Cloak from Tirā bog, Latvia
Peter Beatson - NVG Miklagard
The Tirā cloak is almost complete, although it was torn in many pieces (Figure 1) by mechanical peat digging when discovered in 1936. It is rectangular, 210 cm (warp) by 110 cm (weft), made of dark blue wool twill. It was woven to shape - the short edges are tablet woven braids, representing starting and finishing borders. One long edge is a selvedge, the other has been hemmed.
2. Description of weave
The weave is a slightly unbalanced 2/2 diagonal twill of fine quality, with 16 warp threads and 12 weft threads per centimetre. The warp threads are two-ply, 0.5 mm thick, S-plied from Z-spun yarn. There are two types of weft thread, they are similar - single, 0.75 mm diameter - but they have opposite spins. They are changed after each four passes, forming narrow stripes (spin-patterning) . It is noted that both wefts are inserted from the same side of the weave (see also below).
3. Starting and finishing borders
The starting border is 6-7 mm wide. It is tablet woven, using 6 cards. The same thread is used as for the weft of the cloak. The edge cards have threads in all four holes. The four middle cards have only two threads, in the diagonally opposite corners. The middle cards are aligned in pairs:
|It is stated  that the cards are rotated one quarter-turn after every passage of the weft (= main warp thread). It seems unlikely that 16 sheds could be done per cm. It seems more probable to me that the threads were doubled, possibly by pulling a long loop from the main warp spool through each shed: see also the picture of the finishing border (Figure 2) which supports a requirement for only 8 sheds per cm.|
One long edge is a reinforced selvedge. It is about 7 mm wide (Figure 3). It is described as a repp or ribbed weave (?warp-faced tabby). To balance the tablet braid in the corner cords (see below), it probably contains 16 warp threads.
5. Hemmed edge
The other long edge is hemmed (Figure 4). This was probably the bottom edge of the cloak, and it might be the edge from which the two alternating weft systems are introduced (see above). I guess the selvedge on this side no longer exists, because the edge needs to be hemmed - perhaps the weaving was originally wider.
6. Corner loops
On two of the corners the threads from the selvedge and the threads from the tablet-woven border are plied/twisted into cords. The ends of these cords are then knotted together, forming a small (~40 mm long) loop with a tassel (Figure 3). I suppose that originally loops may have also decorated the other two corners, but these were lost when one edge was cut off and hemmed (see above).
Despite their simple appearance cloaks are a challenge to reproduce at any more than a superficial level of accuracy, as they are normally untailored garments - taken from the loom in a single piece with no cut-and-sewn edges. The information on this page was gathered to commission a woven reconstruction of the Tirā cloak, and it is hoped that comments from the weaver can be added here as the project progresses.