I volunteered to demonstrate sprang at the May 2008 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival as part of an SCA demo on Medieval and Renaissance Textiles. I worked up a few pieces two weeks prior to have more wool samples to display to the public, and worked on some samples during the demo. I also had my learning PVC frame warped up with a simple cream wool for the public to try the technique on. I had ladies young and old try the technique, as well as one father and his seven year old son. All 75 copies of a simple handout that I made were distributed to the public over the course of the weekend. The handout included the Regia Anglorum three pages of intro and instruction to sprang , and a webliography I compiled of more links and citations to books of interest.
While keeping the SCA time period in mind, I focused mostly on the overall history of sprang, that examples have been discovered from 1100BC Danish bogs, 5th Century Peruvian textiles, 3rd to 8th Century Coptic hats, a portion of a stocking from York, as well as 18th and 19th Century Military sashes. I also showed the technique, and encouraged others to give it a try on the learning sample. (I plan to bind off the learning sample and keep it as a tribute to those who gave it a try that weekend.)
Here are the samples I made in advance out of wool to show off aspects of the technique to the public.
First a simple small red wool pouch:
Then an attempt at open-work patterning, that fell a bit flat due to the sticky nature of this particular hand spun gray wool, but did make an excellently silly hat:
And finally a lovely piece that looks like a dreamsicle, in cream and peach wool, with the twined patterned detail around the main sprang body of the bag:
At the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, I had my large frame warped up with a more detailed project in a silk/wool blend that will require much more focused attention at a later date. I used my tablet weaving loom as a frame for some more Coptic patterned sprang samples that I worked up at the festival, one on each day.
On Saturday, I made a small bag in red and blue wool with a peak of twined design in the middle:
On Sunday I warped up a project using a black wool I had on hand, and some lovely bright pink cochineal naturally dyed wool that I bought on Saturday. Here it is warped up:
And here is the final pink and black wavy striped wool bag:
Overall, the demo was a very rewarding, if exhausting, endeavor, and we were asked several times by the public if we'd be back again next year. If nothing else, I have introduced quite a few people to the idea of sprang, and let others get a feel for it and the bug to try it at home themselves.
Links to more information :
Regia Anglorum tells some of the history of sprang: http://www.regia.org/sprang.htm
Thora Sharptooth's Early Sprang Bibliography: http://www.cs.vassar.edu/~capriest/sprangbib.html
My Sprang Webliography: http://pinkleader.livejournal.com/68551.html