Video: Beginner’s guide to brocaded tablet weaving

When I taught myself brocaded tablet weaving, I was looking for videos that would show the basic steps, and visualise some of the process that seemed difficult to follow when reading them written down. I couldn’t find any, so I produced my own. I hope these how-to videos are useful.

I have and ready many tablet weaving publications, and my favourite one for history of brocaded tablet weaving, historical patterns, and especially technique is Spies, N. (2000) Ecclesiastical Pomp & Aristocratic Circumstance: A Thousand Years of Brocaded Tablewoven Bands, Jarrettsville: Arelate Studio. Available for purchase as PDF on Etsy and Nancy’s website.

Videos: key steps during brocaded tablet weaving

I created a short video that focuses on the key steps involved in brocaded tablet weaving: silk thread shuttle, followed by picking of the pattern, then gold thread shuttle through temporary weft. I find brocaded tablet weaving much easier than the normal one, as there is no complicated turning of individual or groups of tablets involved.

I also created a second video, which shows the steps taken for neat edges, which avoid gold loops showing.

Project Management for practice research

I took part in a Project Management workshop. I hadn’t been sure what to expect, as I’d never got to grips with the MS Project software, and was pleasantly surprised at how our trainer used the sticky-note activity (and many more hands-on ones), which fit my way of thinking.

One of the trickiest parts of my research has been to figure out how to proceed with the Object creations; the four historical dresses. What would I need to do first? What was essential to complete before moving onto the next step? How long would it all take? And so on. Of course, at this stage all of the duration for each task are estimates. One would think that after a lifetime of sewing and embroidering I would have looked at the hours it took me at some stage, but unfortunately I had not. At this stage the duration is thus a guesstimate and will be updated as I go along witch the first object creation.

Creating a network diagram with coloured sticky notes on cheap IKEA kids’ drawing paper taped together, then using pens to work out the connections, has been an excellent exercise in focusing on the tasks required for creating the first Object and its components. The red line indicated the critical path. Unsurprisingly that’s the embroidery.

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If you are as kinaesthetically and visually inclined as I am, the good old method of shoving-bits-of-coloured-paper-around might work very well for you. I’m now using this to populate an MS Project document and produce a Gantt chart.

New sewing studio: the perfect space for practice research

With my PhD being research-led practice (unlike the practice-based research I had initially anticipated) a suitable studio space is nevertheless just as important. As a part-time PhD student who works full-time I do not have the option to occupy studio space at the School of Textiles & Design in Galashiels (Heriot-Watt University), but I do have my home which I have tailored to my needs and no longer has a guest room, but boasts a sewing studio. One could call it an IKEA sewing studio, I suppose. All square thumbnail photos enlarge to proper size.

I did everything myself except for the plastering of the ceiling: painting, wallpaper, furniture, soft furnishings, accessories, etc. For anyone interested in what I chose to create my perfect practice/research space – on a limited budget, here is a breakdown of what furniture I used and what I made myself and why. If it is helpful for anyone else, that would be great.

View from the door. I wanted the desk in front of the window for maximum light. The bulbs in the ceiling lamp are the brightest that IKEA does, with the coldest white light. Not cosy, but excellent for seeing details.
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The ironing station. I like my ironing board because it is taller than normal ones (lower ones give me back pain) and much wider, but it is quite old and the iron rest was rusting away. Metal table as hot iron stand which also houses ironing accessories. Iron rest on the side of the book shelf for neat storage when not in use. The book shelf also houses hams and a proper old non-steam iron that I got from my mum. This old is excellent for many tailoring techniques.

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Bookshelves to the right of the entrance door. I deliberately went for the narrower Billy ones, to avoid sagging shelves. Most of my research related books are very heavy. The two glass doors with panels on the lower half are perfect to hide away less fancy but very necessary items such as calico toile fabric and linen canvas. The baskets are all from a dear friend in Kent, they had been gift hampers and are perfect for storing quilt fabrics.

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The desk is a 2m long table top, which I secured with three additional legs to account for the weight of the sewing machine in the middle. Using drawer units on each side, I made sure to fix the table top very securely to the drawers with metal brackets. IKEA’s table combinations using the drawer unit are not fixed and that would not work for use as a sewing machine table. I can report that there is no rattling. The net curtain panels are linen woven in stripes.

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To the right and left of the window, in front of the desk, are painted spice racks filled with spice jars for buttons. The magazine rack on the left is used for sewing patterns that are in current use. The door to a built-in wardrobe got a rail to hang ironed pieces of fabric which I used to hang over the door.

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Of course, I could not go with a simple curtain solution, but chose to make curtains that echo the striped wallpaper. Time consuming but worth it. The curtain solution is one I had used in the another room before, I like the IKEA system that gets rid of ugly curtain rods and rings.

The ironing station has an extra work light, as I’ve found over the years that good working light is absolutely essential.

I made the peg board from an MDF pegboard sheet and table legs from the dining table which I had lifted up last year to a cutting table height. Some paint, Polyfiller, more paint, and oodles of screws, and the pegboard was ready.

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One of the best things about a tailor-made sewing studio is the added storage space. The Alex drawers are quite roomy and can easily be kept neat thanks to customisable drawer insets.

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Opposite the desk and window is the big set of shelves that used to be on the wall where the ironing station is now. hence the black colour, it is an older Expedit, but all of the Kallax items work just fine with it. This is also the favourite snooze place of one of my cats, plus has on top my grandmother’s big Nuremberg Lebkuchen tin, and the wooden expanding sewing box my grandfather had made for her and my dad had spruced back up for me.

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I love tins. I can never walk past a lovely tin. Now my tins have their own shelf (which fit millimetre-perfectly in the gap) AKA the cats’ high-level walkway. I like tins (and boxes) so much, I sometimes decorate my own.

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Last but certainly not least some of my favourite decorative items. The Red Baron and his fellow flight aces’ model planes as mementos from a dear old friend; Forest Friends crockery that I could not walk past (who could?) and of course, the core and heart of my research: the Brothers’ Grimm’s fairy tales, guarded by a Queen and her family.

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I hope you enjoyed this pictorial excursion, and that it might have been useful – if not, at least entertaining. Oh, and I love colour, did you notice?

1586 Lauenberger Fuerstengruft: silk velvet and metal embroidered coat

1586 coat of Duke Duke Wilhelm V, silk velvet, heavily embroidered with a variety of gold and silver threads. Found in the Lauenburger crypt and displayed in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich. Tradition has it that Duke Wilhelm wore this coat at his wedding with Duchess Renata of Lorraine.

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Please note that photos have been adjusted via increased highlight and brightness. Full set on Flickr:

c.1400 embroidered silk chasuble (paraments)

Photos taken in December 2015 in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg.

Chasuble, formerly in St Mary’s church (Gdanks) now in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.
Italian silk damask, lining Portuguese silk lampas, silk and gold metal embroidery Prague c.1400.

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Flickr set:

1501 portraits of Nuremberg Muenzmeister and wife

Photos taken in December 2015 in the Bavarian National Museum, Munich.

This is an interesting example of what many call the ‘Hausbuch’ dress, and shows the transition period well.

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Flickr set:

c.1200 gold embroidered mitre (Bavarian National Museum)

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English embroidery (gold couching on samit weave silk) from c.1200. The mitre depicts the stoning of St. Stephen and the murder of Thomas Becket.

Silk 12th century, Asia Minor or Byzanz. Embroidery England. From monastery Seligenthal in Landshut, now at the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum in Landshut. Photos taken in December 2015.

c.1455 Columba Altar details, Rogier van der Weyden (Alte Pinakothek, Munich)

c. 1455 Altar triptych by Rogier van der Weyden (1399-1464)

The altar triptych got its name from its place of origin, the church of St Columba in Cologne. The central panel shows the Adoration of the Magi, the left wing depicts the Annunciation, and the right wing the Presentation in the Temple.

Details of footwear:

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Details of fabric (two Kings on centre panel, one priest on right wing):

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The complete set of photographs can be found on Flickr.

Museum Photos: 1180 bronze statuettes ‘The Four Elements’ (Bavarian National Museum, Munich)

I went on a fieldtrip to Bavaria before Christmas, to Munich and Nuremberg, but more on that later.

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For now some photos of small bronze statuettes from 1180, which were taken in the Bavarian National Museum in Munich.

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