Thursday, February 17, 2011

A&S 50 - 32: Learn to Weave Mary's Veil Huckweave

AND 35*: Weave Napkins for Feast Gear Box

Pictures of the finished cloth are in my previous post.

The Original Cloth:
The original cloth is a relic purporting to be a fragment from the veil of St. Mary, now housed in the Basilica of Our Lady in Tongeren, Belgium. The relic is part of a seven-yearly celebration and veneration of Virgin known as the Coronation, or Kroning, which draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to the town, and last took place in 2009. The cloth dates to the eleventh or twelfth century. As I am not able to read Dutch, I was not able to read De Jonghe's original study of the relic to obtain any more details about the fabric, such as thread count or fiber content. However, as the cloth is purported to have been used as a veil one can presume it to be quite fine, and likely linen or silk.

Weaving details:
As this was to be my first real weaving project on my new (to me at least) floor loom, and I had been asked to make a towel for a Laurel elevation, I wanted to use a thread that would be fairly forgiving and work well as a hand towel (i.e. be absorbent). The cloth was woven using Louet Cottolin, a 60% cotton, 40% linen blend thread at 34 wraps per inch. I threaded my loom at 24 ends per inch, using 400 warp ends, for an initial weaving with of just under 17 inches. After washing, the finished cloth measured 13 inches wide and 2 2/3rd yard long. I did not measure the initial length but I had at least 1/3rd yard in shrinkage over the length. The drawdown can be found on Carolyn Priest-Dormans website, linked below.

The finish towel measures roughly 22 inches long, one quarter the length of the finished cloth. The remaining cuts of cloth will be hemmed and used as napkins or finger towels for my feast gear box.

Learnings and Conclusions:
- Working with Cottolin in particular requires that the warp be kept under a fair amount of tension to avoid to snagging the warp or skipping warps when throwing the shuttle. It makes it hard to get a clean shed with things are even a little bit loose, and they just get looser as things snag. Also, knots from warp repairs will cause problems with getting a clean shed.
- I CAN warp my loom by myself! It's just slower.
- Measure the finished cloth, length and width, before you wash it!
- This is the first time I had woven anything more complicated than simple tabby or twill, and getting the hang of the treadling took a bit of practice. Taping the drawdown to the loom helped a great deal, and stopping in the same place every time I stepped away kept me from getting lost or making too many mistakes.


Priest-Dorman, Carolyn. 2001. "Some Medieval Linen Weaves." Complex Weavers' Medieval Textiles, Issue 30 (December 2001), pp. 1, 4-5.

-----. A Four-Harness Medieval Huck Weave. ( Last accessed February 17, 2011.

De Jonghe, Daniƫl. 1988. "Technologische Beschouwingen," pp. 65-88 in Textiel van de vroege middeleeuwen tot het Concilie van Trente. Tongeren Basiliek O.-L.-Vrouw Geboorte, vol. I. Leuven: Uitgeverij Peeters.

-----. 1989. "Niet op trapweefstoelen geweven linnen weefsels met ruitpatronen?," pp. 222-241 in Middeleeuws Textiel, in het Bijzonder in het Euregiogebied Maas-Rijn [Medieval Textiles, Particularly in the Meuse-Rhine Area], Proceedings of the [First] Congress, Alden Biesen, 13.02-16.02.1989. Sint-Truiden, Belgium: Provinciaal Museum voor Religieuze Kunst.

Walton, Denzil. There's Something About Mary.

*Note that these numbers have very little to do with how many projects I have completed. It just reflects where the project is on my master list of projects, which is linked to the right.

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