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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.

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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.

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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…

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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. 

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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.

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.

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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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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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…