The Monk’s Belt Megado Project…Getting Underway

The Dobby Weavers Group at the Weavers Guild of Minnesota, masters of the many-shafted computerized Megado loom, is going Scandinavian this fall. They are joining with the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group to weave a complex version of monk’s belt, one with blocks of pattern. In this joint project between the two study groups, the Dobby Weavers will do a bit of Scandinavian weaving, and the Scandinavian Weavers will get an opportunity to try out the beautiful Megado loom. The inspiration piece was one owned by Melba Granlund.

We decided to warp the Megado with the same warp, 20/2 cottolin at 24 epi, as the recent monk’s belt group project the Scandinavian Weavers wove on the Glimakra at the Weavers Guild.

I promised to compile some ideas for designing pieces for monk’s belt, some ways to think of the color of pattern weft and background weft, materials, and variations in stripe widths. There’s a crazy amount of variation possible using the “language” of these elements. Several of the examples from this quick and dirty compilation are from pieces woven by the Scandinavian Weavers Study Group in our recent group project.

Here are a couple of photos from a coverlet book from  1977, Åkleboka: Nye Mønstre i Gamle Teknikker, by Torbjørg Gauslaa and Tove Østby, Oslo: Landbruksforlaget, 1977. This piece is on wool warp. Note the use of a monochromatic color palette, with color changes made within long stretches of the same lines.

The second piece is completely asymmetrical, with a large difference in the long and short pattern elements.

Below, Sara Okern’s minimalist design used areas without pattern warp, but with stripes of varied linen colors.

Melba Granlund used several colors in bands of varying widths.

Notice two things in this bad photo of Jan Josifek’s beautiful small bag. It’s a wonderful way to use a small piece of weaving!  In the top band, a single skinny band of pink makes it pop. In the bottom band, note the use of pink in the background tabby weft–subtle and beautiful.

Many traditional monk’s belt pieces were woven with fairly consistent stripe sizes, making square, overall patterns.  This example is from Simple Weaves: Over 30 Classic Patterns and Fresh New Styles, by Birgitta Bengtsson Bjork and Tina Ignell. (English translation) Vermont : Trafalgar Square Books, 2012. The monk’s belt is shown as a backing for a skinnfell, a sheepskin, another traditional use of lightweight overshot coverlets.

Another monk’s belt piece on a skinnfell.  A very regular pattern with beautiful use of varying colors for long and skinny parts of the pattern. From Åklær, Å Kle ei Seng, Å Veve et Åkle. Trondheim : Trøndersk Forlag, 2002.

This image is from the same book, but of a skillbragd coverlet.  Still, it shows that a piece can be designed symmetrically in broad bands.

to be continued…..  Robbie LaFleur

About Robbie LaFleur
Weaving in Minnesota, when I can!

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