Sprang Pants

Inspired by the work of Dagmar Drinkler (http://www.teppichfreunde-norddeutschland.de/de/img/treffen/Drinkler-Sprangtechnik-09072011-72dpi.pdf) I’m setting out to make a pair of sprang pants.


sprang pants

detail from a painting by Vittorio Carpaccio of Venice 1494

This is the inspiration, I’m wanting vertical stripes, and then some fancier pattern starting mid-thigh.

Here’s a schema outlining my plan:

pants pattern

Step-by-step of my scheme for the sprang pants.

Work starts at the ankles, and progesses towards the hips. Somewhere mid-thigh, according to Medieval portraits, you can add another layer of warp, allowing for the greater stretch and also enabling a wider variety of patterns. Now, Drinkler says she did not ‘shape’ the crotch. It just gets sewn together. I am thinking I might try a bit of shaping.

I calculated the length of warp needed, measuring from the floor to my waist. I added for the uptake that happens with the work of interlinking. I also added for the knots I’ll make to ‘seal’ the work as I cut the two pieces apart. This all added up to 9 ft of warp needed. This was a problem as my heavy-duty frame is a mere 8 ft long (limitied by my 8 ft ceilings). Not to worry, Peter Collingwood has the solution. IMG_1012

On pg 256 Collingwood describes a ‘false circular warp’ that is really a flat warp, and yields up to twice the length of your frame. This was the solution I needed.

So I set up my 9 ft warp using only a portion of my 8 ft frame:

two-colored flat warp

This is a two-colored warp

False Circular warp up close

The warp doubles back around the fine dowel on the left. Note the green thread.

Wanting the edge loops to be much tighter than this dowel, I laid a green thread along the dowel. When I start to work, I’ll remove the dowel, and will leave the green thread to hold the edges secure while I work.

The other fine dowel holds the cross.

Frame turned upright

Now upright and ready to go.

Here is what it looks like after the first dozen rows.

vertical stripes

Nice vertical stripes.

You can see where the green thread holds the two edges while I work.IMG_1014 To create the stripes, I carried the threads over, the yellow thread travels over the red, and the red travels over the yellow. This extra loop will be visible at one ankle. I’m thinking I’ll tuck this end into my shoe. If the pants turn out long enough, then they will be ‘tights’ and these extra loops will be concealed in the seam at the toe.

It was more than 12 hours of work to get the socks to be that ‘mid thigh’ length, time to start the fancy patterns. I wanted to try to insert a diamond pattern. I figured I would add threads of contrasting colour, pairs at a time. I did this by pinning long loops into place.

adding threads

Safety pins hold the added threads in place initially.


diamond pattern in double layer

Here is that diamond pattern, as it emerged.

The added threads were long loops. Knots tying each loop closed were collecting up along the mid-way line in my warp.

knots from addition

Not really a problem, I just needed to ‘gentle’ through the knots as each row got shoved into the ‘mirror image’ position.

I decided to try for another diamond just below the first one.

second diamond

I liked the clean lines at the margins of this second diamond.

And then, disaster! One of the knots came apart. I had been thinking of taking out my ‘addition pair by pair’ and trying for adding a panel of threads. Yes, I ripped back 4 inches of work, and started again.

I set up a long, narrow warp, enough yellow threads to ‘double’ behind a red stripe. I worked two rows on the supplemental warp, and then placed it behind a red panel. I incorporated this second layer into the whole, working that section as double layer sprang (Collingwood 167-183).

smooth diamond edge

This manner of adding threads gave a much cleaner line to the diamond.

Now it was time to add that second layer across the rest of the width. Once again I set up a warp, as long as the remaining space in the original piece, doubling the stripes, in the contrasting color. I worked the first few rows, to give the supplementary warp a bit of stability. Then I laid the new warp behind the original piece, and worked the whole as double layer sprang.

shoving the first supplemental row

Moving the first row of double layer to the mirror-image place I knew that there was an error in my technique.

I was counting on the supplemental warp to incorporate into the initial warp, and just to sit there nicely. Next time I will properly suspend the supplemental warp, set it with its own support and tension strings.

double layer sprang

Nevertheless, I pushed on.

Now I had calculated the width of the piece based on other sprang pieces I had done, and the distance around my calf. I was starting to get concerned that this width would not accommodate my hips. Now, having doubled the number of threads, even though they are sitting in front or in back of the partner, not really adding width, I do find that since doubling the number of threads, the whole does want to be wider.

Work has slowed considerably. I now have twice the number of threads (I think I said that already) and working one front stitch, one back stitch goes slower than working across a single layer. Nevertheless, I’m pushing onward.

And now, at long last, the completed work.

red and yellow striped pants

The completed pair of pants.


<< >>