Sunday, May 17, 2015

Completed and ongoing

Here's a couple of projects recently completed.
A new 'fancy' kirtle. This one is fully lined in linen and has a v back. I saw the back detail in one painting and thought that I'd try it as a variation. 

A houppelande belt in that same fabric as the kirtle. These were often very long, the tail left to simply hang down.

A new Viking shirt for Sigurd in blue linen sewn with natural linen thread. Many of the seam finishing was done using a herringbone stitch with the cross on the inside, this shows a double running stitch on the outside. This shirt is different from a tunic in that there are no gores and the sides a split, allowing them to be tucked into pants.
A simple loop and toggle closes the throat.

Plus an ongoing project, another belt, this time brocaded tablet woven in two colours. This will be a by short belt to go with the kirtle. Sections of black with three silver crescents are followed by sections of red cross hatched silver, as in my SCA arms.

Finally four samples for my next weaving project. This is going to a loosely woven shawl. The warp is made of various weights and colours of wool from the stash and the warp is a slubby sky blue tussah silk. All the samples were woven, over stitched so they didn't move too much and washed.

The first sample is in plain weave closely beaten. It was too stiff, the silk being quite thick.
The next sample was beaten more loosely and is a 2/2 twill.

The looser beating seemed to work so I tried another in pain weave, beating loosely.

Finally I tried a 3/1 twill. This leaves more warp on one side and more of the silk weft on the other side. Below is the silk side.

After handling and consultation with some more experienced guild members I have decided to go with the plain weave loosely beaten. This will be a challenge as my instinct is to beat pretty hard. It will be a good experience to have to moderate my beat and I should try to measure my picks to keeps them even.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Emperor of autumn

Saffron bed
Saffron in the garden
When we first moved out to our block we thought about various things we could do with it and one of the things that really gripped me was saffron. I went off and read some books and articles, including a really interesting one about medieval use of saffron by nuns to get them through marathon singing episodes (apparently it's very soothing). I call it the emperor of autumn because the flowers are purple, the colour of empire, and of course it flowers in the autumn, with brilliant fiery red stamen that are worth their weight in gold (almost).

Saffron flower
Saffron flower
So our friend Rowley hooked us up with a supplier of bulbs and we put 100 of them in a small patch of vege garden. Since then we've had crops every year, usually in April or May, which we dry in the kitchen bay window, then store for about 3 months and then consume over the next year.This year's crop has been amazing though, we've had just so much more than ever before I am certain that the bulbs have split in two and are producing off both halves. I think that means that this year I have to lift them all, split them into two bulbs and replant them.

Saffron stamens pulled out
Pull out the stamens
If that's correct this is the perfect time as the new herber (medieval pleasure garden) is progressing finally. The lawn section is done and we're really just waiting on a weekend that isn't filled with social engagements to start levelling the garden bed and path part. The plan has six rectangular beds with golden pebbled paths with occasional paver flagstones embedded in it and a space in the centre. At first I wanted a pond in the centre, then a fountain and for a while I couldn't be bothered and decided just to put the sundial there. But now I have found the perfect thing - a 'font' (see below). It has just the right look and is exactly the right size and will look fantastic.
Saffron stamens
Firey red stamens

Stamens drying
Saffron stamens drying in the window

Jar of saffron
Jar of dried saffron - more to come.

Dragonstone font
Dragonstone font

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weavers Anon

So, at Christmas I went to check out the Christchurch Guild of Spinners and Weaversrelocated shop/workspace at The Tannery in Woolston. Like many others they had been forced out of their accomodation by the earthquakes and had only recently reopened. While I'd been making OK progress on my own, working from books, websites and the odd YouTube video I'd really been feeling the need for companionship, even mentoring in my weaving adventures, someone to bounce ideas off and if necessary provide advice. I'd joined Creative Fibre as an individual member last year but without a group to belong to wasn't 'feeling the love' but most groups meet during workdays which are impossible for me or in evenings which is just almost impossible. But the Chch Guild has a Saturday meeting, from 10-2, which is only difficult.

I joined the Guild pretty much on the spot, they were such a lovely, welcoming bunch of people. I've gone along to a couple of the Saturday meetings between Canterbury Faire, Webstock, riding and other obligations, like I said, Saturdays are only difficult. Most of the people are spinning or knitting at those sessions, weaving looms being a bit of a nightmare to transport, especially with a project on them. I've taken along my current card-weaving project which fits in the boot OK but it requires all my focus to work on which means that I'm either making progress on that or conversing with people, I can't do both. My goal is to get along to a Saturday meeting every month, plus anything more weaving oriented that falls at a time that I can make. 

So that's great, but I was still not connecting with the weavers so much. Then last weekend I got to go to my first Creative Fibre Canterbury region weavers meet up at the Cooper's Creek hall, a very cute wee hall that sports a good sized tea room and open fire. It's a wee way from home, but probably further for most people and so I was pleasantly surprised that about 15-20 people turned up. We had coffee and tea and then sat in a circle around the fire for introductions, a Q&A session and show and tell.
Cooper's Creek Hall

"Hello, my name is Simone and I've been a fibreholic for around ten years. This is my first meeting, I've been weaving for a little over a year"... That's pretty much what I felt I should say. Seriously I had this mental image of it as a kind of AA for weavers... And I wasn't completely off base. Once we'd done intros I was able to ask about my next project which has a warp of a variety of wools and I got some good advice including washing same-length strands together pretty hot to see if they shrink differently, and of course doing a sample, which I am going to do this time. They felt I had plenty of yarn for the project, so good. And then in show and tell I got out the big blanket and they had many kind comments about it which was lovely as I am quite pleased with it (while being aware of the flaws).

Then we all got up and wandered about checking out some of the hardware and projects people had brought with them and in my case grabbing a quick sandwich. I met some of the women who had been at the West Melton 150th who are part of the Malvern weavers group and they said that they might be doing some evening sessions this year so maybe I'll be able to get to them. Darfield is only fifteen minutes away so much easier to do an evening thing there than at the tannery in Woolston which is forty five.
Works in progress (not mine)
So yay. I am really looking forward to the next session in a couple of months, then I think that one after that is in West Melton at the community hall, so just around the corner.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Gearing up for faire

Things are flat out around here as usual. It's a couple of days before Canterbury Faire and I'm off work already, cooking things, doing enormous shopping trips and generally trying to feel like I have a handle on things.

Christmas was lovely but despite having a full two weeks off I went back to work feeling as tired as I had left. Everything out here is incredibly dry and we made zero progress on the garden, but then the earth is like concrete so not really conducive to being levelled and raked.

I got a little weaving done and am past the half way point on the rugs. I am pretty pleased with how it's looking but terrified that I will cut it off the loom and find that nothing matches up. Maybe if that happens I'll just make them two small throws instead of one larger blanket thing. We will see said Kanga.
Half way through

One thing that I did manage to do on the holidays was to make contact with the Christchurch Guild of spinners and Weavers and I am now a paid up member. I won't be able to go to a meeting for another few weeks but they were so lovely that I'm really thrilled to have taken the leap. It will be great to have people to talk fibre arts with and have some people so knowledgeable to add questions of.

Anyway, must feed the dog before she wears my arm off...