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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.  🙂

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Almost two years ago I was lucky enough to win on Ebay a group of reputabley late Roman era spindle whorls.  There were 17 items in the box I received, most were objects that were, undoubtedly to me, spindle whorls and one loom weight. 

Since then I have spent a good amount of time working on referbishing the spindle whorls with shafts to remake functioning Roman era spindles.

The picture included in this post are the functioning spindles from that group.  On each I tested the same Coopworth roving from Hearts on the Meadow Farm to determine consistency.  With some minor tweaking all but one are fully functional as drop spindles, some if the lighter ones could possibly function as support spindles. 

One of the spindles, the one with the smallest whorl, does not currently have the weight to function as a drop spindle.  I was able to use it laying on my thigh to roll in twist and parking it while drafting.  Perhaps with more weight it will work as a drop spindle.  I also need more practice support spindling to determine if it will function properly.  When my husband looked at the whorl his impression was button or bead, which it may well be.  Time, and further experimentation will tell. 

One thing this experiment really helped me with:  I used to have a mental block of sorts on the thought of spinning, not supported, on a spindle with a tapering shaft.  I couldn’t get passed the idea that the half-hitch would just slip off. Designing shafts for several of the whorls I made shafts that tapered to a point, to mimic several spindles in the Petrie Museum.  While testing I was able to spin very fine singles using a half hitch to hold the thread to the spindle and there was no slipping.  Block overcame.  🙂

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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. 🙂

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Jacob Yarn

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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.

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Pelts

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. 🙂

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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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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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