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Published: 12 September 2015

By Andy Ross

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Viking sails

In the most recent edition of Väv magazine, there is a fascinating article on weaving sails out of wool which answers many of the questions that people have asked us over the past few years.

The idea of wool being used to make sails for ships seems an odd choice but if wool is what you have, then wool is what you use, I guess. This article tells the story of weaving cloth as a special commission for a reconstruction of one of the smaller boats found alongside the Gokstad ship in Norway.

Some interesting facts about the sails are that they were woven in strips which were then joined together using the same yarn as the cloth itself. The article comes complete with facts about the twist on the yarn as well as some hints on weaving with "sticky" yarns (skimmed milk apparently helps!), and lastly, the answer to the question everyone asks us - what made the sails waterproof. Why, fat of course, and ochre to preserve the wool. Thanks Väv magazine!