Tuesday, March 31, 2009

It's been almost a full month since I posted last. I am not surprised, but I am disappointed in myself. I haven't been on the ball as much as I would like. However, I have gotten some different things done over this past month.
First, our local needlework group had our monthly meeting on Monday, March 16th, and the class taught was on Kumihimo Japanese braiding. I have watched several of my friends over the past year as they have made these really pretty and sometimes ornate cords using a disk and bobbins. The cords they were making were thicker and more fancy than those I can make using the Viking braiding. I have wanted to learn, but each time there was a class in our SCA group, I got called away for one reason or another. The North Star Needlework Guild is a modern needlework guild, and we strive to teach different classes all year long...this time I could actually just SIT there and learn the technique. So far I have just learned a simple 7 strand project, but I hope to keep learning new patterns as I go along. It is a project that is just the right size to slip in to a purse and travel. Wheee!
I have finished a few more inches on the garter and have about 10 inches of blackwork done.... I'll keep plodding along on those. I am hoping that as the sun returns and the days keep getting brighter and warmer, that I will get my energy back too. I think of it as kind of a solar battery...and this Alaskan gal has been run down for a while. It is pretty today though, even with the new inch of snow. I sure am getting tired of white though.....Come On Green!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

It was a busy weekend, as usual. I did get a little bit done, but I had to spend most of Saturday out and about doing Girl Scout cookie sales and attending a 1yr old's Birthday party. I then had guests in the evening playing Tarot (an awesome card game...makes pinochle look Easy!!). Needless to say, Saturday was shot for getting needlework done. I did work on some during fighter practice on Sunday, and I got my cuffs back out to work a bit more on them as well.
My main accomplishment for the weekend was getting some bobbins made up for making Viking Whipcord. My mentor agreed to do the site tokens for a big event this fall, and he needs to have cord enough for about 300 tokens both in necklace and bracelet sizes. He decided on doing Viking braiding and got a set of wooden spatulas to use as bobbins. They work, but are rather unwieldy to catch and return. (If you don't know what the heck I am talking about, and would like to know...check out http://genvieve.net/sca/whipcording-howto.html). The lovely lady who taught me how to do the braiding long ago, used wooden snowmen forms that she found on clearance at Joann's Fabrics. Well, me being the rather anal person I am, though that the spatulas stink for making that much cording and I wasn't lucky enough to find the snowmen anywhere. So, I took it upon myself to make my own. I was silly in that I didn't check out the web before I went shopping, or I would have found this web page with a way to make them http://www.wymarc.com/artifacts/classes/Whipcord%20bobbin%20handout.pdf.
Funnily enough, going on my own to the craft store and creating my own design, my bobbins strongly resemble his. Great minds think alike I guess. His have less of a neck, but since I do bobbin lace making, I made the Viking bobbins resemble more of what I would use for bobbin lace, only much larger. I found all the wood bits at the local Michaels Crafts, and it was pretty inexpensive. Here is what I did....

3-3/8" Shaker pegs

3" Candlesticks

2" doll head balls

I wrapped the ends of the shaker pegs with glue and size 10 crochet cotton. This is what I am using for the cording, so it was on hand. It fills the gap between the candlestick and the peg, and provides even more surface area for the glue to bond. I used Aleene's Tacky Glue for putting the pieces together.

Glue the shaker peg to the candlestick

Glue the ball to the bottom

Set aside and let dry (the tops of the cording balls worked great for holding them to dry, but dixie cups might work as well).

I found that they are good to go within an hour or so, and Aleene's Glue will put up with most anything. On a whim I gave one of the bobbins to the 10 month old running around the house, and she didn't manage to get it apart...drool and everything. They work really well for making the cord, and they feel good in the hand. They also have the benefit of looking similar to bobbins used in the Viking era. They should also be good for making cording with many different weights and kinds of threads. I will probably put a coat of sealant over the wood, or I may just wax them instead....not sure yet. I used a playing card holder and a small binder clip to help control the finished cording. You can get those at toy stores, or at least that is where I got mine. I hang the bobbins by a knot on a nail over my kitchen doorway. It lets me work a necklace length before have to wind it up.
Don't they both look thrilled? :) Actually, they enjoy making the cording, they just don't like getting their picture taken doing it..not that I blame them! I managed to make 4 sets of bobbins: one I gave one set to my mentor, one for myself, and two are going to be available for anyone to use to help in making the cording. The colors I used are royal blue, green, gold and silver which are the four colors being used by the two groups the event is for in August. It does make a neat looking cord. Anyeay, that's done...now back to stitching blackwork!

Friday, March 6, 2009

I know, I know....still behind and as scattered as ever :) Oh well, it is the story of my life. I have gotten a bit done though. I have about 10 inches of lace done and it looks pretty good. If I can stay at this pace, then I have no worries on it being finished well before the wedding. That is good :) I do have to get my friend started on her little "Baby Heather" edging for the sheets though. I'll probably end up helping do the pillowcases, but I would love to see her finish the sheet edging on her own.
I cut out the smock and shirt cuffs and have left them as one long strip. I put the strip onto a scroll frame and then transferred my blackwork pattern onto the fabric using a water erasable pen that I have had good sucess with in the past. I chose to use silk to stitch with as it seems to be the thread of choice in the extant examples shown in the Janet Arnold books, and I am using black to keep the color theme going in the outfit. I am using Rainbow Gallery's Splendor 12 ply silk, and I have broken it down to two thin strands that I am stitching with. this is a good long strand silk and is actually pretty tough thread, but very nice to work with. I want the stitching durable since it will be on my smock and my husband's shirt, but I also want it to look correct and feel good both in the stitching and in the wearing. I am also trying to keep it as reversable as possible, but I do have to tie it off somewhere, so I do have the occasional thick spot. I see that also in the surviving peices, so I don't feel too bad about mine.
Here's the front...
and here's the back....
I've been doing the double running stitch along the vine and then around the leaves and through the next section of the vine. I leave the vine undone until I run out of thread, and then I start my new thread at the beginning of the vine section, filling in until I get to where I left off. It works, and it leaves fewer bulky sections, I think...
I am paranoid about getting it dirty, so I have only been stitching on it at home and then only when the babies are napping or it is late and the kids are in bed. Needless to say, it has been slow going so far.
Another thing that has been slowing me down is simply that between the teething babies I watch, and my own kids' activities, I have been running around pretty crazily. Between Scouting and TaekwonDo, I have been doing a lot of waiting around but away from home. Being the person I am, I can't just wait around, I need to do Something! So I picked up some beautiful bamboo and acrylic yarn and am crocheting myself a scarf. I haven't "just crocheted" in awhile and this stuff feels so soft! I couldn't resist, and while I actually have to pay attention to most stitch work, the crochet I can just do without really watching my hands. It made attending my daughter's TaekwonDo testing a bit more enjoyable. I do like to watch her when she is actually doing something, but at testing it can be a lot of waiting too. So I got a goodly bit done while I was there...
I'll add fringe at the ends when the scarf is done. I love how it feels so far. It is going to feel heavenly around my neck :) I am always amazed at how wonderful bamboo feels.
Here is a picture of my daughter at her testing :)
She passed, so she now has green strips on her belt...She was so proud of herself :) Her brother will test in April for his next rank. He is just a few short steps away from his black belt. A bit nerve wracking for him, but I know he can do it.
The last thing I have been playing around with is an old kit that resurfaced when I was looking for a scroll frame for the cuffs. It is an African Folklore kit and it is rather fun to do. It is all very simple as there aren't any rules to the piece at all. The design is printed on the cotton fabric, and you are provided a hank of riotous colors to play with. The threads are a mix of cotton perl and wool and are very bright. It is the perfect thing to pick up your spirits when the lack of sun starts getting to you. I have been doing mostly chain stitch and some stem. I rather like the look of the voided spaces rather than filling it up with satin stitch. It is my other "travel around" kit right now.

That is it for now. I know I need to get more on track, but I think the influx of new snow hasn't helped my sense of wanting to hibernate. I could really use some green about now....