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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.

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.

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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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