A Pair of Hoods Based on the Skjoldehamn Find

Hoods Based on the Skjoldehamn Find

Jahanarabanu Vivana (EM Jones)
Weaving and Spinning Terms

Spun threads- when you look at these threads the twist follows the same line as the straight part of an S.

S Spun Yarn (graphic by author coming soon)

Warp- The warp is made up of the threads that run length wise through your weaving project. If you are using a loom these are the threads you attach to the loom. Warp threads are raised in a particular sequence to create the weave structure. 

Warping- the process of putting threads on the loom or arranging your long threads for weaving. 

Weft- The weft is comprised of the threads that run the width of your weaving project. When warp threads are raised the weft is passed through the opening created to lock the warp in place. 

Z-Spun yarn- when you look at these threads the direction of the spin follows the same direction as the long part of a Z. 

Z Spun Yarn (graphic by EM Jones)

Introduction This pair of hoods was woven for my family. These hoods are made from handwoven fabric. One hood was my husband and one was made for me., We are both of a similar build and are a similar size. The hood design is based on the hood found in Skjoldehamn Harbor dated to the 10th/11th Century. 



  • Wool- JC Rennie Shetland 11/2 S-spun Colours: Blue and Grey- this blue can be achieved using indigo (Uzzell’s Regia Colour Equivalent chart, my own dye experience, and comparing to Lady Marian’s indigo dyed wool)
  • Wool used was commercially spun and dyed 
  • Linen- linen thread was used to sew the cloth together into the hoods and to finish the seams 

Wool was a commonly used fiber by the Viking, European, and the Near East for making garments, particularly those aimed to keep the wearer warm; such as the intended hood. Indigo is a well known early and medieval dye. Indigo was commonly used in threads produced in eastern areas. Woad was also commonly used to dye thread in Scandinavian areas and can be used to produce a similar color to the blue used in this fabric. The 11/2 wool allowed me to sett the handwoven fabric within the realm of fabric woven by the Scandinavian people of this time period, further discussion follows in the section on weaving. 



The creation of these hoods required the use of a variety of skills: weaving, wet finishing the cloth, and hand sewing. Weaving the fabric itself required the ability to warp a loom, in this case using the back-to-front method, thread a herringbone twill, and weaving the fabric. In addition to the herringbone twill, I added a reversal of the twill in the treadling, which creates diamonds within the fabric. Once the cloth was wove, it was wet finished using hot water, detergent, and some agitation. Finally, cut of the cloth was based on the Skjoldehamn hood and sewn using back stitch, running stitch, and blanket stitch (Løvlid & Linn, 2010). The Skjoldehamn hood was made from 3 pieces a main rectangular piece and two square gores (Løvlid, 2009), see below for further details on construction. Løvlid (2009) states two main seam finishing were used in the Skjoldehamn garments, couching and blanket stitch. At the time of this paper’s writing, the choice was made to explore a variety of seam finishings commonly used in medieval and Norse garments: blanket stitch, running stitch, and possibly couching along the hems. The man chose to have his hood lined for comfort; running stitch was used to finish main inside seams on both the exterior and lining fabric. The second hood is not lined, therefore blanket stitch was used to finish the inside seams. This decision was partially made to add a decorative element; however, the linen thread used pulled into the wool and is not decorative. This is more in keeping with the original Skjoldehamn find, so it is not a drawback for me. The hems on the man’s hood were finished on the inside with blanket stitch, to better bind the exterior and lining fabrics together. They were finished on the outside with a running stitch to provide a crisp hem on the final garment. I decide to use blanket stitch the finish the hems on my hood, because it is the more commonly used finishing stitch I have come across in other extant garments. 

Methods and Tools 

Weaving The herringbone cloth was woven on a Glimakra Standard loom. The loom was warped using the back to front method. No research has been found on what method medieval weavers might have used. The fabric was woven in 2/2 herringbone twill with occasional reversals in the treadling (see Research-Weaving for more information regarding 2//2 classification). Herringbone twill is created by using a straight draw threading with a broken point repeat. In common terms, this means the loom is threaded on shaft 1, then shaft 2, then shaft 3, then shaft 4 for a number of repeats; 3 in this case. When the threading is reversed shaft 3 is skipped, creating a break in the threading reversal associated with the herringbone effect. The herringbone effect is also often achieved by using a color in the warp which is close in hue with the weft. Often modern herringbones are created by using the same hue, but changing the value for the weft. Lord Eldgrimr and I chose grey and blue for warp and weft respectively. 


Looms are generally classified as vertical or horizontal, so named by which direction the warp is held on the loom. “A History of Textile Arts” provides an analysis of loom development in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia (Geijer, 1979). The author asserts the development of vertical versus horizontal looms was dictated by environmental factors. Geijer’s theory suggests that areas, such as Norway, developed vertical looms because their environment requires weaving to be an indoor activity. Northern climates are more harsh and weaving can not be left out in the cold wet weather and therefore looms must be completely housed indoors. Vertical looms require less space which, Geijer explains, lead to the development of warp weighted looms in Norway and other northern climates. The fabrics woven natively in this area would therefore have been woven on a warp weighted loom, likely with a tablet woven header to space the warp. However, the Norse cultures had access to a variety of traders and trade routes and therefore had access to fabrics woven on horizontal looms (Collingwood, 1996; Geijer, 1979). 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 (Geijer, 1979; Harris, 1995). This loom would have been used to produce the fabric used for hoods, tunics, accessories and the like in and around Skjoldehamn. Various other looms were used in other regions of the world. The Egyptians developed both a horizontal loom and a vertical loom. The horizontal loom was 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 Century to weave tapestry decorations for clothing and later by Europeans to weave large wall hangings. Eastern weavers developed a variety of loom during the Medieval period. These are: 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 Century and would not have been in use in Europe at the time of this hood (Harris, 1995). As stated earlier the inhabitants of Skjoldehamn Harbor had access to cloth woven on horizontal looms. The development of the drawloom enabled incredibly complex fabrics to be woven. There is still discussion on where the drawloom was developed, current research debates China vs. Syria (Geijer, 1979; 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 Century (Harris, 1995; Weibel, 1952). The drawloom 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 technology. The cloth for these hoods was woven on a Glimakra Standard, horizontal, treadle loom with 4 shafts to weave this fabric. Glimakra looms bear a striking resemblance to the extant horizontal 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 the entrant’s persona (7th Century Persian). This loom can be used like an early horizontal loom and can be converted to a drawloom. 



As with any technical field, weaving contains a fair bit of specialized jargon. For those unfamiliar with weaving and spinning terminology, the following is an introduction to vocabulary used in this section. Woven fabric is often classified by the number of warp threads which pass over the weft/number of warp threads that pass under the weft. Therefore a 2/2 twill is a twill in which the warp passes over 2 threads then under 2 threads. A 2/1 twill is one in which the warp passes over 2 threads then under 1 thread across the width of the fabric. Spun threads also have a unique categorization system. Threads are categorized according their twist direction. When looking at a yarn the fibers will either have a line that is the same in the diagonal line of a Z or that of an S. Yarns are therefore referred to as Z-spun or S-spun yarns. Medieval cloth generally has a Z-spun warp, whereas both types of yarn are used in the weft. Renowned spinner Abby Franquemont posits Z-spun yarns are stronger because the direction of the twist allows the tiny bumps in the wool to better grip one another. Ostergard (2004) and Jorgensen (2002) agree that a variety of weaves were used by the Vikings. These weaves vary from simple tabby weave to complicated twill weaves, which includes herringbone. Contrary to what one might assume, the simple tabby weave (over one/under one) is not very common; Viking weavers, as it turns out, were very skilled(Jorgenson, 2002). Twill weaves have a better drape and are more commonly chosen for use in the construction of garments. Jorgensen (2002) states that the 2/2 twill was most common during the Migration Period (400-600 AD). According to Jorgensen (2002), 2/2 twills predominate the Migration Era’s textile finds. The diamond twill, also referred to as a lozenge twill when the reversal is elongated, 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. This is likely due to the fact that Z-spun yarn highlights the diagonal line of the twill better than S-spun thread. Ostergard (2004) states that lozenge/diamond twills are amoung those used by the Vikings. Ostergard (2004) wrote that one 2/1 (Z/Z) diamond twill fragment was found in Norse Greenland (See Figure 1) and that many such fabrics have been found throughout the Viking Era. Geijer (1979) asserts that twill fabrics with an odd number of ends, such as a 2/1, must have been imported from other areas, however this is debated amoung textile historians. Ostergard (2004) also 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 she chose a 2/2 herringbone with regularly spaced reversals, which create a diamond pattern. As the reader can see in this fabric herringbone is simply a point twill where the reversal in the threading is broken, 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. Geijer (1979) includes a discussion of extant fabric finds from Birka. Geijer argues the coarsest of these finds are likely native, because it would be very difficult to warp a vertical loom with a tablet woven header at the finest sett of 50 epi. Geijer discusses, in groups, the 100 wool textile finds from Birk. Geijer notes the setts ranged from 24 epi to 50 epi. This fabric is sett at 20 epi, which is what the threads need to achieve a nice balanced twill effect. The fabric is woven on a balanced sett and I did achieve 20 picks per inch to create a truly balanced cloth. Although the extant textiles discussed by Ostergard (2004) and Geijer (1979) are not exactly balanced, this does not mean medieval weavers did not achieve balanced sett. It merely implies textile historians focus on the unusual cloths when discussing sett in specific extant textiles. I prefer a balanced sett for weaving fabrics which are meant to insulate and where drape is not the ultimate goal. This paper will therefore set aside a discussion of the warp to weft sett ratios. The sett of this fabric is within the range of the extant finds. This fabric is sett at 16 epi, which is what the 11/2 wool threads need to achieve a nice balanced twill fabric. This sett provides a cloth well suited for it’s purpose. 


The woven fabric has been used to create a pair hoods my husband, myself, and incidentally our son who often ends up wearing the unlined hood. The hood design is based on the Skjoldehamn hood (Løvlid, 2009). This hood was carbon dated to 995-1029 AD (Løvlid, 2009). The extant hood is made from three pieces, two gores and a quadratic main piece. Only the back gore of the extant find is completely intact, the measurements of which are 28.4 cm x 23.5 cm (11” x 9.25) (Løvlid, 2009, p 49). The main rectangular piece of the Skjoldehamn hood was 58 cm x 60.3 cm (26.3” x 27.4”) (Løvlid, 2009, p 49). These hoods measure as follows, both gores 22 cm x 22 cm (10” x 10”), main rectangular piece 55 cm x 55 cm (25” x 25”). The dimensions of the reconstructed hoods varies little from the original dimensions. Although the translation within the Løvlid texts describe the main piece as being rectangular, it is very nearly square, as I have made the main pieces of the hoods she constructed. As the extant piece has suffered some deterioration over the years, it is very possible the original pieces were actually square. In future I will consider using the exact Skjoldehamn hood dimensions to compare the end results. The fabric was warped and woven to accommodate the Skjoldehamn cut to fit the intended owners. I had previously woven a 2/1 diamond twill fabric to make a hood for her husband based on the same find. Based on the fit of this previous hood, I adjusted the measurements to provide a better fit for this hood. (Note: I also adapted the Skjoldehamn design for the Insulae Draconis Archery Protector’s hood and has taught several people to measure themselves to make Skjoldehamn hoods.) 

Artistic Design This fabric is woven with a grey warp and a blue weft. My husband and I chose grey as the warp for our family hoods, because it is a nice neutral color. She sampled many weft colors, which allowed the two owners to choose this blue, which provided the best herringbone effect. Other artistic considerations, such as seam finishing have already been discussed in this paper. 


This entry is a pair of hoods made of handwoven cloth, one of which is lined with a commercially woven linen lining. One hood is for my husband, who chose to have his hood lined for additional insulation and to keep his shaven head from attracting wool pills from the wool cloth. The hoods have been used a number of times since they were made and have served the entire family well. My husband are happy with the final fit of their hoods. The hoods, when needed, also serve well as a hood/cloak option for their young son. The Skjoldehamn hood is gaining popularity in the SCA. I have seen several friends in other Kingdoms also enjoy this style hood. The Skjoldehamn hood provides better coverage in front and back on cool and/or wet days. My husband and I find the hoods fashionable, comfortable and warm. I also used the same warp for the hoods to weave a coordinating shawl for herself in grey and green. On particularly cold days the shawl works well together with the hood to provide a warm set of accessories. I highly recommends other artisans to make Skjoldehamn hoods and the use thier own cloth for accessories and clothing. References: Collingwood, P (1996). The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Gilliland Printing. Arkansas City, KS. 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. Løvlid, D. H. Linn, C translator. (2009) The Skjoldehamn find in the light of new knowledge. A discussion of the burial, the ethnic affiliation of the outfit, and the person's gender and social status. Ceiling Light Press. Ostergard, El (2004) Woven into the Earth: Textiles from Norse Greenland. Aarhus University Press. Denmark. Uzzell, H. (2006). Regia Colour Equivalent Chart.