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Pick-ing Up

September 29, 2017

The last couple of weeks I’ve been working on some more pick up weaving to make some bookmarks for a largesse challenge held at the Middle Kingdom Coronation.  This is an opportunity for artisans and craftspeople to showcase their work and also provide a stash of small items that the King and Queen can give out as small gifts throughout their reign.
I started with the patterns from Anne Dixon’s book, The Weaver’s Inkle Pattern Directory and built from there.  Some of the patterns I adapted from ones that come later in the book, since I set up this warp with only seven pattern threads.  One warp of my loom produced 11 bookmarks about 7 inches long each (plus fringe).  Since the challenge was “Dirty Dozen or Lucky Seven” (submit either 13 or 7 of an item) I did a second warp and made 10 more bookmarks for a total of 21.
I learned a lot in doing these patterns, especially how important it is to space the motifs correctly.  A couple of the early patterns I charted have some odd points in them because I didn’t realize yet that it was important to pay attention to whether the odd or even pattern threads were being lifted to the top of the weaving.
Overall, I’m pretty happy with the way these turned out and now I have some better experience with this technique.  I’ve spent way too much time on Pinterest as well, collecting more patterns.  This is another technique that appeals to my pattern-loving mind, so it’s satisfying to see things develop as they should.


More Blue Weaving

September 5, 2017

So I’ve got a lot of blue thread I’m trying to use up, which is why this project uses the same blue as the previous one.

This technique is one I’ve had percolating for the last couple of years but haven’t really tried.  I took a class at Pennsic last year and gave it a shot but the process didn’t really work out, though I kept thinking about it.  Finally, I got some heavier thread and watched a great tutorial video from The Compleatly Dressed Anachronist and presto – pick-up inkle weaving!

First Pick UpThe finished length is just under half an inch wide and a few inches more than 8 feet long.  This is another “pay attention” weaving method, though you do pick up the rhythm after a while.

Overall, I like the way this turned out, though I would leave a little more space between the pick-up motif and the border on future projects.  Maybe just one more row of weaving on each side would set the design off a little more.

Of course, one of our cats – Bouncer – felt the need to investigate the new thing in her space.  She always has to touch everything!

Bouncer Weaving


Pennsic Produce

August 23, 2017

Pennsic Produce used to be the name of the small fresh market that the Cooper’s Lake Campground ran in the main merchant area.  You could get fresh fruit and vegetables and a few baked goods, which was always nice.  A few years ago, the campground built a new facility that new serves as the location for many kingdom courts and other activities like the A&S Display, and also repurposed the old “Barn” structure into the Penn Market, which sells a much wider array of fresh fruit and veg as well as meats, cheeses, freshly baked goods (mmm, pepperoni and cheese rolls) and a wide variety of camping supplies.

That being said, here are two Pennsic-related projects, one from before Pennsic and one from just after.

First, the scroll I did for Middle Kingdom court – and Order of the Willow, given for accomplishment in the arts.  At some point before Pennsic, I stumbled on the website for the library of Trinity College, Cambridge.  Scribes, beware – this is a tremendous rabbit hole!  Happily, the library has digitized about 650 manuscripts from their collection, so there’s a lot to look at.  I spent a little too much time over a week or so clipping illuminated letters from the Canterbury Psalter, a mid-12th century manuscript produced at Christ Church, Canterbury.  There’s a wide selection of the alphabet here, full of lovely colors and wonderful regular patterns.
B det 2
For this scroll, I used a letter B as the main initial, with large colored capitals for the first few lines and then also later in the text for the recipient’s name.  I also used smaller colored capitals for many sentences, a common 12th century technique.

I’m pretty happy with the way this all turned out, though I need to be careful with my white lining, as usual.  While the Willow is not insignificant, for a more “advanced” award, I might also use gold leaf instead of gouache for the gold elements.


The willow device also turned out quite well and makes a dramatic contrast with the other colors of the lettering around it.

I filled in the lower part of the scroll with a simple border device also found in other 12th century examples, this one from MS Egerton 608 at the British Library.

Several people who saw the scroll when it was awarded spoke to me very kindly afterward and complemented my work, which is always nice to hear!Scroll 1
While at Pennsic, I had good intentions for several classes I thought of taking.  I made it to several of them, including a class on the Japanese art of temari – small thread-wrapped balls that have become a traditional New Year’s gift.  While we didn’t make it quite through making one of the balls in the class, there’s plenty of information available online and I was able to complete my sample at home.

Pennsic 2017This ball is based on a smooth styrofoam core that’s about 2″ in diameter.  I think the perle cotton I used for the embroidered design is perhaps a little too bulky for this size ball, but it still turned out rather well for a first attempt.  I could certainly tell which half of the design I did first – the second effort came out a lot tighter and more precise than the first!

Of course, this is another rabbit hole craft to fall down!  There are a great many temari patterns out there, and lots of beautiful color combinations to try, so I may experiment with a few more of these.  I have lots of thread around and styrofoam balls aren’t that expensive!

Last Minute Project

July 27, 2017

I’m leaving for Pennsic tomorrow, and while I didn’t make any new clothes this year, I have been working on finishing up a tablet weaving project that’s been on the loom since January.  I was determined to get this done and off the loom before I left, so this afternoon I did the last few repeats of the pattern.

This is the first of the three “S” patterns from Applesies and Fox Noses, based on a fragment of a woven band from an archaeological find dating to the Iron Age in Finland.  This is a rather broad period from about 500BC to 1150AD, and unfortunately the book doesn’t give specifics as to the estimated date of the actual find (some further research to be done when I’m not also packing).

Applsies S PatternThe pattern here is deceptively simple.  While the finished product isn’t complicated, getting there requires a fair amount of attention since this is not a basic X-turns forward/ X-turns back pattern.  Instead, different packs of cards turn forward or back on each pick every four or five picks so keeping count of each turn of the cards is important!  I also reversed the turning of the border cards every three repeats of the pattern (6 “S” shapes) to prevent the buildup of too much twist.

The finished band is 101″ long (plus fringe) and 3/8″ wide – very delicate, and I think this would look very nice done in silk or fine wool.  The bold color contrast is striking!

The Milk Jug Bag 2.0

July 18, 2017

A couple of years ago I made a post about this old Girl Scout craft, the ditty bag or camp carrier made from an empty milk jug.  When I did these in Girl Scouts we used a gallon jug, and that’s what I used for my contemporary project as well.

That carrier lasted for four years, which I think is pretty good considering that today’s plastic jugs are a lot lighter than those of the past.  Still, since we don’t cram as much into ours as I used to in my Girl Scout days, the gallon jug seemed to be a little big for our needs.

So when we got home from Pennsic last year, I saved a half-gallon jug to use for a smaller version and as I’m prepping for this year’s trip I finally got around to finishing the project.
New Ditty Bag 2
The biggest thing I learned from this new project is one of those “life hack” things the internet likes to yell about these days.  When it came to pulling the label stickers off of the jug, I was left with a lot of adhesive residue that just didn’t want to come off.  Soap and super-hot water?  Nope.  Acetone?  Kind of, but not super effective.  So I did some Google business and found a couple of suggestions.  First, rubbing alcohol.  Again, this produced a “sort of” result, but didn’t really work well.  The big winner?  Vegetable oil!  That’s right, plain old canola oil from the bottle on my pantry shelf.  Drizzle some on the adhesive, cover with a paper towel and let sit for 10-15 minutes and the adhesive rubs right off.  It was incredible!  Now you know…

Originally, I had planned to cut down the fabric top of my original bag to make it fit the New Ditty Bag 1half-gallon jug.  However, I found this would have meant cutting down a LOT (like almost half) and I didn’t really want to fuss around with it that much.  So what I ended up doing was marking the fabric at regular intervals and tacking it in place at the corners of the jug and midway along each side.  Then, as I was stitching the fabric in place, I just made a couple of small pleats across each side to take up the extra fabric.  This way, I still have a big opening at the top to reach into and a smaller container at the bottom to carry my shower supplies.  Project completed!

Scribal Friday

June 23, 2017

Now that the end of summer term is approaching, I have a little bit of a lull in the rounds of frantic grading.  I’ve actually been doing a fair amount of scribal work lately, between a couple of events and a challenge organized by a fellow scribe in the Barony of Cynnabar.  As a group, we’re working on doing a set of blanks with all of the letters of the alphabet!  I’m sure we’ll hear the cursing of the scribes to come when someone gets a blank with an X on it…

A detailIn May, I started with the letter A.  I’d already had this letter penciled in for a blank earlier in the year that had stalled once work got busy, so I had a little bit of a head start.  This letter is done in the 9th-10th century Ottonian style.  It’s fun to do the gold, and I’m getting better at doing fine lines with a brush.  I rather like the red outlining on this style.  You can also see the similarity to the later Italian White Vine Style of illumination here as well.

Talonval DH 17.2Then, for an event in June (I wanted to get an early start), I made a full scroll for someone in my local group.  Since the person’s name links him with the town of Chartres, I found a manuscript from that cathedral and used a letter O for the beginning of the scroll.  The Dragon’s Heart device fit neatly inside the letter, and I’m really happy with the way the shading of the scales turned out.  It’s always tempting to try to make this “perfect” but more often the little random touches of dark and light colors give a better effect.  The outlining here is all done with Micron pens – a modern touch, but something that gives a nice clean line.

Talonval DH 17.4I also really like the bold, colored capitals for the first few lines here.  This is a technique used frequently in 12th century manuscripts, and they were a lot of fun to do!  It’s nice to not have to be so precise sometimes, and tucking the two Ls together helps save a little space.

My second blank for the alphabet challenge was a letter U, done in an Early Medieval style common to the monasteries of the British Isles.  For this one, I also started with an introductory line since I think this gives a more cohesive look to the scroll overall.  Still working on getting the rubrication (the tiny red dots) more even, though of course the exemplars aren’t perfect either!
U detail

Blank 20Finally, for another event this past weekend, I used a blank I had done way back in 2014 (and maybe already posted somewhere here already).  This is one of the few blanks I’ve done with an award device already on it.  Usually I only include the device if I’m making a scroll for an assignment, but this was going into a competition where one of the entries had to be in support of martial activities.  The Dragon’s Barb is given for excellence and service within the archery community.  I realized as I was doing the lettering that it was going to end up looking like the archers in the castle were shooting at the names of the king and queen.  If I do one like this again, I’ll have to make sure they’re aiming somewhere else!

Weaving Wednesday

May 17, 2017

As promised a mere two months ago, here is a post on some weaving I’ve been doing!

Some of these bands go back to last year, and I have a piece on my loom that I haven’t touched for a couple of months – need to get back to that – and one piece needs to be attached to the Hubs’ fighting jacket before he wears it out and needs a new one again.

All but one of these is from the Applesies and Fox Noses book, a great little tablet weaving resource that was quite the rage in the tablet weaving community a couple of years ago.  I’ve been slowly working my way through the patterns, though I skipped the first one since four forward-four back patterns are pretty common.  All of these bands are done with size 10 cotton crochet thread.

Pattern 2 is named “Little Chicken Toes with Bird’s Eyes” (all of the patterns in this book have inventive names applsies-red-and-white.jpgthat probably mean something humorous in Finnish).  I used Middle Kingdom colors for this, thinking it might go into a largesse basket at some point.  It’s about an inch wide and a little less than three yards long.

This pattern is an eight forward-eight back turning sequence and while the border cards for the patterns in this book are supposed to go continually forward, I kept the sequence there as well since I didn’t want to have to deal with a lot of built up twist in those threads.

Applsies Green and Gold

Pattern 3 is called “Small Applesies”.  For this band I used some cotton thread I had ordered from Halcyon Yarn several years back with different projects in mind.  While the brown, gold, and teal combination may be somewhat modern, it did turn out beautifully.  The band is about an inch and a half wide.

This pattern follows a five foward-five back turning and there are a couple of small mistakes in the band where I missed a turn.  An odd number like this is a little strange – most patterns use even numbers of turns – and I think there are a couple of places where I reversed the pattern at four turns instead of five.

applsies-blue-and-white.jpgPattern 4 – “Bee Feet”.  The example in the book for this pattern is done with only two colors, but I decided to try three.  This one required a little re-threading since I didn’t have the pattern charted correctly to begin with – all part of the learning process!  This band is a little less than an inch wide.

This design is where things start to get a little more complex, and there are places where the pack of cards is split into groups that turn differently.  Some rows turn all forward, some all back, and some have the split groups turning forward or back on the same row.  This makes for some exciting weaving and definitely means you have to pay attention to what you’re doing.


Finally, a pattern not from the book is this simple design I made for trim using the Hubs’ device of gold mascles (diamonds with an open center) on red.  It’s about an inch and three-quarters wide and is meant to go on the hem of the fighting jacket we made him last year, though it hasn’t quite made it there yet!

The current warp on the loom is Pattern 5 from Applesies, “The S Sign”.  This is the first of three versions of this pattern included in the book, all of which are based on historical fragments from the Iron Age.  No pics yet, since it’s a work in progress!