Category Archives: Historical

Just a Little Post

I’ve been sick the past few weeks, which has had me mostly miserable on the couch with hands idle. I have been working on a few small things, like Dorset buttons and cotton spinning:

And I’m sampling laces for a reproduction Elizabethan hood:

Other than that, things have been as quiet craftwise as they ever are around here. But once I’m up and around again, there’s a laundry list of things to be done, so I am trying to enjoy the break while waiting for spring to arrive.

Back in the game

I am pleased to report that last weekend’s band weaving workshop was a success!

This is the setup I asked my students to use. It’s not my favourite weaving arrangement (I prefer using my floor inkle or a backstrap), but it worked very well for demonstrating the technique.

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Incidentally, do you like my new-to-me table loom? I do! It’s a Good Wood Slant loom in cherry (the makers of which disappeared from the web the day after I happened upon this one, so I sadly cannot provide the link).

One of the guild members gave me a book of Lithuanian sash designs in exchange for her heddle, so that will keep me busy on this front for a while (say, several centuries). Stay tuned.

In other news, here’s the belated Christmas roundup! I planned to stick to a few small knitted gifts after the woven insanity of last year, and didn’t break my resolution too badly.

First, a griffin hat for my mother:

IMG_1064I used this kit but substituted griffins for the birds. Why griffins? My mother’s dog is named Gryphon, and if you’re interested, she keeps a blog of his sledding, hiking, and canoeing exploits. Also featured in the blog, of course, is…

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HERE, EDGAR THE DOG SAILED.

…Griff’s partner in crime, Edgar! My dad is something of a medievalist (at least, he likes Brother Cadfael) and I thought he might enjoy a little Bayeux Tapestry featuring his dog. This also gave me an opportunity to practice the Bayeux stitch in pleasantly authentic wool on linen. (I did fix the gap in Edgar’s harness, but didn’t take a picture after that.)

Other gift projects included finishing a sweater for my grandmother (pictures to follow), concocting an amigurimi gastropod for my boyfriend (pictures possibly to follow), and whipping up a hat on commission for a friend (picture follows).

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In exchange, she’ll help me make a muslin!

Once all that was done, I made a little something for myself: EXTERMINITTENS!

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Who and a what now?

And then, some socks. This week I made a sock knitting kit out of ah Altoids tin and wool felt to contain my stitch markers, measuring tape, tapestry needles, repair hook, 4″ DPNs, and snips. I’m sure it’s been done before, but I’m  still quite proud of it.

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Happy New Year to you all. Thanks for following the blog!

Northerly

One of the things about writing professionally is that you tend to run out of words by the end of the day. Even a blog write-up is a baffling prospect.

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Fortunately, I’m not weaving for a living!

For my birthday this year, I got a beautiful cherry inkle loom  from SpriggsCreations. It has all of the features I was looking for in a floor inkle loom: easily adjustable tension, sturdy pegs, and that horizontal bar that lets you sit closer to the loom than three-pronged looms like the Cendrel.

To go with the loom, I received a just-as-beautiful Sami shuttle from Ampstrike, which I have long wished for. It’s even better than I thought! Using the shuttle with a rigid heddle designed for supplementary-warp bands, picking out  patterns is almost as fast as treadling a floor loom.

Much more to come on this subject. I’ll be teaching a Baltic band weaving workshop at my guild in January. In the meantime, know that many band warps have been wound and woven: mostly wound, since I’m having so much fun trying out new things!

 

Speaking of new things, I’ve joined the SCA, resulting in a few reenactment goods mysteriously appearing around the house. I wove a silk cap and a wool shawl, and made a leather needle case and sheath as well as a few other goodies suitable for a Shetlandic Norse persona. The only thing I’m not making by hand is the jewelry, because… well, it’s another hobby, and I’m not allowed to start any more hobbies. (Leatherworking doesn’t count, because that’s basically sewing. Right?)

I’ve gotten friendly with several members of my local SCA group, and joined them for a fun workshop in silk painting. I’ve also been practicing the Bayeux embroidery stitch. The resulting projects are less historically accurate, but nonetheless entertaining:

In keeping with the Scandinavian angle that my crafting has taken of late, I dug out an embroidery kit that my mom found at a thrift shop for the grand sum of twenty-five cents. Isn’t it cute?

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It might even be done in time for Christmas.

Well, maybe.

Happy Flu Year!

PSA: Get your flu shot. In addition to its role as a major public health threat, the flu interferes dreadfully with one’s crafting goals. I’m just now getting around to rounding up photos of the Christmas gifts I made for people this year, of which the largest undertaking was the Giant Secret Weaving Project. As not all of the intended recipients have yet received their finished objects, I will have to remain mysterious about the intended purpose of the warp… but not so mysterious that I can’t give you a sneak preview.

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A number of smaller, less mysterious creations have also found new homes lately:

– A woven Kindle case. The fabric for this was woven on my little two-shaft Brio loom, if you recall, and I’m pleased with how well the cloth turned out. I did have to add interfacing– a dense sett being difficult to achieve through the loom’s wooden reed– but it’s a sturdy little case, despite my shoddy job of hand-stitching the seams.

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– A pair of scarves for my parents’ dogs. These still need to be modeled by the beasts, but since it’s taken me so long to assemble this post, I decided not to hold it up any longer. You can wait for cute puppy pictures, right?

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– A crocheted hat.

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– Tea towels. Another on-loom picture, since I wove these at my guild, so I need to wait for them to be cut off. The weft is naturally dyed cotton, since I only had undyed yarn, and my turn to weave came up unexpectedly, and there was no time to mordant, so… out came the cutch!

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It’s actually a very nice shade of brown, but the lighting in the loom room doesn’t do it justice.

On the other side of the gifting coin, I now have my very own sewing machine! (Thanks, Mom!)

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The strange gray object to the left? With the bobbins hanging from it? That is a harbinger of doom.

I whipped up a wool skirt to wear to work, upon which I managed to spill mustard sauce on its second wearing. Dilemma: take the whole thing for dry cleaning, or replace the unfortunate panel with leftover fabric?

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After such frustrations, and despite a long to-do list involving less portable crafts, tatting seemed like a good thing to spend the rest of my winter vacation on.

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And then, the tatting triggered some memories of things seen at fiber festivals… and I felt that itch… you know the one. The one that signals a new craft on the horizon.

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Bobbin lace!

Housecleaning is overrated, anyway.

Yarn, Plant Matter, and the Dangers of Fiber Festivals

You may think I’m kidding, but the fiber arts can lead you down a perilous road. Mostly due to the interesting diversions along the wayside.

See where this stuff gets you?

My friend chopsticknitter has already posted a batch of pictures from the Twist festival in her blog, so I’ll be brief in my review: it was lots of fun, and it has indirectly provided me with more potential blogging content than I know what to do with. In terms of fiber, I stocked up on Shetland, Cheviot, alpaca, and even a bit of bison. (For the sake of my dignity, this indecent haul will not be pictured.) My favorite, though, is the tiny sample of qiviut that is now occupying my supported spindle. This is shockingly beautiful stuff.

The skein in the background is the delicious Handmaiden Camelspin in Pewter, which is on its way to becoming a shawl for a real-life knit-along.

Of course, I have to mention our trip to the loom room. After the greedier other members of my group appropriated the most exotic looms, I found my way to a Fanny just like my own, but pre-warped and conveniently unattended.

Delighted weaving ensued.

We also passed a room that had clearly been occupied by a dyeing workshop, which would have been fun to take. I’ve always been fascinated by natural dyeing. After getting back from the festival, and having picked up all that springy Cheviot, I wound off a batch of ten-yard skeinlets for my schemlets.*

The results of my headfirst dive into the dyepot: lots of yarn and a mild headache.

To date, I’ve experimented with lac, madder, cutch, logwood, pomegranate, turmeric, chamomile, and some rather unsightly black beans. Aside from the lac, these are all plant dyes. (Lac dye comes from a bug-produced resin, making it less icky than dyeing with cochineal, which involves grinding up bugs. I might not mind, but my significant other is concerned that we might find dried insects scattered around the kitchen. He’s probably right.) Anyway, I think the sample skeins will be perfect for weaving a color gamp or two.

“But, tintinnael,” you may ask, “how will you weave any gamps? Isn’t your loom already occupied?”

Well, yes, it is:

This is the scarf that never ends. Please don’t ask how long it’s been on the loom.

But on Saturday, my mother happened to come across this dainty creature gathering dust in the corner of a weaving shop in Vermont. As soon as I saw it, it was love.

It’s a two-shaft counterbalance table loom, toy-sized but fully functional. I’ve seen similar looms on Etsy and eBay, but usually in worse condition for higher prices. (Worthy of note: this one was twenty bucks.) It came intact with a wooden reed and two functioning ratchet-and-pawl mechanisms on the front and back beams. The only things missing: heddles and heddle bars, i.e., string and sticks. So I spend an hour tying string heddles and hacked some dowels to size. To stabilize my makeshift shafts, I tied the lower bars to one another, going underneath the roller at the center of the loom. I’m not sure if this is the originally intended configuration, but it seems to work just fine. And to change the shed, all you have to do is flip the lever on the top of the loom.

Here are some close-up shots of the riggings:

Although it looks delicate, I am pleased to report that the little loom holds up to a good amount of tension. I wouldn’t use it to make floor rugs, but tiny tapestry samples are not out of the question. (Also, I’m careful to take the tension off the warp after every weaving session, a suggestion I read somewhere and have internalized to the point of neurosis. Fellow weavers, is this good practice?)

So, my next project seems likely to be a natural-dye gamp on this little charmer. See how one thing leads to another? There’s no hope for any of us fiber folk.

If you’ve made it this far into my rambling post, you may be interested to see my brand-new Twitter page, also linked from the sidebar to your right. I’m starting to get into the tweeting habit: if you’re there, let me know!

*I know. It doesn’t rhyme.