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Tonight I began a couple projects that I had been meaning to do for a while.  Though they aren’t AS 50 projects they are important in that they will help me in a department I am lacking in; garb that fits.

The under-gown above was made by me several years ago to wear under a Persian coat.  Though the under gown mostly fits the coat I made it for is almost the same color and I want an under gown in a dark blue for it.  The only area that might be an issue size wise is the droop to the shoulders.  If so it will be an easy fix to narrow the center panel and sew the arms and side panels back on.  That may not be an issue if I wear it under a Viking apron dress.


I purchased the apron dress from a merchant at Blackstone Raids in 2010.  What caught my eye was the length of the dress, full length even on me and I’m 5′ 10″.  Though general thought is that the apron dresses were mid-calf length I’ll not shorten this one just yet.  The fabric is a home spun look cotton material and slightly heavy.  It is too big through the chest and I’m not sure about the color.

I thought that I would begin modifying them both into a new outfit for myself.

The undressed will be easier of the two.  The sleeves will be shortened from their almost knee length which allowed them to be rucked up on the forearm. Also, the opening of the neckline almost extends to the navel, which was fashionable according to miniatures from medieval Persia, will need to be closed up.  The extra length across the shoulders will wait till the apron dress is altered to see if it really needs fixed.

The apron dress will be a bit more work seeing as it’s a completed garment with surged seams;
1. Shoulder straps.  Gotta go, too wide.  I’ll ponder replacements to see if I want to make cords or use the existing straps to make loops.
2. Take in excess width in chest.
3. Reshape under arm to allow more room.
4. Still not sure about the color.  Dye may be involved…

So I brought out my lovely assistant Gertrude (my dressmakers dummy) and got to work.  The sleeves to the under dress had been cut to the length I want and the neckline opening pinned where I want to start closing things up. I may just stitch it closed or cover the seam with embroidery.  On the apron dress the stitches of the bodice hem was taken out, and the underarm area cut down about two inches to give more room.  About an inch on each side was taken in and hand stitched in place.  The bodice area hem was refolded and pinned for sewing.



What will take the most consideration will be the colors.  The under dress is a light purple and the apron dress is ecru/khaki/natural linen colored.  I’m pondering dyeing at least one, possibly both garments.
1. Dye the apron dress a darker purple or other dark color that would look nice with the purple color of the under dress.
2. Dye the under dress a dark brown  or other color that would look nice with the current color of the apron dress.
3. Dye the under dress dark brown and the apron dress green.

Since this isn’t for authenticity points there is the possibility of Rit, or other commercial dye, in my future.  I’ll do some research in dye colors and see what I come up with.

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Also, A Viking Pinafore mentions darts in a fragment that may be part of an apron dress.  This may help with fitting the apron dress a little better without taking out any more seams than necessary.


This week was a fun one.  I was able to complete the skein below early in the week.  The wool was a prepared Jacob pencil roving, very short staple so I spun it up on my Spindolyn set.   A Spindolyn is a type of support spindle, with a metal shaft that fits down into the base of wood, good for spinning short fibers, like this roving or cotton.  I had begun this project early this spring and worked on it off and on, mostly spinning in the van on my way to and from doctor appointments.  Plying was interesting due to the prominent hooks at the tops of the spindles, but after putting the spindles hook-down into my plying bowls I was able to finish plying with only a few snags.  The skein is about 100 yards total, 2 ply.  I even have more of this roving left over. 🙂


Jacob Yarn


My Weirdo Yarn

This next yarn was a bit more problematic, and has been for 2 years!  This yarn is from one of my first attempts spinning on a spinning wheel.   it was the end of the retreat and I had borrowed a friends’ wheel to spin on and she was packing it up.  I figured since I wasn’t short on spindles that I would Andean ply the single into a 2 ply yarn.  Something wasn’t right though, and the yarn seemed to refuse to ply properly.  I fought and fought with it for several days after the retreat, took it off my spindle and left it in my spinning box for years…

Until this week when I decided to take another crack at it.  But, again try as I might it just wouldn’t ply, I even tried to re-spin it and that wouldn’t work.  I figured that it was just telling me that it wanted to remain a single and I wrapped it up on my small Niddie Noddie.   While wrapping I confirmed what I had already suspected; several times during spinning I had inadvertently let the wheel run counter to the direction of spin.

Yep this is going into a weaving project.  What project yet I don’t know.


The picture to the left shows two mountain sheep or goat pelts that I was able to pick up at auction this last weekend.  I’m not sure exactly which breed as the auction had 4 pelts and each one was a little different from the rest (the auction was a collection of taxidermy and pelts from an estate).

They both need a little bit of cleaning, I’ll start with brushing them off lightly and letting them air out before I decide if something more drastic is needed (ie washing or dry cleaning)

They will make nice bedding for camping and seat covers for when I’m spinning. 🙂


Next up is some material that I’m trying to decide what I want to do with it.  Both are scraps that I’ve, again, picked up at auction, so I’m not sure of the fabric content other than they didn’t melt during burn tests.  The blue may be cotton or linen, possibly a blend.  I was hoping it would go well enough with the patterned (woven in pattern at that) to make a woman’s Viking Apron Dress, like this one, using the patterned as the main material and the blue as trim/to increase length.  I don’t know yet, first I need to make a linen under-dress first!  This is all part of the AS 50 challenge I’m taking part in.

Also something important I finally started this week is keeping a Spinning Notebook, like this one.   I had been keeping notes and samples on  3×5 cards, however, frequently a card doesn’t have enough room and my holder was getting full!  I already have a large 3 ring binder for holding samples from spinning workshops where multiple samples of yarn are kept on each page, this secondary notebook is for smaller samples and notes on processing, spinning, finishing and project ideas.   Laun Dunn has a handy list of possible notes that might be needed for such a notebook on the Bella Online website.

Sheep pelts, yarn completed, material thoughts, spinning note book.

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After plying 2 spindles of gray wool I had about 25 yards of single left over.  Normally I’d Andean ply the leftover single, but I liked the consistency of this single, nice and thin, so I decided to keep it for embroidery thread.  The only thing though, how to store it?

After thinking about a couple other posts where the authors had put together Viking/Medieval sewing kits, and, along with oh so many goodies, were small wooden cards for winding thread on.  Though it’s not definitively known what use the shaped bone pieces found in Viking age digs were for, they do strongly resemble modern embroidery floss cards.   I decided I needed a few.

Off to the workshop and a few hours later I had 4 oak thread winders.

I cut the winders from 1/8″ thick oak board I had purchased from Lose’s for another project (a Lucet tool).  After sawing off enough for the Lucet, I measured off 4 sections about 1 1/2″ wide and sawed them off individually.   I used a curved wood rasp to shape the winders, then sanded them with sandpaper till as smooth as I could get them.  While sanding I also took care of some wood Nalbinding needles and 2 bone sewing needles I’ve been working on.  (The bone needles need eyes, something I’ve been hesitating to do)

All in all they’re not to bad, uneven in size, but, that may improve if I decide to make more.

Winder blanks with wood rasp.

Mostly finished winders & needles.

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Last night (when I should have been sleeping) I was once again reading Cathy’s Costuming Blog which has a very interesting entry from May 16, 2011 concerning Viking Age Lucet Tools.

Lucet is a method of producing cording using a tool with 2 to 4 prongs.  The thread is wrapped around the prongs in a figure 8 fashion multiple times and the bottom threads pulled over the upper threads and off the prong.  Repeating these actions will create a cord, the thickness and design depending on the method of wrapping, the number of prongs and the method of lifting the thread off the prong.

Cathy gave numerous links in the post to varied styles of tools found in archaeological digs believed to be used to produce Lucet cords.   One of the links led to The Armour Archive and a comment thread that I found very interesting, being that the person who had access to the tools took one of them and produced a Lucet cord on it.

In my searches, most of the Viking age Lucet tools I’ve seen have been made of bone, but a gentleman from the Kalmar County Museum in Sweden describes one made from folded bronze plate.  Running a Google search for ‘tinbl bein’ also led to numerous other articles and pictures of tools.  I had carved a Maple forked branch into a Lucet tool but now I have a serious hankering for something a little more elaborate.

Lucet Tool on Right with 3 Antler Needles- the needle attached with yarn is for lifting the bottom over the top thread

When I moved back to Ansted my family introduced me to their favorite Tuesday night entertainment; auctions.

In the three years I’ve attended I’ve acquired so many art and craft supplies. Numerous supplies and books for drawing and painting, fabric and sewing supplies, leather and leather working tools, even a loom and a spinning wheel, both antiques.

At this last auction my haul was small.  A small flat purchased for $1 contained a deer antler, good for making Nalbinding needles, combs and salt cases.  A tote bag confined scraps of fabric. A couple of pieces are a nice silk look fabric that would make nice trim, hats, pouch or a late period bodice or corset.  Another piece has a nice linen weave look to it, and may be a good size to piece together a Viking Apron dress from.  Time will tell… 🙂

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Though my posts are far apart right now I’ve not been idle.  Even though I returned to work on the 18th after a 6 week absence I’ve been working hard on keeping up with my AS 50 projects.  Since my surgery I’ve made a lot of Nålbinding needles, starting with wood then working in antler and bone.  I learned Nålbinding , Oslo stitch, Coptic stitch and Danish stitch.  I’ve made a pouch for my bee sting kit in the Danish stitch, and a pair of fingerless mittens  in Oslo stitch.  I also started a small metal needle case, which still needs the decorative rings soldered, polished and the Viking wire woven suspension chain added on.  I continue to spin on my drop spindle and am looking forward to the Moosie spindle that my husband is getting for our anniversary.  I’ve also started hand crafting new frames to work Språng on, carved from a Maple tree Dad felled in his yard.   There is also the playing catch up documenting the entries here in my blog with pictures and descriptions of what has been completed.

With all this I still feel that I need to devote all my time to my Språng research.  October will be here all too soon and I really need to work on my demo for the Wheeling Regional Symposium for Pre-Modern Studies.  I need to finish the frames I have planed, as well as make some adjustments on the frames I do have.  Also needed are some planned projects for display and possibly some starter pieces for guests to try…

Hummm…. looks like I need another list to get me organized…






A&S 50 Challenge