That… did not go as expected.

So my last post (way back in mid-April, remember?) I talked about weaving silk. I laid out all my glorious plan for how this was going to go and how beautiful the finished project was going to be, ect. Well…


  1. I miswarped the first time. So I tried to solve this problem by tying on additional warp when I approached the end of my first one.
  2. That was an epic failure. I needed to pull it all off the loom and rewarp like a smart not-corner-cutting person.
  3. Pearls take a long time to knot onto silk thread.
  4. Silk thread is super fine and does not want to form knots wide enough to not slide back out of the pearls.
  5. Sewing through stiffened linen is super hard guys. I don’t like it. Sewing around wire is also less than pleasant.
  6. Pleats are hard yo.

That being said”

I made my apprentice sister a french hood. Because I love her very much and she needed a hat just as glorious as the fancy dress she recently acquired AND something worthy of sitting atop her awesomeness. I think I came close and I really hope she likes it.

Materials 1/2 yard x 12in 54epi silk for the shell on the crescent and paste. 20×21 35epi silk veil. 1in x 40in 60epi silk ribbon (red). Roughly 1/2 yard of (commercial) linen for the lining and to stiffen for the interior structural bits. 10 ft of wire, 45 inches of 1cm freshwater pearls.

Total cost: ~$200 not counting time.

Total hours: sweet merciful Loki. I averaged 1in an hour weaving time and spent about 30 hours total warping. So 88 hours weaving/warping total. Sewing took about 10 hours. Knotting and applying the pearls took about 6 hours all told. Patterning/cutting materials/stiffening the linen was about 4-5 hours actual work. Let’s say 5, I tend to under state my labor.

88+10+6+5= 111 hours. Give or take.

For a hat. A really awesome hat.

French Hood

Created by Lady Ǣthelflied Brewbane

The design for this piece taken from a portrait of Anne Boleyn showing a black French hood trimmed in pearls and edged with an orangey red pleated ribbon.  I have chosen to recreate this hood in handwoven black silk taffeta, red silk satin ribbon, and cultured pearls.

Original ^18698950_1529308743760396_786930571_o

My recreation ^

We’ve found cloth ranging from 15 to 100 epi per Textiles and Clothing 1150-1450. In an effort to recreate this I aimed for 50 epi when weaving the covering, lining, veil, and ribbon. I have woven the covering, lining, and veil in a simple tabby weave to produce taffeta per  “Anatomy of the Abuses in England” (1583) by Phillip Stubbes:

… on toppe of these stately turrets (I meane their goodly heads wherin is more vanitie than true Philosophie now and than) stand their other capitall ornaments, as french hood, hat, cappe, kercher, and suche like; wheof some be of veluet, some of taffatie, some (but few) of woll, some of this fashion, some of that, and some of this color, some of that, according to the variable fantasies of their serpentine minds. And to such escesse is it growen, as every artifices wife (almost) wil not stick to goe in her hat of Veluet everye day, every marchants wyfe and meane Gentlewomen in her french-hood, and everye poore Cottagers Daughter in her taffatie hat, or els of woll at least, wel lined with silk, veluet or taffatie. …

The silk taffeta on the shell of the paste and crescent came out to a finished thread density of 54epi. The ribbon is an average of 60epi,  and the veil was woven at 35-40epi to allow for a lighter fabric.

A simple weave, and coarser thread count, would keep costs down in creation of this piece as well as speed production. As today, fashion follows the rich, and it is not out of the realm of possibility that a gentlewoman would commission a hood in the style of one worn by the queen. Therefore it would behoove an enterprising merchant to be able to produce one quickly and comparably cheaply.

The stiffened paste and crescent that forms the center shape of the hood is composed of three layers of heavy linen canvas.  These layers are edged in 14 gauge jewelry wire to help maintain the shape of the hood and support the weight of the veil. Though we have no surviving extant French Hoods we have found wire shaping for English Gable Hoods, the direct predecessor of the French Hood, making it safe to assume French Hoods would have been constructed in a similar fashion.


Textiles and Clothing 1150 -1450 Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland.

Museum of London Publication, 1992. 2001 Reprint.ISBIN 9-781-84383-239-3


The French Hood: What it is and is not Lady Alliette Delecourt mka Irina Lubomirska Accessed 3/25/2017.


Anatomy of the Abuses in England in Shakespeare’s Youth A.D 1583 Phillip Stubbes. Accessed on 3/25/2017.


Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

Norton Press, 1994. ISBIN 0-393-31348-4.



Norse Hood Documentation

Take two: The handwoven.

Documentation for Norse Hood

Created by Aethelflied Brewbane


The ultimate purpose of this project was to illustrate the difference, or lack thereof, in seams stitched with a modern steel needle, and those stitched with a bone needle. The seams themselves are stitched using two different colors of silk thread. One color was stitched using a period style bone needle, which is often assumed to have been abandoned as soon as metal needles became available, due to the small size of both the stitches and needle holes noted on extant textiles. The other color of thread was sewn using a modern steel needle. 


This is a recreation of the hood from the Skjoldenhamn find, unearthed in 1936. Carbon dating done in 2009 dates the find to 1075, with a 20 year margin of error. There is some debate with whether the costume from this find is Norse or Sami in nature, as the tunic, trim, and pants unearthed on the same body as the hood bear strong resemblances to traditional Sami folk costume. However such details are also consistent with Norse finds from other locations, making it impossible to definitively answer the question of which culture produced the extant textiles.

The hood itself resembles a Norwegian folk hood known as a køyse in that the top is squared off rather than rounded, as with modern Sami hoods. It also has a straight facial opening, rather than the more crescent openings of a Sami njalfatta. Given the resemblance to the køyse, which is assumed to be a direct descendant of period Norse hoods, I am confident that this style of hood would have been known to and used by the Norse, even if this example is Sami in origin.

The construction of this hood requires one long rectangle that stretches from shoulder to shoulder, and is deep enough to cover the top of the head, and two smaller squares inset into the front and back. The find also included a pair of ties attached at the base of the skull, presumably to allow for a tighter fit along the neck without having to tailor the overall hood itself. I have chosen to leave these ties off of my reproduction as I find them to be unnecessary in smaller hoods.


The yarn for this project is a mix of 15 wpi grey handspun and white commercial yarn. This dissertation is going to focus primarily on the properties of the handspun as the commercial yarn was selected due to its availability, fiber content (wool), and similarity of weight to the grey handspun.

S spun textiles did not become popular until the invention of the spinning wheel. Z twist is produced when the spindle is spun counter clockwise, which is the natural motion produced when rolling the spindle along the thigh to begin the spinning, also the direction of spin produced when flicking the shaft of the spindle off of the thumb for supported spinning. This makes Z directional spinning a more automatic and comfortable yarn to produce. S twist is produced due to clockwise spinning, which is the natural hand motion when pushing the spokes of a wheel down and away to begin it spinning. As this find predates the invention of the spinning wheel the grey singles were spindle spun with a Z twist.

In period the entirety of this project would have been completed with hand spun Z twist singles. For the purposes of time I augmented my handspun with commercially available 2 ply yarn I had on hand as the goal and focus of this project is not on spinning or weaving, but on the differences in stitch produced by using different needles in sewing.


The fabric itself is a hand woven 2×2 twill using my own handspun (grey) and a commercial wool yarn I received as a gift several years ago (white).  The breeds of sheep for both wools are, unfortunately, unknown. The final sett came out to 15 ends per inch, with a weft of 17 picks per inch. This puts my fabric on the coarser side of a period weave (12 epi to 50 epi per Texand Clothing 1150-1450, Crowfoot, Pritchard, and Staniland).


In order to achieve such small stitches and stitch holes with a bone needle, a different sewing technique must be used. With a steel needle a simple running stitch, where the needle holds many stitches before being pulled all the way through the fabric, can be used. If you attempt that same stitch with a bone needle you will end up with very large, uneven, stitches with huge needle holes. It also puts undue stress on the needle itself and makes it more likely to snap. In order to achieve period stitch length (3mm between needle holes per Viking Age Headcoverings from Dublin), the needle must pass through the fabric entirely, much like a sewing machine needle does, before turning and stabbing directly back up to complete a single stitch.

Using a bone needle produces three differences in the stitches itself. First and foremost the duller point of the needle pushes the individual threads aside, much like an awl, rather than cutting through them. Secondly, because it compresses the threads in its initial pass the hole created by the needle is much larger than that of a modern needle. However, in the second stab to complete the stitch the compressed threads are forced back to their original location. This has the effect of healing the initial needle hole around the sewing thread, producing a final hole similar in size to that of a modern steel needle. Thirdly because the fabric itself is undamaged by the passage of the needle it produces a more durable final product.

The fabric itself should be a five harness 3×2 twill, as that is a far more common weave for my time period. 2×2 twills did not begin to become popular in England until multi-harness floor looms supplanted the vertical warp weighted loom. I chose to weave the simpler 2×2 twill as I had access to a four harness table loom, rather than the five harness loom required for 3×2 twill. I also opted for the simpler weave as this is my first weaving project that is not tablet woven.



Viking Age Headcoverings from Dublin Elizabeth Wincott Heckett.

Royal Irish Academy, 2003. ISBIN 0954385551


Skjoldehamn Find In Light of New Knowledge Dan Halvard Løvlid. Translation by Carol Lynn. ,

  1. Translation 2011. Accessed on 3/25/2017.


Textiles and Clothing 1150 -1450 Elisabeth Crowfoot, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland.

Museum of London Publication, 1992. 2001 Reprint.ISBIN 9-781-84383-239-3


Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years Elizabeth Wayland Barber.

Norton Press, 1994. ISBIN 0-393-31348-4.


Woven into the Earth  Else Østergård

Aarhus University Press 2003. ISBIN 8772889357


Weaving Silk

I’ve been mostly quiet these last few weeks as I’ve been working on a project that’s ultimately going to be a gift. So details I can share are scarce. To that end I’m not going to say what the finished product is going to be, not until after it’s finished and given to the person it’s intended to surprise. But I’m excited for what I’m doing and need to share. That and I don’t want you all to think I’d either abandoned you or stopped making things.


I’m weaving silk. That in and of itself would be exciting, but (as you all know by now) I’ve gone a step or two beyond. I’m weaving with 60/2 silk, or roughly 50-54 epi in tabby. Also known as doubled sewing thread, embroidery floss, dear-gods-woman tiny. To be fair I’d initially wanted to weave the slightly less insane 30/2 silk, but it was more expensive and I am broke and this project also involves real pearls so… Insanity in the name of saving money: the true crafter way.


Without any further context, have a photo dump. This is 54 epi x 40 picks per inch 100% silk taffeta. It’s 12 inches wide and the goal is 80 inches long all told. Weaving in white, dying it black except for the 3/4 of an inch after the gap on the right which will be cut off and dyed red.

Left to right: 8 inches in, weave close up, cut off and dyed sample.

How a project goes to hell

Or: Why Aethelflied is terrible at documenting her stuff.

I’m going to be perfectly honest with you all, writing documentation is not the fun part of a project for me. Make something? Heck yes. Research? Drown me in books, websites, research papers, and extant artifacts. Write up why I did what I did or how I did it? I’d rather pull my teeth out with rusty pliers. I’ll happily explain it, and answer questions if asked, and geek at you about string or words until you start looking for exits and wondering if I’ll notice if you just flee. But actually writing it out? No thank you.

I also suffer from chronic scope creep. Which makes succinct documentation difficult. A typical project for me goes as such:

-I want to make myself a wool hood. (Reasonable)

-I should sew half with bone needles and half with a modern needle. That way I can show there’s really no difference in the finished seams. (This slope is slippery, someone should salt it so no one falls)

– I should weave the fabric for it (Wait… self what’s happening?)

-What’s a period weave pattern for me? (Where are we going? Why am I in a hand basket?)

-What’s a period sett? I should email this museum and ask (Insert flashing danger lights)

-Well I’m already going through this much trouble. May as well spin it too. (Annnnd we’ve arrived at critical scope creep)

This is how we end up with me needing to write a multi-page college dissertation level paper about a rectangle and a pair of squares. Do I document my original project? The weave? The yarn? The needles? The stitch length? What about the breed of sheep? The corners I cut?

This is why I normally end up with a project, that I can talk about for days, that has no written documentation. I hit a point where my reaction to having to write out what I did is “I wove this out of handspun and sewed it with period tools! What more do you want from me?” The answer of course is “How do you know you used period tools?”

Right now I’m looking at documentation like warping a loom. It’s the not fun or sexy part of the project. But it’s gotta happen.

Fleece to White Belt: Post the forth (and final)

AKA: Crap I forgot to finish documenting this.

After combing comes spinning. I used soap stone bottom whirl spindle I picked up at Pennsic this year. My goal was to aim for 1mm singles since the documentation I’ve read references thread counts of 10 threads per cm or 1mm wide.

Now I will admit to a period weaving sin here. Everything I’ve read indicates that weaving would have been done with singles. As this was my first attempt at weaving with just my handspun I didn’t quite trust my singles enough to stand up to the abuse weaving puts yarn through. So I plyed. Next time I’ll do just singles since my warp never broke or even threatened to while I was weaving with it

Plyed warp yarn (yes that’s 2 ply) and the finished ball of warp.

The weft I spun using the fluffy carded under coat of the icelandic fleece. This… did not go well. My weft kept snapping and falling apart even though I’d spun it just as tightly as my warp. I’m not sure I hold with the idea that fabric in 10th century Iceland was woven with an over coat warp and under coat weft. Not discounting it mind you, since I’m not willing to rule out lack of skill on my part, but still giving the notion a lot of side eye.

ANYWAY! Because I plyed the yarn I only did a 12 card wide piece of tablet weaving since I still wanted the over all piece to be roughly one inch wide.



And I was right on the money with my finished width. Proving once again, that my intuition for my own thread craft is better than that lying “math” thing. Note: I do know that one day refusing to swatch and/or do math is going to bite me. However until that day happens? Math and I are passing acquaintances.

I finished this off by ironing it with the highest heat setting as well as the highest steam to mimic finishing with a smoothing stone. I could have borrowed one, but I was so excited to get this off the loom and finished that I got a bit impatient. The ends were not fringed, but were hemmed with a bone needle and some of the loom waste left from the warp.

The finished dimensions of the belt were 1in wide by 5.5ft long and it is (as far as I know) well loved by the recipient. I have exactly one picture of the finished belt:


Twill: Attempt the first

Is this thing still on? Hi guys, I know I know, it’s been a while since I posted. But, life happened. Today we’re going to talk about twill. Namely the twill I am making for a specific project.

The project itself is to prove a point: namely that seams sewn with period style bone needles are nearly indistinguishable from seams sewn with a modern steel needle in terms of stitch length. To do this I am weaving fabric and sewing myself a hood where half the seams are sewn with a bone needle and half are sewn with a modern steel needle. I’ll be using different colored thread for the steel vs bone seams, but only I will know which is which. The goal is to have people try to guess which is which and also to check things like long term seam durability and relative stress on the fabric as it ages. Now I could use a commercial fabric and make the WAY faster and easier on myself, but this is me and why on earth would I do that?

Lets begin with some specs: I’m making a 2×2 twill (to explain for non weavers that means each weft thread goes over two warp threads then under the next two in ultimately a diagonal pattern. Don’t worry, I’ll post pictures further down. You’ve seen 2×2 twill, you just may not have known the name.) This produces a nice strong fabric with a bit of bias stretch. Also it’s pretty and super popular in period from what we can tell.

I want 2 yards (64 inches) of 12 inch wide fabric. So here’s the math to get there:


I first I need to figure out what my wpi (wraps per inch) of my warp thread is, then convert that into epi (ends per inch) for weaving. The good news is the math for that is super simple. Divide the wpi in half to get a rough idea of the epi. My yarn was 14 wpi, which means it’s going to be roughly 7 epi. NOTE: This is a super coarse gauge. This is outer wear fabric. I should be aiming for 10 or so ends per cm or 25 epi. However I am using stash wool for this and refuse to feel ashamed.

So we need to multiply our epi (7) with how wide we want the fabric (12in) to get 84. BUT that doesn’t account for draw in (when your weft pulls your warp slightly in ward) so you should do a test swatch to see what percentage of draw in you have to enough additional warp threads to get you to what you want. I did not do this and simply doubled the thread count because I am both lazy and paranoid. So yes, I warped 168 threads.

But how long should they be? Inventive Weaving On A Little Loom (Syne Mitchell, 2015, Story Publishing) suggests adding 20% to the length to account for loom waste and take up. That means 2.2 yards or 76.8 inches. I like round numbers so went to 77 inches.

Because I’m doing a two colored warp, half grey handspun I had lying around and half white commercial yarn of unknown providence I needed 84 grey strands of 77 inches long and 84 white strands of 77 inches.

Formulas for your edification:

(wpi/2)x(width + draw in %) = number of warp threads.

length + 20% = length of warp threads


Weft math is simple. This is a balanced fabric which means my weft is the same epi as my warp. So 7, multiplied by 12 means 84 inches of weft to do one inch of fabric, times 64 = 5376 inches divided by 32 = 168 yards of weft. Notice how I didn’t need to add in the loom waste or take up or draw in to this math. Why? There’s no warp there.

Formula for your edification:

((wpi/2) x width x length)/32 = weft yardage.

Now lets actually warp the loom! One day I’ll figure out how to love warping. That day is not today. Warping alone is an exercise in both patience and self hatred. I know there are easier ways to warp, I know there are better ways to warp. I, however, live with animals who are jerks about mama’s string based hobbies and therefore Measures Must Be Taken. Which means I warp funny. Trust me guys, if you want to weave please look online and in any of the lovely print books that illustrate better ways. Don’t do what I do.

To prove how annoying this is, I present: How Aethelfied Warps, a photo tutorial.


This is the empty back beam. Yes, it is in fact a size 15 knitting needle. I realized the loom I’m borrowing had no beams at 10pm and I couldn’t find any dowels. There’s a tiny rubberband keeping everything from slipping off the tip.


The warp tied on to the back beam in packs of 4, with all the length chained up to keep it from getting tangled.


Next we unchain one bundle at a time, put each thread through it’s heddle and dent in the reed then immediately rechain to keep everything in order.


Tie everything to the front beam


Tension the back beam. Now we’re warped. This whole process took 14 hours over 2 days. Yes I took breaks, but still. Warping takes a long time. But! Now we’re ready to weave!

As you may notice from the picture above this is a 4 harness table loom. This makes weaving twill super simple. The pattern repeat is such:

1+2 up 3+4 down.

2+3 up 1+4 down

3+4 up 1+2 down

1+4 up 2+3 down.

That produces fabric that looks like this:


Look familiar?

This piece is exactly 12 inches wide (I win!) so lets take a look at my thread count


This should be 7. It’s 17. WTF?


This should also be 7. It’s 15. I don’t even.

Let this just go to show that math and I are not friends, but my intuition is generally correct. Glad I doubled my warp. At least this is now on the coarse end of period fabric?


AKA Aetheflied’s king’s bard post-mortum.

So I did it.

And I just spent the last 15 minutes staring at those 4 words trying to figure out how on earth to follow them up. I should do some discussion on how I feel I did, or what I’d wanted to do and didn’t, or link back to the post I made a year ago about my goals and go over them one by one. Or something.

But honestly?

What I got out of this position was something entirely different than I thought I would. I took risks that I would have never taken otherwise. Partially because if I was going to encourage people to be brave and try something as scary as performing in public I should put my money where my mouth is and try things.

I drove across state lines by myself for the first time ever. Just to go spend the weekend with a bunch of people I only knew from the internet in their house (NOTE: do not do the things I do. If you do I can not be held responsible for your murdernapping). They turned out to be My People in ways that were unexpected and yet needed.

I stopped making excuses and picked up fencing. I was one of my King’s champions, I should fight for him at war. So I did, and found one of the most encouraging (and lovingly snarky and brilliantly witty) communities I’ve ever had the honor to be a part of.

I discovered just how far I should shove myself before I collapsed. And got picked up, dusted off, fed, watered, and covered for, until I had my feet back under me. Some times literally, some times figuratively. Some times by people who’d been complete strangers the week before.

I had people come up to me, on some of my worst days, and tell me they’d started doing something because I’d inspired them to. I met new bards, who performed for the first time, or who started performing again after a long hiatus, because I’d asked for new people to find me so I could pay it forward.

I wrote scrolls, I wrote praise pieces, I wrote phrases immortalized in metal. I got to be part of something big.

Did I do everything I’d wanted? No. I didn’t get Maldon translated, or perform the piece for all the fighting households at War. But I inspired new folks, and other folks to try something new.

So did I succeed? Yes.

Thank you for giving me the chance.