Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Viking Weekend, a Summary

I spent the weekend at a Viking living history event, which was a lot of fun.  Having actual authenticity standards in how we do things and not all being lords and ladies is sort of nice for a change.  We were part of an historical encampment at a highland games in North Carolina.  In no particular order, here is what I accomplished/learned over the weekend.  Longer write-ups and pictures of many of these things are on the way.

1. Churning butter is rude.  It just is.  There's no avoiding the crude jokes with this one.
2. Half of my fiber processing tools are also rude.  This, along with the butter, makes for an interesting weekend
3. Combing wool is much easier than I thought it would be but just as dangerous.  Oddly, the dangerous part wasn't were I thought it would be (i.e. I didn't stab myself until I was rooting around in the basket with the wool combs looking for something else, not when I was using the combs)
4. Whipcording is easy!  And fun!
5. Spear fighting is also fun (when did my life turn into Game of Thrones?)
6. It is possible to do a long draw with a drop spindle, or at least something pretty close to a long draw, with nicely combed fibers.  Who knew?
7. Oh how I do love using a distaff, and oh how I do need to sand the hell out of the stick I was using as a distaff!
8. Bog shoes (the ones that look like gillies) hold a surprising amount of water in them.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Soignies Relic Bag for Queen's Largess

For some reason I have not posted about this project as it was in progress.  It was one of those small things that I picked up to use up some thread in the stash of cotton, an odd bit of even weave, and keep me motivated while I work on Book Cushion of Doom.  I can't be the only person who does this - keeps a small project going in the midst of a huge, interminable project just so they can see some evidence of progress and get that thrill of completion to keep them going on the bigger thing?

Anyway, since I need yet another brick stitched thing like I need a hole in my head, I decided that whatever this little bit of embroidery turned out to be would go towards the largess basket for Pennsic this year.  I had been looking at the Soignies bag, so beautifully redacted by Isis at Medieval Silkwork.  It's a nice, small bag in a simple lozenge pattern which as it turns out was very easy to work and went along comparatively quickly.  I think the trick with "easy" brick stitch, or counted work in general, is the size and complexity of the pattern.  The larger the repeat, or the more obfuscated the pattern, the harder the pattern will be.  In hindsight this seems to be perfectly obvious but somehow it didn't occur to me that this would be the case when I picked a strangely repeating keyhole design for my first project and a massively huge lozenge with keyholes for the cushion.  Don't even get me started on the eyelettes.  That wasn't difficult so much as time consuming.

I ended up working the bag on 24 count linen with 3 strands of cotton, as this is what I had handy.  Also, I suspect that if someone receives this as a gift they might be more inclined to use it if it's made from cotton rather than silk, which for some reason people who don't embroider perceive as more delicate.  I found that I liked the proportion of the bag better with an attached band for the draw cords, so I added that, even though it's not found on the original, using the same linen used for the lining.  As finished, it should be the perfect size for carrying around a bit of cash, ID, a couple of credit cards and a blue card at an event.  Perfect for shopping!

This weekend was Spring Coronation and the A&S competition was centered around largess so, since this was finished and ready to go, I entered it.  I won!  But better than that, when I went to pick up my comment book and documentation, the new queen made a point of pulling me aside and telling me how much she liked it and how grateful she was for it.  That was better than any prize.  I'll never really know if whoever she gives it to likes it, but I know she does and that's just as good.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Life and Hose From a Flat Pattern

Wow...what a crazy last few weeks (has it been a whole month?) it's been!  We decided to swap offices, which turned into a pretty major renovation on the garage/office (or groffice) which was become my sewing studio.  It was badly converted by the previous owner and the dogs and my former cat did some pretty major damage to the old carpet that had been glued (!!??!) with ever so much glue down.  So once all the stuff got moved out into various other parts of the house, including the dinning area and my loom room, the DH pulled out the stinky carpet and I went to work with stripper and a scraper.


Then I painted the walls, painted the floor (in the end, faster than putting down tiles or some sort and there are no cracks for any further doggie accidents, plus we can tile or linoleum over it) and moved in last weekend after a five day trip to Southern California to visit my grandmother for her 90th birthday, only no one had bothered to let me know she had been sick for all of March and was in a convalescent home until the week prior to the trip.  She's 90, so things starting to go is not that surprising but still it would be nice to know that she was *that* sick.

But I digress.

While out in CA, I visited one of my favorite wool shops, Village Spinning and Weaving, which is where I got my spinning wheel, and they placed a wholesale order for my knitting needle cases!  Hurray!  My very first wholesale account!  So in the midst of all this work space moving I've been trying to fill a wholesale order, stay current on the commission I have for later this month, and get the projects I have to do for events this month done.  All I  have to say about that is thank God my anxiety meds are working.  This is all very good stuff, but it's more than I have had on my plate at once time since the accident.

Anyhow, one of the commissions I have right now is for a pair of men's hose appropriate for a Norman persona.  The client is a member of my Viking living history group and lives in North Carolina, so the authenticity standard is high and the availability of his leg for fittings is low. I will see him next weekend, so that plan is have a mock up ready for him, and hopefully cut out and at least start assembling the hose (mostly by hand) at the reenactment event we will be at.  My usual method of draping a hose pattern clearly isn't going to work here, so I had to figure out how to flat pattern hose.  Luckily I found a hose drafting tutorial at the Medeival Tailor!  Hurray!  The only problem with it is that the foot shape isn't quite what I wanted for an early period set of hose, she's got a simplified version of the London hose with a flat, inset sole peice, which as it turns out is documentable, but the more typical shape for early period seems to the stirrup style you see in the original London hose, the Greenland finds, and even a pair of Roman hose.  There is a seam under the foot in this style of hose, which can be a little weird for modern feet to adjust to, but done in wool the seam would compact and not be a problem.

I decided to use my husband's linen hose and a set of wool hose for myself as a test to get the foot shaping right and what do you know but this is even easier than draping!  It helps that the pattern shaping is fundamentally simpler than the gore type hose I was making before, but I think you can see from the photo that it fits quite nicely.  This pair was made up after one fitting, after which the only modifications I had to make were to take in the toe area and adjust the curve of the heel.  I could have probably avoid the toe adjustment if I had taken more measurements of the foot, but I wanted to work with the measurements I had of my client.  Getting the heel curve right I suspect just takes some practice and a little adjustment, not a big deal.

I will have to write up how I did this, as TMT's directions are really only useful until you get to the bottom of the leg, once you get into the foot shaping things go a little funny if you want the seam under the foot sort of hose.  To give you some idea, I was able to get the pattern drafted, fit and a pair of hose constructed in less than 3 hours, as compared to the 6 it took when draping just to get a pattern.  I still need to hand finish the seams but that's a huge time-saver.