself, is that I, with the entire internet at my fingertips, cannot even find THREAD to WEAVE this stuff with. We vastly undersell the quality of viking workmanship in fabric manufacture. I think that as a modern society we are conditioned to think of ancient people’s and their products (outside of major civilizations like the Egypt) as sort of rough and uncivilized. We KNOW that the vikings wove for trade, both the trade cloaks and standardized lengths of cloth. We know they were well thought of as weavers and their fabrics were exported as a trade item. What didn’t really penetrate for me until I started calculating thread counts was how extraordinarily fine their work really was by a modern machine woven standard. this stuff was strictly incredible.

Wet spinning pre drafted flax

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4 Responses to Check in #1

  1. Sisuile Butler says:

    I say this with greatest of admiration, OMFG. I have no idea how you’re going to pull this off, but I’m really looking forward to watching you. And I’m both grateful I’m not one of your judges, and jealous of them.

  2. Valya Abnikova doch' says:

    Hi there! I’m Valya, one of your judges. This is an incredible amount of work, and I’m extremely impressed! I’m looking forward to seeing you pull it all together. Great job, and good luck!

    • The Very Industrious Mouse says:

      Well, To be fair, I was intending to do a lot of this during the prep month. But there was a whole lot of real life last month. I decided instead of re framing my project, i would just keep going with what I had planned and semi started and get as far as I get. I’m not sure I’ll finish! but I’m going to keep working along at it, and we’ll see how much I end up with! I doubt I will finish the cloak portion, but I’m hoping to get at least to a wearable ensemble of underthings, serk, and smokkr.

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