A Tale of a Sprang Bag

Sister Mairi Jean

Three ladies of our intrepid Shire gathered together one fair Monday evening. “Let us sit here awhile” said one “and endeavour to conquer the principles of sprang.” “An excellent idea,” chorused the others, “but to what end?” “Why, a sprang bag,” professed the one, “wherein to place gold for a worthy gentle.”

So, with sober visage, they sat down surrounded by explanatory texts and gradually made sense of the instructions. “Why, this is of no great strain to mind or body!” they trilled in three part harmony, and they took themselves totheir most excellent frame and proceeded to string it vigorously.

At this point it would be opportune to point out that the most excellen tframe was constructed with ingenuity and energy by our most august Herald and much honour did he procure thereby.

With knitting needles, skewer sticks, cable needles and fingers did the gallant ladies weave. “Lo,” quoth they “it doth make the most wondrous sense.”

Slowly, beneath their agile hands, a beautiful sprang creation was forming until, at last, they looked up from their labours and cried “It is done!” With a crochet hook they sealed the loose ends and then, with beating hearts, they loosened the stringsand eased their creation from that most excellent frame.

“How … stretchy,” they said, “how … like netting.” “But see how i tcollapses into a shapeless mess,” they wailed. “No, look!” they cried. “If we fold it like THIS and sew it like THAT (where is that tapestry needle?) it will look marvellously baglike.”

So they folded it like THIS and sewed it like THAT (after finding the tapestry needle), then those adventurous ladies gathered it closed with a bright ribbon to produce
A Sprang Bag!

Gold coins were produced and admired, the eating thereof was resisted, and the bag was then a splendid prize for some worthy shire gentle in some test to be forthcoming.

The bag can be viewed, by appointment, by contacting ladies Jehanne, Sr Mairi Jean or Christina during working hours.

What is Sprang?

Sprang is a kind of medieval netting, made by twisting together threads whichare fastened together at both ends; the braiding is done in the central, openarea of the threads, and produces twists which are pushed to both ends and aremirror images of each other. One of the oldest examples of sprang is fromaround 1400BC, found in a bog in Denmark. The technique produces a slightlystretchy fabric, suitable for stockings, bags or hairnets.


Sprang in action: the twisted threads are held in place by sticks which are woven through the twists and used to push the twists up and downwards. The process requires lots of hands, fingers, sticks and ingenuity, and occasionally results in twisted or knotted fingers rather than twisted string.

Info and graphic are from Phiala’sString Pages. Would-be sprangers are encouraged to look here or to apply to Sister Mairi Jean,demon string fiend, for instruction.