I've been doing a lot of nalbinding lately. I love how easy it is to carry around during these busy summer months. I made a hat for a friend. You will have to wait until after Pennsic to see a picture of it, but I am pleased with how it turned out. My other favorite project is a pair of gloves. Nalbound gloves are very late period - 13th and 14th century to the best of my knowledge. Here is my pair:
They are made using the Danish stitch. I chose it because it is very fine - not at all bulky. Best of all, they fit my hands better than any commercial pair I own. I am definitely going to make another pair - using a silk and merino blend I spun.
I am also making a pair of mittens - with bulky commercial yarn, because I fell in love with the color:
These are made using the Alsike stitch. I like that this stitch looks different on the two sides. I have turned the finished mitten "inside-out." On that side the ribs are more pronounced, and the space between the ribs looks almost woven. It is not a difficult stitch to do, and I love the texture of it.
I've also been working on a few knitting projects, but I'll leave that for another post.
I've been very busy since my last post. I'm happy to say, my nalbinding salon at War of the Roses was a success. Nine people came. Most had never stitched before, so I spent most of the afternoon teaching the Oslo stitch. The experienced nalbinders lent a hand, and everyone had an enjoyable time.
I entered the striped socks in the Concordia A&S competition, which required you to write a story about your piece. I wrote a letter from the spinner/knitter to her lover across the ocean to whom she was sending the socks. There were many good entries in the competition. Writing a story is much harder for me than spinning or knitting, so I was surprised to find that I was chosen as Baronial A&S Champion. Now I'll have to figure out a challenge for next year!
I'm still working on perfecting my spinning research paper to ready it for possible publication. The editors are so helpful. I'll be happy when everyone agrees that it is the best it can be. I've been enjoying the process, but I don't think I would want to be a professional writer. It's hard work!
When I am not writing or teaching, I've been prepping for my nalbinding class. I will teach the same thing at Northern Region War Camp, and at Pennsic - Options for Heels and Thumbs. I'm hoping to have enough starting rings so that students can jump right into the options, without having to start with the boring stuff.
I'll be teaching drop spinning at NRWC, too. I hope you'll consider stopping by if you are at either event this summer.
Memorial Day weekend will soon be upon us. With MUCH better weather predicted than last year! This is the biggest event that Concordia puts on each year. No matter what you like to do, you will find it there, including many Arts and Sciences classes, for both adults and families. Saturday morning will start with an artisans' breakfast where we can all get together and chat (thank you, Deonna). That's a new thing this year and I think it sounds like a lot of fun. Keeping in the informal vein, I will be holding a nalbinding salon that afternoon. Please stop by if you are at the event. It's meant to allow people to come and go as they please; you could come for 10 minutes or 2 hours, depending on your interests. You don't even need to bring anything. I'm hoping it will allow a more on-to-one approach to teaching stitches than the typical class setting does. I'm bringing my sample book and I'll teach any stitch I know. I'll also offer what ever help I can to people who have questions about projects they are working on. I've made lots of mistakes as I've experimented with this, my favorite technique, and I'm willing to pass on anything I've learned from them. So whether you have never held a needle before, or are looking to expand your stitch repertoire, stop by the barn. We'll have fun.
I'm preparing samples for a nalbinding class I will be teaching this summer on options for making heels and thumbs. I was not paying enough attention while I was making a sample of the heel style where you make a "tongue" along the bottom of the heel and then keep nalbinding around in a circle. My samples are not complete socks - I'm just making short tubes to represent the foot of the sock. So, since I wasn't paying attention, I forgot to decrease when I came around the tongue, in order to keep it flat with the bottom of the foot. Instead, it made a sharp angle with the tube. Instead of ripping out the stitches, I turned it over and continued with the tongue on the top of the foot.
When I got to the bottom of the foot, I decreased severely to make it lay flat, and spiraled around until the space was filled in. I have never seen a nalbinding sock made this way. It reminds me of Native American shoes. This one would make a good baby bootie. I think I may try making a full size pair of socks this way.
Where did the month of April go? While I didn't seem to find time to blog, I didn't neglect my crafts. I finished the striped socks:
I'm very happy with how they turned out. While I do not believe the original sock is quite as old as the magazine implies, it is likely to have been made no later than the early 1700's. So, that is still the earliest style of sock I have attempted. I like the garter stitch heel; it's different from others I have made.
I've also been working on a pair of nalbinding socks made using the York stitch:
The yarn is handspun Corriedale. The stitch size is just slightly larger than the original sock. I would use a much lighter color of thread if I were to do this again (the actual thread is darker than it looks in this photo). It's very hard to see the stitches, except in natural light. Also, I got cocky while working on the second sock, and didn't follow my own rule: try it on often! You can see where I've had to cut some rows out because it got too tight to go over my ankle. I've had to take out about 6 rows. Given the tiny gauge, that represents a lot of work. I will be more careful as I stitch them the second time.
The January/February 2014 issue of Piecework Magazine is the historical knitting issue. I found all of the articles very interesting this time, but one in particular enticed me to actually knit something. One of the articles is about textile artifacts found at Magdelena de Cao Viejo, Peru. According to the article, the town was settled in 1578 and abandoned around 1712, after an earthquake. The textile artifacts found are presumed to date from that period. Four stocking remnants have been identified - two made from wool, two from cotton. I decided to make myself a pair of stockings based on the information given for the four pieces.
For my pattern, I knit the stripe pattern found in the cotton stockings, but used my handspun wool. My stockings reach my knee, and will be held up with tablet woven garters. The original wool artifact is made with ss-Z yarn, with a gauge of 14 stitches and 20 rows per inch (see p. 12 of the magazine). My yarn is spun zz-S, and it is knit at a gauge of 9 stitches and 12 rows per inch, using size 1 needles. Clearly the original was much finer, but I began with some Finn yarn that I had previously spun, so that set my gauge (and my spin direction).
Two shades of madder-dyed wool are used for the stripes. The lighter one is BFL; the darker is merino.
I soon discovered that I didn't have enough of the lighter shade of wool to complete both pieces. For the second stocking I am reversing the colors. It takes a lot of yarn to make knee-high socks!