On September 1 the Barony of Blackstone Mountain held a demo at the Lower Park of Hawks Nest State Park.  We had a nice time with a bring a thing cookout, heavy fighting and an A&S display.  I didn’t get pictures of the A&S but here is a picture of my hubby heavy fighting:


He’s on the right.

We have an event coming up in October and more demos for November and December.
More on that shortly.

I was able to do some more bone work this week. Using a combination of hand tools and power tools I finished shaping and drilling out a diz from a section of deer skull.

A diz is a tool used by spinners to draft a consistent thickness of combed fiber before spinning.  This helps ensure the singles being spun are uniform in thickness so there aren’t any subs in the yarn.  I have heard of a French book that contains medieval diz’ but I haven’t seen any my self.  I think in the later period, when production spinning was done by guilds, diz could have been used to ensure consistency in product.


Hmmm.  Those holes look awfully small in that picture… And the pic is upside down…

It’s hard to see in this pic but there were some light veining marks on the disc that made it look like a peace symbol.  Kinda neat in that.  All that is left is the final polishing and adding a ring to the hole closest to the edge for mounting on a chatelaine chain.

I also took part of a leg bone and tried to work out a primitive lucet tool.


I used a cope saw to cut off the jagged end where my dog had been chewing on it.  The cut section will be used for more needles and possibly a hair pin.  Then I put it in the vice to begin the shaping…


Yep, it broke… Into pieces…  Bah!  Well, hope is not all lost, I hope to continue with one of the cross sections and turn out a tool suitable for lucet.  The rest of the bits will go into other projects.  I’m thinking the top piece will be nice engraved and made into a pendant. 


Sunday I purchased some plaid wool material at the Fayetteville antique mall.  It’s 60″ wide, about 2 yards long garment weight.  It will be a multi purpose item, shawl/short bog dress so I decided to just hem the raw edges.   I used one of the bone needles I made and some hand spun wool thread to stitch it up.  The needle is less than 2″ long.  This needle was cut from a piece of deer bone then ground to shape on sandstone and slate.  The eye was drilled with a small pocket knife.

Can I just say, it’s been a hectic few months. Work and lack of internet connection at home have restricted my on-line activities, mostly this blog.😛 I could have used my phone to update the blog but it seemed that the only time I had was when I was falling asleep!

The majority of my time was spent preparing for Blackstone Raids the last weekend of April. I taught a total of 3 classes that weekend. Two on spinning and one on Sprang. I had kits for each student- except for the hand outs which I still have not completed (Must get those done!!) Those who came to the spinning class also got a rundown of processing wool and left the class with 2 spindles, multiple samples of wool from different breeds of sheep, silk, Alpaca, flax and a bag to carry it all. For the Sprang class I had 9” x 18” PVC frames, cotton yarn, plenty of bamboo skewers for shed sticks, tapestry needles for sewing up the sides of the pouches, warping sticks and large bags to carry it all in. I really lucked out, the Dollar Tree had some nice bags in the sizes I was looking for to use with the classes. With everything that came in the kits the bags were a must. I will remember that for the next time I teach classes.

I set up the classroom early, due to my having so much stuff for the spinning class. The wool samples took up three tables, one table alone was for the full Dorset fleece that I had obtained just a few weeks prior and was still raw. The other two tables had more raw fleece and many samples of processed wools and the other spinning fibers. Below is one of the tables… Apparently I didn’t get pictures of the other two…(I must make sure to get more pictures next time!)

Table of spinning fiber samples.

Another table held various spinning implements….

Combs, cards, spindles, niddy-noddies and other goodies

And yet another table held samples of yarn from different fibers

Yarn-from left- Colored embroidery yarn, Merino, Coopworth, Jacob, Leicester Longwool, More Jacob, Mohair, Coopworth & Alpaca spiral blend and lastly two colored Alpaca

The Friday spinning class was small with just two ladies. A good start for testing out the set up and presentation. They seemed to enjoy the class and were happy with their goody bags when they left. I learned that I needed to plan my time better, work out the flow from one section to another. For the second class I made sure that participants selected samples and labeled their baggies while I was showing them the different types of fibers.

Saturday was my busiest day. The A&S display and Artisans Row was supposed to be at the main hall but when I got there to start set up it was over run with fencers! They had been rained out of their scheduled area (I didn’t realize at the time that they also had pavilions set up near the battle field!) I sacrificed the hall and had to split the Scriptorium hall (Where scribes were completing calligraphy and illumination for award scrolls.) for the A&S. Then part of that hall was taken over for a meeting… argh! Next time, if I’m in charge, I’ll make sure that there isn’t a repeat of this year…

I had barely enough time to get the room arranged with enough tables and chairs and get my display set up for the Artisans Row before I had to bolt over for my first class of the day. My display was essentially a “Sheep to Språng” set up showing the steps from raw wool, processing, spinning and ending with Sprang. Dummy me, I didn’t get any pictures., I really must remember to do so!!!.. Nor did I have any time to sit at my display and explain the steps… Blackstone being a 3 day event there just wasn’t enough time for me to teach 2 classes (both roughly 2 hours in length) and sit at the row.

As I was bolting from the A&S to the classroom I spied a Viking Lady in the market place who had a lovely Sprang pouch hanging from her brooches.  Of course I did an about face when my brain put two and two together and I stopped to talk to the lady and her companion and of course get a closer look at her pouch which was made from a thick wool and worked in patterned S & Z twist which formed triangle patterns.  Once again, I didn’t get a picture but the pattern was a series of triangles created by the directional change from S interlinking to Z interlinking.  Once I find a better depiction, probably one from the Collingwood book, I’ll post one.

Anyhoo, while speaking to them they mentioned that they would like to learn Sprang and I invited them to my class. I then had to dash off to the class which was getting ready to begin.  There were two ladies waiting there for me and shortly a 16 year old lord joined us and the Viking lady I had spoken to earlier.  It made me feel so good having them there for the class and we proceded to work on a Sprang pouch project worked in 1/1 interlinking .  I mistook my self and had them warp up only 20 strands for the pouches, when it should have been 40 to make the pouch wide enough to cover a water or pop bottle.  Several were able to complete their pouches in the time we had for the class which made me very happy with those results.  I explained that what they might view as ‘mistakes’ in the interlinking could be ‘design elements’ especially if it was worked as an entire row, or in one case, several rows.  I was able to get each back on track with the 1/1 interlinking while explaining what they had done in their ‘design element’ rows.  Once they reached the centers of their work I had them weave in 3 strands of yarn to secure the meeting line.  One lady misunderstood what I meant by ‘weave in’.  I had meant that the next to last row worked would have a strand of yarn placed across the working edges of the interlinking both at top and bottom, then another row would be interlinked and a final stand of yarn ran through that row. This secures the meeting line and the yarns sticking out from the sides can be tied into tassels.  This is a simpler method of finishing off than chaining the meeting line and handy if you don’t have a crochet hook handy.

After much pondering and looking at other options, including Sprang and Lucet cording, I finally figured out a ‘mostly’ stress free method of reproducing the braid from the Haithabu/Hedeby Fragment.  My main issue was trying to produce the braid without fighting with the loose ends of the strings or whipping heavy bobbins around.  My solution was to make cardboard bobbins to wrap the thread around.

Bobbins & Cord (and a sleepy Ginger)

The first bobbins I tried were too heavy, the thread had a tendency to slip off, and then I would have to chase down a cat or dog to retrieve my bobbin and thread.  Leaving the thread hanging loose caused too many tangles, both of the threads and the cats who were entirely too interested in what I was doing.

I decided on size 10 crochet cotton for the threads so that the garment could be machine washed without fear of felting wool thread or tearing silk thread.  The thread is very fine to my eyes and I had to keep taking breaks to rest my eyes. (I really need new glasses…)

I worked up around 22 inches of the braid and so far it is coming out to around 3mm wide which is about the same width as the original braid. While I’m working I’m able to slip the thread from the slit in the card and unwrap some of the length to get more working space.  I’m happy with this method and though it will be time consuming will continue in this fashion to create enough braid to cover the back darts and possibly some more for additional trim for the dress.  This is also good practice for another wool apron dress I am planning for which I hope to spin wool for the sewing stitches, embroidery and the decorative braids.

Though I’ve not been able to find any information about any patterning in the colors of the original braid,  I like the way the colors on my braid are alternating.  I’ll continue this pattern for this project but may experiment more (with thicker thread) to determine what other patterns are possible.

Detail of the patterning

Cascade Necklace- Before

After looking at my cascade necklace again, I decided to make a few alterations.  I decided that it was too long through the strands for my taste, also, I wanted to separate the stands in case one of them broke. (Before the 3 strands were knotted together, if one of them broke I would have to remove the whole necklace to work on it.)  Though the waxed linen thread was strong I wanted something that might hold up a little better under the weight of the glass and metal.  I picked up some leather cording from Ben Franklin’s that I though would do the job.

The Viking Answer Lady has this article on Viking Beads and Necklaces that I found very helpful in deciding which beads to keep in the necklace.  I tired to select beads that more closely resembled those that were made using the same techniques and designs used by medieval bead makers.  Incidentally, most of the beads I had originally selected were made from the same techniques (though not all may have been hand made) and with the same design elements found in Roman and Medieval beads.  I kept all the patterned beads though none with the metallic patterning, they looked like they were made with glitter, eye beads and spirals were also kept as were many of the shaped beads.   The beads that I had did not reflect the entirety of designs available to ancient bead makers (I didn’t have any millefiori beads and most of the foil beads I had looked too modern in coloring but that may have been my personal dislike for fuchsia and pinks) but I hope to expand my collection of beads for future projects.

And so, after reviewing the article and other necklaces in the Upplands Museum Saffron Waldon Museum and the Historiska Museet  I started reworking the necklace and separated out the strands.  Since the leather cord I was replacing the linen with was thicker I also omitted many of the beads in the original and substituted some others.  I also got a little crazy with some wire and several of the beads in my collection and created more pendants for the strands.  The pendants on the bottom row at each end with the single beads are based off the pendant in the picture from the Historiska Museet linked above.  The next pendants in (the small round pendants) and the center pendant are all based on beaded pendants found on the Hon Necklace.

Viking Cascade Necklace- After

I also tried to utilize some of the suggestions for ‘Viking Symmetry’ mentioned in many articles. Colors, general shape, and/or materials are mirrored on the strands, not always identical beads.  Since I wasn’t working on a rounded strand necklace I didn’t work with the suggest parings at 180° found in the Hon Treasure Necklace.

Uppsala Castle Museum and The Upplands Museum- Adventures of a Far Traveler- Blog post of June 29, 2010-http://adventuresofafartraveler.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/uppsala-castle-museum-and-the-upplands-museum/- Accessed 02/09/2012

Viking necklace on show in Saffron Walden Museum- BBC News – http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/essex/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8555000/8555718.stm-Accessed 02/09/2012

Historiska Museet- http://www.historiska.se/template/RelatedImagePopup.aspx?parent=21282&image=21285- Accessed 02/09/2012

Viking Treasure Necklace-http://www.listen-up.org/kitty/beads/treasure-necklace/treasure_necklace.htm- Accessed 02/09/2012

This past week has been hectic.  Issues with power in my home (which still aren’t resolved), work, work, work, and helping out family with projects and such.  I did have some time to work on projects and such though.

The work on the trim for the back of my apron dress was slowed.  I tried several times with various methods of producing the 6 strand braid to make it look like the drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Though my initial try looked more like this braid, I felt I was doing something wrong.  Since the information on T.J. Potter’s page on making slings (mentioned in my last post) said that the braid was actually finger weaving I went to Carol James’ website on sash-making and followed her instructions for finger weaving.  She has some nice instructional videos on her site and you tube which gave me a better understanding of finger weaving and I may look into further projects to use this new technique on.  After working on my trim again I got this result:

  Still not the result I was looking for.  The appearance is more woven than braided, the threads don’t follow the same paths of the drawing above.  I also noticed that the red thread is thinner than the yellow.  I have more red thread that is thicker than this so I will try that next.

And since I can’t seem to work on just one project at a time I worked on lengthening the black and white dress this week.  I had to borrow my parent’s floor to lay the dress out (less pets to interfere) and set about cutting off the bottom 2″ of the dress.

  Here I’ve pinned the bottom hems together to keep them from slipping and am marking the bottom edge with a sliver of soap to show the cutting line.  I learned a hard lesson a few years ago about using colored chalk on fabric; the patterned Persian coat I made still has pink chalk marks on it…  The soap used here should come out in the wash, if not then I don’t know…

On the right of the picture is a felted wool pin cushion that I made myself of wool from my stash.  I stabbed myself about a dozen times with the felting needle while making it… dummy me should have used a sponge…

After making all my marks I cut the hem off and set it aside.  Then I set out to cut the band from the white linen.

  Here I measured the inside of the sleeve band to make sure I cut the hem band the same width.  I then laid out the white linen and measured off two 110″ lengths of 4 1/2″ wide material, marking the white linen with a water soluble quilters’ pen. The band will fit around the bottom edge of the dress, along with the bottom 2″ I cut off from the dress.

I thought I had gotten pictures of the white linen being marked and cut out but I seem to have forgotten to record that step.  Any way after cutting out the bands I put them in my sewing box to work on the hem a little later.

I realize this isn’t the best way to lengthen the hem of the dress.  Ideally I would take out the bottom hem, add some fabric to lengthen it and hem that.  Since I didn’t have any black linen to lengthen the dress (it was made by the Bored Housewife) I had to take the steps I’ve taken.

While I was at it I decided to take some pics of the wool embroidery thread I’ve been working on.

All three spindles are from the lot I refurbished with Roman era stone whorls and are working out nicely for spinning fine singles and yarns.

The one on the left has the  wool singles I spun up on the Roman spindles to test them, I spun the singles onto that spindle joining the ends as I went.  The wool is a natural colored Coopworth from Harts of the Meadow Farm in  in Big Spring, WV.  They have some awesome rovings in wonderful natural colors. It’s been nice to find such fine wool at the local Fiber Art’s Network retreats here in Ansted.

When I decided to spin some wool for embroidery I searched though my existing stash to see if I had anything with the colors I had in mind.  Not finding any, I remembered that the Ben Franklin’s store in Fayetteville had small packages of colored wool roving in the felting section of the store.  Wisteria Editions roving is made from Corriedale wool, a little coarser than Coopworth but it still spins nicely.  I’ve picked up 6 different colors so far and may order more from WE’s website. My plan is to spin up 2 packages of each color and then ply the two together to make the embroidery yarn.   This yarn will be used on an entirely hand stitched and embroidered blue wool Viking apron dress that I am planning.

I’ve done some more work on the apron dress.  I finished hemming it and took out the back darts.  The darts are repinned to the outside of the dress, like the darts on the Haithabu fragment.  I’m also experimenting with the braid that covers the edge of the dart.  I found a website http://www.seekyee.com/slings/howtos/6strand1.htm with instructions on making 6 strand braids and the back of the second braid on this page looks the same to the line drawing in Hilde Thunem’s article.

Using some cotton punch embroidery thread in yellow and red (same colors as the origional and I think they will look nice against the green of my dress) I’ve started experimenting in making the braid to cover the darts.


Yes, that’s a Hello Kitty band-aid.🙂

I measured off about 7 yards for each string, which may be a bit much but, better to err on the side of paranoia, and used a wood tv table holder to tie the strands on to for braiding. 

The instructions on seekyee.com said the method was actualy finger weaving, with each strand acting as both warp and weft at different times.  Since I had never worked finger weaving before I didn’t understand this untill I actually started working the band.  I’ve encountered some issues trying to futz through it on my own so I am going to search for instructions on finger weaving starting with Carol James’ site http://www.sashweaver.com.  Carol makes reproductions of militairy sashes for museums and reinactors. 

Also, while working the band I noticed that a mirror image was forming below the area I was working, just like in Sprang.  I may explore methods of turning out the two bands using a Sprang set up in order to produce them both simultaneously as opposed to working one and untangling the ends as I go.

Each braid needs to be 47 1/2 inches long, plus some to fold over the ends, to reach from hem to hem.  Either method for production will be an interesting experience. 🙂

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Front of the dress

Friday night I gave another attempt at dyeing the Viking apron dress. After consolting the custom color formulas on the Rit Dye webpage I selected their suggested mix for emerald green. This shade is made by mixing 3 parts lemon yellow with one part evening blue. My mom had already given me a box each of the colors needed and after I purchased the remaining boxes needed I prepaired to dye the dress again.  However, after I had added some of the yellows to the dye bath I realized the boxes mom had given me were only partial packets of the dye powder, she had been using the dyes to color doll clothes.  Since I didn’t wish to merely over-dye the dress yellow I said “Buggerit!” And mixed what I had with an additional box of dark green.  I also added a cup of salt and about 2-3 tablespoons of laundry soap as was suggested on the website.

Though the color wasn’t emerald I did wind up with a darker green this time.  I am still debating if a third attempt will be taken.  In the mean time I’ll continue working on the hem and the back darts.  My first attempt at the darts didn’t turn out right; one is crooked and both should turn toward the outside of the dress (like the dart on the Hedeby(?) Fragment) they both need to be taken out and resewn.

Back of the dress


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My, it’s been a while.  I didn’t realize how long till I started to put up this post.

The Holidays were busy, as always.  But thanks to my family I now have a set of Turtle Brooches from Raymond’s Quiet Press and a Trefoil brooch as well.  This inspired me to get off my duff and do something about that apron dress I had started altering months ago.

Using Hilde Thunem’s article Viking Women: Aprondress I used the information she translated from various archaeological Viking age finds to make several of the alterations to the apron dress. Although the gore seams are surged and machine sewn, all new alterations are hand stitched, to keep the handmade aesthetics found in the originals.  Though there is still a lot of work I want to do on the dress the alterations I made are as follows:

  • Removed the shoulder straps and narrowed them into thin loops.  Two short loops were stitched to the front of the dress and two longer loops to the back.
  • Attempted to dye the dress dark green, however the dye came out more of an Army green.  Though I do like the earthier tone I was hoping for something darker or even more of an Emerald color.  Since I used Rit dye I consulted their website for blending colors to possibly attempt another go of dying the dress.
  • Shortened the dress, though accidentally.  The dying process shortened the gown some, but seeing that it was floor length on me to begin with, this isn’t an issue.
  • Removed all visible machine stitched hems to hand stitch back in place.

After doing some work on the dress I decided to try out the fit, with the brooches and some other accessories.

The under dress was purchased from the Bored Housewife and is linen.  It is under alteration as well.  The sleeves have been lengthened by adding bands of white linen on the forearm.  A similar treatment will be made near the hem to let it down some more.  (I’m tall and most ready made garb is made for some one shorter than I am)

My shawl is wool, purchased from Quilts & More near Hico, WV, and still needs hemmed.  Though not the same weave found in fragments believed to be pieces of shawls from Viking age digs, I really love it’s colors and softness.  I’m consulting Rebecca Lucas’ article on Triangular Shawls for ideas of draping the shawl.

The hat I’m wearing is my most recently completed Språng project.  It started out as a sample warping for the WRAPS demo back in October.  After playing with it for several months I thought that I would try to make a copy of the Bredmose Woman’s cap (Denmark, 1400 bce).


Once again, the warp I was working was to narrow and too long to create a cap like the Bredmose Woman’s cap.  The meeting line in the origional runs from one side of the head, over the crown, and down to the other side.  [On mine the meeting line runs up the back of my head (see the little ducks tail on the back of my head? That’s one end of the meeting line, caused by my not paying enough attention to the stretch created by chaining the meeting line!)]  What may be the top of the warp frames the face and was warped on something with a small diameter, possibly a string, and the  bottom of the warp is pulled together with a draw string.   The warp I worked on needed to be twice as wide and possibly 3/4 as long to do a proper reconstruction. Also, though the wool yarn I spun on a drop spindle for this project was quite fine, as shown in the close up below, I think that the Bredmose cap is made of finer thread.  These are all points for me to keep in mind the next time I try to make a cap like this!

Oh, and the under dress originally posted with the apron dress…  didn’t take the Rit dye… not at all.  So, it’s shelved again while I finish this apron dress, under dress and shawl.  I’ll get back to it later (another UFO in the closet, big surprise there)

All in all, even with the issues I’m pleased with the progress I’m making and it really feels good to be getting back into the swing of costuming again. 🙂