Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh boy... I bought a Great Wheel...

For those of you on FB, you already know (yeah, yeah; groan)...
I bought a Great Wheel! EEEEE!!!! (and OMG, what was I thinking???)
I was sure Mom would kill me, the thing is huge. She said, "if you didn't buy it I'd have killed you." Whew.

So, without further ado, meet my new toy. It's not in working order yet, so no name. Apparently it's a "thing" to name your spinning wheel. Go figure.

(please forgive the blankets, you couldn't see the wheel for all the other wooden furniture in the basement)

It has a double drive head, also known as a Miner / Minor, (I'm not 100% on the spelling, I've seen it both ways in different books & as it's the guy's name, I don't know which one is right). That head can be replaced with a direct drive head, which suits me fine as I can use that at earlier events should I ever be so insane as to tote this thing on the road with me - and we all know I'll do it someday. Need to find some replacement spindles though.

Everything seems to be in good working order - I had to replace one spoke on the drive wheel, reinforce one leg socket with wood filler & sand rough edges on the wheel itself and the base to reduce the likelihood of splinters (which I got the moment I picked it up).
I reconditioned & re-stained the bits of newly raw wood with a nice walnut stain that matches the original very well.

Next is getting out the wax to give everything a nice buffing, then oiling the various movable bits & replacing the drive bands/strings - which I've learned to do just today - in theory.

The bearings that hold the spindle on also need replacing, these are made of braided corn husks or leather (hear Gail parrot what she's learned) - nothing was there when I bought it. I'm going with leather as I have lots on hand. The ties that hold the Miner wheel in place also need replacing, which you can see here. Fortunately, I have plenty of linen thread as well.

The truly lovely thing about this wheel is that everything comes apart except the drive wheel, so if need be, I can pack it to an event.

There is some minor damage like chips out of wooden bits, but so far, everything works. We will see how things go once I get the drive bands on & start trying to align everything. Unfortunately for me, the paper label on the drive head has mostly fallen off. There are a few tiny & very dingy letters showing at the very bottom which I have carefully avoided when cleaning.

From what little I understand about this monstrously huge piece of equipment, you can spin anything on it except warp yarn due to the tension necessary to make that strong yarn. I don't know if this is true, but I don't really care, the drop spindle can handle that - no problem, should it ever become necessary.

Speaking of the drop spindle, I'm down to fairly consistent thread-thickness yarn from the Finn fleece. I'm learning a lot, no longer doing the park & draft thing except when I have to splice, I'm finally spinning at a decent clip. Adding hand cream to my finger tips did wonders for the yarn. Lots of carding and pre-drafting made an amazing difference. My poor little dog slicker brush is about dead.

Once I get a good bit of thinner yarn, I'll measure it out & dye up various colors, probably this spring. Most of the dyestuffs I have now are yellow, green, gray, brown or red.

So if you were wondering how I was spending my Winter Holiday, it's being covered in sawdust, wood glue, stain & wax in the basement with my Moon-cat who is totally in love with "her" fleece and has hidden a sizable chunk in a chair cave, which she spends all day guarding... like a furry little black dragon with some stinky, greasy treasure. Seriously, I've had to deliver breakfast to her 3 days in a row just so she'll eat something before we give her her medicine. I'm a bit jealous right now.
And poor Shadow, he can't find a lap to sit in because when I finally sit down for the night I'm leaning forward with the spinny-thing & always telling him "not now BugHead." At first he thought it was fun to watch, now he gives it dirty looks. I've had to put it down & pay attention to him several times to avoid the Punishment of Puke.

On that note, I'm going to go socialize with my family & kidnap my cat from her Treasure Cave because I'm feeling the need for some quality time with the people I love.
-Never mind, it's t-v time...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Holidays Everyone!

(sorry I'm a bit late, internet issues).
Drive safe & sober, or drink then have someone who is sober drive safely for you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Early 1800's stays

Here's some info on early 1800's stays & corsets, a bit of "how to," a few originals from the Met to drool over & my most recent finished products.
(pictured left, 1810 corded corset that I just finished & still have to wash the pencil markings off).

Basic Observations:
1: Most stays / corsets from this era were made from cotton or linen, were simple fabrics in white, brown, cream or neutral colors. Embroidery, threadwork & cording as decoration were common. Cording also serves as a structural element.
2: They were genuinely underwear. Never intended to be seen by anyone other than the person assisting you to dress or undress.
3: Surviving examples of front & back lacing stays/corsets seem to be about equal.
4: While this style lifts the bust up it does not constrict the waist - some cuts & construction can smooth the torso.
5: Wide spaced shoulder straps have a tendency to slip off the arms - very annoying.
6: Separate busk pockets (sewn on separately) are as common as built-in busk pockets (between the 2 layers).
7: Single layer corsets were very common.
8: Divorce corsets (with busk separating the bustline) were as common as shelf-style corsets (single bust with cleavage), at least in surviving examples. Fashion commentary says the divorce corset was most popular.
9: Short Stays were more common 1790-1815... Long stays/corsets were more common 1810-1840, but both seem to have been worn throughout 1790-1840.
10: Adjustable drawstrings at the bustline seem equally common as a fixed band.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a fantastic collection of stays & corsets - worth browsing.
Interestingly enough, my great grandmother used to make her living (a good living) by making corset covers. She would crochet the most beautiful designs, tat lace & sew it all on the fine linen base.

This is a great example of a nursing corset? with squared off gussets
it's listed as 1810-50, American.

(if anyone can tell me how to make a link of a picture, that would be fantastic).

Speaking of squared off gussets, here's how...
1: cut Y slit.
2: lay triangular gusset to align bottom stitching line with the base of the Y, stitch across leaving the side seam allowance open.
3. Flip gusset up.
4. Flip gusset over so right sides of fabric are together & first side of slit is aligned with side of gusset. Stitch that side.
5. Open up & flip to other side, stitch
6. Press open & top-stitch to outer fabric (not gusset) for maximum strength.

Most Awesome American Corset Ever... if you like folk art, which I do.

I love this one for so many reasons, not least of which is the simplicity of the cut. But that embroidery is just fantastic!

Anyway, you get the idea... after perusing that site - now go make something.

Here are some that I just finished making, which are currently listed on my For Sale page.

1790-1820 Transitional Stays / Short Stays
Double layer of cotton twill (it's coutil or as close to it as I've seen recently - though it wasn't sold as that). Some cording, lightly boned, laces in front. Bound with brown cotton.
Measures 34.5 bust, 30 underbust.

1810-40 Corded Corset
Double layer of cotton twill, lightly boned with cane, some cording in the front. Spiral laces in back. Adjustable front with a separate busk pocket that buttons closed.
Measures 42 bust, 32 waist, 42 hips. There should be a 2"-4" gap in back between the laces.

1810-40 Simple Corded Corset
Same as above, but it's single layer, unreinforced except for the back. It has a wooden busk in a separate pocket, adjustable top & 2 bones at center back for stability.
Measures 37" bust, 28" waist, 37" hips

1810-40 Simple Corded Corset
Same as above, but has pink binding & a waistband reinforcement. This was a fun addition that gives it just a touch of "extra."
The bustline on this is quit low, so it's suitable for the 1798-1808 era with the "I'm falling out" look.
Measures 40" Bust, 31" waist 46" hips

The nice thing about this style of stays is that the hips don't have to be "filled out" for the stays to fit.

Here's a quick how-to adjust the top of this particular style. (It's pretty self-explanatory, but I took the photos, so why not?)

1: Lace stays up the back.

2: Tighten bust drawstrings to fit.

3: Adjust shoulder straps & re-adjust bust drawstring.
Button busk pocket flap.

At this point, the only thing you may have to re-adjust are the shoulder straps as you take the garment off & on... but probably not.

Personally, I like the shoulder straps to be placed "in" just a bit farther than what is historically accurate, they don't slide down quite as much & I have full arm movement. I also prefer the adjustable vs. fixed straps because I gain & lose weight from my shoulders most often.
I also like the over-bust cut more than the 1/2 bust. It limits my evening-dress options, but I feel a bit better that I'm not going to flash anyone if I bend over the fire. My Regency Era dresses also tend to be high-necked day-dresses & informal wear, so the low-cut isn't as much of an issue... but if you attend Jane Austin balls, you may want to consider the lower cut.

I'm torn between the full length stays with the busk & the shorter Transitional Stays. I like both for different reasons. The full-length stays/corset provide nice support & structure beneath the dress for my full-figure build... but the short stays are divine on hot days.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ATT: Items Stolen from Lord Nelson's Gallery, PA

Dear Readers, Friends & Fellow Living Historians,

Several items have been stolen from Lord Nelson's Gallery in Gettysburg, PA. Knives, quill work sheaths, warclubs and a pipe tomahawk.

Please take a look at his blog post & keep your eyes out for the items on e-bay, or even on a tr
ade blanket.
Be sure to check back to his blog to stay updated.
Let's help Mr. Lower recover his items.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spinning - Fleece #2, Finn Sheep

This isn't a tutorial, just a brief post on the 2nd fleece that I'm having a blast with.

It's a Finn sheep, much finer & shorter wool than the Dorset that I started with. The locks average 3" - 5" long. They have a delightful crimp & flick carding is super-easy. None of this "picking" business that happened with the Dorset (which is nice too). Once the wool is carded it's almost invisible. Kinda cool.

I scoured the whole fleece (it was small) all at once, 3 washes, 3 rinses. It came mostly clean.
It dried in 3 days in the basement, unlike the Dorset which took a solid week even with being set in the sunshine on 90+ days.

I'm pulling each lock individually, flick carding it, then flicking a bunch of locks together to get a good pre-drafted bunch. Pre-drafting into loops, then spinning on a high whorl drop spindle.
The final product is coming out like a mid-weight embroidery floss, or crochet thread.

Only problem I've had with it is that if it breaks, it's nearly impossible to splice because once the fibers are aligned they like to stay that way & don't want to grab on to the un-spun bits, even with brushing it out again. So I'm working with shorter bits, which is fine.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Duck Tape Dress Form, Part 1.5: not quite done

Happy Thanksgiving!

I just want to put a note in here that I'm still working on my husband's body double.

The issue I'm having is that as the Great Stuff spray foam dries it is sucking/pushing the duck tape form in various directions. Not horribly, but it's not all pretty like it was. It is much harder & more durable than the other things I've used to stuff forms with, but the way I did it this time is not how I'll do it next time.

That's all... I'm still hoping for a usable form.

Eat lots, sleep well!

NOTE: it's bad. Really, really bad. DO NOT USE SPRAY FOAM! After $60 in materials & many hours of work the distorted & deformed results aren't pretty.
I may try to "save" it, but still deciding if it's worth the extra effort or not. I'm leaning towards not.

I will post the "how to" bits right up to where it went wrong, then I'll post "how not to" just for ironic giggles.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Duck Tape Dress Form, Part 1: the model

A moment of silence, please, for my husband's old Dress Form.
The John Doll is dead, Long live The John Doll!

So, yeah. The old John Doll is officially toast. "He" doesn't stand up anymore. It leans so far back that I can't get a decent picture to save my life, even with the shoulders propped on the wall. It was a good run, nearly 4 years for something that shouldn't have lasted 2.
My wonderful husband (who either really, really loves me or is tired of being pricked with pins), agreed to stand for another dress form. Yay!

As promised, here is how I make duck tape dress forms (Part 1).

1: Supplies & Tools
Get thyself a willing model who will neither whine, complain nor press charges after not being able to move for 2.5 hours.
Get thy model a sacrificial t-shirt (preferably old & stained).
Get thy model an entertaining movie to minimize whining & complaining (Alice in Wonderland).
Thy model must have comfortable shoes.
Get thy model to the lavatory before the taping begins! (and yourself).

***Your model should stand straight with their hands on their hips. This helps to keep pelvis, back & shoulders aligned & will make your life much easier in the sewing room. Lift hand when necessary for taping.***

You'll also need several rolls of duck tape (preferably different colors - it'll make your life much easier). We went through 6 small rolls.
Some form of flat, flexible outer bracing: cane, plastic boning, zip-ties, etc.
A center pole of some kind (most important): PVC pipe, broom handle, dowel, etc.
Cross-bracing material: wood, cardboard, wooden hanger etc.
Something to fix the cross-braces with: glue, screws, tape, etc.
Something to reinforce it with: more cane, cardboard (heavy & cereal box), more duck tape, etc.
Stuffing: shredded paper, polyfill, scrap fabric (heavy), spray foam *Don't do it Past Gail! You'll regret it!*, plastic bags, whatever.
A sharpie marker.
Band-aids - these are critical!
Light weight fabric that you can easily pin to, needle, thread.
Hot glue gun & glue sticks that actually fit in the gun.

Keep in mind that you don't want this to get too heavy, but you need it to be sturdy. Decide ahead of time if this is going to be a shelf-sitter or a hanging design.
Mine is going to be a shelf sitter.
In "Part 2" I'm going to use spray-foam for a (hopefully) sturdy body around a lightweight wooden frame.

2: Taping Basic Body Lines:
First, mark the center Front & Center Back in pieces of duck tape. Don't try this with one long piece, use 4" - 12" pieces.

Next, tape the chest, waist & hips. Tape the front & back first, then pull the t-shirt in at the sides. Be consistent, what you do to one side, do to the other (unless you know it was wrong).

3: Cross-marking the Body:
Put X of tape across the shoulders at the Center Back & across the chest at Center Front.
Also diagonals above the chest around the underarms, sides of the belly, etc... anywhere that is "in" needs X taping. Anywhere that is "out" should still be t-shirt (breasts, belly, shoulder blades).

4: Taping "With the Body"
Continue around in the X patterns or just diagonals... like walking up or down a hill (easier to take a diagonal than go straight). Tape the underarms & shoulders, small of the back, belly, etc.

Anywhere that is "out" (breasts, belly, shoulder blades) use shorter pieces of tape in a herring bone pattern. If the tape starts to buckle, use shorter pieces, or cut the tape lengthwise & overlap the ends so they lay flat. It doesn't have to be perfect, but the fewer creases you have to fight, the better.

5: 1st Layer Done.
When the torso is totally covered with duck tape, let your model walk around... you take a break too. No bending, twisting or stretching, that will distort the shell.

Leave the shoulders fairly open at this point, that way your model won't be totally encased for a while.

6: Outer Supports
I'm using 1/2 round 1/4" basket cane (same stuff I use for stays) to help support the outside. It's flexible, easy to use & sturdy.

Tape the center back down the spine. You may want to do 2 of these one beside the other for maximum support.
Tape 2 across the back (try not to cross the canes in the same place - this will reduce bulk).
Tape one either side from just over the shoulder down the outside of the shoulder blade to the bottom of the shirt.
1 on each side from underarm to hem.
1 on the outside of the chest, from just above the shoulder (overlaps/next to the one on the back), to the hem of the shirt.
2 crossed over the front just at the bustline from shoulder to hem.
(You are actually going to end up cutting through the front braces, you can re-brace this later)

Basically, brace it anywhere you can that makes sense on that particular body.

7: 2nd Layer
Now, start covering the shell with another layer of duck tape. Use a different color so you can keep track of how many layers. Overlap each piece so it forms a harder shell.
I start with the shoulders because it's very important to get that done as soon as possible.

Start building out the shoulders & hemline.
Go right to the bottom of the hemline on the t-shirt, you can always cut stuff off later.

8: Get Embarrassing Photo of Husband In Hot Pink Duck Tape Shirt!! (this is the most critical stage of the whole process).

Oh, also, put some cross-bracing across the shoulders, that will stabilize the weight-baring portion of the dummy... it'll also make it impossible for Poor Husband to move.

Take a break... a short one.
You may notice that at this point the duck tape has eaten the skin off your fingers. This would be past the time when you want to put band-aids on. The tape won't stick to the band-aids & it'll save your skin.

Before moving on to the third layer, make sure all the tape is actually laying flat. Smooth it with your hands (gently) and press down any bits that are sticking up. If it's a friend & a sensitive area, ask them to do that.

9: 3rd Layer
Cover pretty Hot Pink with Boring White.
Again, start at the shoulders & work as fast as possible. By now you are both saying "ow, ow, ow!" He because he can't move, you because you have no skin left on your fingers.

Really pay attention to areas that need reinforcing. Build out the shoulders, neckline & hem. Fill in the waist a little extra. This is a stress point & what you lose in measurements you will gain in stability.

10. 3rd Layer Done!
Take a step back, let your model walk around. Look for any weak areas & fill in last-minute gaps.

Your model should be in massive amounts of pain about now & you should barely be able to rip more tape off.

Isn't it pretty? OK, let's get him out before he calls the paramedics.

11. Draw your "Exit Line"
Very important to actually DRAW THE LINE. Don't make it neat. You will need the marks to line up the cut-away to re-tape it in a few minutes.
Or be neat & make cool little cross-marks to help line it up.

Plot the line where it breaks as few supports as possible, and will be easy to cut. Usually in the "low" or "in" spots. Avoid any sharp curves, they are a pain to tape up.

(See that little half-smile? It's because he knows he's getting out in a few moments).

12. Cut Me Out!
If you are cutting over bare skin, make sure your model "sucks in" and that you put your fingers between the scissors & your friend.

Don't Cut Your Friend!
Don't cut your husband either, he knows where you sleep.

If you are working over a bra or corset, make sure you don't cut that either. Girls get a bit testy when you cut their underwear. Also beware belt loops, etc.

13. Actually Getting Out
Take your cues from your model. You want to get them out of this with as little bending & deformation to the dress form as possible. Remember, they can move, the dress form can't.
It took me & Mom holding the shoulders up & John sliding out by kneeling down to get him out of this.

BEHOLD! My husband has escaped! (he literally threw his shirt on & ran for the door to get dinner - we were both starving by then).

14. Sealing the Escape Hatch
Now, you've cut this giant gaping HOLE in your pretty dress form, you've got to tape it up. This will take 2 people. One to hold it in place, one to stick the duck-tape band-aid on.

Start at the top, line up the cut & tape it. Overlap your tape marks as you go to the bottom, but Do Not overlap the edges of the dress form.
Now, CAREFULLY tip it & gently support it and tape the inside of the slit.

Set it back up.
Cut 8" long supports to lay beside the ones you cut. Overlap the cut in the same direction and tape. This will stabilize that section of the dress form again.

It's pretty fragile right now, so you have to work fast & gently.

15. Stabilizing the Dress Form.
Tape the neck line from the outside in. You may have to cut a slit in the duck tape to get it to lay flat on the inside. This is important because you are going to be sticking your hand inside there several times & you don't want it to deform.
Do the same with the hemline. Go ALL THE WAY to the bottom of the hemline.

After you do that, take more cane & tape/wrap it around the bottom edge of the dummy. This will give it some horizontal support & help it to not distort too much as you handle it.
Cut long cereal box cardboard strips & tape them to the inside bottom edge. This will add further stability to the bottom without adding outside bulk.
Once that is done, check that the shoulders are even & the front/back is straight (not leaning one way or the other). Even it up by cutting "low" areas off. Re-tape for stability.

On the shoulders, make sure the tape is evenly spaced (same on right as on left) and cut the sleeves off. Wrap tape from inside to outside to create a smooth armhole.
Bend some cane around the top of the shoulders & the edge of the armhole for added stability. The shoulder area can't possibly have enough support - this is what holds the clothes up.

When you are sure the dress form isn't going to collapse while you sleep, stop for a while, clean up, (save the duck tape rolls - you'll need those!) & go to bed.

The rest will be continued in "Part 2: finishing a duck tape dummy," (or something like that).

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Few Odd Things

Some random thoughts have been binging around in my head lately... I've had a lot of time to think, read, etc.

On a personal & business note: I will be unable to hand sew for the next 3 or 4 months... you have no idea how much this pains me. I'm willing to forgo one of my favorite past times & a major part of my business to maintain good health, but I'm not happy about it. It has to do with pressure points & some wacky nerve/muscle things, which I hope will be stable enough in a few months to resume my favorite activity. The restriction is temporary... just annoying.
I am still sewing on the machine & have started looking for a good hand-stitcher to fill in for me. So far, cutting has not been an issue as the scissors don't press against that point.

So if I can't do it, I'll blog about it!
This is the Good Housekeeping diagram for a buttonhole stitch, it was printed in the 1950's, and again in the 70's... so for MY ENTIRE LIFETIME, the buttonhole stitch has been a "C" wrapped under the needle.

Not to say that this is how I make a buttonhole.

Not to say that it's "historically correct" for anything other than the 1950's - 1970's... but it is a buttonhole stitch.

Hope that clears some stuff up....

But then, this is also a buttonhole stitch / blanket stitch from the embroidery section of the same book, which clearly shows a single forward wrap, which is actually how I end up doing most of my buttonholes depending on thread weight, fabric & how well I can control the knots (those doubles are a pain, especially with hand quilting thread).

I'm coming from an embroidery background & old habits die hard. Maybe I'll get good at the double wrap when I can play again.


On another historic note, I've seen some strange rumblings regarding 18th c. modesty cloths, shifts/chemises & other ladies accessories "always" being pure white. Sigh. This is just not the case & since pictures are worth 1,000 words, here you go!

This is "The Recruiting Sargent" by John Colette, 1760's.

Check out the lady bending down to hand the older lady something... and what is this? A striped modesty cloth, you say? The woman next to her has a plaid cap, though I admit it could be a "hood."

And peaking out from under the sad young lady's hat - Behold! A pink cap with white lace! OMG I think I just fainted.

My, my, what do we have here? Yet another Colette! 1763 The High Life Below Stairs (fantastic play if you ever get to see/read it)...

THREE ladies in the same room all wearing colored cloths! Heart attack! Heart attack!

From left to right, the modesty cloths are madder with flowers (could be embroidered, could be printed), Striped (same as above?), and what looks like black with white dots, though it may also be blue as indigo was quite popular then.

I wonder if the lady doing the wash is about to yell at the poor but enthusiastic singers?

On a side note, check out the show/book "Threads of Feeling" from the Foundling Hospital in London. Amazing exhibition which I wish I could see in person, but will have to be satisfied with books & websites.

1780 Man Harassing a Carrot Seller, I think by Rawlandson, but not sure.

You can clearly see that her stockings & skin are white, but her modesty cloth is not.

Please note that her apron is also colored, thankfully no one has been silly enough to make a statement about apron colors.

1730, Phillips, Tea Party, Detail

While I'm not 100% sure that the yellow thing around the lady's neck is actually a modesty cloth, it functions as the same thing & sure isn't white. From the small image, I think it looks like a line of rushing for a fichu... though again, I'm just not sure.

These women are slightly higher class than the folks above, so it's not just poor people wearing colors... though they do lean towards them more than the upper-crust ladies.

1738 Yikes! Stripes! Chardin's Kitchen Maid has a blue & white striped modesty cloth. It's lovely & I want it. I also want her lined pet-en l'aire / "sack back bedgown" (yes, I made that up, but it's better than arguing about who wore what when it's clearly a sack format in shortened form on a working class French gal).

Also: note the spiffy chopping block, cleaver, interesting pots & pans and cool ladder-back chair!

Last, but not least...
1745 The Chocolate Pot by Liotard
This just happens to be one of my favorite paintings for obvious reasons.

Check out the pink cap (and yeah, I know how screwed up the color on this image can get... doesn't change the fact that her cap is colored).

Also note that her hoop is a small, round hoop vs. a large bell or oval. The look could also be accomplished by multiple petticoats & a bum roll, but I really think it's a hoop.

That isn't all that's been flitting around in my brain, but it'll do for now. A bit of provocation, a bit of history & some really pretty pictures to go along with the first 2!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Decaf does not agree with me.

That was the sound of a costume zombie rising from the muddy grave.

I'm finally back in the sewing room & delighting in the company of my machine, iron, needles & thread. Of course, just now I'm at the computer on my lunch break pondering the multifaceted world of Historic Sewing... and all the good & bad that comes with that.

Like: how mean should someone be when "kindly" explaining to someone else that ALL buttonholes were ALWAYS sewn using the TRUE buttonhole stitch (wrap thread twice) vs the blanket stitch (wrap thread once)? With a "so-called expert" thrown in to twist the knife.
And then how should one respond when one was sewing on heavy wool with heavy thread & a "true" buttonhole stitch was impractically bulky? Hrm... ponder, ponder... yet I admit that the ancient post was indeed misleading and I have since learned that a "true" buttonhole stitch is basically a French Knot, pearl stitch, or countless other "wrap it twice" techniques. For the 18th c... Sigh.
I hate forum flotsam.

And: Is it NOT OK to learn? Is one not allowed to make mistakes? Really? I mean, we all start somewhere, right? So if you are starting out on a path of research or growth in your hobby/field of study, are you not permitted to say some stupid things on occasion?
Why should someone be condemned for saying something today in contradiction to something they said 2 years ago? Do findings not change?
Are we not permitted to change our minds?

I just get so tired of the Mavens squishing the newbees (or the not-so-newbees), especially with "always" and "never" statements. Please prove it. PLEASE direct me to your primary sources. I would love to read them! I really do mean that.

Anyway... please, if you are a long-time living historian, of whatever flavor... be kind to the new kids on the block. Gently guide them, hand them books vs. dragging them around by the back of the neck or hurling expletives at their heads.

Then: there's the issue of sewing vendors/sellers using copyrighted patterns for the bulk of their inventory when they know it's wrong.
Let us just say that most pattern makers are really great people & deserve your respect both financially & intellectually. Just because "no one can tell" once the final piece is made, doesn't make it right. ASK them. Chances are they will give you permission to use their patterns.

Failing that, learn to draft patterns like I do... or learn to drape! (I'm quickly discovering the wonderful world of draping). Work from originals with permission & if you "can do it that way" please DO.
"Don't steal" is one of those things that is a basic moral. Obtain it, observe it & abide by it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

First Yarns

Sit back & let me spin a yarn...
I figure so many of you are really sick of reading about icky wool on my pretty clothing blog.
Too bad, I've got another one.

I'll keep it short & sweet with lots of terrible pictures.

Essentially when I was at the Eastern Primitive Rendezvous (ie, Bog of Eternal Stench) - whole other post there! I picked up a drop spindle from Carol Leigh. Oops. BIG mistake (as she giggles with maniacal glee). I also bought a "how to spin wool" book, which I neglected to read past the "these are the other fibers you can spin zzzzzzzz...." section. I did eventually read it, but well after watching countless YouTube videos on how to use a drop spindle & screwing up a few ounces of Dorset (big loss, see Gail's heart break)...

So here's what I "spun" and I'm not unhappy with it. Once I learn to card & draft better I think my threads will turn out much nicer; but it's fun & an excellent evening t-v activity which doesn't use the same hand movements as sewing! Yay!

This is the very first bit of yarn I've ever spun. Icky, huh? It's actually really soft, but some of it is un-spun, other bits over-spun, totally chunky to super-thin... a general first-time disaster! Love it.
Oh, and it still has burrs in it - not something you want to give to someone you actually like as an undergarment...

First bit of yarn (finished): natural 2 ply Dorset that I scoured the heck out of & somehow managed not to felt before spinning. It has already been through a mordant, so whenever I want to dye it I can just wet it, submerge it & go.

I may send this to my friend Cori... there's enough to knit a funky potholder, maybe. haha. (and I do actually like Cori, but she's got a wicked sense of humor about these sorts of things).

Here are the 2 yarns drying & getting stretched in the laundry room. NOT the best days for drying anything. I was shocked, Shocked I Tell You, when I found out that you finish yarn by essentially felting it & then beating the heck out of it. Basically, you spin your yarn, ply it (or not), then let it rest for a few days, then you run it under HOT water with soap (Dawn is fine - again), then cold water & then you Slap It Against A Wall and hang it out to dry. Now, I've heard some crazy lady say it's like "giving it a nice day at the spa after it's been through so much." HA! More like adding insult to injury. But it really does come out nice.

Here is the finished yarn from the sumac dyed wool that I though I'd felted & wrecked. I was wrong, it's fine. So the deal is that the first batch of green inner bark sumac dye absorbed any & all resin from the dyebath & got quite nacky. After it was totally dry & carded it's not that bad. Still a bit crinkly, but spinnable & it washed out soft. No big deal. My yarns are still super-chunky & not that even, but the single ply is holding together, relatively even & Mom says she can actually use it for something. Amazing.

I think, but I'm not sure, that the chunky comes from the long staple fiber (5"-7") and me not pre-drafting it out thin enough. May also have to do with not having my hands far enough apart (short draft vs. long draft).

Oh, funny here:
Because Yours Truly didn't bother to read any actual books before totally messing up the first couple times, Yours Truly has learned to, quite naturally, spin widdershins. Somehow it fits me perfectly.
I just hope Mom doesn't kill me when she tries to knit with this stuff.