Monday, July 27, 2015

Preparing for Pennsic

My favorite thing to do at Pennsic is to teach and take classes. While some classes may be better than others, I always come home energized and itching to start a new project.

When I was Mistress Brid's apprentice, she had me keep a book of quotations that inspired me, for whatever reason (not just related to fiber arts). As I am gathering together my supplies for Pennsic, I thought it would be nice to share a few sentiments I found:

"There is no better teacher than the process of teaching itself."

"General duties of a teacher: pull everything out of your students."
"General duties of a student: pull everything out of your teacher, and your fellow students."

These quotes are from a Corita Kent, an artist who taught at a small college back in the 1960's. She did amazing graphic arts work, with a social responsibility message. I was lucky enough to see an exhibit of her work a while back at The Tang, a small museum in Saratoga Springs.

So, if you are going to Pennsic, don't forget to take time away from the battles and shopping to take a class. And if you happen to be one of the many amazing teachers, you have my heartfelt thanks. I am looking forward to learning new things!

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Medieval Style Knitting

One of my goals for this year is to knit something in a medieval style. This has taken a lot of thought and practice. I decided I wanted to make a small bag. First I looked for some appropriate inspiration.
 Then I started knitting on smaller and smaller needles.

I worked my way down to size 0 as I played with various colorwork designs. Here are a few of the things I made:
The "white" mitten was knit on size 1 needles, the grey sock (my own design) was knit on size 0 needles.

While I was knitting, I was designing my pattern. I decided to base my idea on an embroidered bag that included large versions of arms. I plotted out my arms and my husband's arms, and then experimented over and over until I was happy with the surrounding images.

 The problem with this idea is that both of our arms include 3 colors. I have not found an example of medieval knitting that includes more than 2 colors per row. Perhaps I should have stuck to embroidery! But I am persevering. I am using size 000 needles. I started by practicing carrying the colors around the row, using cotton crochet thread. It was terrible to work with at such a small scale, and I quickly switched to a lace weight wool/silk blend. I played a bit longer, and have now started my actual bag.

You can see the start of my arms on the cotton sample at the top of the photo. I've gotten fairly competent at keeping the threads untangled. On the actual bag, I have knit a plain band for the top and I'm ready to start adding the designs. Check back at the end of the summer and I will show you how far I have come.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The book is out!

Perhaps this proves how busy I have been. The day I had long been waiting for came and went, and I never told the news. On a day back in April I came home to find a package in my mail box. Volume 11 had arrived! I am so pleased with how it turned out. And besides my article, the others are equally interesting. I've really been enjoying reading it when I can grab a spare minute.


I hope you will find it interesting, too.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Spring!

Washington DC has its cherry blossoms festival, Rochester, New York has its lilac festival, but my city has the Tulip Fest.

This year the city of Albany planted 137,000 tulip bulbs of every color and variety imaginable. This weekend people come together from all over to admire the flowers, eat tasty food, listen to good music and enjoy wonderful crafts. When the weather is this good, the crowds are thick:

"But what about your crafts?" you ask. I've been making slow progress on my little spinning experiment, working on several Kingdom and baronial projects, and doing a little teaching,  but mostly I've been busy at work. Hence no time to blog. But this is a day for me - so I thought I would take a few minutes and show you a few photos. I'll write about my projects very soon. In the meantime - happy mother's day to all mothers!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Lucky me!

I have the best family in the whole world! My mother and sister are potters. They find my love of the SCA puzzling, but when I mentioned that I had seen an article about Viking Age vessels, they set about to make me some. Here is the gift I received (for no occasion at all), based on the ceramic wine holders illustrated in the article:

I love that they are personalized, and I can't wait to use them. The one on the right is even shaped on the back to fit flat against my hip. Now where did I put my leather cords?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Kingdom Gifts

What happened to February? The bitter cold and copious snow slowed me down. In late January I was asked to create a gift to be taken to the King and Queen of the Outlands. They have Viking personas, so my first thought, given the very short time frame, was nalbinding mittens. Although I was asked if I could create the gift starting from the raw fleece, I knew I couldn't wash, comb, spin and stitch in just 3 weeks. So, using my trusty #6 whorl I spun up enough commercially prepared Shetland top to make mittens for the Queen. Lady Arnlief offered to help with the nalbinding. I gave her the Jacob yarn I had spun for the Ribe mittens, and spun a bit more, just to be sure she had enough, and she stitched mittens for the King. We met the deadline, and the mittens went off to Estrella War. Here they are:

The white mittens were made using the Vendel stitch. The brown mittens were made using the Oslo stitch. The yarn for both pairs of mittens was spun at the gauge of the Ribe mittens.

Now I have to start from scratch for my Ribe mitten project. Not that I mind an excuse to spin.

Monday, January 19, 2015

a memory tool for a life

We visited the Cooper Hewitt Museum back in December. This is the Smithsonian Museum of Design. They had just re-opened after a major renovation which increased their gallery space. The Cooper Hewitt has an extensive collection of textiles, ranging from ancient Egyptian wool and linen tapestries, to twenty-first century synthetics. There were some beautiful pieces on display, but that wasn't what impressed me the most. On the top floor was an exhibit of tools through the centuries, starting with stone age spear points, all the way up to space suits and i-pods. But this was the tool that impressed me the most:

This ball of thread is about the size of a softball. It is a Klikitat (Southern British Columbia) Time Ball, that was created in the early 20th century. According to the museum label, "when ready for marriage, a young woman started her time ball, a fiber diary that employed knots to record events. Glass beads, shells, and cloth fragments marked special occasions. As a woman aged, her time ball accumulated the history of her family and extended community. It was so essential to her identity that she was buried with it."

Imagine being able to hold your whole adult life in your hand.