Sunday, October 31, 2010

The color changes on a triloom weaving

I wove a shawl on the triloom the other day. When I was first introduced to these looms, I couldn't quite picture how the color changes worked to create a plaid that was mirrored on both sides of the shawl. (Now I know that when I tie the color on at the right side, it is carried across and up the other side.) So, just for kicks, I took a picture of this piece in work every time I tied on a new color. This sequence will also give you an idea of how the weaving progresses, working in from the corners and down toward the bottom:

After I finished the weaving portion of the shawl, I tied on a nice thick fringe to give the piece some extra pizazz, and to hide the places where I tied on new colors. Here's the finished shawl, ready to come off of the loom:

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tutorial: Felt slippers into 1400's ecclesiastic boots

This is the second half of the felt boot tutorial. (see The last tutorial showed how to make a pair of felt boots that are molded to your feet. It ended here:
A pair of felt ankle boots.

I could have easily stopped here if I wanted a set of house slippers. However, this particular project was to recreate a pair of Medieval ecclesiastic felt ankle boots. I took my inspiration from the boots worn by Bishop William Waynflete, that are now found at Magdalen College in the UK. Seen here: The trim pattern was based on other shoes of the time, such as these: .

The shoes have the felt core, which is covered with fabric and soled with cork. This was my first attempt at making a pair like this. It worked well and looks like the original, but may or may not be accurate in construction. Here's what I did:

muslin fitting
Take some cheap fabric, and pin and fit and pin and cut and pin and...etc...until you get a pattern you like. Keep in mind that the pattern for each shoe might be slightly different, since it is unlikely that each boot is exactly the same size. (Feet are funny that way.)

weave the fabric
Weave your fabric. Or, I suppose, you could go to the store and buy some. :)

sewing the fabric
Cut your fabric according to the muslin pattern. Pin it in place, and sew it down to the felt.

cut out the cork insole
Stand on your cork board (I used cork bulletin board squares from Hobby Lobby), and trace around your feet. Cut enough layers to get the height you want.

Glue your layers of cork together, and let dry. I used wood glue.

file the edges of the cork
File the edges of your cork insoles nice and smooth.

cut and punch stitching holes in the rand
Cut a strip of flexible leather long enough and wide enough to serve as an edging for the cork. Punch your stitching holes.

powder the cork and stand on it
Powder your cork. Put on the felt boots and stand on the cork. That will give you an idea of where the leather edging (or 'rand') will go.

sew on the rand
Stitch on the rand, upside down and inside out.

flip the rand over and cinch together the edges
Flip down the rand and cinch the edges together around the cork.

trace around the cork, cut with a margin
Take the cork back out for a moment, and trace around it on your sole leather. Cut out your soles, with a bit of an extra margin.

bevel down the edges of the sole
Bevel down the margin on your sole leather.

punch the stitching holes
Punch the stitching holes on the soles, right along the tracing line.

dye the sole
Dye your soles if you want to.

stitch on the sole
Stitch the soles in place. Next time I'm going to cut a groove along the stitching line first, to recess the thread (waxed linen) below the level of the leather. That will help with the longevity of the shoes. Then trim back the sole a bit, wet it, and press it upward so it rounds up over the edge of the insole to protect that seam.

Now, trim your shoes any way you like, and enjoy!

I found these are not great for tromping around in, because there is no flex to the sole. It is kind of like clomping around in 1970's clogs, but warmer. However, they are awesome for what they were originally intended for: keeping your feet warm and comfortable while standing on cold floors for a long time. I don't need to stand and give sermons in drafty cathedrals, but I do stand to weave on my tri-loom. These boots kept my feet warm and cushioned yesterday while I was working.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tutorial: Making Felt Slippers

A pair of felt ankle boots.

I did this tutorial a few years ago, when I was making a set of reproduction 1400's ecceliastical felt boots for an arts competition. But that was in my Live Journal, so I thought I'd transfer the entry over to here. This is the first half of the tutorial, showing how to make the felt boot. If you stop here, you've made a great set of house slippers. And if you vary the colors of wool that you use on the outside layer, they can be very decorative! I'm thinking of making another pair for myself, for winter house wear.

First, make your pattern by tracing around your foot, and adding a couple of inches and an upper, like so:
initial pattern

Then transfer that to either plastic or a tightly woven fabric. Flip it over and trace it again, so you end up with a weird U shape.
fabric resist, ready to go

Cover this resist with three layers of carded wool.
cover the resist with 3 layers of wool

Flip the whole shebang over, remove the resist, and wet down the middle of the pile of wool with very hot, soapy water.
wet down the middle with hot soapy water

Put the resist back in place.
put the resist back in place

Fold the wispy edges of the bottom wool over onto the resist. Add another three layers of wool on top.
fold edges of bottom layer over resist, add top layer

Wet the whole mess down. Flip the thing over. Fold the wispy edges of the wool over, and gently wet them into place with very hot water. This creates the seam on the sides. Your resist is totally enclosed at this point.
wet the whole thing down, flip over, smooth edges over to close seam

Gently massage the surface of the wool until it just holds together. Roll the wool up in netting or bubble wrap, and roll it around until the edges just start to curl up. Cut the two boots apart, and remove the resist.
Gently work surface until it holds together. Cut in two, and remove the resist from the middles.

Now, spend 4 or 5 hours abusing the wool. Roll it, smack it, give it lots of hot hot water. The wool will shrink more in the direction you are rolling, so you can control the shape. Turn it inside out now and again.
Spend several hours rolling and abusing the felt, with lots of hot soapy water.

Shrink specific places even more by rubbing them on a wash board.
Selectively shrink parts using the wash board.

Do the final shaping by massaging the boot while it is on your foot.
Do the final shaping on your foot.

One down, one to go!
One down, one to go. Continued here:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Tutorial: Using Hair Sticks Pt. 2 : The French Twist

My daughter and I were playing with putting our hair up the other day. I took pictures of her using the hair sticks I make, putting her hair up in a french twist. Here's a peek at how she did it:

First, brush your hair back into a pony tail at the base of your head.

Michelle is right handed, so she pulled the hair off to the right and started twisting it counterclockwise.

Keep twisting and bring the ponytail up to the top of the back of your head. This should create that neat twist look.

Keep twisting the pony tail into a rope, and then fold it down .

Tuck the folded over ponytail into the pocket created under the twist.

That first part takes some practice. It should look like this.

To secure the twist with the hair sticks, grab a stick and poke it through a batch of the hair at the top edge of the twist, facing away from your holding hand.

Let it poke through an inch or so until the tip bumps your scalp.

Flip the hair stick around until it is facing the other direction, scraping the tip gently against your scalp while you so.

Push the hair stick through the twist.

This will hold more securely with two hair sticks. Insert the second one a bit further down, just like you did with the first one.

Again, flip the stick around, gently scraping it against your scalp. Push it through the twist.

And there you go! Elegant, decorative, and quite secure. To take it back out, do the trick you see in the movies: pull out the sticks and shake your head. The hair will come tumbling back down.