Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Oseberg style tablet weaving loom: first attempt

Here's the first attempt at warping up my new Oseberg style tablet weaving loom. (See my board on Pinterest for pictures of Medieval illuminations of this style of loom: http://pinterest.com/lissamc/medieval-tablet-weaving-equipment/ ) Eric made both it and the cone yarn holder for me, which I used while I was measuring the warp. I love having a wood worker in the house! I'll actually get to weaving tomorrow, once I find a shuttle that isn't already in use. Then we'll see if I did it right or not, and what I need to change for next time.

If the loom looks familiar, that is because it appeared in earlier pictures as my scarf and tie display rack. I ran a clothes line across the top, and clothes pinned my scarfs to the line so they could flutter gently in the breeze. In other words: Yes, I conned my sweetie into building me a reproduction Medieval loom under the pretense of needing a display stand for my business. I'm sneaky that way!

Once I get this figured out, I'll do a how-to blog entry. Right now, I'm seriously winging it. I have absolutely no instructions on this style of loom, so I'm kind of going on my experience in doing back-strap weaving, and crossing that with my inkle loom weaving experience. I think I have it...but we'll see.

It is an adventure!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Glendale Glitters at Henny&Ev

I had my silks and felt up on a table today outside of the Henny&Ev boutique (http://www.hennyandevboutique.com/), in the same area and time as Glendale Glitters (http://glendaleaz.com/events/glendaleglitters.cfm). It was kind of a long day, but really fun to do. I'm enjoying being able to talk to people, and share my art.
I actually spent a good portion of the time sitting and spinning yarn, while my daughter and husband sat behind the actual table and took care of the business side of things. Spinning is really eye catching to people in general, and particularly fascinating to young children. I have a minute or two mini demonstration about making yarn that I can give at the drop of a hat. It includes letting the kids touch a little roving, and then twisting it between my fingers and folding it back on itself. I lost track of the number of times I gave that little talk! But it is so worth it to see the light bulb come on in folks' eyes when the roving turns into a little snip of two ply yarn before their eyes.
I had a basket full of my hand spun yarn next to me as well, so folks could see what the end product looked like. I think several folks got a better appreciation for how much work used to go into making clothes. And I think a few might look at spinning lessons some day.
This is what was tempting me. A few tables down from me was a very lovely lady who also spun. She had some rabbits out front. That big one on the right is an angora bunny. She has one angora that she might be willing to sell to another spinner. Oooooh....bunny fur is sooooo lovely to spin! I'm trying to tell myself that 3 dogs, 9 cats, a parrot, and a tank of fish are enough animals in the house. Really. But....but....bunny fur!!!
We had a nice slow but steady flow of people wandering through our little enclave. We were a block away from the main action. However, just a few houses down from us these folks had set up an enclosure and filled it with snow for kids to romp in.
It was a very popular attraction. I grew up in the midwest US, so it seemed kind of amusing to me to truck in snow. But this is the Arizona desert, and most of the kids around here just don't get the chance to throw a decent snowball on a regular basis. They had a blast!

Ok, I need to get off to bed now. I'll be back out to do it again tomorrow. I'll head out to set up again at about 1 in the afternoon, and should be there until things close down at 10 pm. That makes for a long day...but if it is like today the time will seem to fly!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A tale of two skiens

I model for the life drawing class at the local community college. The students are starting to get bored drawing nude bodies about this time of the semester, so the teachers try to change things up a bit to hold their interest. This last Wednesday the teacher had me bring a costume and my spinning wheel, and we took the class outside under the trees. It was a beautiful day for it! I did some warm up 2 minute gesture poses, and then the teacher had me sit and actually spin yarn for the rest of the class time. Spinning involves small, repetitive motions, so it wasn't too hard for the students to draw the action. And I got to fill a bobbin full of white wool singles over the course of the afternoon.

I actually have several spinning wheels. The one I use for the drawing classes is my Ashford Traditional, because it looks the most like what people think a spinning wheel ought to look like. However, it is also the wheel that I lend to my daughter most of the time. We only have a few bobbins for it, so I figured I had better open this one back up before too long. So today I took the wheel back out with me to my local SCA (Medieval historical recreation) practice. I had a second lovely sunny afternoon to sit and spin, and filled up a second bobbin full of singles.

This evening I took both bobbins full of singles and put them on this Lazy Kate. Now, I don't know who Kate was, and why she was considered lazy, but this device to hold bobbins of yarn while you ply them together is a really useful little gadget!

To ply yarn, I feed the two singles from the bobbins back into the spinning wheel, this time turning the wheel in the opposite direction from my original spinning direction. When the two singles twist back on themselves it strengthens the resulting yarn, and if you do it right it makes a balanced yarn that won't kink up or untwist itself, or bias your stitches. That makes the yarn much nicer for knitting or crochet.

When I had a bobbin full of finished yarn I wound it off into a skein, using my weasel. I think it is technically called a clock reel, but when I was growing up my folks volunteered at a restored colonial farm house on the weekends. They had one of these, and the other volunteers called it a weasel. They said it was the basis for the nursery rhyme, "Pop goes the weasel', because after 40 turns around (or 100 yards) the device would make a clicking or popping sound. (The monkey in the rhyme would have been the child pestering the mother as she was working.) I've since been told this isn't true, but I love the story anyway.

All told, I got two beautiful skeins of two ply wool yarn, for a total of 262 yards. I'm going to have these with me on my table this weekend when I set up at Henny & Ev for their craft show on Friday and Saturday night. (http://www.hennyandevboutique.com/) If they don't find a home though, I'll hold on to them for the next time we've got a dye pot going. I like having a stash of hand spun white wool for playing in the colors.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fairy Stones! Or pattern weights for sewing. I can't decide which.

The other day, I did a tutorial on how to wet felt a rock. (http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/11/tutorial-how-to-make-wet-felted-rock.html) In the comments, Charla mentioned that she was going to make some smaller ones up to serve as pattern weights for sewing. I thought that was a fine idea...

...and then I got to thinking. I have a craft show coming up on Saturday, and there is nothing on my table that is down in kid range. I remember when my kids were younger, how much they enjoyed when there was something colorful and inexpensive in and among the adult priced pretties, that was just for them. It is so frustrating as a kid to have a few precious dollars, and all the lovely things are still way out of your range.

And then in the middle of the night, in that half awake/half asleep phase, I pictured these little soft and colorful stones. And I pictured garden fairies, sunning themselves on river rocks on lovely days. And I thought, if you were very lucky, those fairies might come to visit. Wouldn't it be lovely to have a special cushioned stone seat to offer them, so they would feel welcomed and at home?

So today I scrounged up some little river rocks, and spent several hours making up a batch of Fairy Stones. I'll offer them in my booth on Saturday, so the kids can have something that is just for them.

And so the fairies can have comfortable seats.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tutorial: How to make a Wet Felted Rock

I read the weather report for the craft show I'm slated to be in this coming Saturday, and there is a chance of rain. In Arizona, that also means a good chance of wind. Thinking ahead, I thought it might be a good idea to bring along something heavy to hold things down on my table. Rocks would be good...but plain rocks are kind of boring. I decided that I'd make a felt coating over the rocks, to make them look neat and to fit in better with the theme of my table. Besides, they are fun to do!

Here's what I did:

First I went to my nearest source of fist sized river rocks. That happened to be the dog kennel in my bedroom, because my spaniel thinks he's a rock hound. Seriously. He gathers them from behind the hot tub in the back yard, brings them in, slobbers over them, guards them from the cats, hides them under my pillow, and eventually stashes them in his den.

I picked out a batch. Malcolm and I had a talk. I gave in and let him keep one of his treasures, and took the rest away. He was not amused. This is despite the fact that he still had like a dozen rocks in the crate.

Anyway, now that I had obtained a rock, I also dug through my stash and picked out some wool roving. This is mill end stuff that I got from www.thesheepshedstudio.com/. Make sure when you get roving for felting that you don't get 'superwash' wool. That has been treated to prevent felting.

I broke off a length of roving that was long enough to go around the rock, and feathered it out so it was thin, even, and wide. Then I wrapped it around the rock.

I wrapped another section of roving around the rock at right angles to the first one. Criss crossing the fibers like that makes it easier to felt them together.

I had lots of white, so I used that for the inside layers. Now I added a layer of my base color, again at right angles to the previous layer.

One more layer of base color at right angles to the previous layer, and I had a tribble. No, wait. I had a rock ready to felt.

But I decided that I didn't want a plain colored felt rock. I added some wisps of other colors to decorate it. I know things are going to move around in the next stage, so I wasn't really attached to the exact placement of the decorations. (At this point some people like to put the wool/rock combo into the cut off toe of a nylon, to keep things under control in the next stage. I don't find that necessary, but it can help.)

I took the tribble to the sink, and then coated my palms with a thin layer of dish soap. This serves two purposes. The layer of soap helps keep the fibers from sticking to my hands. And the soap gets down into the fibers, and helps them slip around against each other. Wool fibers felt because they have microscopic scales on them, that kind of velcro together when you add water and agitation. If the water is hot and soapy, the felting goes faster.

I turned on the hot water, cupped both soap slicked hands around the rock, and let the water run through my fingers onto the wool until the wool was wet through. It is hard to show this to you, because I also have to use one hand to take the picture. So this is the wool just after it has been wet down.

Now, making sure there was some soap on my hands, I gently started tossing the rock back and forth between my hands. It was kind of wrinkly, but a skin started to form as the outer layer of wool grabbed on to itself.

Once that outer layer formed, I could toss it back and forth a little harder. The wool started to shrink down against the rock, but things were still pretty mushy. (If I were using a nylon, I'd carefully peel it off at this stage, when the fibers began to migrate through the nylon.)

After awhile things held together, and I could rub the rock and roll it around in my hands in addition to throwing it back and forth. I alternated now and again between adding a dab more soap to keep things slippery, and running the rock under hot water to shock the fibers and keep the suds under control when they started to take over.

Now it was a matter of time. I kept throwing the rock back and forth, rolling it in my hands, slapping it, and generally abusing the wool. After awhile all the mush went away, and I had a solid, seamless coating form fitted to the river rock.

I set it with the other rocks to dry...

...until Malcolm came in to check on me. I put the rock next to him, and he was rather confused. That wasn't his rock, was it???

The dog is convinced I ruined a perfectly good treasure. But I think it will do the trick quite well, and I'll be felting up the rest of the rocks too. (Don't worry--there are plenty more for the fluff brain.) Between the batch of them, I don't think I'll be blowing away come Saturday!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Getting ready for the Glendale Holiday Open House show

Well, this is going to be a new step for me! I'll have a table outside of Henny & Ev (http://www.hennyandevboutique.com/) this coming Saturday as part of the Glendale Holiday Open House event. (http://www.visitglendale.com/news/holidayopenhouse.html) The town is handing out walking maps to the historic downtown area, and we'll be on it.

I've been concentrating on getting my Etsy store up and running, and doing custom orders for people. I haven't actually had a display table of my work for the public in...um...well I did that a couple of decades ago, I think. Once or twice. With a totally different line of art. Oh man, am I getting nervous here!

I've already bought the table, and tracked down an umbrella to borrow for the day. The table space available is only 6 ft, and Kendall (the owner) would prefer that we didn't bring EZ-ups, so the umbrella sun shade is going to be the way to go. I signed up with Square (https://squareup.com/), so I'll be able to take credit cards. That did mean I needed to upgrade my phone, as I was still using mine from about 10 years ago. Somehow, the technology has advanced a wee bit in the past decade. Fancy that. (The sales guy wanted to hang my sim card on the wall as an antique.)

My husband is making me a display stand for my scarves. I wanted two uprights that I could clamp to the table. I'll string a clothesline between them and clip the scarves onto that, so they'll flutter in the breeze but be secure. I got to thinking about it...and conned him into making me an Oseberg style tablet weaving loom. You can see what I'm talking about on my Pinterest board at http://pinterest.com/lissamc/medieval-tablet-weaving-equipment/ . It should work perfectly for my display, and when I'm not using it for shows I can use it for my historical weaving. He's got it a good portion of the way done. I'm sneaky, and he rocks.

Now, I still need to figure out a table cloth, and a basket to hold my juggling balls, and oh yes...having Enough Stock. Which means, I need to get off the computer here, and spend the day making some more of the square head scarves. And steam the baker's dozen of rectangular scarves that are hanging in the middle of the picture up on top there. And do I have enough juggling balls. And...and...Yes, I'm obsessing.

Anyone who wants to leave me some tips in the comments? I'd really appreciate it.

Now...Back to work!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Medieval hand spun and hand woven wool over dress

Awhile back I made a Medieval style dress for the historical recreation group I'm part of. It was made of my hand spun wool yarn, hand woven into fabric and sewn together into a tunic based on an extant piece from about the 1300's. I promised a couple of folks a picture if me in it, but it has been too hot in Arizona to wear it...until today. We had a cold snap last night, and an event today. I finally got to give it a go! I found it very comfortable, and quite cozy.

So for those of you who asked, here is a shot of me in the finished outfit. It is: a hand made wool over dress and linen under tunic. Hand braided belt, and a belt pouch of hand woven fabric with a bead work heraldic overlay. Shoes from http://www.garbtheworld.com/. Carved stone medallion from http://www.gemartist.com/. The only bits that aren't hand made on this ensemble are bits that you can't see...and I'm starting the research on those.

A wrap up of previous posts about this project is here: http://tangibledaydreams.blogspot.com/2011/06/historic-hand-spun-hand-woven-tunic.html

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Modeling for Life Drawing class on Halloween

When I'm not working in my studio, I spend my time modeling for life drawing classes for the local community college. On Halloween, that gets to be lots of fun! One of the teachers came in over the weekend and put together this setting for me to play in.

There was room for me in the center, and little vignettes on either side of the podium.

We usually start a class period by doing 'gesture' poses, which are 1-3 minutes long. They are good for warm ups, and allow me to do some more strenuous and twisty poses. For the afternoon class, one of the students who was in costume came up and posed with me, just for the heck of it.

And then I did some longer poses, which were anywhere from 20 minutes long up to an hour long. I got to play a dead body in both the morning and the afternoon classes. (I took a walk around the room to look at student drawings after the morning dead body pose, and tweaked it a bit to improve it for the afternoon class.)

And the students decided that this pose was Little Red...about to kick some serious wolf tail.

I normally don't get to share this part of my creativity with you, because normally I'm not wearing a heck of a lot for class. But every now and again I get to play with costumes. It is a nice change of pace, both for me and for the students. And there is some really neat artwork that comes out of these sessions!