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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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My current spinning project is some lovely wool & silk fiber purchased at Kanawha Yarn Company.  I’ve unfortunately lost the label (oh the huge manatee!) but I’m certain it is a Merino/silk top.  This project I’ve done some extra planning and sampling.  When I purchased this fiber I knew I wanted to make a Sprang scarf, but I was pondering two vs three (Navaho) ply.  I spun samples of both on my Swan spindle and plied them.  The three ply seemed to loose more of the color blending definition than I was happy with and after sampling the two ply decided to go with that.  Two ply will also give me more yardage to play with. 

The samples are in my spinning notebook, though, I just realized, I forgot to wash/finish the samples.  This will have to be rectified soon to give a better example of what the finished yarn will look like.  I think I will also ply off one more sample of two ply.  The samples I have are Andean plied (One single strand plied starting at the two ends an ending At the middle)  structurally not a balanced yarn since one half of the yarn is being twisted more than the other half.

I need to better plan my projects and document everything in my spinning notebook.  These experiences are part of learning though and will help in the long run.

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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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This year I decided to try raising herbs.  Some did quite well, some not so well.  Here is a picture from my first harvest, all bundled up and ready to dry.
Front to back: Rosemary, Greek Oregano, Boxwood Basil, Sage and Chives.

More information to come later, I have to get ready to go to work now.

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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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Yesterday was the 10th anniversary if the day my husband and I got married.  As it worked out his present to me will be a Mossie spindle by Jonathan Bosworth (as in it’s due to be shipped any day now, and I do not mind the wait) I was trying to think of something special to get or make him for our anniversary.

I found out that the traditional gifts for a 10th anniversary are aluminum and tin.  After pondering briefly learning casting (which still intimidates me) I remembered that the silver tone wire I use for wire weaving is aluminium.  I sat down one night and made him this Thor’s Hammer. 

He was exceptionally pleased. 😀

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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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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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A&S 50 Challenge