Shiny new toy — Sprang

by maggie

So a few weeks ago I went to a conference on Early Textiles which I will write about at some point. A few of the talks were about Sprang.

What is Sprang? I hear you cry.
Not another textile technique you are going to learn and not do anything with?

Well Sprang makes excellent hats – and I always need a hat – and knitting is boring. so sprang may be more useful than as a curiosity.

So Sprang is an elastic fabric that make on a frame by twisting pairs of warps together. It has a superfifial resemblance to wire mesh fence.
At the conference there was a talk with pictures and videos on the internet so I thought I’d have a go. Heres the result.
You keep the warp tensioned on a frame. the twists you make at the top also appear at the bottom. imageThe knitting needles hold the false twist in place until you can secure the fabric in the middle. I turned my first bit of sprang into hat, which is loosely based on hairnets from Coptic Egypt.

Here you can see the brow band (made by darning in this instance), the red draw string and the chained tube at the nape of the neck, and the middle finishing place with its draw cord and two chained strips to make a tube on top of the head.

Here you can see the brow band (made by darning in this instance), the red draw string and the chained tube at the nape of the neck, and the middle finishing place with its draw cord and two chained strips to make a tube on top of the head.

I learnt a lot from this warp – mainly about having an even tension and working with cats. it was a steep learning curve i suppose. I couldn’t work on it for very long at a time.
The I got a book imageThis particular book is almost as old as i am and is rather technical and dry. Collingwood was good at analysis of textiles and managed to ‘recreate’ a number of techniques that are lost to a living tradition in modern Europe. He’s just not very good at explaining processes if you don’t understand them already.
I’m now on my third warp. (don’t ask what happened to warp two. I’ll just say I didn’t learn all there was to know about warp tension from warp one.) I wanted to practice some patterning. You can either do this by adding colour, by making holes or my adding texture by alternating S and Z twist. Warp one was made using the same Z twist through out. I planned to add S twist to warp two to make raised areas.
It’s been a complete nightmare.
I managed to make broad horizontal stripes of S and Z, but trying to make a rising diagonal as S displaces Z across the fabric. I’ve made rows and undone them when I couldn’t work out why there was an error. I thought I had fixed it and the error would reappear. I was in the middle of undoing the last part when I realised I should have photographed it first. (I promise I’ll get the hand of this blogging thing at some point.) I’t very frustrating. I think I need to go back to the book and work on the foundations before I have another go at this, I just which there were more diagrams. Words and Sprang don’t really mix so it’s quite difficult to go back and forth between the two ways of thinking. Maybe … i should creat my own diagrams … hmmm.
Baby steps. Once I’ve mastered right and left diagonal lines then I can pepper my work with triangles and diamonds where ever I like.
I know what I want to do for warp four. I’m struggling with the temptation to start it before I’ve finished all the possible samples on warp three. It would be a plain tube ( so know worrying about S and Zs). A tube with one closed end would make an excellent hat Maybe even a Phrygian Cap… If they are quick and easy to make then they may have solved me hat (loss of) issues for all time.

I went Looking for nice yarns yesterday so I’ve lots of things on my to do list – maybe one day I’ll manage a successful S and Z mix…

Mer

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