14 January 2010

A&S 50: Material Culture one: Garters, 13th C

 Julia May, aka Samia al-Kaslaania
January 2009

Garters for hosen to accompany a houppelande. Oswald helped me warp them and I had them finished that night in a few hours, along with the rest of the warped thread so that it didn't go to waste (about 14"). They're silk/ivory from Brown Paper Packages in Kentucky (purchased at the local embroidery shop). The colors are "mud puddle brown", "merlot" and "cayenne" (item numbers 154, 44, 68). They're somewhere between "1970s" and "autumnal" when you get up close.

Eight skeins produced two pair and cost about $40 in materials. The few yards of leftover yarn will be used to embroider on a pouch that is also decorated with the leftover trim mentioned above.

Six center cards with four border cards. The woven part is 17" long (for my luxury sized calves) and 1/2" wide. The ties are about 6" (corded rather than braided).

Additional information from garters made the year previous:

Garters for a 13th Century French Noblewoman
Julia May aka Samia al-Kaslaania
August 2008

Women’s stockings of the 13th Century were cut from woven fabric and fitted to the leg below the knee. Different from our modern comforts, medieval socks did not keep themselves up. Garters were tied or belted above the calf and below the knee, over the sock to cinch it in place. Excess fabric above that point could be rolled or folded down to keep everything in place.

These new garters are tablet woven in a continuous warp of 12 cards with a two card border, for a total of 16 cards, making a ½ inch wide band. The textile chosen was a 2-ply 50% silk 50% wool blend.  

Though many tablet woven textiles currently exhibited from the 12th to 14th Centuries are brocaded, numerous others are worked in the traditional warp-faced patterns. [Crowfoot 131] This diamond/chevron pattern was selected 1) to accommodate the scale of the 16 card project and 2) because it resembles an extant 14th Century textile in the broad diagonal (as opposed to double-faced) style.  The extant piece has two border cards (per side) which are opposing S- and Z-twist, and this design element was copied on the modern version here. Also copied from the original, the remainder of the cards are faced to accommodate the broad diagonal style.

The wool-silk blend has the strength of silk as a warp, but the quick-felting, and difficult-to-clear shed properties of wool. I believe that both protein fibers provide the depth to the colors, but the wool will give some extra “traction” in keeping the hosen in place. This fiber blend is easy to procure in the Twin Cities, and is familiar to the artist. Both silk and wool were used for tablet woven textiles in the Middle Ages, and mixed fiber textiles were common [Crowfoot 127].

The colors were selected to coordinate with the other garb, blue to compliment the green hosen and cranberry to compliment the gown, with white borders for an extra “pop”. The medium blue could have been achieved with woad. Techniques too numerous to count (including insects, plant material and fungus) were used to achieve variations-on-a-theme of royal purple throughout the Middle Ages.

Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard, Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing : Medieval Finds from Excavations in London, c.1150-c.1450. Boydell Press: London, 1992. 

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