Saturday, April 30, 2016

I was kissed by a llama!

Last weekend was the Washington County Fiber Tour. The first farm we visited was the Quarry Ridge Alpaca Farm.
 I got a very happy welcome from this beauty. She came right up to check me out.
Besides a few llamas, the farm has many alpaca. 
They are much more shy than the llama, but when you stand very still they will come up to you.

They are so cute, but they have really funny feet. Made for climbing around in the Andes, I suppose.

At the other farms we saw BFL sheep,
angora goats

and cashmere goats

 While the sheep and angora goats are sheared, the cashmere goats just have their undercoat combed out, so they always look this beautiful.

We also had time to visit a carding and spinning mill. I didn't know we had a local mill anymore.

Yes, I came home with quite a bit of yarn and roving. Altogether, it was a very fine day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dalarna Stitch

I learned a new nalbinding stitch yesterday. I really like it:

Dalarna Stitch

It is quick to make - as quick as Oslo stitch, but it is denser than Oslo stitch, so I think it will be very warm. And I love how it looks almost woven. I will definitely make a hat with this stitch, and perhaps a pair of matching mittens.

The stitch is easy: start like Oslo, with one loop on the back of your thumb, and one loop on your thumb. Take the loop from the back of your thumb, then pick up the thumb loop. Turn and go under the working thread. Use the F2 connection. The twist gives it little loops on the inside, like Russian stitch has.

That's it - I'm off to stitch!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Playing with color

As anyone who reads this blog is sure to know, I usually have more than one project going at a time. So, while I was working on the laurel cloak, I was also having fun playing with nalbinding. It is the creative part of SCA that I enjoy most. Exploring medieval ideas and seeing what can be done within that context. With that in mind, I've been looking at extant medieval nalbinding and designing my own pieces, playing with the structure of stitches (how does the result differ if a different stitch is used, for example). Here are the things I've been making:

Two-color mitts, and the start of three-color socks.
Spots and rings:

First I played with what happens depending on the number of stitches used for the second color, and then I played with the stitches. The sample on the left is Mammen stitch; the one on the right is Finnish stitch.

Then I made some mittens. The brown mitten is Finnish stitch. The green mitten is Mammen stitch.

Then, if one can make horizontal stripes, it is also possible to make vertical stripes:

I have never seen any artifacts with vertical stripes, but they are no more difficult to make than spots, so why not? The mitten is Russian stitch; the hat is Oslo stitch.

And finally, using the Coptic stitch, I played with colorwork:

The red water bottle cover has my badge - a wool comb. The little bag is to hold my phone.

Monday, March 14, 2016

My secret embroidery project

 I've been quiet for the past month or so, because I was very busy making a laurel cloak for my friend, (now Mistress) Vibeke.

All of her friends embroidered a set of leaves and mailed them to me. It felt like Christmas every time I opened an envelope. Every leaf is a treasure. I spun the gold thread for the couching and stems and assembled it all together. These are my leaves:
They are based on the designs of Neolithic and Iron Age spindle whorls.

Vibeke was very surprised.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Necessity is the mother of invention

We drove to Virginia this past weekend. Eight hours in the car each way. I can't do nothing for that many hours, so on the way out the door I grabbed some needles and a ball of yarn. I decided to make socks. It needed to be a simple design, because I didn't have a pattern to follow. I cast on and started the cuff. I quickly decided that it couldn't be too simple of a pattern, or I would get bored. I could have chosen to just do a rib pattern for the whole thing, but I'd done that before and I wanted to try something different.

I decided to run a simple cable down the center of the sock. The only problem was, I didn't have my cable needle with me. I thought the yarn might be stiff enough, or the stitches big enough (size 2 needles) to just take two stitches off the needle and let them sit there while I knit the next two stitches, but that didn't work well for me. So, here was my solution:

 When I reached the point where I needed to twist the stitches, I used the previous needle to hold them, then knit two, placed the held stitches back on the left needle, and knit them. The second cable was slightly easier because it came at the beginning of the needle. I did both cables by holding the stitches to the front, but it would be equally easy to do a cable with the stitches held to the back.
It worked like a charm.

Here is the completed sock (a long sock for a long trip):

I liked this method so much, I may never use my cable needle again. I doubt I was the first person to do this, but it was a new idea for me. Maybe you will like this trick, too.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Goals

This year I will keep it simple so that I actually have a chance of reaching my goals.

1. Teach. As often as possible.

2. Spin. As often as possible, including at least one new breed or fiber that I haven't spun before.

3. Because my mother taught me "idle hands are the devil's workshop," always have a project underway. And complete at least some of them. My current projects are a pair of socks (more about that in the next post), spinning again for the Ribe mittens, and an embroidery/sewing project. That last one has an actual deadline, so no procrastinating allowed.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

2015 in Review

Here it is, already a week into 2016. Today I will stop and think about what I accomplished last year. I set myself seven goals for 2015. The one that seemed the most important to me at the start of the year - recreating the Ribe mitten - went nowhere. In fact, I used up the yarn for an entirely different project. But I will start again. I also did no work on the tablet woven garters. But I did inventory my yarn and roving, which prompted me to give away much yarn that I knew I would never use. Now a new person is learning to knit.

I finished my little experiment about how much yarn fits on a spindle. After several trials, to get consistent threads, I fit slightly more thread on my medieval reproduction spindle. Two full spindles made enough thread for a napkin or basket cover or short veil.

I wanted to teach more often in 2015, and I did. I taught at every event I attended, also taught one-on-one or to small private groups. I also attended as many classes as I could during the year, because learning new things is as much fun as passing on what I already know.

After learning about goldwork techniques at Pennsic 2014, I wanted to try my hand at a period embroidery piece. I did some research on these styles, and worked out a design, based on a small enamel piece. But I never started the embroidery. That's because in the spring I learned about lacis, and if you have read any posts this year, you know I am smitten with the technique. So, while I didn't do the embroidery project I expected, I did increase my knowledge of a period embroidery style. Perhaps this year I will organize what I have learned and panel for period competency from Athena's Thimble. (I wonder if I could be ready by Birka?)

A project that I wanted to do, but was not originally a goal of 2015 was to make a period style knit bag. I made my pattern, made several samples and began the actual piece. Then, I put the yarn away before we went to Pennsic, and I have been unable to find it since. I must have put is somewhere very, very safe. When it turns up, I will pick up where I left off.

The best thing I did in 2015 was take Marjorie Parmentar as my apprentice. I am so enjoying spending time with her and watching her skills and knowledge grow. I am looking forward to our time together in 2016.