Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sock Progress

Here is my sock so far:

I’ve used up almost half of my yarn, except for the mixed gold that I am saving for the foot. The knitting is going pretty quickly, so I’ve decided to make knee-high socks. I’ll need to knit about 4 more inches, so I am spinning up more of the brown Jacob wool. It is tightly spun at 32 wpi (12.5 wpc) and the plied yarn is 15 wpi (6 wpc).

I had different amounts of each shade of gold, so I varied my stripes as I went along. Each wide stripe is 5 rows and about half an inch wide (1.2 cm). The last part of the leg will be mostly brown with one or maybe two thin gold stripes. I’ve decided on a garter stitch heel, using the white yarn, because it will look a little like the bubbles in a beer head.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Beer Lover's Socks

This is the time of year when I am frantically creating Christmas gifts. I've been knitting up a storm (but you'll have to wait to see what I've made). Meanwhile, I was in need of gold thread for embroidery. I happened to be in my local yarn store (Trumpet Hill), and came upon a beautiful bit of gold, hand dyed merino roving. Just the thing! It was dyed in several shades of gold, from light to quite dark. The first thing I had to do was separate the colors. I have a friend who does this all the time, but I had never tried it before. It was a little trickier than I had expected. Here is what I spun - some light gold thread for embroidery, and some dark gold, spun a bit thicker, for a sprang project I have in mind:

I probably should have put a bit more twist in the embroidery thread, but it will work.

While I was separating the colors, it struck me that the colors looked like all the kinds of beer that my husband likes to drink, from a lovely amber or October fest, to a tasty pilsner. I decided to spin it up and make him a pair of "beer lover's" socks for Christmas. Here is where I am so far:

His favorite beer is Guinness, so I added some dark brown Jacob, and some tan Romney/Corriedale yarn to the mix, and started the sock with a wide brown stripe for his favorite stout, with a little tan for the head. The rest of the stripes will be narrower. I've forgotten what breed the white is, but it was spun from the locks. I will use it for the heels, because it will be sturdier than the merino.

By separating the colors, I wound up with four fairly solid shades of gold (the little balls), plus two small hanks with mixed colors, where the colors changed in the roving. I cast on 68 stitches for the ribbing, then increased to 72 stitches for the leg. I know this will work because I've made socks for him before. I'm using size 1 needles. I'm not sure yet how tall the socks will be. I've weighed the balls, so I will stop when I have used up half of each ball. I will use the mixed yarn and additional Jacob yarn for the feet, and maybe some white for the toes. When I finish the first sock I will let you see how it turns out. It may take a little longer than usual because I can only knit when he isn't around.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

teaching an old dog new tricks

That would be me. October has flown by, but I spent it teaching, and learning new things. First, to my surprise, Marjorie asked to learn nalbinding, as did another friend. Of course I said I would teach them. I love teaching nalbinding. So we sat down to learn the Oslo stitch. That's when I found out they are both left handed. So, I very quickly had to learn how to teach left-handed nalbinding. By the end of the evening, we had arrived at terminology that makes sense no matter if you are left handed or right handed. (Thank you, Marjorie.) No matter which hand you are using, you are looking at the front of your thumb (the nail side), and you work the stitch off the back of your thumb (the pad side). The working thread lies on the inside (between thumb and index finger), and the needle approaches the stitch from the outside of the thumb.

By our second lesson both women were confident nalbinders. Marjorie had taught the stitch to another friend, and she was ready to learn something new. I will not take the credit. They were both very quick learners.

Later in the month I spent a day with my friend Vibeke, while she taught me to throw pottery on the wheel. I came home with quite a few little pieces, but just as many were disasters. Two things were difficult for me - centering the clay, and making straight sides (I never did accomplish that). Here is what I made:

The straight-sided piece in the back, and the inkwell in the center were made by my friend Heather. The other three pieces are mine.

The three rather small pieces in the foreground are mine. 
I also made a tiny bud vase, and a spindle whorl (I couldn't help myself).

It was fun playing with shapes. They rarely came out exactly as I had pictured them as I placed the clay on the wheel, but I am pleased with my results. Vibeke is a great teacher. It will take a long time for me to be able to really control the clay. I will need much practice to make a piece with reasonably thin walls. But I left at the end of the day feeling like a good beginner. Now let's hope I have good luck with the glazes. (Patience, grasshopper. The clay has to dry and be fired first.)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Starting a new relationship

An important part of being a Laurel is the commitment to passing on your knowledge. The common way to do this is to take on an apprentice. Having been the apprentice to Mistress Brid, I have big expectations for how to undertake this new relationship. It was definitely not something to rush into. But after much thought on my part, and a period as Teacher/Student, I have taken my first apprentice. Her name is Marjorie Parmentar. Her interest in fiber arts is not the same as mine, but our interests intersect. I will not be teaching her spinning or nalbinding or knitting (at least not yet). Her passion is the history of clothing design. While I do not see myself sewing late medieval period clothing, I love researching all periods and cultures of textile design. And research is where she has asked for the most guidance. I think we are a good fit. I look forward to a long friendship and an enjoyable time learning together. She has begun her first project. There is a link to her blog - To Stitch a Story - in my blog list on the right. I am very proud of her first steps. I hope you will visit her blog often and watch her skill and knowledge grow.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Today is worldwide spin in public day.

So I did.

At first I thought it would be nice to work on finishing up the silk/alpaca blend I've been working on. It shines so beautifully in the sun. But it was very windy here today, and it was difficult to control the roving without my distaff. So I made a new plan. I had a few mystery locks that a friend had given me, and I decided it was the perfect day to spin in the grease. It was just enough to fill the comb. I combed, spun, plied, and washed. Here is my little skein, drying in the garden:

 You can see my alpaca roving on the chair; later I brought it inside to finish spinning.

 The nice thing about spinning in the grease is that the fibers don't fly all over. (Of course alpaca doesn't have grease, so it tends to be fly-away not matter what.) Also, I find I can spin a finer thread, although I spun this at a gauge to be able to add to some yarn I spun for knitting, as a little accent. I like the feel of the  lanolin on my hands, but it did make the spindle shaft a bit sticky. No problem, it washed right off.

Monday, September 7, 2015

embroidery project

It's so nice to have a day off from work. Besides catching up on yard work, and getting ready for an arts and sciences event I am running next Saturday, I found time to finish an embroidery project I have been working on for a few months, off and on.
 Back in the spring, I participated in Artisans Row at Mudthaw. I was lucky to be seated next to Kathryn Goodwyn, who was demonstrating various late medieval embroidery techniques. By the end of the day she gave me some thread and fabric, and off I went to try it on my own. First, I decided to make a bookmark. I chose a counted pattern of laurel leaves, and set to work. I didn't figure on how large the finished piece would be (there are about 7 squares to the inch). I like how it turned out, and I love the weaving technique, but I'll need a very big book to use it.

I was so taken with the technique, I immediately started a second piece, based on a 14th century Swedish embroidery. I love this little horse:

I haven't been able to find a source for the netted fabric, so I guess I'll just have to learn to make the net myself. I'll save that for another day.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Pueblo Shoe-Sock

The Arizona State Museum has in its possession three shoe-socks made by looping thread. They are made of cotton thread, with woven yucca soles. These date from pre-European contact (c. 1100-1300 CE). This past spring there was a flurry of discussion about the socks on the nalbinding yahoo group that I belong to, as people discussed if the stitch used was the same as any known European nalbinding socks. The final suggestion was that they were made using the Coptic stitch. I disagreed, and decided to verify it by reproducing the stitching pattern.

Here is a close-up of one of the socks:

While I did not recognize the stitch by looking at the photo, it became obvious as soon as I started stitching. If you are familiar with embroidery stitches, you will recognize it as the detached buttonhole stitch.

Here are my samples:
Detached buttonhole stitch is on top, Coptic stitch is on the bottom.

Both the detached buttonhole stitch and the Coptic stitch create loops in the same manner, working from left to right, bringing the thread in front of the loop. But that is where the similarity ends. The Coptic stitch places each stitch directly above the stitch from the previous row, creating vertical lines that resemble stockinette stitch. Like stockinette stitch, it curls over at the edge.

The detached buttonhole stitch places each new stitch between two stitches on the previous row. The resulting fabric is more net-like, and it does not curl at the edge.

Do you agree with me? You can see more pictures of the artifacts on the museum's website.