Veils!

One of the things I’ve always thought is that for the SCA participant, no matter how good your costume kit looks, it always looks MUCH better with some kind of head covering.  Whether it’s a complex cap and veil or a simple coif or flat cap, there’s nothing that can add to the Dream like a medieval headdress.

In that vein, I’m working on my veil kit.  I now have all the pieces complete except one; I just have to finish rolling the hem on one piece.  I’ve been looking at a few different web sites for 14th century (or thereabouts) head coverings.  As you saw, I already had a fillet “pie” hat, a pleated fillet hat, and the barbette and coif (in the form of a St. Birgitta cap).  These were pieces I made about a year ago, and they have stood up pretty well (although storage and transport has made them a bit wrinkley).

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These are really quick and easy to put on when in a hurry to get out to court or a meeting.  However, I decided I really needed to improve the set a bit and augment to the hat collection.  Additionally, I wanted to add some variety and some extra sunscreen protection for my extra-fair skin.

I was looking at Katafalk’s site and decided to follow her instructions to make a more formal veil kit.  First, I made some improvements to the St. Birgitta cap.  I deconstructed it, re-shaped it, and sewed it back together.  https://katafalk.wordpress.com/2014/01/16/st-birgittas-cap/

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The old cap was cut square, gathered, and the slit up the back had pulled out some, so it was too long.

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The fabric was cut at an angle and the entire bottom length was gathered, the slit shortened in the back, and the straps were re-attached.  They’re still a bit long, but I will make more adjustments as I wear it.

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This is what it looks like on.  It’s still a bit poofy in the back, but it may improve with better straps or additional fitting.

Then I went to her Wearing-My-Veil tutorial and made the pieces she outlined in her blog post.  https://katafalk.wordpress.com/2013/11/06/wearing-my-veil/

It includes an 8 cm x 44 cm forehead cloth, a piece that measures *approximately* 100 cm by 50 cm (hers was a little bigger, but I ran out of fabric), and a giant circle that’s about 90 cm in diameter.  Note to those thinking about doing this project–get 1.5 yards of 55″ wide lightweight linen.

When finished it will look something like this.

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I can also make a frilled veil to attach to it later, if I decide I want to try to make one.  At this time, there are dozens of frilled veils around the Kingdom and I don’t want to look like a Bandwagoneer.  In the meantime, I’m going to have more layers to protect my skin during the summer when I inevitably forget my sunscreen at home.

Rigid Heddle Weaving

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I saw a lady in the SCA selling her mother’s rigid heddle loom, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. I started building one but got held up on the tensioning system, so I was happy to find this for such an amazing price! It’s a bit wider than the one I built, lightweight and portable.  After having worked on it, I can see myself weaving up a few yards of fabric on this to make a sheep-to-shawl project on it.

It took me a couple weeks, but I finally found some time to warp up a small project. I had four skeins wool yarn from a lady who was allergic. The yarn I pulled out was called “Olive medley” with a bit of peach and green and grey.  It was comprised of about 50% wool, 50% acrylic and a bit fuzzy.  I warped up two skeins of the yarn, thinking that I would need half for warp, half for weft (logically).  It proved to be a bit tricky to weave with at first, but it got easier as I went along.

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It took about five or six days of weaving, including at Arts Unlimited last weekend, and finished it off yesterday, tying off the ends. It’s a lovely little table runner that I will give to Mom for Christmas.

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Whatcha doin?

I know I haven’t posted a bunch of pictures of stuff I’ve made recently, but here’s a couple.  I’m making beads for the Kingdom of Caid for the An Tir Lampworkers Guild.

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I’ve made a lotta beads for this group last time around…8 or 9 strands…

The only other thing I’ve got going on (besides end-of-school frenzy and graduations and two weddings coming up in a month and…) is I’ve worked a bit on planning my wardrobe improvements.  I have linen to make gowns, but no wool to make overgowns.  I’m really picky about it, so I need to do some shopping and fabric fondling.

Recapping Weaving

OK…now we are at a current post.  For the moment, I’m going to stop going back and adding posts that are 2-3 (or more) years old.  So many of the photos are missing now that I don’t know what it was I was doing at the time when it says “Saxon weave” since I did a half dozen of them.  So what I’m going to do is post pictures of stuff I’ve done without all the blah-blah-blah that went with it them, but just grouping them together into styles with a brief description.  Now that I look at it, I did a lot of weaving in the last five years.

Skip hole weave

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I really like this one.  I believe that it’s period (I’ll have to find the documentation again).  Super easy and looks great.  It was a test piece so it’s only a couple yards.

Threaded in Weaves

 

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This one I did as a commission in 2012.  Unfortunately, she never picked it up and never paid me for it.

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BUNNIES!  I made this for the Shire of Shittimwoode to put in their prize box.  This was from the Robin & Russ Handweavers’ book.

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This pattern I think I found on the Loomy Bin.

tablet-8b  Variation of the Loomy Bin pattern

tablet-12a  From EQoS on Deviant Art

I love this pattern.  tablet-15a

I’m not kidding.  tablet-5b

Seriously.  tablet-4a

I really love this pattern.  tablet-12b

Really…really….  tablet-14a

tablet-11b Gorgeous in RED!

I love it even more with really fine thread.

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Simplified version

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And another one…

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And another…

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Yet another version…

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tablet-13a  I think I made this one up.  Meh.

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Anchors Aweigh!  This was for a high school buddy to be made into suspenders.

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I drafted this “Tyr” pattern for Tyrssen of the Midrealm.  He was a middle school friend who I discovered was also in the SCA. 😀

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Super wide band for Molly McGurn!  This was also my design, although to be honest, I kind of strung this up at random.

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I think this one got donated to the Barony…An Tir and Aquaterra colors.

tablet-aq-2  A better pattern of An Tir and AQ colors.

an-tir-weave-1  Another with An Tir colors only

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Prototype of a surfboard loom for teaching a class.  Mostly worked.

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So I made a whole stack of surfboards for the class!

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Got some six-hole cards.  Mostly didn’t work on the inkle loom.  I bet they’d work fine on a backstrap or Osburg type loom with a much longer working space.  I’ll have to try that sometime.

Egyptian Diagonals

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This was assigned to me as a challenge by Master Fiacha.  This is super ugly, but I learned how the colors moved with the cards.

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This piece was what I worked on after a failed attempt at a Dragon Head weave.  I gave up on the dragon heads and made more Egyptian Diagonals instead.  I love the dark blue and silver-grey together.

Ram’s Horn Pattern

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Not a period design, but very cool-looking and popular among the Historic Tablet Weaving folks!

20141206_773  Small test piece….just a bookmark.

Brocade Card Weaving

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Didn’t like doing it.  That’s as far as I got before I decided it wasn’t for me.

Saxon Weaves

This next group has a few documentable pieces and are all double-sided patterns.  I want to get back to making more of these now that I have translated the GTT patterns onto a more easily-accessible Excel spreadsheet.

Saxon weave, 5-6th century, Cambridge.

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Anglo-Saxon #8

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Anglo Saxon 6a:  anglo-saxon-2

weaving-anglo-saxon-6b  Anglo-Saxon 6d

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Tried using fishing spinners….with little success.

Snartemo weave

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6th century Norwegian and really easy to make.  25 turns forward, 25 turns back.

Birka weaves

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Birka 6 end-of-nov-2015-353

Applesies & Fox Noses

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Still working on this one.  It’s also made of really fine thread and I’ve been working on it for about a year.

January Beads, Weaving & Other Stuff

(Originally posted 28 Jan 2014)

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 mandrels on the table.

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File:An Tir Lampworkers Guild.jpg

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…I also made a few 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.

A&S and Plans Set in Motion

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

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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 scraper, 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.

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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.

A Loom! Frigga lives!

(Originally posted 31 Jan 2014)

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 consult, 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, which had been recommended to me, 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 appears to be 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 may eventually be 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!

  1.  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″.
  1.  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! 
  1.  Here the rod is resting in the crotches.  The bottom of the crotch is 16″ down from the top.  
  1.  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).  
  1.  Here she is, standing up!  There are a few more steps to complete my girl, but it’s wintertime and it was just a few degrees above freezing outside.

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The loom 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!

(one sleep later…)

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.

It needs 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…

Frigga shrinks!

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, named after the Goddess of weaving and wisdom.

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

Sheep to Shawl (March 2014)

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.  After the Kingdom event was over, 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, but still left room for my own interpretation.  The loom she used was for card weaving, not for fabric.  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 that I thought only I was doing.

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 wool!

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.
This is from a sheep named Sprite from the sheering in 2006.  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?

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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.

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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. end-of-nov-2015-2591

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.
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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.   So far it seems to be going OK!

So now I have a pile of fluffy white stuff, ready to spin!

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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.

Success!

Beads & Weaving (3/10/2014)

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.

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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, but it can create some really cool effects.

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This one I call the Diversity Bead.  🙂

end-of-nov-2015-1785end-of-nov-2015-1783Portrait: 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.

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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.

Advanced Cardweaving: Ram’s Horn Pattern

(Originally posted 5 Dec 2014)

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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.  (European cards are labeled in reverse)
  • 1 loom–I use an inkle loom that weaves up to 4 yards of trim, which makes it portable and if I need to run to grab the phone or pick up the kids, I can set it down and walk away.  Can’t do that with backstrap weaving.

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 (above) 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!)

Ominous music sounds!

This is the pattern for the dreaded Ram’s Horn pattern.  Some people dread it, but it’s really not that bad!  I love this pattern and I’ve made a few pieces with this pattern and while it’s not from the Medieval period (for those SCA recreationists out there), it sure looks great and the technique of turning the cards is all the same from ancient times.

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First, a note.  I mark my cards.  In this set, I’ve colored the AD side blue, and the BC side pink.  This is the way I can tell when I’m back in the home position.

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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.

You’re looking at each card from its side–the S threading has the yarn coming through the front of the card towards you; the Z threading has the yarn coming through the back of the card towards you.
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.)
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Hot mess….

[dooo-do-dooooo…deee-daaah-dee….]

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.
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There’s no place like home!
To begin the pattern, turn all the cards so it has A & D at the top (the blue side), like the image above.  This is the “home” position.  Throw your shuttle and turn the cards one quarter-turn away from you (forward).  Do this for four quarter-turns away from you, then for four quarter-turns toward you (back), throwing the shuttle after each quarter-turn, just to anchor everything together and adjust your tension.
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Visual cues in sorting cards–the ones nearest you will turn toward you; the ones further away will turn away from you.

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.

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This might help give you a visual…
Now the cards will turn in the direction that they have been placed.  The cards closest to you will turn towards you (BACK); the ones further away will turn away (FORWARD).  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.  Make two more quarter-turns, 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 back in the last round, *all* the cards will turn back in this round.  Turn back for four quarter-turns, throwing the shuttle between each quarter-turn.
Then, split the deck again, same as before.  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 in turning the cards, a tiny hole can appear 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.20141206_851
So, in brief, here’s the turning directions:
1.  Turn all the cards four quarter-turns BACK, throwing the shuttle between each quarter turn.  End in the home position.

2.  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.

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

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Some strings, like people, are more twisted than others.

The observant weaver will note that since some of the threads are always turning back 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.

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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…this is also time-consuming and can be frustrating.  I’ve done it…a couple times.

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But the other option that works well with this pattern is to simply change directions to untwist every few repeats.  You could do every couple of 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 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.

4.  Turn all cards for four quarter-turns forward.  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