March 30, 2013

Carol James video of a Språng Sash

"Une réplique inédite de la ceinture de George Washington par Carol James" by La Liberté of Manitoba, which roughly translates as "A replica unpublished [novel, original?] of the sash of George Washington by Carol James."

The short video begins with a demonstration of how språng works in general on a tabletop loom.  James shows the "two for one," the "deux morceaux de tissue" (two pieces of cloth) you get from manipulating a warp secured at both top and bottom of a frame.  The video also shows the frame and circular warp James is using for the reproduction sash, the way twists are pushed around a circular warp, the rods used to keep the shed open securely, the patterns of holes worked so far, and the elasticity of the fabric.

I caught most of the dialogue.  I am poor with numbers in French but if I understood correctly the number of threads in the warp of the sash, the length, and the number of hours worked, they are high.

James and the interviewer use the verb tresser, to braid, to describe the action of making språng, and the captioning refers to språng as la technique de tressage Sprang.  

The two books on the table are the 1999 edition of Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang and Skowronski and Reddy's Sprang: Thread Twisting.

March 22, 2013

Applied TOC to Handspinning a Little

On someone's recommendation I read The Goal, a novel that discusses the theory of constraints (TOC) in business.  I like a good makeover story and the theory, applied, looks like a good way to tackle problems of production.  Part of it I've known all my life because whenever things stopped, my father would ask, "what's the holdup?"  That's the main thing you do with the theory of constraints, you ask what is constraining production.

I have a large quantity of Hampshire wool and Romney wool with more grease left on it than I like; therefore, I want to produce washed wool for handspinning.  I washed a few batches but it was patchy progress.  The basin went back in its place and I didn't bring it out again to resume the task.  The work in progress stalled.  My reason wanted clean wool, my will wanted clean wool, but the hands were not grabbing the wool and filling the basin.

The limiting factor turned out to be space to dry wet wool.  Specifically, when I dug deep and asked myself what was wrong, the answer was this: I wanted to wash a lot of wool at a time, more than can fit arranged in a thin layer on top of the washing machine and clothes dryer, the spot with the most warmth and air circulation.  The solution was to clear off wire shelves over the machines and dry wool there too.  I got a third of the Hampshire done.

Another TOC tactic in the book is to subordinate inventory and operations to throughput.  For example, if you cannot make anything good with a certain material, don't stockpile it.  If you have to use an inefficient machine to make a small batch so you can get on with production, do it.  If you need to outsource some tasks, do it.  If you test a finished object for quality and it fails, figure out a way to test earlier before you put in so much effort.  Pay attention to the stages where works-in-progress stop and pile up.  Prioritize work, do many small batches, limit the amount in progress, and focus on completing items people want.  It sounds more compelling when you read the novel.

Right after I read the book I looked at these considerations in regard to my handspinning and thought about making some changes.  I put the list aside at the time: I am cautious about overhauls and outlays and it was easier just to go on as usual.  However, my throughput is less than what I'd like to have and less than my capacity.  I do want to change somewhat.  Now I can't remember what some of the changes were supposed to be, which is annoying, but if I go back and look it over I'll probably recapture my thoughts.

March 20, 2013

Viking Lawn Chair

A lawn chair I restrung with rope in the York språng pattern.  As I expected, this pattern looks much better with a wide warp.

Was tricky getting the tension correct.  There are a couple of cross pieces in the frame so for comfort the mesh cannot sag too much.  You can see at the edges of the seat that the warp is bunched up there.  I had to lash that area more tightly.

Warp take up was maybe 18 inches.  I warped directly onto the frame, extending the warp from the top bar down past the bottom bar and up the back to a string stretched across the frame a foot or so above the bottom bar.

There are two types of rope in there because I underestimated requirements the first time and I had to go back to the hardware store to get another couple hundred feet.  By tracking the two different types, I discovered that the York pattern causes each warp thread to move diagonally as the rows progress.  The slightly thicker rope started out in the middle of the warp and here it is at the sides.

The interplay of S twist interlinking, Z twist interlinking, and interlacing is quite attractive.

March 19, 2013

White Knitted Dish Cloths

Completed a stack of white knitted dish cloths and sent them off in the mail as a gift.

March 18, 2013

Four Ways to Chart Språng

I've found four ways to chart språng hole patterns so far in four books.  This video is my attempt to make sense of the four methods.

There is more I still need to cover.  I plan at some point to reverse engineer a pattern from a picture of an actual språng item.

What you see isn't always what you get.  The cloth's appearance will not exactly match the chart's depiction, whichever method you choose.  There is also a difference between the way språng cloth looks stretched on the loom and what it looks like when finished.  I need to play with that and see if there are any principles that will let me chart original motifs without them coming out squashed or distorted.

March 16, 2013

In Clover

Sorry I didn't make the clover in green yarn.

The clover pattern is from Fenny Nijman's Sprang - Egyptisch Vlechten.  She calls it "klavertje" which is the Dutch word for clover.  Beside the pattern she gives a photograph of a plant, a four-leaved clover.

You can see an example of the clover pattern in an image showing silk mittens from the early 1800s on the Rijks museum website.  The Rijksmuseum is in the Netherlands.  They list språng under the name Egyptisch vlechtwerk.

Elisabeth Siewertsz van Reesema, whose språng work is in the same museum, shows a collar patterned with clovers in her book Egyptisch Vletchwerk.

March 15, 2013

Språng belt on National Gallery of Australia website

If you liked the red språng sash on the ROM website I pointed out the other day, have a look at Accession No: NGA 2009.187 on the National Gallery of Australia website.  Similar in colour, pattern,  and fibre type apart from the addition of metallic yarn.  Different in geographical origin (Pakistan) and time period (nineteenth century).

It is described as a belt or drawstring and it is narrow, 9 centimetres by 206 cm (about 3.5 inches by 81 inches).  By comparison the ROM's sash is 28 cm by 302 cm (about 11 inches by 119 inches).

March 14, 2013

Happy Pi Day

Happy Pi Day, the third month and the fourteenth day, 3.14.

I prefer phi, 1:1.618.  I got a necklace showing the golden ratio, just because.  There was a Pi necklace too, and also earrings.

March 13, 2013

Rain and Linen

Last week at my weaving class, I was flummoxed by my inability to beat down my linen weft enough to square up my blocks of Ms and Os.

This week it rained.  There was moisture in the air, and all was well with my weaving.

March 12, 2013

Språng Sash on the ROM Website

I found an image of the following on the Royal Ontario Museum site,

Man's sash
American ?
Silk "spang" [sic] plaited and tasseled
Centimetres: 302 (length), 28 (width)
circa 1775
Area of Origin: United States of America?
Gift of the Sigmund Samuel Endowment Fund

It looks similar to the Braddock sash owned by George Washington.

ETA: There are openwork holes on a background of interlinking.  The length of the sash is divided into sections width-wise by lines, something I've seen on other språng sashes.  This arrangement is also in ancient Greek woven textiles; see Barber, Prehistoric Textiles.  While the pictures don't show everything, I do not see any figures of people or plants.  There are zig-zags, diamonds within diamonds, and triangles.  In each section with diamonds, the diamonds are lined up in a row side-by-side with one another across the width.  I cannot tell whether there are other types of språng patterning, though there is some draw in at the ends which may come from multiple thread interlinking.

March 11, 2013

Edith Meusnier

I have been looking online at the art of Edith Meusnier, who uses språng in large outdoor installations.

Meusnier's website, Paysages d'Artifice,

Interview on World of Threads Festival website,

March 09, 2013

How to Make Crazy-Looking Hole Patterns in Språng

I recorded and uploaded some more how-to videos on YouTube showing some språng patterns and techniques: all-over holes, gothic arches, clover, and chained ridges.  The first and last ones has been used for thousands of years (Haraldskær hairnet and Bredmose cap respectively); the second one probably dates back to the seventies as the earliest I've seen it is in Skowronski and Reddy's book.  Clovers have been used for at least two centuries.

March 08, 2013

Métis Sash at the Smithsonian Museum

This is a detail of a Métis sash at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.  (The museum covers North America as well as Central and South America.)

Today the CBC reported that "the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the federal government failed in its obligations to the Métis people."  "Métis win historic land dispute ruling in Supreme Court Manitoba: Métis Federation sought declaration of government's failure to implement 1870 land deal," CBC News, March 8, 2013,

March 07, 2013

Found a Flax Hackle Producer

I thought no one was producing and selling new flax hackles, and then I discovered some listed on Stephenie Gautad and Alden Amos' website.  Also lists a flax break and scutching sword.

March 05, 2013

Bag at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian

This bag at the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian could be språng construction but I am not sure.  It is made of plant fibre.  The exhibit is in low light and I did not use the flash, so what you see is a photograph with the colour adjusted.

March 04, 2013

Linen Warps

I have a linen warp on a loom for weaving and a small linen warp on a frame for språng.  Linen yarn is difficult to tension consistently.  Good thing I used a safety line across the frame with the språng warp to keep the strands in order.  The safety line acts like the cross does in weaving by sending even and odd threads in different directions around a divider, and thereby separating them enough to tell which is which.

The yarn is 16/2, fine compared to typical knitting yarns and many weaving yarns.  I've made an inch of språng interlinking and it is pleasing, though not as finely textured as I expected.  The two rows of holes I tried looked worse.  Already the cloth is curling from the twists so I plan to switch to interlacing instead and see how that goes.

March 02, 2013

Images of Coptic Turbans at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Coptic turban, accession number 90.5.33, with a slightly more complicated sprang pattern than the next turban

Coptic turban, accession number 30.3.56,, a good view of the meeting line in image 3