May 25, 2013


My språng bog hood has gone to be displayed at a re-enactors' event.  The group likes to have documentation go along with a piece so people can understand the research, choices, methods, and tools that informed the piece.  Here's mine.

handspun språng bog cap
Kristen M. Hughes
finished January, 2013

Original artifacts
cap found at Bredmose Arden, Denmark (mose means bog)
cap or hairnet found in a bog at Skrydstrup, Denmark
Both made of wool singles yarn, worked in språng, dated to about 1400 B.C.E. and 1300 B.C.E.

photo of Bredmose cap from the National Museum, Denmark,
information about Skrydstrup cap and hairnet, National Museum, Denmark
instructions for Skrydstrup pattern in Peter Collingwood, The Techniques of Sprang
medieval looms for tablet weaving in Peter Collingwood, The Techniques of Tablet Weaving
photo of plain interlinked språng hood with tablet-woven edge in Candace Crockett, Card Weaving
photo of Bredmose cap in P.V. Glob, The Bog People
schematic drawings of Bredmose (Arden) and Skrydstrup patterns in Margrethe Hald, Ancient Danish Textiles
tablet-woven border in Marta Hoffmann, The Warp-weighted Loom
replica of low, wide Oseberg loom in Sofie Krafft’s Pictorial Weaving from the Viking Age
Elizabeth Wincott Heckett’s Viking Age Headcoverings from Dublin
Kathryn Alexander, Spinning Energized Yarns

Method of Fabrication
Using drop spindles, spun wool into fine, high-twist two ply yarn for the tablet weaving and medium gauge, medium twist two ply yarn for the supplementary weft.
Wove a strap by tablet weaving.  In the middle third of the strap (for a length of 20 inches), added supplementary weft which extended to one side in a fringe of loops twelve inches long.  The result looked like a string skirt.
Lashed the strap across the top of a picture frame, letting the fringe dangle.  Placed a long dowel rod through the loops of the fringe, and lashed the dowel to the bottom of the frame.  The fringe was now the språng warp.
Followed Collingwood's pattern for Skrydstrup, arriving at the meeting line in the middle after one and a half repeats.  Chained the meeting line.  Took the språng off the loom and cinched the bottom loops together to form the hood or bonnet shape.
I posted how-to videos for the woven fringe and the Skrydstrup pattern at

Used Bronze Age Nordic sources due to my inability to find specific information about the construction of språng hairnets or caps in the Middle Ages.  (General evidence found in Wincott Heckett.)
Used two ply, not singles yarn due to lack of skill at spinning singles yarn.  The two-ply yarn diminishes the look of the språng surface because the structure of the yarn interrupts the eye as it follows the lines of the cloth's structure (Alexander).  I would recommend that anyone making a cap use a balanced singles yarn instead of two-ply if he or she can.
Used wool from a modern breed of sheep, Perendale.  Wool from a primitive, unimproved breed would have been more authentic.
Used a weaver-tensioned setup for tablet-weaving, due to a lack of a period loom such the low, wide loom found in the Oseberg ship (Krafft) or those shown for tablet weaving in medieval manuscripts (Collingwood).
Used a picture frame to do språng, due to a lack of a period vertical two-beam loom such as the tall Oseberg loom (Hald, Hoffmann).
Used a chevron tablet-woven pattern for simplicity.
Chose a tablet-woven edge, found in a secondary source (Crockett) not a primary source, because it was an easy way to determine how many språng warp threads to use.  The tablet weaving acted like a reed to space the threads evenly, much as it does in borders on blankets in traditional warp-weighted weaving (Hoffmann).  There is no tablet-woven edge in Bredmose or Skrydstrup.  Crockett's hood is supposed to be based on a piece from Norway but no primary source is given in the book.
It would be a matter for further investigation, whether a cap might be more comfortable without the tablet-woven edge.  I think it would be more secure.  My bog cap relies on gravity and friction to keep it in place: the strap is too thick to tie under the chin.  A finer weaving yarn and a narrower strap would solve this.  A cap like Bredmose should stay securely in place because it has a long cord that runs over the head along the meeting line (Glob and National Museum, Denmark) and possibly a cord that runs along the bottom edges around the back.  Glob shows four cord ends but the museum only shows two ends and a line at the bottom edge that could be a cord.  The Skrydstrup hairnet, which is constructed in a different shape, has a cord running along the bottom edge so I think it's probable that one existed on Bredmose as well.
The fringe turned out to be a little too short.  There wasn't enough room to seam the hood a little way on the underside below the cinched part at the back, as with the Bredmose cap.  This detail is visible on the National Museum, Denmark website but not in Glob.
Followed Nordic sources and not Coptic because at the time I had not researched Coptic pieces as much and did not understand their patterns and construction as well as I did Nordic.  Also, I believed that Northern Europe's Bronze Age textiles would have had more to do with medieval Europe's than 4-6th century North Africa's.  However, after researching the patterns and construction of Coptic caps, noting their similarities to European pieces from the 1-19th centuries, and gaining a better understanding of the Coptic designs' roots in Europe (ancient Greece), I have changed my mind.

A språng cap is comfortable.
The dowel rod at the bottom of the frame prevented the twists from going all the way to the edge.  A taut string across the frame would have served better.  This would be a manner of working consistent with modern Nordic and Eastern European språng tradition.
Having used Collingwood's pattern for Skrydstrup and compared the resulting structure to Hald's schematic drawings, I find it closer to Hald's drawing of the Bredmose pattern.  Skrydstrup should have more rows of interlacing in succession than that, according to Hald.  There were two pieces of headgear found at Skrydstrup, one språng, one undetermined, and that could explain a mismatch between Collingwood and Hald.

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