This post describes the rest of the theoretical analysis of the piled weave from Valsgärde 6. I started writing it just after vacation, but the whole autumn has been chaos so I was never able to finish it. Right before Christmas I finally managed to finalize my report about this weave, and thereby also the course in Analysis and Reconstruction, Weave at Sätergläntan. So here comes, at last, the promised continuation of my analysis, hopefully soon to be followed by the results from the first test weaves.
Lets dig into the analysis with focus on the pile this time. Important information about the pile is length, type of yarn used, construction of the knots and density. In the piled weave from Valsgärde 6, the most interesting part is the construction of the knots which is quite uncommon. I don’t know of any other find made with this technique (Hint: If you know about any similar find, please contact me. I would love to learn about it).
Pile Knot Construction
To be as clear as possible, I will here differ between the term “knot” and the term “attachment point”. This is because each pile thread is attached to the bottom weave at two separate points. Each of these are then called an “attachment point” and the term “knot” means both together. How do I know that there are two attachment points per knot then?
The attachment points are easy to see on the smooth side of the fabric, but most of them are well hidden under the pile on the pile side of the fabric. Because of the glass casing, I have not had the possibility to lift up the pile threads and look underneath. Instead I had to make do with looking at the edges where at least a few of the attachment points are visible.
In the picture to the right the blue line is the direction of the weft (I have rotated all pictures so that the warp direction is vertical). The yellow spirals are two pile threads and the attachment points are marked with a pinkish colour. The attachment points are not clearly distinguishable, but I hope that you can see that between them, the pile threads are parallel to the weft and to the left of the leftmost attachment point, where they hang free, the direction is more diagonal. This is an indication that the left attachment points are really there, otherwise I think that the pile threads should hang diagonally from the beginning. The weft is not perpendicular to the warp, which could be caused by things like use and wear or the long time in the grave.
In the pictures below, the attachment points are more clear, here marked with purplish lines, one for each visible warp thread. At the attachment point to the left, I have only marked the most clearly visible warp thread, but there may be one more.
In both the pictures above and below the little “curly tail” at the right end of each pile thread is clearly visible. They seem to be present on all pile threads with visible attachment points and may give a hint to the construction technique.
On the smooth side the attachment points are easier to see, mostly because the pile thread is thicker than the weft and is twisted in the opposite direction. On the middle picture I have marked the visible parts of the weft with blue, and outlined the thicker pile thread with yellow. In most cases there is a weft below the pile in the same shed and the pile is, also in most cases, put around two warp threads.
In the third picture I have tried to point out the middle right attachment point which is filled with yellow. I have also marked the twill lines with green and hope that you can see that all of the other attachment points cross a twill line while the middle right attachment point lies between two twill lines. There is also no visible weft below it. My theory was that at most attachment points the pile thread was put around four warp threads – two from the front layer and two from the back – but that sometimes the weaver missed to put it around the two warp threads in the back layer and then the attachment points would look like the middle left point.
In the pictures above it looks like the attachment points are regularly placed, with eight visible warp threads (which means 16 warp threads in total, as we cannot see the ones in the front layer) and two wefts (including the one in the same shed as the knot) in between. Looking at other parts of the fragment, the distance between the attachment points vary between 6, 8 and 10 visible threads.
In summary it seems like the knots were made by folding the pile thread double, put it around two to four warp threads, twist the two ends a few turns, put one of them behind two to four warp threads again, 12, 16 or 20 threads further away, and then twist the rest of the pile thread ends together. When a row of pile threads are made like this, a bottom weft is made, the shed is changed and a new bottom weft is made before the next pile row.
The remaining length of the pile is at most 4 cm. It was probably longer when it was new, but it is not possible to say how much longer.
The pile is made of wool yarn with the following specs:
Thread single z spun, twisted into a two-ply S twisted thread at weaving
Thickness 1 mm
Twist angle around 45 degrees at the knot but gradually losing twist towards the loose end
When this was done I needed to start weaving to be able to learn more about the weave, especially about the technique for making the knots, so the next post will be about the results from my first test weaves.