Coptic Sprang

Sprang was not just done in solid colors utilizing holes for variations in patterns. There are examples found in Egyptian burials that show twined colorful decoration along the body of the sprang fabric.

Again turning to Lady Oddny Knarrarbringa, I sat down after Summer University (6/06) and learned the Coptic patterned sprang from her. This time using my lovely Spanish Peacock Oseberg sprang loom, we warped up a regular sprang project, and then added on two pairs of white strings to use to make the decoration. The zig zag diamond decoration isn't actually an integral part of the fabric, but instead is twined throughout and around the main body of the sprang piece.

Here is my first piece of Coptic patterned sprang from June 2006:
First Coptic sprang bag

Here is my first piece again, hanging :
hanging coptic sprang

Instead of using a single weft thread in the bottom of the pouch, the middle of the sprang piece is finished using simple crochet chaining technique across the bottom, securing the end to the side with an extra piece of thread. This is a bit more difficult, and uses up quite a bit of thread in the middle, thus shortening the pouch, but it is apparently the way this particular type of sprang seems to be finished in period.

In July 2006 , I wished to attempt the Coptic sprang on my own as a gift to the Baroness of Storvik, my friend Elizabeth. Here are some in progress pictures.
First you can see the sprang loom in use, and how the warp threads are stretched from end to end in preparation for the twining. The sticks are used to hold your place in case you need to backtrack, but also so that you can leave the work in progress and it doesn't unwind on you.
Coptic sprang on loom

Here is a detail of the sprang on the loom, up at the top. The red threads are used for the twined decoration, while the body of the piece is blue and white stripes. You can see a mistake in the beginning of the first diamond, which happily was fixed later on.
Coptic sprang detail on loom

Here is the completed piece, with draw strings, folded in half, prior to being sewn together. You can see again the different way the bottom is finished off:
Coptic sprang, second attempt

And here is the pouch being worn, but prior to holding anything, on the new owner.
Finished second attempt, coptic sprang

I used the loose ends of the red decorations to create mini-tassles on the front of the pouch. This was not based on any research, just a brain storm and a need to tie up the loose ends. Collingwood does show examples of ancient sprang utilizing cotton, stripes, and the coptic designs on a pouch. This gauge of cotton would be too coarse to ever have been considered a fine piece, but as a second attempt but first solo-flight coptic patterned bag, I am rather proud of it.

Links to more information :

Oddny's Coptic Sprang Instructional Page:

Thora Sharptooth's Early Sprang Bibliography:

Stephan's Florilegium Sprang Bibliography:

And the main text on sprang, Collingwood, Peter. The Techniques of Sprang: Plaiting on Stretched Threads. Available on Amazon.

Also of interest:
Clothing and Culture: Dress in Egypt in the First Millennium AD- exhibition at the University of Manchester's Whitworth Art Gallery.

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