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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.

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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.

image

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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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.  🙂

It’s been quite a while since I posted, not from lack of projects, lack of time to write in my blog.  I was very busy the last two weeks of September.  Fiber Arts Network had their fall retreat at Hawks Nest state park.  As always I had a blast sitting at my spinning wheel visiting with the ladies and Dave.  I got two skeins done (details to follow) of rovings/bats that had been in my stash for a while.  One of the skeins also gave me the opportunity to get out my hand carders and blend some fibers together to spin a black single to ply with a multicolor thick/ thin single.

  The yarn on the left is dyed Mohair 2 ply.  12 Twists per inch, 6 wraps per inch.  153 yards with some left over on a bobbin.  Spun on Kromski Sonata.

The yarn on the right is made from 2 separate singles.  The colored is from a bat of blended fiber (Merino, Tencil, Bamboo, Silk, Kid Mohair and ‘Shiny Stuff’)  The black single is Coopworth, Alpaca & Mohair blended on hand carders.  160 yards tpi and wpi varied due to colored single being spun thick/thin on purpose.  Spun on Kromski Sonata.

I also bought some lovely white alpaca and black Coopworth spiral blend roving.  This I’ve been spinning on my new Turkish spindle.  This spindle is a lovely little 2 oz antique/vintage from a dealer in Istanbul.  I purchased 8oz of the roving and have spun up 3 balls so far.  Two of the balls have already been plied and skeined.   (see pic below)  I’m hoping that when done I’ll have enough to Sprang a scarf!

I was able to complete 2 skeins of yarn with this fiber for a total of 236 yards.  This should be more than enough for a scarf.

I must say that this spindle is my favorite.  It’s small, lightweight and spins forever.  It has carving on the cross arms and a lovely patina to the wood.

The first weekend in October I went to West Liberty University for a symposium on pre-modern studies.   I set up a display of spinning and Sprang and taught attendees about both.  Before the symposium I made two new frames, one lap and one much larger.  The large frame needs a bit more work, it’s too wobbly to warp up.  The lap frame had the same issue (both frames were simply sticks lashed together with hemp twine) but I took the time to take it apart and whittle some shaping at the overlaps to give it more stability.  It is working much better now and has spindle spun gray wool yarn on it.  That project is another hairnet worked in alternating rows of z and s interlinking.  I just hope it’s big enough for my head when it’s done.

Here is a picture of half of my set up showing some of my Sprang.  The picture I took of the other half, the spinning, came out to blurry.

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My name is Dorrane and I’m a string junkie.

It started in 2004 when I took a class on Språng, a method of producing textiles by the manipulation of only warp threads.  I made the pouch below out of acrylic yarn:

My first Sprang pouch, worked in 1/1 interlinking.

That one pouch led to more pouches, and more string.   Which led to more pouches and more string.  Then someone said “Why don’t you learn how to spin and make your own yarn?”   Which led to a class in spinning on a drop spindle, which led to more string, and more spindles, and more string, and a spinning wheel, and even more string… And then, I started buying raw wool… Straight off the sheep…  And thus began my quest to create things from sheep to something!  And thus is what this blog is for, to track my progress in various stringing ventures and to display my projects as I work on them.

I am also a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Minister of Arts & Sciences for the Barony of Blackstone Mountain, in the Kingdom of Aethelmearc,  and participating in the Arts and Sciences 50 Challenge.   Which will lead to more string, and things made of string…

A&S 50 Challenge