2/1 Diamond Twill Hood

11th Century Scandinavian Hood
Handwoven Fabric for 11th C Scandinavian Hoods
By: Jahanarabanu Vivana (EM Jones)
JC Rennie Shetland 11/2 S-spun
Colours: Blue and Grey- this blue can be achieved using indigo (Regia Colour
Equivalent chart, my own dye experience, and comparing to Lady Marian’s
indigo dyed wool)
Wool was a commonly used fiber by the Viking, Europeans and right the way through to the
Near East. Wool was a commonly used fiber for making garments, particularly garments that are
aimed to keep the wearer warm, such as the intended hood. Therefore wool was a logical choice
for material. Indigo is a well known early and medieval dye. The 11/2 wool allowed me to sett
the handwoven fabric within the realm of fabric woven by the Scandinavian people of this time
Herringbone Twill
Wet finishing cloth
Hand sewing
Methods and Tools
Weaving method: the fabric was woven in herringbone with occasional reversals in the
Vikings used warped weighted vertical looms. Whereas I have used Glimakra Standard
loom with 4 shafts. Glimakra looms bear a striking resemblance to the extant looms
found in manuscripts and the few remaining pieces of horizontal looms of the age. Using
a horizontal loom is also a style that would have been used by my persona (7th C
Persian). This loom can be used like an early horizontal loom and can be converted to a
A variety of looms were used throughout the Middle Ages. The Vikings are famous for
their use of warp weighted looms, perhaps the most widely known Medieval loom. The
warp weighted loom is comprised of a set of uprights and one beam, which holds the
woven cloth. The warp is hung from the upper beam and weighted with stones or ceramic
weights. This loom would have been used to produce the fabric used for hoods, tunics,
accessories and the like.
However a variety of other looms were used in other regions. The Egyptians
developed both a horizontal loom and a vertical loom. The horizontal loom is developed
first, as early as the Middle Kingdom period (Harris, 1995; Jenkins, 2002; Weibel, 1952).
This loom is made by staking out two beams and using a fixed heddle, which may have
been wide rigid heddles (Harris, 1995; Jenkins, 2002; Weibel, 1952). Other looms used
throughout the Middle Ages include the two beam vertical loom, developed by the
Egyptians in 1500 BC (Harris, 1995; Jenkins, 2002). This loom is made using two
vertical uprights with two horizontal beams, which hold the warp. This loom includes one
or two rods with leashes that are used to manipulate the warp and thus create the weave.
It is very similar to the tapestry loom used by Egyptians as early as the 6th C to weave
tapestry decorations for clothing and later by Europeans to weave large wall hangings.
Finally the treadle loom, which is a foot manipulated horizontal loom, and the
drawloom. The treadle loom was developed by the Chinese two to three centuries before
the Christian Era (Harris, 1995). This technology arrived in Europe by the 13th C and
would not have been in use in Europe at the time of this hood (Harris, 1995). The
development of the drawloom enabled incredibly complex fabrics to be woven. The
drawloom was either developed in China or Syria (Harris, 1995; Weibel, 1952). The
complexity of fabrics woven in China and Sasanid Persia provide the evidence that the
drawloom was developed in this area of the world in or before the 7th C (Harris, 1995;
Weibel, 1952). The drawloom is a fantastic device, which allows the warp threads to be
freely raised in regular complex patterns (Harris, 1995: Weibel, 1952). The drawloom
was used by a weaver with the assistance of untrained children or slaves (Weibel, 1952).
Drawings of drawlooms provide evidence on how these looms were operated (Harris,
1995; Weibel, 1952). A drawloom is not often used by modern weavers, but with patience
and the right knowledge weavers still create wonderful fabrics using drawloom
Ostergard and Jorgensen agree that a variety of weaves were used by the Vikings. These weaves
vary from simple tabby weave to complicated twill weaves, and of course herringbone. Contrary
to what one might assume the simple tabby weave is not very common as Viking weavers were
very accomplished (Jorgenson, 2002). Jorgensen (2002) states that the 2/2 twill was most
common during the Migration Period (400-600 AD). According to Jorgensen (2002) wool 2/2
twills predominate the Migration Era’s finds. The diamond twill comes into extant finds
beginning in the 7th Century (Jorgensen, 2002). Jorgensen distinguishes between the Z/S
diamond twill, which is only found two to three times in Scandinavia and the more prominent
Z/Z diamond twill, where Z-spun yarn is used as both the warp and weft threads.
Ostergard (2004) states that lozenge/diamond twills are amoung those used by the Vikings.
Ostergard (2004) writes that one 2/1 (Z/Z) diamond twill fragment was found in Norse
Greenland (See Figure 1) and that many of such fabrics have been found throughout the Viking
Era. Ostergard believes Figure 1 was a swatch sent to a merchant in Greenland, she stated that
the fiber and the dye (madder) are not native to Greenland (2004). I was looking for a
challenging and sumptuous fabric to weave, which is why I chose the 2/1 diamond twill. As you
can see in this fabric herring bone is simply a lozenge twill with the point slightly offset, which is
likely why it was also very popular.
Ostergard (2004) notes that the coarsest fabric found in Norse Greenland is set at 10 ends per
inch (epi) and the finer setts around 25 epi. This fabric is sett at 16 epi, which is what the threads
need to achieve a nice twill effect. Therefore this fabric would be of medium fineness at this
The woven fabric has been used to create a set of family hoods for Lord Elgrimr, myself and our
son Thorin. The hood design is based on the Skjoldehamn hood (Løvlid, 2009). The extant hood
is made from three pieces, two gores and a quadratic main piece. Only the back gore is
completely intact, the measurements of which are 28.4 cm (11′′) x 23.5 cm (9.25′′) This hood was
carbon dated to 995-1029 AD (Løvlid, 2009). This particular hood will end up being made from
four pieces as I did not leave enough room for waste and sampling on this original warp so a
second piece had to be woven for the main body of the hood. I feel that although this does not
completely replicate the extant hood, the effect will be the same. I also feel that essentially this
hood is made using geometric construction, so by using two rectangular pieces the geometric
construction is still keeping with the same style of construction.
Artistic Design
This fabric is woven with a grey warp and a blue weft. Eldgrimr and I chose grey as the warp for
our family hoods, because it is a nice neutral color. I sampled many weft colors, which allowed
use to choose this blue, which provided the best herringbone effect.
Collingwood, P (1996). The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Gilliland Printing. Arkansas City,
Geijer, A. (1979). A History of Textile Art. Sotheby Parke Bernet Publications.
Harris, J. ed. (1995). 5000 Years of Textiles. British Museum Press.
Jorgensen, L.B. (2002). Scandinavia, AD 400-1000. Jenkins, D. ed.The Cambridge History of
Western Textiles. Cambridge University Press.
Løvlid, D. H. (2009) Nye tanker om Skjoldehamnfunnet. Dissertation (Figure Notes have
English translations). Universitetet i Bergen.
McKenna, N (September 2001). Madder Dyeing. Medieval Textiles. Issue 29.
Ostergard, El (2004) Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland. Aarhus University
Press. Denmark.
Priest-Dorman, C (September 2001) “A Grass that Grows in Bologna”:
Dyeing with Weld. Medieval Textiles. Issue 29.
Uzzell, H. (2006). Regia Colour Equivalant Chart.
Weibel, A.C. (1952) Two Thousand Years of Textiles: The Figured Textiles of Europe and the
Near East. The Detroit Institute of Arts. New York.

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