Weaving the Alexander the Great belt.

In my blog post for September 2014, I showed a small narrow woven belt which I designed from a mosaic showing Alexander the Great in the midst of battle.

Alexander the Great 

This mosaic is assumed to be a copy of a wall painting made nearer the time of the actual battle depicted.  I thought that I could design a belt from this mosaic.  My design is an attempt to reproduce the mosaic belt which in turn was taken from a painting which in turn came from the imagination of the original painter.  So, it is not a reconstruction - more a creative response to the mosaic.

I was asked recently if I would post the weave pattern so that others could try it; so here are the details.

Weaving on a 4 shaft loom.

My design was woven on a four shaft loom using 4 ply sock yarn.  The centre section is in two shades of green.  The yellow pattern threads on each side used double yarn so that they stand out.

Number of background warp ends: 56
Number of pattern threads: 6 use a double thread for each warp end.
Weft: same colour as border threads.

Only three shafts are used.  The background and border threads are on shafts 1 and 2.  The doubled pattern threads are on shaft 3.  There are always two background threads in between each pattern thread.The weave diagram does not show the bar of yellow pattern threads because the diagram also indicates the hidden background warp threads.

Weave drawdown for four shaft loom.

Threading for a four shaft loom. Note the background threading on shafts 1 & 2  is for plain weave across the warp. 

If you use a loom, the sett will depend upon the type of yarn you are using.  Ensure that when you weave, the weft does not show through in the centre section.

The pattern threads on each side stay on top for three picks then go underneath for three picks.

If you have been following the online workshop in March 2015 about using the Sigga heddle, you will recognise this weave structure as being suitable for weaving using the 24 pattern slot Sigga heddle.

Threading diagram for Sigga heddle.

Here is the threading diagram for the 24 slot Sigga heddle. The Sigga heddle has long slot in the centre in between pattern slots 12 and 13. There is only one background thread in between the two slots for the pattern threads.

The two sets of three pattern threads are on either side of the band. These pattern threads are raised as a group.

The 24 pattern slot Sigga heddle in use, weaving the Alexander the Great belt. 
YouTube Video.
There is a YouTube video showing how to weave this belt with the Sigga heddle. Click here for the link.    https://youtu.be/H5JIpfcTiJA

Similarities and differences.

It was very interesting for me to compare the two bands, woven by two methods.   Here is a close up

Close up of the two bands.  The top one was woven on a loom; the bottom one was woven using a Sigga heddle.
The same warp was used for both bands. The brown weft was used for both bands.

The top band was woven on the four shaft loom.

The bottom band was woven using the Sigga heddle. Look carefully at the centre of the band. You will see that the brown weft occasionally shows through. This is because the threading on the Sigga heddle does not quite follow the plain weave threading of the background and has one long slot in the centre.

Width of the two belts. 

The top band is 3.4cm in width.       The bottom band is 3 cm in width.

The top band woven on the loom has the warp ends evenly spaced across the width. The final width of the band is determined before weaving starts.  This is because the warp ends are threaded through the reed which spaces theme evenly. You decide the sett according to the type of yarn used.  The heddle is used to beat the weft into place.

The bottom band woven with a heddle and back strap is slightly less evenly spaced.  The borders tend to be more tightly packed than the centre of the band.  This is usual for this type of weaving. Here the side of the shuttle beats the weft into place.  The width of the band is determined directly by the weaver during weaving.

Using doubled warp ends for the pattern threads makes them stand out.  They are also clearer on the reverse side of the band.

This band was very easy to weave on a four shaft loom although I enjoy using a heddle and backstrap.

I hope that you have fun making your own copy.

Happy weaving.

Here is a link to an interesting YouTube video about The Alexander Mosaic.

Further reading.

If you are interested in finding out more about Alexander, his battles and army, here are three fascinating books for the specialist.

The Army of Alexander the Great,   published in 2009
The Sieges of Alexander the Great,  published in 2009
The Field campaigns of Alexander the Great,  published in 2011
All three books are written by Stephen English and published by Pen & Sword.

Susan J Foulkes (March 2015)

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