Learn to do Språng

Språng is plaiting (braiding) on stretched threads.  Språng creates wide cloth, not just narrow wares.  The cloth is a bias fabric and so conforms well to the body in a way that knitted or woven cloth doesn't.  Sprang can give you interesting structures, colour effects, patterns, textures, and shaping.

The technique has been done in many parts of the world on all continents except Antarctica for thousands of years from the Bronze Age to the present though it became less common after the industrial revolution.  Språng was done in all four major fibres: silk, wool, linen, and cotton.

All you need to do språng is some yarn, your fingers, some sticks, and a way to stretch the warp such as a frame which can be very simple and improvised.  Wait to use hairy yarn until you get some practice, and use yarn that can stand up to some tugging.

You are welcome to watch videos about how to do språng on my YouTube channel,
www.youtube.com/user/thesojourningspinner.  Here is the most popular one:

I am self-taught.  I learnt språng primarily from books.
The one I rely on most is Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang because it is very thorough and clear and he goes through more variations than any other author.  
As I write this, physical copies of Collingwood's book are out of print.  Used physical copies are expensive.  Taproot Video sells a pdf copy online for a reasonable cost.

There are also these books:
Mary Meigs Atwater's Byways in Handweaving
Skowronski and Reddy's Sprang: Thread Twisting, A Creative Textile Technique
The Creative Family Workshop: From Silver Smithing to Sprang
Carol James' Sprang Unsprung
Noémi Speiser's The Manual of Braiding
Astrid Sandvold's Sprang: An Old Lace Making Technique
Fenny Nijman's Sprang - Egyptisch Vlechten
Margrethe Hald's Ancient Textiles in Egypt and Scandinavia
Hald's Ancient Danish Textiles (both in the original and in translation)
Elizabeth Seiwertsz van Reesema's "Old Egyptian Lace" in The Bulletin of Needle & Bobbin Club
Seiwertsz van Reesema's Egyptisch Velchtwerk
Seiwertsz van Reesema's Contribution to the Early History of Textile Technics
Francis Pritchard's Clothing Culture: Dress in Egypt in the First Millennium AD
Herborg Wahl's Jakten pa sprang
Herborg Wahl's Nytt liv i gamle sprangmonstre
Herborg Wahl's Sprangmodeller
Denison Andrews' Hammock: How to make your own and lie in it
Glob's The Bog People
They all present språng a little differently: the words describing techniques differ from one author to another, and some even work from a different side of the warp.  Some just mention språng without giving instructions.

I also learnt to do språng by researching images of språng on museum websites, to study historical pieces and photos of people doing språng, and by looking at the online material of språng instructors such as Blue van der Zwan-Deen, Sarah Goslee, and Carol James.

I've posted on this blog pretty much everything I've learned and made in språng.  I have pinned a lot of pictures of språng, mostly from museum collections, on Pinterest, at www.pinterest.com/thesojourningspinner.

It's easier to show how språng is done than describe it in words, which is why I hope you'll watch videos, but I also include instructions for a simple språng market bag.

To Warp the Frame
Assemble your frame.  Attach a dowel each at the top and bottom with strings so you can raise or lower them as needed, like the way tapestry weavers set up a basic frame to weave samples or small pieces.  The dowels should be parallel to the top and bottom of the frame.  The dowels are the crossbars.
Tie the end of your yarn to the top crossbar, leaving a tail as long as your warp.
Bring the yarn down to the bottom crossbar, over the front, under and up the back.
Bring the yarn up and over the top.
Continue warping.  The yarn should encircle the bars.  Keep the strands parallel and don’t let them get out of order.  Keep the tension even.
If you are a weaver and miss making the cross, you can tie a piece of string across the middle. Pass the warp yarn behind the string on the way down and in front on the way up.  Resist the urge to cut the warp.  In språng the warp must stay in one piece.  When you start, remove the string.
To finish, bring the yarn up to the top crossbar, cut a long tail, and tie the yarn to the crossbar.  Because you start and end at the crossbar, the number of threads will be an even number.
To make a market bag, warp 42 inches tall and 5 inches wide (or smaller with similar proportions) with weaving cotton or dishcloth cotton yarn.  Keep 2 yards to weave the meeting line closed, and 6 yards to twist into a drawstring.
For comfort, warp with the frame propped across two sturdy chair backs.

To make basic 1/1 Z twist språng interlinking
Say to yourself, row 1, “two from the back going up, one from the front going down.” Then, “One from the back coming up, one from the front going down.”  Repeat, “One from the back coming up, one from the front going down.”  At the end, “One from the back coming up, two from the front going down.”
Push mirrored twists to the bottom.
Then row 2, “One from the back coming up, one from the front going down.”  Repeat.
Push mirrored twists to the bottom.
(The words are after a video by Blue van der Zwan-Deen.)

You will work at the top.  It’s possible to set the frame on your lap propped against a table and work at the bottom.  Some books show this.  However, you will be seeing the mirror image S twist there and that will confuse you when trying to follow Collingwood’s book.  Also, it’s easy to push twist down the warp but it’s an effort to push twist upward.  So work from the top.
Half the strands are in front of the crossbar and half behind.  The yarn at the knots won’t fall into line automatically, though, so adjust them.  Push the yarn at the starting knot forward and the yarn at the ending knot backward so the strands are in the right place.  (Or tie everything at the bottom and you won’t have to fiddle with this.  Or turn the frame upside down.)  There will be equal numbers of threads in front and in back.
Put your non-dominant hand in between, so half the threads are in front and half in back.  If you work with your right hand, put it at the right edge of the warp.  You will work from right to left.  Lefties may find it comfortable to work in the opposite direction on the row and work counterclockwise creating S twist instead of Z twist; however, they will find it difficult to follow the book.
You will work with strands as they present themselves, from the edge, in order.
Here are the rows explained:
Row 1 (plait):
Say to yourself, “two from the back going up, one from the front going down.”
Take two strands from the back and bring them forward.  This will effectively bring them clockwise over one strand in front, though it won’t look like it.  This is the same as the first movement in ordinary three-strand braiding.
Push down the strand in front.  It is now in the back, behind the working hand.  Let it go.  Let the new front strands go, resting in front of your hand.
“One from the back coming up, one from the front going down.”
Same move, but with only one strand from the back coming forward.  Just like the beginning move in braiding.
Repeat until you reach the far edge.
“One from the back coming up, two from the front going down.”
We began with two, so we also have to end with two.  Bring the last strand from the back forward, and push down the two last strands from the front.
The row is complete.  You want your hand back but you know you can’t let go or the threads will return to their original positions.  Slide a stick into the shed (where your working hand is keeping the front and back separate).  Take your hand and brush the mirror twists down to the bottom crossbar.  Put a stick in the shed there too.
Row 2 (overplait):
“One from the back coming up, one from the front going down.”
Put your hands back in their original positions, non-dominant hand in the shed and working hand at the starting edge.  Go again, only this time you don’t have to begin and end with two.
You might think it would be easier to call it Row 1 when you start with one strand from the back, and actually some books and teachers do.  However, Collingwood does not and it’s easier to follow variations in the rest of his book if you do it his way.  He follows Elizabeth Siewertsz van Reesema’s book Egyptisch vlechtwerk.
Repeat Row 1 and Row 2 (plait and overplait rows) at the top, building up fabric at top and bottom as you go.  Use the sticks or a beater sword to compact the rows to your liking.
When the pieces almost meet, you need to secure the meeting line.  Stop, leave the sticks in, take a piece of yarn, and carefully weave three or five picks of plain weave (under, over).  Knot the ends to the cloth.  Take out the sticks.
Untie the crossbars from the frame.  Fold the cloth in half.  Use the tails to sew up the sides to make a bag.  Take 6 yards of yarn and make a drawstring however you like.  Carefully thread it through the loops at the bag’s opening as you slip out the crossbars.  Knot the drawstring to secure it.

DIY frames
Empty picture frames or artists canvas stretchers, with two sturdy dowels tied to the top and bottom.  For the market bag, use a frame made of 16 inch and 50 inch canvas stretcher pieces, and 12 inch long dowels.
A flexible branch bent into a U, lashed across the open end with a stick to hold it in that shape.  Instead of dowels, use strings across, top and bottom.
Dowels attached to chairs back-to-back, with the chairs weighted so they won’t move.
Any frame on which you can make a warp, tension it, and remove it afterward.


  1. I love these tutorial and shared them with the people who like my sprangpage on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/Sprangbraiding?ref=tn_tnmn) Thank you for putting your video's on line.
    I do love to meet fellow sprangers!

    Blue from denblauwenswaen.nl

    1. wow, thank you, Blue! Nice to meet you too. I love your own tutorials and videos, very informative and inspirational. The Facebook page is new to me so thank you for mentioning it.

  2. I put a link to your video's on the fb page on sprang. Why did I not find this before? Huge compliments, the video's are so good and will help many people learn sprang. Thank you!!!!