Getting Started- Edward Bransfield Commemorative Tartan

When I returned from my trip to Antarctica, I wanted to weave a tartan similar to the one that had been posted on the boat’s bulletin board.


Antarctic Tartan, designed by Rosalind Jone of Celtic Originals

I had to learn a lot about the tartan fabric, its history and its rules. Then I designed a tartan. My friend and expert in all things related to Irish Antarctic Explorers, Jim Wilson, suggested that it be named after the first person to sight the Antarctic Continent, Irish explorer Edward Bransfield. The design and name were submitted it to the Scottish Register of Tartans.

To my shock and surprise it was accepted!


To all the good people at the Remembering Edward Bransfield  Facebook page, I apologize for the delay in beginning the process of weaving this tartan. I had to finish a previous project at my teacher’s studio to make room for the tartan! Today that project came off the loom.

2018-05-21 14.37.12

As soon as it did, my weaving teacher, Patricia Martin and I sat down and double checked all of the math required on the tartan. Without Patricia, this project would never have gotten off the ground. Her 30 years of experience has saved me on more than one project. She has been confident, from the beginning, that I had the skills and patience to make the Edward Bransfield Commemorative Tartan.

And so we began.

2018-05-21 14.31.55

Patricia Martin and the math worksheets for the tartan

For the uninitiated, weaving requires a lot of planning and that planning calls for a lot of math. Figuring the width of the item to be made means you have to know how many threads of the type you are using are needed to make one inch of fabric. Then you have to figure out how the color pattern fits into that width. In this case, 40 threads are needed to make one inch of width. But the whole color pattern is a tad more than 145 threads. The threads (being wool) will probably shrink about 20%. In order to make the tartan into a scarf, there needs to be around 12 inches of thread on the loom. It takes a bit of figuring to get it all to work out.

Once it was all figured out, the tartan would require that over 500 threads be put on the loom, one by one. Sort of.

That is where the warping begins.

2018-05-21 14.08.15

warping board

Meet the warping board. This is where each thread, in the proper color order is wound. The string that appears in the picture is what we call a “guide string”. It is the exact length the the individual threads need to be for the warp.

There are some tricks of the trade (so to speak) to make this process go faster. One of them is  how to keep count of the threads. In a tartan, there are a specific number of threads of a specific color that create the design. I have to keep those numbers in my head and on the board. Even one extra thread can create a major problem.

2018-05-21 15.49.53

Stage one of the warping process

This is how warping is done.

Start at the top and follow the guide string to the bottom. Then come back to the top over the same route. The crosses at top and bottom help me keep the count that is listed on the paper that is taped to the wall. I refer to both the crosses and the paper a lot!

2018-03-30 14.54.10

Each of these colors will eventually be on the warping board

Tomorrow the process will continue. It may take several warping session to get the entire warp aligned properly.


When all is said and done, the scarf will have this pattern. It will look a lot better than this computer generated equivalent.

If you have questions about what has been done so far, please feel free to comment. I will try to answer them in my coming posts about this project.

I am so honored to be part of the project to honor Edward Bransfield. Thank you to the Remembering Edward Bransfield Committee and a very special thank you to Jim Wilson for assisting me.

Categories: Antarctica, Color, Edward Bransfield Commemorative Tartan, Projects, Scottish Registry of Tartan, Tartan, Uncategorized, warp, Weaving


  1. Wow Gael, this is so interesting. I never considered how much planning and the dreaded MATH goes in to your weaving projects. You are so very talented. Thanks for the pics and for the explanation of the process. 😘 Julie


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can’t even fathom the patience that requires. Can’t wait to see the process!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! Thank you so much for undertaking this project, and all in the name of Edward Bransfield. I can’t wait to see the fruits of your labour.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Blame it on Jim Wilson!!! 😉 I am proud to be able to do it. And thank you for following along. It is a fun little adventure!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: