Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Where do the days go?

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.

Monday, May 19, 2014

War of the Roses

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.

Monday, May 5, 2014

a happy accident

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.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

ta da!

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.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

a new knitting project

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!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My Laurel Day, Part 3

After the speeches, you are given the regalia associated with the rank. These symbols are made by your friends. First Brid asked me to return my apprentice belts (I was wearing 2). She replaced it with her Laurel belt.
Her belt had been made for her several years ago by Isabel de Bayonne, another apprentice sister. It is beautiful double weave tablet weaving with laurel leaves all along it. Isabel created the weaving pattern herself. Someday I may understand tablet weaving enough to make such a complex pattern; this belt will certainly inspire me to try. I know how much this belt means to Brid, and I cherish her for caring enough to pass it on to me.

Next I was given a back cloth. This is a Viking woman's cloak that attaches to the brooches. It was made by my friend Vibeke. She is an expert in natural dyes. She dyed the wool and silk trim with indigo - such a beautiful color blue! It is embroidered down the sides with laurel leaves. The embroidery is made with stitches found at the Oseberg ship burial. Vibeke spun the thread and dyed it and the silk leaves with weld. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would own something made by Vibeke. It is so pretty!

Next I received a hood made by Arnlief and Frigga. It is based on the Skjoldehamn, Norway find, dated to 1095. While it is made a little larger than the original, the pattern is the same. I love this ingenious pattern which is made using the minimum amount of fabric possible, and no waste. A roundel of laurel leaves surrounded by silver wire weaving, is appliqued to the front panel of the hood. Frigga made many, many enamel leaves which make a border around the hood. Hidden inside is a delicate border of what has locally come to be called "the Ose stitch," although I didn't discover it; I merely taught it to my friends. All of the embroidery on the hood was made using wool thread which I had spun. They had tricked my into giving it to them for a different project. (I wonder if that was a real project, or just an excuse.)

I received a medallion. Everyone receives a medallion when they are inducted into an order, but this one is very special. The laurel medallion itself was designed by Jean-Paul Ducasse. The silver chain to hold it is done with Viking wire weaving, made by Frigga. There are 6 beautiful glass beads on the chain, made by Irene von Lassen. Two of them are decorated with laurel leaves. I will feel special every time I wear this necklace.

I received a fillet, made by Ruth Baraskya. She sews the most delicate embroidery of anyone I know. This fillet is made of maroon wool with tiny leaves and beads embroidered along its length. I will wear this often.

I was next given a veil, based on grave finds from Viking Dublin. This was woven by Siobhan. It is the finest, most delicate weaving I have ever seen. It will make me proud to be able to show off her work.

Each piece of regalia is layered on, one after the other. I was quite hot by this time. The final piece I was given was a nalbinding hat, made by Arnlief. It is made using my favorite stitch, with blue and green spiral stripes, as has been found at Finnish sites. I've already worn this hat to work. It's perfect. Finally, the scroll was read. The calligraphy and illumination was done by Heather Rose.

After all of that you are welcomed into the Order by all of the people who are already part of the Order. That was many, many hugs. Finally you are dismissed from court. It was an overwhelming, absolutely perfect day. I don't know how Richard was able to keep so much planning secret, but I love him for it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

My Laurel Day, Part 2

I suppose it is sort of like a wedding - everyone thinks their own is the best one ever. But my Laurel ceremony was the best one ever (OK, I'm biased). In preparation for court, my hair was dressed in French braids:
 I've never seen my hair look so beautiful (thank you, friends).

The procession began with Drake, who had written a song for me, based on a medieval Danish tune.

Jaquelinne was my herald (it's kind of amazing to hear all of your accomplishments shouted out). Geoffrey and Muriel carried my banner. I don't know if Brid chose them specifically, but it meant a lot to me - they represented the support of my household and my apprentice sisters and brothers. It was very comforting to walk up escorted by Richard and accompanied by my household and close friends.Without these people I would never have made it to this day.

When the procession reaches the dais, the King asks for an answer to his question. Of course I said yes. He then calls for the various Orders to speak on my behalf. Sir Yoshitsune spoke for the Order of Chivalry. He spoke about honor and the qualities related to chivalry. The speech (all the speeches) ends with "she is my peer." Mistress Brid spoke for the Order of the Pelican, about service I've performed. Brid is (was) my Laurel, so I did not expect her to speak for me, but she is a double peer (having been awarded for both her science and her service). That was very special. Countess Thyra spoke for the Ladies of the Rose (former Queens). She told personal stories about how she got to know me. She is so kind. The final speaker was Mistress Siobhan, who spoke for the Order of the Laurel. She had been my apprentice sister until a year ago. She spoke of my pursuit of arts and sciences. When she ended the speech with "she is my peer," I was ready to cry. Siobhan is the only other person I know who pursues her art (weaving) from a scientific perspective. I have looked up to her and respected her for the past 5 years. She never says anything she doesn't mean, so to have gained her respect for my work means the world to me.