About the technique

From the history of sprang

Sprang is an almost forgotten ancient textile technique. The oldest finds are from more than 3,000 years ago, i.e. from the Bronze Age. Over the ages, it appeared, probably completely independently of itself, in many places on our planet, only to then, in the era of mechanization, almost “extinct”. It was not possible to mechanize it, so it was doomed to destruction and oblivion.

The very oldest find of woven fabrics is a hairnet found in Denmark, which dates back to about 1400 BC. In addition to finds of sprang textiles from Denmark, Norway, Switzerland or Egypt, the use of this textile technique is also evidenced by depictions on ceramic vessels, paintings, wall paintings, woodcuts or mentions in written sources. Even the Virgin Mary is depicted braiding on the frame!

About technology

We need:

  • frame (and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a big expensive frame, just look around you, you probably have something suitable at home, e.g. a stepladder, a picture frame, etc. … or you can bend a stick from the forest and tie the ends together)
  • yarn (cotton, wool, string,…)
  • own abilities (dexterous fingers and knowledge of technique and patterns)
    (plus a few tools such as scissors, tape measure, hook, needle,…)

The technique itself is based on mutual crossing or interweaving of warp threads. First, we stretch the warp on the auxiliary rods or strings attached to the frame, with the left hand we separate the “front” part of the warp threads from the “back” and with the right hand we then interweave and cross the back threads with the front threads and vice versa according to the selected pattern (lefties reversed). A very interesting fact is that the same thing we knit in the upper part of the warp is also knitted in the lower part (that’s convenient, right?). We secure each knitted row against unraveling with a stick or string and when the upper and lower parts of the knit meet in the middle, we secure them by (inconspicuously) crocheting the middle line or stretching the yarn. Alternatively, we will leave a larger gap in the middle and secure the ends with knots that will create fringes on the edges of the knit.

We distinguish three basic types of braiding:
We call the basic sprang fabric Interlinking, it is a very flexible smooth sprang fabric
Interlacing looks like woven canvas, only the fibers do not run vertically and horizontally, but diagonally, at an angle of 45 degrees
The most complicated is the so-called Intertwinning, when individual pairs intertwine with each other

All three methods of sprang have countless variants and variations that can be combined with each other.

Sylva Antony Čekalová, one of the masters in the field, has a large amount of information about sprang on her website krosienky-sprang.cz, who not only studied and tried everything that can be studied and tried, but also added something of her own, most likely not published until now and probably even untested.

In recent years, when we start appreciating handiwork again and have time for our hobbies, this wonderful and diverse pre-calcium handicraft technique has been revived and spread around the world. Modern technology also helps this, thanks to the Internet, Facebook, WhatsApp and other modern communication platforms, those of us who have “fallen into” sprang are closer, find each other more easily, and can spread awareness about looms more easily.