Instructions for how I made Siksälä wreath headdress tails

The following is the method I used to create I used to make two different syles of wreath tails (tail type 1 and 2, and tail type 3 and 4) – elements of a style of ca14th Century Estonian headdress – as documented in my posts on Estonian Bronze Spiral Tube/Coil Decorations and Siksälä Wreath Headdress Tails. There are many different styles of tails used in this kind of headdress, and so far I have attempted to make 2 different styles.

Not being able to find a method detailing how these items were made, I devised this method by reading a lot of sources and looking at images of extant finds of this type of headdress (references detailed in the two links above). It may not be how the finds were made, but it is a workable method for making something that looks the part.

Instructions for how I made Tails 1 and 2

Figure 16: The four finished tails. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

These instructions detail how I wove Tails 1 and 2 (the two right-most tails in this image). Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Materials Required

Lace Cushion or equivalent (a sturdy surface that you can push needles into).

Dark red (7108), 4-ply DMC tapestry wool

Needle nose pliers

52 x 4 rotation bronze spirals (20ga bronze wire, ~0.2cm diameter, ~0.4cm length) (I made all the coils using a coiling jig and some pliers – see Estonian Bronze Spiral Tube/Coil Decorations)

32 x 6 rotation bronze spirals (20ga bronze wire, ~0.2cm diameter, ~0.6cm length)

3 tapestry needles (blunt with large eyes to accommodate pairs of woollen strands, but small enough to easily fit through the coils).

Figure Key

The yellow oval shapes represent individual bronze spirals of 20ga bronze wire of 4 (in the tail) and 6 (in the rhombus) rotations each (all approximately 0.2cm in diameter and 0.4cm and 0.6cm in length, respectively).

The red lines represent individual strands of wool – with the newly added lengths of wool in each image coloured a darker red to highlight what is being added in each consecutive image.

The grey lines at the end of some threads represent where the needles get threaded.

Instructions for how I wove my attempt at Siksälä wreath headdress tails. Drawn in MS Paint by Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Instructions for how I wove my attempt at Siksälä wreath headdress tails style 1 and 2. Drawn in MS Paint by Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

One

  • Cut four equal lengths of wool thread (in the case of my tassels, this length was approximately 40cm each).
  • Attach the four lengths of wool together on a lace cushion (or some kind of flat surface) using pins or sewing them down (1a).
  • Take three tapestry needles (blunt with large eyes) and thread the right most thread on one, the left most thread on another, and the two middle threads together through the third needle. This functionally makes three threads out of the four.
  • Take a bronze coil and thread it through the middle needle (with the paired threads). Then, thread the same coil through the left needle. Slide the coil up to the very top.
  • Take another bronze coil and thread it through the middle needle (with the paired threads). Then, thread the same coil through the right Needle. Slide the coil up to the very top.
  • Continue threading bronze coils in this alternating fashion (always through the middle needle, alternating between the left and right needles) until you have completed the desired length for the tail (in this case, 20cm).
  • As you go, and if you need to, you can add more pins as required to hold the strand still as you work it.
Diagram of how I wove the first tail of my Estonian headdress attempt (Ceara Shionnach, 2016).

Diagram of how I wove this style of tail – in this diagram, the dark red line represents a pair of woollen threads and the lighter red lines represent single strands of wool. Drawn in MS Paint by Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

  • Remove the middle needle and separate the middle two threads from one another. Thread one through the left needle, and the other through the right needle – functionally making a Y-junction (1b).
  • Thread four spirals onto the threads on the left needle, and four spirals onto the threads on the right needle. Remove the needles.

Two

  • Cut two shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread four bronze coils onto the paired strands, and slide them down to the bottom half of the strands (leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing) (2a).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction between the first and second bronze coils on the left arm of the Y-junction.
  • Thread the needle through the middle of the second bronze coil (2b).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction between the second and third bronze coils on the left arm of the Y-junction.
  • Thread four more bronze coils onto the paired strands, and slide them up to the top of the strands (again, this should leave approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing). Remove the needle.

Three

  • Cut another two shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread two bronze coils onto the paired strands, and slide them down to the bottom half of the strands (leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing) (3a).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (3b) between two bronze coils on the woollen strands woven in image two.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (3c) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction between the first and second bronze coils on the right arm of the Y-junction.
  • Thread the needle through the middle of the second bronze coil (3d).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction between the second and third bronze coils on the right arm of the Y-junction.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (3e) between two bronze.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (3f) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread two bronze coils onto the needle and slide them up to the top of the strands (leaving the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing) and remove the needle.

Four

  • Cut a third pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread the needle through the fourth/last coil on the left arm of the y-junction (4a), leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (4b) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (4c) between two bronze coils on the woollen strands woven in image three.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (4d) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread two bronze coils onto the needle and slide them up to the top of the strands (leaving the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing) and remove the needle.

Five

  • Cut a fourth pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread the needle through the fourth/last coil on the right arm of the y-junction (5a), leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (5b) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (5c) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (5d) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread another bronze coil onto the strands.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (5e) between two bronze coils (leaving the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing) and remove the needle.

Six

  • Cut a fifth pair of even shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 10cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (6a) between two bronze coils, leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil between the two junctions (6a, 6b).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (6b) between two bronze coils and leave the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing. Remove the needle.

Seven

  • Cut a sixth pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 10cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7a) between two bronze coils, leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil between the two junctions (7a, 7b).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7b) between two bronze coils and leave the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing. Remove the needle.

Eight

  • Cut the seventh and final pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 10cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil (8a), leaving approximately 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8b) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil (8c), leaving the remaining 4-5cm of tail sticking out for the fringing. Remove the needle.

Finishing steps

  • Ensure that the coils are all pushed firmly together so that they are even and closely packed in the lattice work structure, but not so firmly that they distort the shape.
  • Using needle-nose pliers, gently crimp the end of the wire of the spirals with fringing sticking out along the bottom two edges of the rhombus to lock them in place without distorting the spirals too much (i.e. only crimp the last of the 6 rotations of the wire).
  • Trim the fringing so that it is approximately 4cm all over.
  • Use a needle to pull apart the ply of the wool to make the fringing fluffier (and, more alike with the extant finds).
This is an example of the wool fringing before the ply of the wool is separated. The fringing in the extant finds appear finer than this, so I pulled the ply apart to make the fringing more like them. Note that this is an in-progress photo without the extra fringing pieces added, and with a slightly different rhombus pattern to the description. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

This is an example of the wool fringing before the ply of the wool is separated. The fringing in the extant finds appear finer than this, so I pulled the ply apart to make the fringing more like them.
Note that this is an in-progress photo without the extra fringing pieces added, without yet being trimmed, and with a slightly different rhombus pattern to the description.
Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Figure 17: The rhombuses of the four completed tails. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

The two tails on the right depict the style of tail outlined in this method. This is a photo of the tails after the ply of the wool fringing has been teased apart. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Instructions for how I made Tails 3 and 4

Figure 16: The four finished tails. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

These instructions detail how I wove Tails 3 and 4 (the two left-most tails in this image). Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Materials Required

Lace Cushion or equivalent (a sturdy surface that you can push needles into).

Dark red (7108), 4-ply DMC tapestry wool

Needle nose pliers

140 x 6 rotation bronze spirals (“short” 20ga bronze wire, ~0.2cm diameter, ~0.6cm length) (I made all the coils using a coiling jig and some pliers – see Estonian Bronze Spiral Tube/Coil Decorations)

24 x 9 rotation bronze spirals (“long” 20ga bronze wire, ~0.2cm diameter, ~0.9cm length) (I made all the coils using a coiling jig and some pliers – see Estonian Bronze Spiral Tube/Coil Decorations)

4 x tapestry needles (blunt with large eyes to accommodate pairs of woollen strands, but small enough to easily fit through the coils).

Figure Key

The yellow oval shapes represent individual bronze spirals of 20ga bronze wire of 6 (in the tail and the rhombus) and 9 (in the rhombus only) rotations each (all approximately 0.2cm in diameter and 0.6cm and 0.9cm in length, respectively).

The light red, maroon, light blue, and dark blue lines represent individual strands of dark red (7108), 4-ply DMC tapestry wool.

In the last two images in the sequence, the coloured strands were recoloured in light red for ease of reading, with the newly added lengths of wool in each image coloured a maroon to highlight what is being added in each consecutive image.

The grey lines at the end of some threads represent where the needles get threaded.

Instructions for how I wove my attempt at Siksälä wreath headdress tails style 3 and 4. Drawn in MS Paint by Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Instructions for how I wove my attempt at Siksälä wreath headdress tails style 3 and 4. Drawn in MS Paint by Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

One

  • Cut eight equal lengths of wool thread (in the case of my tassels, this length was approximately 80cm each).
  • Group four lengths of wool together and pin/sew them down onto a lace cushion (or some kind of flat surface). Group the remaining four lengths of wool together and pin/sew them down beside the first pin (approximately 1.5cm away) (1).

Two

  • Take four tapestry needles (blunt with large eyes) and thread the left most two strands onto one needle. Thread the remaining two strands onto the second needle. Split the four strands on the right pin into pairs and thread them onto needles 3 and 4. This functionally makes four strands out of the eight (2a).
  • Take four short bronze coils and thread one each through the four needles (2b).
  • Take the middle two needles and pass the right needle through the left wool strand just beneath the bronze coil (2c), ensuring that you go through the middle of the ply of both threads in the strand.

Three

  • Pass the outer left needle (attached to the light red thread in the figure) through the now left-middle wool strand (dark blue thread in the figure) just beneath the bronze coil, ensuring that you go through the middle of the ply of both threads in the strand (3a).
  • Pass the outer right needle (attached to the maroon thread in the figure) through the now right-middle wool strand (light blue thread in the figure) just beneath the bronze coil, ensuring that you go through the middle of the ply of both threads in the strand (3b). This point in the instructions marks one complete repeat of the pattern – each consisting of 6 coils.
  • Take four short bronze coils and thread one each through the four needles (3c).
  • Take the middle two needles and pass the right needle through the left wool strand just beneath the bronze coil (3d), ensuring that you go through the middle of the ply of both threads in the strand.

Four

  • Continue in this pattern until you have reached the desired length. To get to approximately 25cm, I used 22 sets of 6 coils (6 coils representing 1 repeat of the pattern). As you go, and if you need to, you can add more pins as required to hold the strand still as you work it.
  • To finish the tail, end with a v-shape of coils in the middle with no outer coils beside them (4).

Five

  • To start the rhombus at the bottom of the tail, spread the strands out at their natural angles (5).

Six

  • Thread three long coils on each of the four strands (6). At this point, you can remove the four tapestry needles.

Seven

  • At this point in the figure series, I’ve coloured all of the existing strands red, and highlighted any new threads in maroon – for ease of visualising the method.
  • Cut a pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread 3 long coils onto the short strand and slide them down to the bottom, leaving approximately 4cm of tail for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7a) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a short coil onto the strand (7b).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7c) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil (7d).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7e) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a short coil onto the strand (7f).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (7g) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread 3 long coils onto the strand, leaving the remaining 4ish-cm of tail for the fringing. You can remove the needle at this point.

Eight

  • Cut a second pair of shorter lengths of wool (in this case, around 20cm each) and thread them through a tapestry needle.
  • Thread a long coil onto the short strand and slide them down to the bottom, leaving approximately 4cm of tail for the fringing.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8a) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a long coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8b) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a long coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8c) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a short coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8d) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread the needle through middle of the coil (8e).
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8f) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a short coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8g) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a long coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8h) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a long coil onto the strand.
  • Thread the needle through the woollen strands (between the ply of both strands) at the junction (8i) between two bronze coils.
  • Thread a long coil onto the strand, leaving the remaining 4ish-cm of tail for the fringing. You can remove the needle at this point.

Finishing steps

  • Similar to steps 6-8 of the method for tails 1 and 2 (at the top of this webpage), add approximately 10cm paired strands of wool along the bottom of the structure to add bulk to the fringing.
  • Ensure that the coils are all pushed firmly together so that they are even and closely packed in the lattice work structure, but not so firmly that they distort the shape.
  • Using needle-nose pliers, gently crimp the end of the wire of the spirals with fringing sticking out along the bottom two edges of the rhombus to lock them in place without distorting the spirals too much (i.e. only crimp the last of the 9 rotations of the wire).
  • Trim the fringing so that it is approximately 4cm all over.
  • Use a needle to pull apart the ply of the wool to make the fringing fluffy.
This is an example of the wool fringing before the ply of the wool is separated. The fringing in the extant finds appear finer than this, so I pulled the ply apart to make the fringing more like them. Note that this is an in-progress photo without the extra fringing pieces added, and with a slightly different rhombus pattern to the description. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

This is an example of the wool fringing before the ply of the wool is separated. The fringing in the extant finds appear finer than this, so I pulled the ply apart to make the fringing more like them.
Note that this is an in-progress photo without the extra fringing pieces added, and with a slightly different rhombus pattern to the description.
Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Figure 17: The rhombuses of the four completed tails with fluffed fringing. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

Figure 17: The rhombuses of the four completed tails with fluffed fringing. Ceara Shionnach, 2016.

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