Sash fringe finish

Sprang sashes are very elastic. How to finish off an elastic cloth can present a challenge. Historic military sprang sashes are gathered together before the fringe. This is the only point in the sash to have a weft. I reserved some of the same thread when I set up the warp. Several lengths of this reserved thread are used together for this weft. Actually two weft thread bunches are required, one for each end of the sash.

Weft insertion

The weft will be used to gather the sash at the top of the fringe.

The weft thread bunch is placed in a completed row. Another weft bunch is placed in the mirror-image row. These weft thread bunches criss cross in subsequent rows. I placed little yellow or green loops to help me later to snug up these wefts. I use spring-loaded clips to keep the weft threads and the little green or yellow loops out of my way while weaving.

fringe head in progress

The weft threads have to be long enough to criss-cross back and forth.

Gathering happens after the weaving is complete. Bunching the threads up during the weaving invites those tangle pixies and results in a less-than-perfectly-even fringe head. I wait until after the weaving is complete, and the circular warp cut apart before I tighten up the fringe head. Knots that I made when setting up the warp were lined up. I am glad to report that I am cutting very near that line of knots. The knots will not be part of the finished sash.
All that is left is the fringe twisting.

fringe twisting

Twisting groups of threads into the fringes.

That’s my little exercise weight. Hours and hours of weaving, I find the weight useful for wrist and forearm exercises, prevents problems. The weight also keeps the sash in place, provides counter-tension for the fringe twisting. In this picture you will also notice that those little yellow threads are now snug against the fringe head. I incorporate the weft bunch into the fringes.

Lessons learned

This sash is certainly teaching me alot.
It has been my custom in sprang to work several rows, placing sticks in each the shed, completing several rows before getting up and moving all those sheds, one after another, into the mirror-image position.
This sash, as with many historic sashes from the 1700s, was created using more than one very fine thread. I’ve got multiple strands. Just like embroidery floss that comes in 6 strands, that’s how these sashes are made: multiple strands, unplied. Now the problem happens when I am not 100% accurate, and wrongly group a thread. When I go to push it into the mirror-image section, that mis-grouping causes a snag. Mostly I notice that it’s really hard pushing, check the culprit thread, and find the mistake. Sometimes, however, it’s only in examining the fresh row on the mirror image.

Thread grouping error

The error shows up as an imperfection in the mirror image.

I am finding that it’s best to catch these errors right away, like, catching it as soon as it happens. I’ve given up on this multi-row efficiency. I stand up after each row, move the row, and check. It seems the only way to assure all is well.
Another issue has developed concerning thread tension. My initial warp was not 100% even, and I had to deal with that. Things have been quite smooth since …. until lately. I’ve noticed that there is another couple of threads loose lately, causing troubles. I’ve identified them as the threads at the very edge. This happens every time, indeed makes sense. The edge thread, the thread involved in that three-thread edge stitch on the plait row, makes only half the number of rotations as all the other threads. Uptake is less for this thread. I’ve resolved the issue with this thread being longer.
Fixing bead thread looseness

I pulled that extra thread up, leaving a loop off the edge of the cloth.

I will try to remember to pull on that loop thread before the final finishing, completely erasing all evidence of this problem.
While on the subject of yarn uptake, with this very fine silk I’m noting an uptake of one inch per foot. When I work on wool sashes with a much thicker yarn, the uptake can be around 3-4 inches per foot.

One third of the way done

Progress is slow, but steady on the sprang sash.
Here is where I am. The date is now on the sash.

sash date

General Braddock’s father graduated from military academy in 1709.

A reporter for the local French language newspaper stopped by to interview me. Her camera is also a video camera. She shot a short youtube video. For those who do not speak French, I explain the basic idea of sprang, two rows of cloth for every one row of work. The video then shows you a close up of the sash, and then how I move a row of work around. The sash grows from a central line outward towards the fringes.

Washington, DC

I attended the Textile Society of America Symposium Sept 19-22 in Washington, DC. The title was ‘Textiles and Politics’. Papers were presented on all manner of topics, textile work and the economy, textile work in emerging economies, dyestuffs, self-expression. My paper was on the subject of sprang and military sashes. I met textile experts from around the world.
While in the DC area I had arranged to visit George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Staff there allowed me to inspect the Braddock Sash. Of note, the beginning- and end-threads of the circular warp were tied to a neighboring thread at the middle meeting line, just like Peter Collingwood suggests (Techniques of Sprang, pg 259-261). And here I’ve been advocating that you remove that edge thread.


Carol at George Washinton’s Mount Vernon, examining the Braddock Sash.

Silk Sprang Sash as a Litter

I made a silk sprang sash earlier this year for a military re-enactor. Officer of higher ranks had sashes were made of silk, a very strong fiber. Now there are stories out there about people being carried on sashes. It seems that a person injured on the field could be carried back to camp on the sash. A client earlier this year requested a sash wide enough and long enough to try this out.
So I made this sash, and then encouraged him to try it out, and send me photos. I even promised to replace the sash, should it not hold up to the claim.
He has now sent me photos of the event:

Sash trial 1

The sash was placed on the ground, and the subject sat on the sash.

Sash trial the lift

Four of his friends lifted him off the ground on the sash. 

Sash Trial lift 2

The people at head and foot bear most of the weight. The people on the sides keep the sash stretched laterally. I think I’d recommend another two people to distribute the weight a bit more. 

I was assured that the sash was not at all damaged by this test. The sash was seven feet long, and eight inches wide lying on the ground. When the sash was stretched laterally to support the full width of the body, it shortened a bit. I was told that another two feet of length (and probably a bit more width) would be desireable. I hear that the Braddock sash is 24 inches wide and 12 feet long, a very nice size for a litter.

Silkster Gallery

I visited Treenway Silk while in the Victoria area this summer. Figuring I was needing some silk, I decided to stop in and purchase it in person, avoiding shipping fees. A quick thought before I left home, I decided to bring along some of my pieces to show them what I can do with their product.
This brief show-and-tell has gotten me a place on their Silksters Gallery.