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Adv-Sprang-art - 11/26/16


"Advanced Sprang Techniques" by THL Eva vanOldebroek.


NOTE: See also the files: sprang-msg, sprang-chrono-art, sprang-bib, knitting-msg, p-knitting-bib, naalbinding-msg, Stick-Weaving-art, Fngrlop-Laces-art.





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Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Advanced Sprang Techniques

by THL Eva vanOldebroek


This course assumes you already have some experience with basic Z-twist sprang. Instructions for warping and to get started can be found here: http://midrealm.org/mktag/ , the Guild of Withie and Woolmongers site. Look under "Projects" for the basic sprang tutorial by THL Cassandra of Glastonbury.


The two basic manipulations in sprang are the Z- and the S- twist.


Z-twist is made by bringing the back thread up to the right if the front thread (The red thread represents the back thread). To twist two front or back threads together, the left-hand thread is moved under the right and to the front.


Text Box:  


S-twist is made by bringing the back thread to the left of the front thread. To twist two front or two back threads together, the right-hand thread is brought under the left and to the front.



These two movements will get you through most of the patterns.


Multiple Twists


Examples of this technique include the Borum Eshoj Hairnet, found near Aarhus, Denmark and dated to 1400 B.C. [1]


Also, there is a hairnet found near Vindonissa, Switzerland dated A.D.100, worked with triple twist interlinking. [2]


When working sprang, more than one twist can be given to each pair of threads. For instance, giving each pair a double twist will result in a diamond pattern if the warp is striped with two colors. The number of twists can be varied to create patterns. This type of sprang tends to be more stable, as the multiple twists don't shift as much as single ones.


Alternating S-and Z-twist


This technique is represented by a couple of woolen tubes dubbed "stockings". One was found in Norway at Tegle and is made of alternating triangles of S- and Z-twist, dated about 500B.C to 100A.D. The other was found in York, England and is in stripes of S- and Z-twist, dated to the Viking period (A.D.850). There is also a hairnet of the Hallstatt period (800-500 B. C.) found in Arden, Sweden, patterned with stripes of S- and Z-twist.  [3]


The simplest patterns can be made by alternating one or more rows of S-twist with one or more Z-twist rows. This will make the fabric less apt to twist when it comes off the frame. Where each change meets there will be a row of crossed threads unless a double twist is given in the last row before the transition.


Patterns of angled borders are possible with this technique, the meeting lines will stand up or fade back, creating a three-dimensional effect.


As described in Collingwood p115-116:

To make a triangle of S-twist on a Z-twist background, start a row of normal Z-twist. When you get to the apex of the triangle, do one S-twist, then continue the row with Z-twist.

The next row will be Z-twist up to the point where you have the two back threads lying next to one another. Work the right-hand one as usual, then make an S-twist with the next 2 front threads, and an S-twist with the next two back threads. Finish the row with Z-twist.

Continue to work the rows the same way; Z-twist to the point where the left-hand of the doubled back threads is next, do the S-twist of the front threads, then S-twist the next front and back threads until you reach the left side of the triangle. Then S-twist the next 2 back threads and Z-twist the rest.


To reverse the pattern and form a diamond:


Z-twist to the usual stopping point, this time Z-twist the two front threads, S-twist one more pair than you did in the previous row, and Z-twist the next two back threads, and finish the row in Z-twist.


In each of the following rows, continue to decrease the number of S-twists, but flank them with a Z-twist of the front and back pairs as in the previous row. Continue until you are back to all Z-twists again.


Hole designs


Artifacts with hole designs include "Queen Grunhild's Hairnet" dated to 800-500 B.C, found in Denmark, and a white linen fabric embroidered with blue thread dated to the 15th century, likely from Switzerland.[4]  Also a valence from the 16th century in the Met Museum. [5]


Holes can be used as a background for a pattern of regular interlinking, or as a pattern on a solid background.


To make a fabric made of "holes" (described in Collingwood pg132 and Kliot pg9-11):


Start with a "overplait" row, or the usual 1 back, 1 front interlinking.

Z-twist pairs of threads by picking up 2 back and dropping 2 front threads.

Work a row of normal Z-twist.

Z-twist the first front and back thread, then twist pairs across the row. Z-twist the last front and back thread.

Work a row of normal Z-twist.


The holes are across 3 rows of work, so they will be large compared to the regular interlinkings. Patterns of holes on a solid background work best as geometric shapes with angled sides.


To work a triangle of holes on a plain background (Collingwood pg135-137):


Work Z-twist to the apex of the triangle, then pick up one back thread and drop 2 front threads, pick up 2 back threads and drop one front thread. Then finish the row with Z-twist.

Work the next row plain.

Work Z-twist until just to the right of the first hole, again pick up one back and drop 2 fronts. Pick up 2 backs and drop 2 fronts. Pick up 2 backs and drop one front. Z-twist to the end of the row.

Work a plain row.

Each pattern row follows the pattern as above, adding another pair twist in each row, and bracketing them with the


B/2F and 2B/F twists. Follow each of these rows with a plain row.


Interlaced Sprang


This is basically woven with no twist between the threads. The simplest version is over one/under one (in Collingwood's terms). Over two/under two and over three/under three are progressively more stable.


One extant piece I know of is a pair of garters from the 16th century held by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. It appears to be interlaced in the "Argyle" patterned sections, likely a over two/under two from what I can see in the photos.


Over one/under one (Collingwood pg 185-6 and Kliot pg 12):

1.Work a normal row starting 2B/F

2. S-twist the first two front threads, S-twist the front and back pairs to the end, then S-twist the two remaining back threads. (Or reverse the frame and do all these maneuvers in Z-twist)

3. Repeat row 1 and 2.


Over two/ under two (Collingwood pg 187):


1.Z-twist the first 2 back threads, Z-twist the rest of the row until the last 2 front threads, give them a Z-twist.

2.Now, you can either reverse the frame and repeat this row, or S-twist the entire row starting with the front two threads and ending with the last 2 back threads.

3.Repeat these two rows.


A variation of this described by Collingwood (pg 188) is basically like a "broken twill" in weaving.


The warp needs to be a multiple of 4 plus 1.

1.For the first row, cross the threads in pairs without twisting them: 2B up, 2F down across the row with the extra thread down at the left selvage.

2.Skip the first back thread, pick up the next 2, drop the next 2 front threads. Continue to pick up 2 back and drop 2 front (The 2 back threads will be from different pairs than the previous row, the front pairs will stay together in this row). There will be one odd thread at the right selvage.

3.For row 3 you can reverse the frame and repeat row 1, or you can S-twist the threads in pairs (2F/2B). In the latter case, there will be a thread left over; leave it in the back.


Over 3/ Under 3 (Collingwood pg 190-1):


1. Start with the two back threads, give a Z-twist to this and all the F/B pairs, then Z-twist the last 2 front threads.

Reverse the frame.

2. Now make a 2B/B twist with the first 3 back threads by passing the two left-most behind the right-hand one. Z-twist the pairs to the end, leaving three front threads. Pick up the left-most thread and pass it behind the other two.

Finally, switch the last thread on the right selvage to the back, and the left-hand selvage thread to the front.

Reverse the frame.

Repeat rows 1 and 2.


"Intertwined" or "Lace" Sprang


Kliot breaks this down into 2 steps, and uses the different steps to create different patterns. (Kliot only describes the "right-over-left" in Collingwood's nomenclature). Collingwood's directions give both maneuvers in one step, and he also describes his first step as B/B then F/F, while Kliot describes a F/F then a B/B. I'm not sure it makes much difference in the structure, but I find Kliot's version easier. Kliot also opines that this could be the beginning of bobbin lace, as it corresponds to the structure of basic bobbin lace stitches.


Based on Kliot pg 13-14:


To work the "half-stitch" of bobbin lace:

Make sure the warp is divisible by 4.

1.Give the first 2 front threads a Z-twist, then the first 2 back threads. Continue across the row.

2.Give a twist to each pair without interlinking.

3.Give a twist to the first pair of threads, then repeat row 1 to the last pair and twist them as well.

4.Give a twist to each pair once again.


A "Torchon ground" or the "whole stitch" of bobbin lace:


1.Do the F/F and B/B twists across the row


3.Same as row 3 above

4.Same as 3


"Lille ground":


1.F/F and B/B across the row

2.A row of twists

3.Same as row 3 above

4.A row of twists

Repeat 1-4


Other techniques not included here are twining extra threads (as in Coptic work) and double interlinked sprang. For further information, I suggest Collingwood's book as the most comprehensive out there. There is also a Sprang yahoo group with useful files and terrific people to answer questions.




[1] Collingwood, p.38

[2] Collingwood, p.39

[3] Collingwood, p38-40

[4] Collingwood p.38 and 41

[5] Bath




Collingwood, Peter 1974. The Techniques of Sprang: Plaiting on Stretched Threads. Faber and Faber Ltd.


Kliot, Jules 1979. Sprang: Language and Techniques, Lacis Publications, Berkeley, CA.
Bath, Virginia Churchill 1974. Lace. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company.


For further reference, Lord Mikael "Kael" McCue of the East Kingdom teaches classes on Sprang, including one on Coptic Sprang (drkael at comcast.net)


Also the Sprang email list at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Sprang/ includes several useful files including a copy of a Sprang Chonology started in Collingwood but added to by Maedb ingen Dungaile (also found here http://www.florilegium.org/files/TEXTILES/sprang-chrono-art.html), and a very thorough bibliography (also found here http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/sprangbib.html).  It also has a number of links and photos by members.


Ravelry has a Sprang group: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/talk-about-sprang.


Copyright 2004 by Wendy Peacock, 1162 N Trail Ct, Comstock Park, MI 49321. <evavano at yahoo.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org