Monday, June 13, 2011

A Few Months More... I am again, slow to update as usual. It can get pretty frustrating when you are dealing with an illness that isn't showy on the "outside". Instead you are constantly fighting yourself to keep moving forward and doing things even when your pain levels are obnoxious and your "give a s*$t meter" is broken and you'd prefer to just sit like a mushroom and not have to care for even just a little while. *Sigh* Okay, whining over. It has been a tough few years, but I keep moving and stitching and making progress, even if it is just small steps sometimes.

What have I been up to for the past few months? A few small things at least...
First, a confession...I had to give up (briefly) on the dress I was working on in my last blog. It has been a very looooonngg time since I worked on a dress with inset sleeves and I forgot the whole needing to move your arms bit...bleah. When I realized I had cut the sleeves too small, I was only one day away from our changeover event. I wanted to be in a red dress, but I had reached a "stitcher's block" in dealing with the other dress. So I did a crazy thing. I took the velvet Italian and chucked it to the back of the project pile, ran and got some red wool I had been coveting, and then stitched a whole new dress mostly by hand. I actually even have witnesses to my craziness. It even turned out really nice. I based the new dress on some of the transitional Tudor dresses from the late 1400's to the early 1500's. These two pictures were my main focus on design.

I prefer the narrower sleeves of these gowns, so I wanted to emulate that. I also like the simplistic nature of the gowns as well. I lined the wool gown in a lightweight black linen and I did use little black and silver bead findings as "ouches" along the edge of the neckline of the gown. I didn't have enough to go all the way around, and now that I have worn it, I will probably remove them and stick with the more simple look of the plain gown. I also wore the belt and necklaces I made (that are in the previous blog) and I felt quite majestic actually. However, it is odd that every time I try and go for a more formal and dressy look to a gown, the more I end up running back to my more middle-class roots. I am finding that I really like the feel and look of the simple Flemish and early Tudor dresses. I will finish that Italian, hopefully by this summer Coronet, and I will post pictures when I do and perhaps by then I can get pictures of that Tudor as well. Yeah, I know...I wore the transitional Tudor to our Baronial Investiture event, and the only pictures I have of me was when I was wearing the regalia cloaks. Go figure. I'd take a picture of it now, but since my daughter has my camera with her in DC, it would be a bit difficult. *sigh*

Before the next event on Memorial Day weekend, I ended up finally making a 12 panel gown for myself. I know that it isn't a really period gown with the way we shape the pieces and especially with using duct tape to create the fitted pattern in the first place. However, it is similar in appearance to some of the 14th Century coathardies, and the multiple panels allow for fun with different color gores and even heraldic touches to the gown. For my gown, I went with a straight black for the gown and then did my gores in a deep scarlet. I added tippets to my sleeves, embattled the band around the arm and added a crescent to the bottom of the tippet itself. Add to that a simple barbet and veil, and the look is complete. The only downside to the dress at all is that the temperature at Captaincy was in the 90's. That is HOT to us Alaskans. I didn't drop from the heat, but I did end up taking off the veil and hiking the skirts to cool off. However, I really like how it turned out, very much so. I also finished a simple keyhole t'tunic for my husband, and a surcoat for his armor kit...It is kinda neat to match every now and then ;)

I also silk painted some new banners for me and my Hubby. Now that we have stepped down as the seated Baron and Baroness, we actually get to display our personal devices. I wanted to make a larger silk banner for the Barony, so I turned that into a class of sorts which let me teach a couple of others to silk paint and refreshed my memory on what to do. I then painted good sized banners (3'x4') for the two of us, and a full pennant (14"x60") for our household. It was a lot of fun trying to design the larger piece with the devices and a Latin logo to go with it.
My Hubby's Mine
Our household's

I did do some small items for the October Crown "Stitch for the Cure" auction. I sent in a Lagatera needlebook and a small black-worked scissor fob/pincushion. They were fun to work up,and I hope someone enjoys them. I need to get a couple more small things made up for our Coronet event as I hope to be able to get a couple to our new Baroness to give out in the gift baskets she has to give.
Scissor Fob Needlebook

One of the last major projects that I am currently a part of, is the creating of napkins for the incoming Princesses. Due to an attack of life, the gal who was going to make the winter napkins couldn't do it. So another friend agreed to make the napkins...and then SHE became the new Princess. Go Figure :p I didn't think it was right that she would have to give herself a set of napkins, so I made them instead. I used the raven that is appliqued on her garb and based the stitching on that. Also, since I know her well, and I know Alaska well, I felt that simple napkins wouldn't get much use. Instead I made her a set of cup covers that would help keep pesky mosquitoes and wasps from doing the backstroke in her drinks. I think they turned out okay. I am also working on a set for summer Coronet, but these will probably just be blue and white since I won't know who the new princess is until that weekend...

There are a couple of other more modern projects that are in the UFO (Unfinished objects) pile, like a Chuthulu crochet doll, a drawstring pouch in crochet, my needlework set, and a beaded needlecase. I know I have a lot of projects in various states of done-ness, but I fully admit that I am a bit ADD as well as sometimes needing to switch to another project due to pain levels. It sucks, but there it is. Besides, it means that there is always something I can be working on :)

Keep on stitching till next time!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Wow! A new post in less than three month! (Insert sarcasm here...) has been a couple of months and I have tried to stay reasonably busy. So here's a little overview of what I have been up to...and in no particular order or structure :)

First, I have taught two classes in the last month and am gearing up to teach a third. All of these classes are on different styles of blackwork embroidery (which happens to be my favorite) and range from basic counted blackwork, Lagatera/Spanish blackwork, and the last class will be on uncounted blackwork. Fun stuff ;) Actually, the most fun is in creating the patterns themselves. I will admit that I am a pattern junkie and I love drafting out patterns for blackwork on graph-paper. I started doing it years ago, when I was asked to teach a class and felt uncomfortable teaching from a commercial pattern. Even though I don't charge anything for the classes, beyond materials on occasion, it didn't feel right if I couldn't get permission to use the pattern in that way. So, I took towards designing my own. I am sure that nothing I do is totally "original" as many motifs and designs have been used for centuries, but it is the combination and structure of the pattern that makes it original and mine.
Anyway... for the basic uncounted class I drafted a couple of patterns off of a sampler from 1565ce and used it for the class. It is cool to think, that in this small way, that woman who stitched the sampler gets to live on a bit in her motif. It makes me smile. The Lagatera class pattern was adapted from a sampler in the book I have. I have since added a border around the central motif and I expect to turn my little sample piece into a needle-book when I am done with it. I haven't totally finished with the uncounted pattern yet, but it will probably have gilly/carnation flowers or Tudor roses as they were two motifs used a lot.
Here's the counted and Lagatera motifs I taught.

While putting together the patterns for the first two classes, I was given a box of all sorts of random game pieces and boards. Inside the box was a beautiful Parchisi set, with lovely wooden pieces and dice, but a really crappy cardboard playing surface. Ugh. Parchisi is one of my favorite games, next to Backgammon, and it made me think of designing my own board. I have a computer Hoyle board game set that includes Parchisi with a really neat board that has the four seasons in the starting corners. So, using the pieces as a size reference, and 28 count even-weave linen, I patterned out the board using the four season theme as a starting point. The board is now about half finished in the main outlining and I have Fall and Spring designed, Summer almost done, and Winter mostly designed in my head. It should be pretty awesome when it is finished. I've have had to promise myself that I would actually USE the board regardless of how pretty it is...what is the use of making the board so neat if I'll never use it? :)
The board in progress... Patterns!

The next thing on my working list is little presents for a few of the folks who have helped me so much in the SCA, especially in my being Baroness these past 6 years. I will be stepping down from that post, next weekend, and it will be a big change for me. I am finding it a bit sad, but at the same time I am so looking forward to doing even more artsy stuff :) so I can't be all that upset. One of the gifts I made are little sewing kits. A friend shared a pattern with me that was a little felt roll up sewing kit that holds a bobbin of thread and has a space for pins and needles to be tucked in. It is pocket sized and perfect for keeping in a basket or bag for emergency sewing repairs. Too cool! So I made a couple as gifts. I am still working on a couple of beaded necklaces and I have been making a few more lampwork beads as gifts also.
Cute and small and easy to tuck in a pocket or basket :)

I also finally finished that canvaswork piece that I was working on in my last blog. The stitching is done, but I haven't yet mounted it on the box I found to go with it. I still have to stain the box and then get the canvas piece affixed to the top. But it is already so pretty!
Stitching is all done!

On the garb front...I have almost finished a gambeson for a local fighter friend. All that is left at this point is a final fitting, sewing the side seams and attaching ties for closing. It is in black quilted fabric and is edged in blue bias tape. As it is all hand stitched, the seams will be nice and flat and shouldn't bind or be uncomfortable under his armor. The sides are slit and the coat is knee length and follows the Moor-ish style he wears.
The next item or two is that dress of mine. I did get the kirtle re-sized down by a few inches (yeah me!) and it fits well. So I have my partlet, my kirtle, a silk partlet (that still needs to be re-sized), a petticoat, and a outer wool partlet for chilly days. I also have my finished circle mantle cloak that I adore. So that really leaves the overdress....finally deciding on the style was the hardest part of the whole operation!
I have been going through all my books, every painting I could find on the web and in the library, and even picking the brains of a few of my fellow clothing geeks. *Sigh* it has been a trial! However, I think I have finally figured out what I am doing. Most of my quandary has been that I really like how the fronts of the Tudor style gowns look, at least the early Tudors before the front point got so pointy and past the waistline (doesn't really work for those of us more fluffy gals), I prefer the straighter waist-line, the lower cut, square neckline, and the pretty jewels. The catch is, I really HATE those big, droopy, sleeves! I do needlework at events, I help set up, I help break down, I chase kids, I clean, and those obnoxious sleeves get in my way...argh...So, I have been looking at all the other areas around the same time period (1490-1525) that I prefer. Once I started looking through the Italian dresses of that period, I found the styles I want :)

Aren't they spiffy? I especially like the sleeves in the third picture with their strips of the fancy fabric and the puffs of the "chemise" underneath. I also really love the first picture as well, besides the fact that she is fluffy like me :)
So I have mostly settled on a style and structure for my overdress. I have the bodice cut out and the structure begun. I am working with a red cotton velvet I had in my might not be a "correct" fabric, but it is close enough for luxury within my budget, and that is a good thing. The dress will be lined in lightweight linen, and it will be front closing. I haven't been successful in fully confirming or denying that the Italians also had dresses with a placket or "stomacher" covering the front openings. At this time, I am planning on either using a stomacher, or using the period trick of using ribbon or trim to cover the front opening and then using hooks and eyes or hidden lacing rings to close the dress. I don't think it is too far fetched to be an English woman who is making a dress in the "Italian style" to use English tailoring as well. So much was similar and swapped back and forth that it isn't that much of a stretch. I will continue searching though.
While doing the research on my dress, I finally got into all the glass pearls and silver jewelry spacers that I have been accumulating for the past few years. I have wanted to make a jewelry set for a dress: choker, long chain, and girdle belt. I finally got it together :) One iffy note is how the belt is closed...the few pictures I can find (that doesn't have the person's hands in front of the center of the belt) just shows a complete centerpiece and nothing that looks like a closure. I did find a site that sells re-creation pieces that are used by a lot re-enactors in England and I liked the look of her closures. Using a toggle style clasp is not a stretch and actually makes sense, especially putting the closure towards the back. So that is what I did. I'll continue looking for more info on that as well, but for now, I am happy with the general appearance.

I put the girdle belt pomander up by the neck so you could see the neat piece I was given. It does open, and I want to put a small bag of lavender, or something else nice and pretty smelling, in it.

So, that is where I am right now. I am sure that I have forgotten a thing or two, and I do have more irons in the fire that are modern but crafty. I am still finishing the bee sewing set, and I am also working with two girl scouts to earn their Junior Girl Scout Bronze Award by doing craft decorations for the local senior center's Easter brunch. Busy, but fun!

Keep crafting! :)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I am a horrible blogger...I'll admit it :P

It has been nearly 7 months since I wrote last. I've been good about taking pictures and trying to keep a record of things I have done (although I missed a few) and I have been continuing to push myself out of my comfort zone. To that end, I have tried several new things since July.

In early September, I attended a glass bead making class. I have always been fascinated by glass beads made with a gas torch, but I will admit that I was a total coward about dealing with anything flaming and hot. Well, after a full three hours and six beads later, I realized that it was FUN! I have since picked up the basic materials for doing it at home. However, I am limited for a while until the snow melts and I can move back outside. I can make some beads indoors, but not many and not for long. Our house is just not set up for removing the fumes that are created while running the gas. I will probably see if I can go over to my Hubby's shop and make some beads there. I'd like to have enough to give away as gifts when I step down from my position as Baroness in our local SCA group. It would make me happy to be able to give away something made by me. :)
My Beads...Not amazingly round, but not bad for my first beads EVER....

In October, I went back to the same glass shop and attended a class on fused glass ornaments. I learned how to cut glass, choose colors for overlaying, how to attach and decorate the glass shapes with "stringers" of thin glass and how to attach hangers so I can hang my ornaments up. It was a blast! It isn't something I can repeat anytime soon as I don't have a kiln :( I can easily get the glass and cutters, but the kiln is way out of reach in cost right now. However, the skills I learned from this class show me that I should be able to handle the stained glass class. Hopefully, I can take that class sometime this spring.

I turned them into a mobile :) My Bee

In November, I took a basket making class. This was especially cool as I took it with six of my closest SCA friends, and we had a fabulous time! One of the best parts of the class was the fact that we were using materials that were actually pretty close to medieval materials, and the basket style we chose is one that existed before 1600ce. The class took the entire time from 9am till 5pm, but it was worth every minute. I now have a reed market basket that is as pretty as some I can buy....but I made it :D
Isn't it pretty? It is hanging here for the protective oil varnish to dry...

Outside of classes, I still stayed pretty busy with projects. I did a small embroidered book cover/girdle book for a friend who has become my protege' in all things service oriented in the SCA. I wanted it to be a token that was "me" without being hugely obvious and obnoxious. So, I used black linen and embroidered a bumblebee design with red and white wool. I think it turned out pretty. I also stitched two modern needlework pieces; one in cross-stitch and blackwork, and the other was in canvaswork. I haven't decided what to do with the blackwork piece yet, but I am thinking of using it as a box top. The canvaswork one will be a gift for my Mom-in-law and will probably be framed. I am in the middle of another canvaswork that is all in yellow. It is the perfect pick-me-up for a dreary February. After I finish it, I will go back to my bumble bee and hive needle accessory set that I am making in canvaswork and cross-stitch. I have only one more piece to actually stitch, then I can do the finishing on all the pieces. I have been working on this for over two years, bit by bit, with lots of breaks for other stitch work. It will be an absolute pleasure to have the set finished.
The token My pouch for the auction
Book cover canvaswork
my blackwork piece (from the pattern in Monica Ferris' Blackwork mystery)
In progress... this too....

I made quite a bit of jewelry for Christmas presents and SCA gifts and I didn't manage to take a single picture before I gave it all away. Oh well. I tend to do that a lot, especially if an item is a gift. I get so caught up in the pleasure of the giving, that I forget to take a second or two and get a picture. There are probably hundreds of items out there that I have no record of...and sometimes no recollection either! Silly, I know. The important thing is that all of the people I gave jewelry to seems to be very happy with what I made. That is more important to me than any record of their making :)
I also did a fair bit of bobbin lace making this fall. I created a total of six ornaments in lace and brass rings. I traded one off in a lace card exchange that I also did lace on the card for. I gave one as a gift to a SCA friend who was visiting Alaska for the first time. Three went into a ornament exchange at our needlework guild Christmas party, and the last one is going to a friend from that same guild. *Whew*.
Here is the card and one of the ornaments. The other ornaments are different colors and some have slightly different shapes (diamond and flower shapes), but they are all similar enough that one picture should suffice ;)

I have half a lace handkerchief edging done and I hope to have it finished and on a linen hanky before the fair in August. After teaching the class at the SCA event this summer, I was asked to come in to our local senior center and do a class there. I had four ladies who came and seemed to have a good time. One of the ladies had worked lace before and was just needing a basic refresher. It was fun, and I would love to teach more, but I am still such a newbie myself. I haven't done that much beyond Torchon, just a couple of free-lace pieces. I have designed a couple myself, but they were really basic. It is a start though, and one I intend to keep working on.

I also taught a needlework class for the North Star Needlework Guild in October. I usually do an ornament class that is usually in plastic canvas. However, last year I went with a blackwork ornament, and this year I decided to mix hardanger with a bit of Lagatera blackwork. I think it came out pretty and was challenging enough to keep the guild members on their toes :) Next year I'll probably go back to plastic canvas as I have an idea for a really cool 3-D one...and plastic canvas is great for 3-D designs.
The hardanger cutting, but kloster blocks and eyelets instead. Lagatera blackwork mixes blocks of color in with the double running stitches.

Just in case you are wondering, yes, I did work on garb also. I ended up making another rapier armor coat, this time for my son, Galyn. He is still looking at a more Russian style, so his coat reflects that. We need to secure his short sleeves somehow, since they tend to catch the rapier blade tips. I would like to get his big wool coat off of the drawing board also, so hopefully I can have that done in the next month or so.
I finished another part of my hand-done garb as well as a couple of sets of sleeves to wear with my kirtle. As far as the hand done stuff, I have the kirtle done, the partlet, a coif, and now I have a wool Flemish overgown as well. I found a pretty blue wool that worked perfectly for the over gown. I lined it in linen and it wears like a dream. I am debating about hemming it a bit shorter as it puddled a bit too much. The hand done smock is taking the longest amount of time since it has a great many more seams and is more detailed to put together. I plan on making the collar and cuffs ruffled with blackwork on them as well. I am aiming for summer Coronet to have the whole thing done. It did dawn on me, however, that I am not going to be wearing a circlet at Coronet this summer. I step down as Baroness in April, so I will be handing the circlet over to someone else. This means that I can actually wear a proper head covering! Hmmm...I guess that means one more thing on the drawing board. I also have to take my kirtle in by 3" or so because of the weight loss as well as my silk partlet. I know, it is at least a good reason to complain with a smile :)
my hand done kirtle with linen sleeves and my partlet.
The kirtle is actually reversible black to blue, so it is the same one from above that is here:
See, too long...and the partlet shouldn't overlap. I didn't realize how much I had changed since this summer.... (btw, the odd white thing hanging from my laces is a token from Viscountess Esperanza...she had just given it to me as a thank you :D )

One last silly thought....the spell checking feature has a COW over names and specialty terms like Torchon, Blackwork, Lagatera, makes me laugh :D

Anyway, that is it for now. Thanks for reading, and happy stitching!