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