Arabella De Mere, 11th Century Icelandic Woven Band

Name: Arabella De Mere, OL

Location: Shire of Old Stonebridges, Rockland County NY



About the project: I am always flattered when I am asked to make something for an elevation, and will try my hardest to do what I can.  In this case, I was asked to make a tablet woven band suitable for someone with an 11th century Icelandic persona.  I researched a bit and found the “Skjoldehamn Ankle Band 2”.

About the historic piece: This piece is dated to the 11th century late viking age.  It was found in Andoy, Nordaland County, in Norway,  in great condition at a peat bog burial site.  It is kept in the collections of the university of Bergen, in Norway.  The original find, includes seven fragments of tablet woven and braided material, with two geometric designs, identified as ankle bands.  The width of the bands were “just under 2cm”, and were made of wool.

About my piece: This band is a two missing hole tablet woven band woven in 20/2 silk(tripled), using 20 cards with a width of 18cm (3/4 in) and length of 146 inches (just over 12 feet), and took about 60 hours to complete.  The colors needed for this project were red, yellow, and green, to go with the other materials in the cloak.  In period, these colors if dyed using plants could be achieved by using madder (red – and a favorite dying material used by the recipient), dandelion flowers (yellow), and onion skins(yellow) overdyed with a weak indigo(blue), to make green.  Even through the original piece was made in wool, silk was the material that was requested.  In order to get an approximate proper width, I tripled the threads used, increasing the threads from one per hole to three.  The difficulty in the band is not necessarily the pattern (only 24 lines long for the 1 motif used), but the manipulation of the cards.  Due to the technique,  two holes in each card are left empty.  This reduces the stability of the cards and requires some kind of outside support to keep the cards from turning on their own, I ended up using pipe cleaners as they were small enough to go into the holes of the cards and gentle enough to not hurt the silk threads, while being strong enough to hold the cards in place and light enough to not weigh the cards down.  Missing hole tablet weaving, is an interesting technique as it gives depth to the weaving and adds texture to the band. A key feature in missing hole tablet weaving are the accents of color/dots showing through the spaces left by the missing threads.  Something different about this band is that while the pattern cards are turned the standard 1/4 turn per row, the border cards are turned twice or 1/2 turn per row.  For this reason, I used a combination of loom tension on the pattern cards and warp weighted tension on the border cards.  This also let me continue to turn the borders in the same direction for the length of the band without having to be concerned about twist buildup on the border cards.

Thank you for reading about my latest project! If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me via FB messenger or email:

A Simplified Guide to Historical Tablet Weaving. B. Sæmundarson D, Dagný Sveinsdóttir, Sæmundarson, Bjorn. Blurb, Incorporated, 2020 p.100-101

4 thoughts on “Arabella De Mere, 11th Century Icelandic Woven Band

  1. Arabella, I really enjoyed reading through your process, especially the natural dye and material explanations and swaps. This looks amazing!
    Also as a documentation nerd, I think this is a great example for newbies to look at to get a feel for how to write brief documentation. Lovely project!

    HH Corotica

    1. Thank you your Highness! Sometimes I think writing brief documentation is harder, because you have to be very selective with what information you include to give the best picture possible. I greatly appreciate your kind and words and praise.

  2. This is gorgeous! You have a good, tight weave, and the colors work together really nicely. I’ve never tried the 2-hole weaving technique; it sounds challenging, and I really appreciated your explanation for how it works. Thank you for teaching me something new!

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