Who Am I? And Why Am I Here?

Elewys of Finchingefeld, GdS, JdL
Barony of Aquaterra, Kingdom of An Tir

This is a place to which I may post my research, my experiments, my successes...and yes, my failures...for medieval re-creation and research on my never-ending quest to learn and revel in knowledge and experiences.

I am a lady of many times and many places. Currently using a 15th century English name, dressing in a 10th century Danish dress, and camping in a Mongolian round house. "Lost" doesn't even begin to describe my persona.

Monday, December 22, 2014

End of Year Goal Report Card

Just under 12 months ago, I made a list of challenges for 2014.  How'd I do this year?
  • Completing a Scholar Rank Costumer's Guild challenge.  Tudor woman and Viking man
    • Nope.  I gathered a few resources and made some plans, but didn't actually start any costuming projects this year except for a coif pattern for my head.  While this doesn't seem like much, it's something.  Grade:  C
  • Have the Aquaterra Costumer's Guild to fill in to promote and administer challenges, and maybe even host costumer gatherings at Kingdom events.  
    • Talked to them, but nothing was actually done.  It didn't help that the Costumer's Guild officer had a baby this year, so many things were put on the back burner.  Grade:  C
  • Build a loom based on a pattern I bought several years ago.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just usable.  I already have a rigid heddle meant to be used with this pattern...I just need the frame.
    • I looked at the plans, but didn't get any further than that.  I keep hoping that my husband will decide to make it for me.  Grade:  F
  • Sheep to shawl project.  
    • OK...I got a fleece, washed a bunch of it, and started spinning!  I got one spool done and then stalled on that project.  Grade:  B
  • Make cheese.  
    • Dear Husband got me a cheesemaking kit.  I opened it up and looked at the contents.  Grade:  D
  • Make rush lights.  
    • Maybe in 2015.  I will need to get some sheep fat (buy some lamb and extract the fact from the cooking process) and find some rushes.  I've seen them growing here and there, so just sourcing them may take a bit of time...maybe at one of the local parks with swampy waters nearby.  Grade:  F
  • Teach more.
    • I taught a couple of short classes through the A&S social meetings, and taught a couple classes at an Ithra in the Three Mountains area (which I didn't blog about, apparently).  Grade:  B
  • Prepare for a 12th Night display in the A&S room, and *maybe* a single entry in Kingdom A&S.  
    • I decided not to do a 12th Night entry this year.  The amount of time to prepare for such a venture was totally out of my ability to take on this year, and in July I found out that all the hotels were already sold out in the area.  It's rather remote and day-tripping from a friend's house is too far.  I will put it on the back burner for 2016.  Grade:  D
Overall, I'd say that I've gotten about a C this year for projects.  However, I did a lot of extra credit, including some beadmaking and tablet weaving, so I think I could easily say that my overall grade is higher--maybe a B+.  I'll take it.  :)

So what's on the docket for 2015?  Here are my newest goals, some of which are review from 2014:
  • Scholar Rank Viking Costume for men.  Maybe I'll use my middle kid as the recipient for the garb since my husband is not really interested in playing...even though the middle kid is a girl...she wants to do activities that require pants and shorter tunics.  
  • Loom building (box loom and rigid heddle loom)
  • Warp Weighted Loom--weave something!  I have it mostly warped up, but it needs weights and yarn for the weft.  I was considering buying a bunch of the Fisherman's Yarn and dyeing it with KoolAid, just for fun.
  • Sheep to Shawl progress 
  • Keep teaching.  I have a student who said, "I want to learn how to do everything you're doing."  I may not be the expert, but I'm happy to brain-dump.
  • Cheesemaking.  Start with the kit, then move on to other cheeses.
  • Dye with natural dyes - woad, sandalwood.  I have a big spool of linen threads around here that I can use to dye stuff with.  I'd love to grow the woad myself, but I guess it's illegal in this state. :(
  • Tablet weaving - Birka reproductions
  • Decorate yurt door with Turkish designs
  • Replace and repair and enhance old pieces from my wardrobe.
That's 10 things.  That aughta hold me for now...right?  Then I'll "ooo-shiny!" and start a project not on this list.  Like stained glass or something.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Lazy Kate for Elewys

Frustrated with spools of thread bouncing all over the place or having to keep the spools in bowls that inevitably tip over, I decided to make myself a cheap Lazy Kate.  At first, I looked at the scrap lumber I had sitting around and wondered if I could find a drill bit, and where I would find the nails, and setting up the table saw to cut things....and then decided to make it a bit simpler.

Here's what I did...

Found a box in the garage from our most recent shipment of medical supplies.  We get a good half-dozen of these a month, so there's no shortage here, in a variety of sizes and shapes.  I picked a smallish one.

I found a 1/2" dowel in the wood shop, just the right size to fit through the center of the spools of carpet warp.

Poked a hole about 2 inches down from the top edge of the box large enough to fit the dowel in.

Threaded the dowel through and eyeballed it so it was relatively straight and level, and pressed down on the cardboard on the opposite side of the box.

Used the scissors to make the hole on the other side, and threaded the dowel through.

Mounted the spools onto the rod, which greatly increased the speed at which I could warp my loom!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Advanced Card Weaving: Ram's Horn Pattern

I've been watching a card weaving Facebook page and several people have asked about how to do the Ram's Horn pattern.  It's not a beginner's pattern, for sure, but with an understanding of how the cards are set up and turning patterns of the cards, you, too, should be able to produce a lovely woven Ram's Horn band.  Sounds easy enough, right?  Don't worry--go step by step, and you'll have this one by the horns!

Now, it should be noted, for those who are big into the recreationist groups like the SCA, this is not a period piece.  Historically, the only mention I can find is from a web site that reads:  "The Ram's Horns pattern popularlized by Crockett's "Card Weaving" book comes from the 20th century Anatolian (turkish) belts and it has not equivalent in archeological finds."  http://weavedmagic.deviantart.com/journal/Origins-of-most-popular-tablet-weaving-patterns-394709084

So let's get to the full color demonstration of this pattern!  READY?

If you're not sure if you're going to like it, or if you suspect you might get frustrated from trying and pitch it across the room, you may want to try a short piece first. Don't warp up the loomzilla for this first project.  When I first tried this pattern, I did one-yard lengths for each thread, just to test it out.  I ended up getting about a foot done before I knew I needed to do a larger piece!

Supplies needed:

  • 3 colors of carpet warp or crochet cotton thread--I used Maysville 8/4 Carpet Warp.  It's good stuff, heavy duty and will make great belts, bag straps, and heavy trim (it's not delicate and as flexible as finer threads, but a great place to start).
  • 22 cards--mine are the store-bought 3" cards with ABCD labeled in clockwise order
  • 1 loom--I use an inkle loom that weaves up to 4 yards of trim
When choosing the thread, you will need a light color, a medium color, and a dark color.  High contrast is important in this pattern!

You will warp it up with the #1 card on the left; #22 card on the right, reading the pattern just like reading a book.  The next thing to note is that, for this pattern, you should have the top surface of the cards facing *left*.  If you have the cards facing right, the pattern will show up on the bottom side of the weaving.  Also, and the pattern (below) has the rows lettered backwards--D, C, B, A.  (If they were lettered A, B, C, D, you would have to face your cards to the right--good tip to note for when you find future patterns!)

This is the pattern for the dreaded Ram's Horn pattern.

Just a refresher:  Each column in the pattern is marked with S or Z.  Some patterns will be marked with \ for S or / for Z, but since this font doesn't have a significant slant, it can look a bit more confusing, so I've used the letters instead.  Many new weavers get confused about how to do S and Z threading.  This is one of the best diagrams I've found to remind yourself how the threads go through the cards.  

Now you've got the pattern, the threads, the cards, and a refresher on S and Z threading.  Go ahead and thread up your loom...I'll wait.  (I often put in a movie that I've seen a dozen times so I have something to listen to while I work.)


OK.  Now your loom is threaded and you have a shuttle loaded (I recommend using the same color as the thread on the border--in this case, a dark red--to make it blend in, but some people like to make it stand out as an added pattern on the edge.  Your choice!)  Ready to start?  

The pattern alternates between the cards moving together, as a pack, for four quarter-turns, and then some of the cards turning in opposite directions for four quarter-turns.  

To begin the pattern, turn all the cards so it has A & D at the top, like the image above.  This is the "home" position.  To better keep track of this, I have colored the AD side of the card blue with a permanent marker (the opposite side, the BC side, is colored red--I'm big on visual cues!).  Throw your shuttle and turn the cards one quarter-turn toward you.  Do this for four quarter-turns away from you, then for four quarter-turns forward (toward you), throwing the shuttle after each quarter-turn, just to anchor everything together and adjust your tension.

Then you can start splitting the deck!  The cards now will turn in groups in opposite directions for four quarter-turns.  First separate the cards into groups.  Slide the cards 1 & 2 toward you, 3-5 away from you, 6 & 7 toward, 8-15 away, 16-17 toward, 18-20 away, 21-22 toward.  See the picture above?  That's how it should look.

Now the cards will turn in the direction that they have been placed.  The cards closest to you will turn towards you; the ones further away will turn away.  Turn all cards a quarter-turn and throw the shuttle.  Turn another quarter-turn and all the cards will have the red side facing up.  Throw the shuttle.  Make two more quarter-turns, continuing in the opposite directions, throwing the shuttle between, until the cards are back to the home position again.

Once at the home position, all the cards will turn together for four quarter-turns.  Since the first two cards were turning *forward* in the last round, all the cards will turn *forward* in this round.  Turn toward you for four quarter-turns, throwing the shuttle between each quarter-turn.

Then, back to the split deck.  Repeat and you will see the ram's horns appear!  Yes, you will see a dimple after each repeat.  Don't panic!  When you switch directions, a tiny hole appears in the middle and the weft shows through.  If you don't want the dimple, you can change your weft thread to match the middle, but then it'll show on the border, unless you also change the border color to match.

So, in brief, here's the turning directions:
1.  Turn all the cards four quarter-turns FORWARD, throwing the shuttle between each quarter turn.  End in the home position.

2.  Slide cards 1-2 forward, 3-5 back, 6-7 forward, 8-15 back, 16-17 forward, 18-20 back, 21-22 forward.  Turn cards 1/4 turn in opposite directions (forward cards forward; backward cards back).  End in home position.

Repeat steps one and two to your heart's content!

The observant weaver will note that since some of the threads are always turning forward and the rest turn forward four and backward four, that some of the threads are going to build up a great twist in it.  This will shorten the warp length for those threads, but not the rest, causing tension issues.  Some people have tried (with varying success) to use fishing spinners that will untwist the threads as you go.  This is great if you're doing backstrap weaving or have a long span that your warp is spread out, but I use this inkle loom and the twist builds up between the cards and the first or second peg and stops there.  You *can* move the twist down the entire length, around each of the pegs to get the spinners to untwist, but it's time-consuming and can be frustrating.

The other thing you can do is carefully untie the threads that are twisted, untwist them, and re-tie...it's time-consuming and can be frustrating.  I've done it...a couple times.

But the other option is to change directions to untwist every few repeats.  You could do every horn, every two horns, six horns, eight horns...whatever you desire.  The question is, at what point in the pattern do you change directions?

In this pattern you were repeating steps 1 and 2, now you have to take steps 3 and 4 to go the opposite direction!

3.  Slide cards 1-2 back, 3-5 forward, 6-7 back, 8-15 forward, 16-17 back, 18-20 forward, 21-22 back.  Turn cards 1/4 turn in opposite directions (forward cards forward; backward cards back).  End in home position.

4.  Turn all cards for four quarter-turns back.  End in home position.

You will repeat this pair of steps until the twist builds up in the opposite direction.  Then you'll change directions again, finishing step 4, then going back to step 1 and 2.

Now you can weave your Ram's Horns and show your Advanced Card Weaving skills to all your friends!

Good luck!
Elewys of Finchingefeld, GdS, JdL
Barony of Aquaterra, Kingdom of An Tir

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sheep to Shawl: Phase I

I have started to make some progress on my Sheep to Shawl project, turning raw fleece into a wearable garment.  I started some months ago by getting a bag of raw fleece from my friend, Godith of Goosefoot Mead.  She used to raise sheep up in Shittimwoode, a few miles from where I used to live, and entered the fleeces into the local fair and won ribbons for its quality.

This is from a sheep named Sprite from the sheering about 8 years ago.  She's been holding onto several fleeces for all these years and was happy to give it a new home for this endeavor.  Thanks, Godith!!
Sprite was a Romney-Border Leicester cross and she grew some really nice long-staple locks.  When cleaned, it's just lovely, isn't it?

However, before it got to this lovely, white color, the fibers had to be cleaned.  This is the gross part.  It's full of burrs, grass, hay, and...yes...poop.  Mostly the poop is just on the edges of the fleece--the belly and bum--but the rest of the fleece is oily and dirty.  The oil is lanolin, which is the stuff they put into lotions and things, so working with this stuff will certainly keep your hands soft!

There are a few different techniques for washing fleece.  Some say use screaming-hot water (140-160 degrees F) and lots of soap (a cup of dish soap per fleece).  Others say lukewarm water and a couple ounces of soap are just fine.  I tried a few different techniques to see what worked best with this fleece.

The thing to avoid is turning your fleece into felt.  To make felt from wool you need three things:  water, heat, and agitation.  Swooshing the fibers around in screaming-hot water is the recipe for woolly disaster.  Some fleeces will felt as soon as you grab the kettle...others will withstand all kinds of abuse without felting.  The trick is to figure out what you can do without turning your lovely fleece into a nasty mess.
So first you run some water into your wash basin (sink, bucket, pot...whatever you want to use) and put some soap into the water.  You put the soap in after the water is run--you don't want suds, you just want the soap in the water, and gently swish it around.  Take a couple handfuls of the dirty fiber--you only want to wash a few ounces at a time--and pull the visible grass, burrs and poo from the fiber.
Place the fiber into the water, and press down gently.  Don't stir or agitate--just make sure it all gets wet.  Wait 10 minutes while the oils and dirt come off the hair.  Yeah, the water will look gross.  It will be an amazing change from the yellow stuff you put in to what you pull out, even after the first soak.
Carefully pull the fiber out and let the water drain out of the wool.  Pull the plug on the sink, and refill with water--same temperature as before.  If you put hot wool into cold water or vice versa, the temperature change can cause it to felt.  Poof!  Ruined wool.  Add more soap, repeat process.
You can repeat the process a couple more times, washing and rinsing the hairs, pulling any grass or seeds you find as you go.  I pinched or rubbed some of the tips to get some of the gross color out of the hairs, but it didn't all come out (the darkest bits in the lower right of this picture went back into the bath for a bit more washing).  When you're satisfied, lay it out on towels or a sheet to air dry in the shade.
Once dry, you can comb out the fibers to get it ready for spinning.  I don't have wool carders, which start at $50 and go up from there.  I opted, instead, to buy a small $7 cat/dog brush to use to comb out the fibers...see how that works.  I heard that it works, so I thought I'd give that a try first.  So far it seems to be going OK!
So now I have a pile of fluffy white stuff, ready to spin!
Heide has entrusted me with her amazing spinning wheel, which I will hopefully be able to figure out how to use.  I got a very quick tutorial last weekend and hoped enough of it stuck to be able to make some fluffy stuff into string.


Monday, March 10, 2014

Beads and Weaving Update

I've made a bunch of beads lately.  This set of 10 (11) were made for my dear friend, Heide, who wanted to make bracelets for her sister and mom.  Heide grew up on a cranberry farm near Aberdeen, so when she saw the first bead I made, she said "CRANBERRIES!" and commissioned 10.  I was happy to make them for her and threw in the 11th bead free!  OK, technically it was the first bead, and it wasn't the prettiest, but she loves them anyway.
Portrait: Reasons to be thankful... 1. Nobody was hurt in the wreck today.  2. The accident was NOT my fault and knowing I did everything possible, and had I not locked up the brakes and turned the wheel it could have ended badly. 3. My parents surprised us by showing up early.  They didn't stay long though, as they were on their way to White Salmon to stay with my Aunt Kathy and Uncle Wayne Stone. 4. They brought the girls about 50 pounds of fabric for costuming and so they could learn how to sew (that is a piece of linen from the lot under the beads in this picture).  5. The beads!  These are special beads I commissioned from Karen that feature cranberries and cranberry vines. 6. Brian cooked a lovely dinner tonight. 7. We are home, safe and cozy for the evening.
Then I was messing around with different colors and techniques, tools, and trying out some stuff with clear glass.  I don't particularly care for working with the clear stuff--it seems to need a lot more heat and takes longer to melt.
  This one I call the Diversity Bead.  :)
Portrait: Experimenting with color combinations. .. Then doing a tried-and-true red, white and black combo.    

I love the chemical reaction I had with these two colors--I need to get more turquoise.

I finally got the weave done--it's so lovely!  I don't know what I'm going to do with it...although I think it'll end up on an apron dress.

Since the loom was now free...I warped up some yarn on the inkle loom to make the band for Frigga the Loom.  I'm thinking I need to get it on the rail and start attempting to weave.  I need to figure out where to set it up in the house--probably the front room, but I need to rearrange some furniture first.

A few weeks ago, I was greatly anticipating entering Kingdom Arts & Sciences in 2015 with my warp-weighted loom--something I had never seen anyone work with in An Tir.  Last weekend was the Kingdom event and I started eagerly looking at some of the entries that starting appearing on Facebook.  I was a little discouraged to see an entry this year that included...yes, a warp-weighted loom.  My first reaction was "dang it!  I wanted to be first!"  Then it was, "Now it's going to look like I'm copying."  It was, admittedly, a little disheartening.  Now, the loom she used was for card weaving, not for fabric, but still, I felt like someone had stolen my master plan and built it faster and presented it.  I had a nice chat with my Foster Laurel (whose identity shall remain a mystery for now)...she has been a great sounding board when I have questions or get discouraged on my Artisan Journey (let's not say Laurel Track...who the hell knows where this journey will end?).  I relied on her greatly when I had a personal issue with another member, when I had frustrations with a judging panel, and yesterday, when I was stung by the surprise of someone else doing stuff with the loom.

After she talked me down off the ledge, and I had a night to sleep on it, I realized that my journey and her journey may cross paths, but we are on different journeys.  Hers was to do card weaving on a warp-weighted loom; and mine is to make a sheep to shawl project.  I even have the sheep!

Many thanks to HL Godith of Goosefoot Mead for providing this bag of goodness!  This award-winning fleece needs to be washed, carded and spun and will -- hopefully -- be a finished garment someday.  

Away to bed...long day tomorrow!  I have two quilts to finish for other people, and on Friday, I get to pick up two more.  In the meantime, I have 7 to do for myself.  Gaaaaahhh!


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Loom Day Two: Frigga lives!

Made some progress on the loom, which may seem like little things, but it took some ingenuity to engineer it to work the way I need it to...still need to make some adjustments, as you will see.

Here the crotches are screwed onto the uprights.

This is my first go at the heddle support rods.  I needed to adjust the shape of the Y where the heddle rod will rest--the first attempt, the heddle rod will barely stay in place, but one nudge and it'll fall.  I looked at a couple looms and came up with an improved shape.  Now the heddle rests comfortably on there--no risk of falling off.

Here it is set up!  I knew it needed just a couple more minor changes before it is ready to warp!

I found (again) and started watching the Sami/Norwegian video of a woman who was demonstrating how to set up the loom, starting with a woven band with weft threads that become the warp threads of a woven piece.  I have a bunch of Fisherman's wool that was given to me recently and this will be a great project to use that yarn.  I think I'd like to try this...

One of the things that I realized, however, is that the woman in the video is weaving on a loom where the top beam is at her head level.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  Anything out of reach is just silly, so I decided late today that the loom needed to be shorter.  I unscrewed the crotches and top support and chopped another foot off the top.  I reassembled the pieces; now the top beam is sitting at about 62" instead of a ridiculous 78".  Now she feels right.  Maybe it seems weird, but she feels alive!  She even told me her name.  Frigga.

First, though, I need to finish weaving the Perle Cotton piece I have on my inkle loom.  Better get on it!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Because I Couldn't Possibly Wait for Summer...

...I went ahead and started on building the warp-weighted loom project today.  I consulted a BUNCH of web sites and looked for sources (books) that I could look to, but the newest books on warp-weighted looms is dated from the late 70s.

Broudy, Eric. The Book of Looms.  Brown University Press, 1979.
Broholm, H.C. and Hald, Margarethe. Costume in the Bronze Age in Denmark. Arnold Busck, 1940.
Hoffman, Marta. The Warp Weighted Loom. Robin and Russ Handweavers, 1974.
Trychkare, Tre. The Viking. Carver and Co., 1966.

Yeah.  And I looked for the Hoffman book, just out of curiosity.  I can get a used copy for $133.  Not happening on my budget.  I'll have to see if the Everett Public Library can get me a copy on inter-library loan.  There appear to be a couple of newer magazine articles, so I'll seek those out as well.  

There are a lot of web sites with some research (most based on the sources above) plus looking at extant pieces and experimenting with building their own.  There are differences with all of them, so other than the basic structure, there is a lot of room for experimentation and setting things up so it'll work for you.  I still need to do a little more research on weaving in general--I've only done inkle and card weaving, but this seems to be just a giant inkle loom.  There are possibilities for doing multiple sheds, though--this one I'm setting up to be a 4 shed loom, although the first couple of projects will be 2-shed only.  

Here is my process to building the prototype:
1.  Take two 2 x 4s--I would recommend using two hard wood boards for a "finished" look, although Douglas Fir is certainly more economical and lighter for transport...I grabbed two boards from the rafters, only to realize later that the darker board was, in fact, cedar.  Whoops!

2.  Cut two 2 x 4s to 7 feet long (84").  Other directions said keep the 2 x 4s at 8 feet long and use a stool to reach when weaving.  To that I say, "NO SIR!"  I'm clumsy enough and being only 5 feet tall, I don't need to risk injury.  Again, this is a prototype, so if it needs to be taller after experimenting with it, I can make it so next time.  I doubt it, though.  In fact, I'm thinking that I might be able to make it even shorter by cutting the bottom down another 6".

3.  Next, you take those 12" pieces that you cut off and make the "crotches".  These are the pieces that the top beam rests in while you weave.  It needs to be deep and wide enough for the rod to rest in.  Some directions suggest that you make it vaguely "S" shaped.  Vague, indeed.  Seems mostly stylistic, although the thinner end at the bottom makes it easier to attach to the boards with long screws.  These were shaped using the band saw...I love that toy!

4.  Here the rod is resting in the crotches.  The bottom of the crotch is 16" down from the top.

5.  The next step was about creating the shed rod.  The top beam and heddle rod I bought were 5' long, which determined the width of the frame.  60" long, taking away 4" on each side for overhang, I cut the shed rod 52".  I drilled one hole through and secured it with a bolt and wing nut.  These are meant to be taken apart for transport to events.  I also cut a thinner piece of wood for the top of the frame, simply for stability.  Similarly, I screwed it together with wing nut and bolt (they're WAAAY too long--I'll have to get shorter bolts the next time I'm out at the hardware store).

6.  Here she is, standing up!  I'm naming her Frigga, after the Goddess of weaving and wisdom.  There are a few more steps to complete my girl, but it's wintertime and it was just a few degrees above freezing outside.  

Frigga still needs heddle rods, heddle rod supports, and weights.  The heddle rods can be scavenged from scraps leftover from the yurt project.  They don't need to be particularly heavy and I have 3/4" sticks that are more than long enough.  I looked for pieces of 7/8" dowels at the hardware store, but they only had 4-foot lengths...I need 5 feet.  Figures.

The heddle rod supports will be shaped from scraps in the bin.  They need to be about 8-10" long and Y shaped.  I can use the band saw again and carve down the point to fit into the holes I'll be drilling on the frame.

Weights are going to be time consuming.  Some other weavers have used 1-pound bags of sand or stones for weights instead of clay circles.  I may go that route, also.  I'm also thinking that I may need to create some kind of support to make it free-standing and perhaps more stable.  This will be a blast to take with me to Ursulmas next year!

More work tomorrow!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

A&S Plans Set in Motion

I've made quite a few beads!  Some are really nice!

And some are pretty ugly...they are rather experimental, so don't abuse the artist too much.  I was trying to make some Islamic Folded Beads, but found that they are tediously long to build and don't always turn out right. In other words, my skill level is not yet up to that standard.

I started another technique that involves using a pointy tool, much like a dental tool, but thicker and stronger.  I made the core of the bead then added stripes and dragged the tool over the surface of the glass, deforming the stripes, which looked very much like the folded beads, and took a fraction of the time.  Many of these turned out pretty cool, but others didn't do as well...a bit lumpy and coarse.  One had a fatal flaw that caused...well...

...sudden bead death.  I didn't get this one into the vermiculite fast enough, so it cooled down too quickly, causing stress fractures.  I could glue it back together, but there's no telling if other fractures might appear later.

The perle cotton tablet weaving is coming along.  I have about a yard done so far on this particular piece.  The threads are pretty fine (#8 DMC perle cotton, found at any fabric or craft store) and slick, which makes the cards turn so smoothly...like buttah!  The cost of materials is a bit higher, but not astronomically high.  We're talking about $12-15 spent for this project so far...maybe more if I need to use another $3 skein of thread for weft...instead of $5 for an entire project.  Yeah, it's about triple or quadruple, but still cheap for what it is.

My plans in the not-too-distant-future (say, summer) is to build something like this:
warp-weighted loom
It goes with my sheep-to-shawl plan.  You know...take the fleece from the sheep and turn it into a wearable garment.
1.  Make loom.
2.  Spin fibers.
3.  Weave into cloth.
4.  Full cloth.
5.  Make something from cloth, like a 10th century Danish apron dress.
If I can finish all that by next January, I can enter things into Kingdom Arts & Sciences.  I was told (by a supportive Laurel friend) to enter three things:  loom, woven stuff and beads.  I think I can do it...but I'm going to have to do some serious work over the summer.

This goes well with the advise I received from *another* Laurel friend, who said to stay within a particular scope of time/culture when you enter Kingdom-level contests.  In her experience, being "all over the map" doesn't show as well as being a bit more focused.

I'm thinking I should build a prototype of the loom first; try to build it out of really cheap materials, like 2" x 4" and 1" x 2", then make a more 'natural' product out of cut trees.  I can't even imagine what I'd need to do to cull trees from the neighborhood or out in the wilderness somewhere.  Maybe someone in the SCA has a piece of property they're willing to let me cut a tree from.  First things first...build the prototype.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

End of January Stuffs

The end of January is nigh upon us and I have several things to show...at least in beads and a bit of weaving.

First, there's me...I set up a table at Ursulmas where I made beads for the weekend.  While there was a demo display booth contest, there were significant limitations as to what I could do given that I was going to be actively demonstrating beadmaking.  Where the booth was located (unknown prior to set-up)?  What I can display that isn't flammable?  Is there a banner and how do I hang it?  I can't bring a tent or pop-up with a roof, so what can I bring for ambiance?  So many questions.  I brought the color copies of Callmer's beads and brought all the old beads I could find that I store in a small treasure box.  Unfortunately, there's a lot of old & ugly beads from my first months of bead making; I had strung them on dental floss and hung them over the treasure chest on the table.  I need to pull those aside and keep them somewhere else...like decorating the garden or something.  Some of my later beads were loose in the box, and the newest ones were strung on mandrils on the table.

I was told there was a banner for the Kingdom Lampworkers Guild, and it would be delivered Saturday morning.  I found the current banner design posted on the Lampworker's web site; the banner was made for a previous event, but the design was not fully vetted by the Heralds, so it is currently an unofficial banner (not passable, apparently).  Since the Lampworker's Guild does not have a device registered with the College of Heralds, I had some discussions with a couple of them at the event to come up with a new passable design.  In any case, the banner might not be understood by the public, so just to make it clear to passers-by, I made a lettered banner that simply reads:  "Lampworkers Guild" in a font called King Harold, matching the lettering from the Bayeux Tapestry.  I hung it using the packaging tape I had with me on the exposed pipes in the frigid hall.  It ended up being the only banner, as the Lampworker's banner ended up not arriving after all.

Although I didn't mean to be the exclusive lampworker working the booth, I was the only one there for more than half of the weekend; Aenor joined me for a while on Sunday, making a few beads in the frigid hall.  It was so cold on Sunday that the bead release was not drying and we walked around with our plastic buckets of vermiculite looking for a heat source.  The portable heaters outside were turned off to save fuel; they said they were only heating the building at night (which didn't make any sense--no one was in the building at night).  I dipped the mandrils and more than 90 minutes later, the bead release was still wet.  If you heat them using the flame, the stuff dries too quickly and either cracks or explodes off the mandril.

Because I had more than 16 hours of uninterrupted time to make beads, I was able to finish almost 40 beads over the weekend, using just under two tanks of propane--I was able to make several more after returning home.  I finished all the beads I needed for the Kingdom gifts to Caid and Glen Abhann--they're not due until July Coronation, so I got the Gold Star from the Guild head. :)  There are more than I need here, so I will send on the best 20 of each colorway.

Here are a few that I made over the weekend, in addition to the Caid and Glen Abhann beads...the four on the lower left were made as part of a commission for Jadwiga.  She chose six others that I failed to photograph before she came to pick them up.

I am also doing a little card weaving. I finished the weaving for Tyrssen of Middle Kingdom and warped up a new one on the loom.

I brought the loom with me to the event, but didn't do any during the weekend.  The booth next to mine was occupied by Demo Winners, Emma and Nigel, who covered their table with weaving and leatherworking items.  I placed my loom on the edge of the table, next to hers, to add to her display.  This one is strung up with Perle cotton, using just over four balls of strings--one yellow, one black, and two red--in #8 floss.  I had quite a time finding extra red floss, and ended up having to replace it with a readily-available color.  Red 666 was available during the holidays, apparently, but not later, but everyone was carrying Red 321.  I had to un-warp six cards, and I'll use those threads in a later project, I suppose.  While this is more expensive than using the cotton warp, the cost of materials is still under $20, it comes out lovely and shiny, and the cards turn smoothly.  I have a couple other projects in mind that I might try, using these threads as a substitute for silk.

I made a deal with a local lady to buy some roving from her that I will be turning into a sheep-to-shawl project.  I don't know what I'll be doing with the fabric or how much fabric the spinning will create, but I'll figure it out in a bit.  Probably more than a hat.  Maybe enough for sleeves or maybe an apron dress.  I'd love to try to make a warp-weighted loom, but somehow I don't think that'll get done this year.  Although....

More to come!