Tag Archives: weaving

History Day – March 20, 2019

Today was a history day.  A local elementary school brought their 5th graders to Wilderness Road Regional Museum for a field trip.

When I first started doing living history, I had no costume and didn’t want to spend a fortune on one.  At the time I was spinning a castle style wheel and spun in my stocking feet, so shoes were not an issue.  I bought a petticoat and shift from Etsy, later a kerchief, mob cap, and bodice also from Etsy and I was okay with the look as was the venue where I did most of my events.  I had gotten a bed gown from Ebay, but it really didn’t fit well and is heavy, so not good in hot weather, so I rarely wore it.  Then I joined a local Rev War militia group and my costume needed tweeking.  My petticoat was a checkered pattern cotton with a gathered waist (wrong print, fabric, and style), the shift really isn’t quite the right style, the kerchief is the wrong fabric, and the bodice is a no-no.  To work on upgrading, I purchased a couple yards of navy linen and made the pleated petticoat, it really feels better than the yards of gathered cotton.  Another half yard of natural colored linen was hand hemmed into a proper kerchief.  The bedgown was dragged out, adjusted a bit (plus I’ve lost some weight), so it was wearable.  A new handmade shift is on order from a sutler, but you can’t see it under my gown and kerchief so I went with the old one today.  The other items that needed upgrade are shoes which were ordered, but not available for 60-90 days, so my Berkeley style slipper shoes with rubber soles will have to do for now; and glasses.  My glasses are the wrong shape and size and my prescription won’t work in the small round shape that is period correct.  I can function without them if I don’t have to drive, operate machinery, or read, so I will just go without.  Somewhere along the way at an event, I purchased the flat shallow straw hat that is period correct and adorned it with a handwoven tape.

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This morning, all decked out with spindle wheel, baskets of breed samples and ID cards, fiber, wool combs and cards, lucets, box loom, and knitting I set up at the museum in the outdoor kitchen.  Also outside of the museum were a militia reenacter with his kit, making mini balls over his fire and firing off his muskets, and a blacksmith.  The 4 groups of kids saw a film in the museum, walked over to the old jail, spent time with each of the demonstration stations.  The kids were awesome and though the outdoor kitchen was chilly, there were breaks where I could sit in the sun and warm my fingers.

The more I do this, the more I learn from using different equipment to the history and the better I become at drawing in the audience with questions and discussion, not a lecture.  The fiber arts are fascinating, the area is ripe with history, and the audience, especially kids are awed when they realize that household linens and goods, as well as clothing were hand spun and hand woven prior to the advent of the spinning and weaving mills, and really how recently in history that was.

What an exciting and delightful experience this has become.

Olio – January 5, 2019

Olio:  a miscellaneous collection of things.

Wow, that is the first time I have had to write 2019!  The days whiz by and suddenly it is the next year.  As a child, the years went by so slowly, and now they fly by before I have adjusted to it being a new one.

For the first time in what seems forever, we have sunshine.  The morning began bleak, rainy, and very windy.  We braved mixed winter precipitation to go to town and get breakfast and see what vendors came out for the winter Farmers’ Market.  The January to April markets are informal, the vendors being allowed to park their trucks and vans in parking spaces that are closed off and occupied by other vendors during the high season markets.  The morning goal was some pork, eggs, and breads and all were obtained before heading to the grocer for the non local needs.

The chicks are 9 weeks old tomorrow, so we have at least 14 or 15 more weeks before we will start seeing eggs from them.  Their adult plumage is developing and though not a heritage flock, they will be pretty and there will be a variety of egg colors from green, dark brown, medium brown, and light tan.  They have figured out the big girl feeder and the big girl water dispenser and are not afraid of the pop door to the outside anymore.  The first day they stayed inside, the next day most were escorted out by me and that night 5 of them were found huddled in an empty feed bucket under the coop.  Now, all of them can find their way out and back inside at night, though they wait until it is nearly dead dark to go in.

The Christmas week brought much family time.  We had an Italian style meal on Christmas eve with daughter’s family at her home, awoke to the empty house on Christmas day.  We celebrated quietly, having Huevos Rancheros and sausages for hubby and exchanging our gifts.  Christmas Day, daughter’s family came here for a mid afternoon turkey and ham dinner.  The next day, eldest son and eldest grandson came to celebrate and work on the deck.

Wanting to expand my fiber tools, I had asked for a 5 foot tri-loom and easel which I gladly received.

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Once I figured out how to assemble it, You Tube was visited to watch weavers using one.  There are several methods.  The first one I tried was called continuous loop weaving. You never cut your yarn weaving across and up and down by weaving the strand with a hook.

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The first triangle is a generous shawl  made with two skeins of my hand spun yarn, a very smooth Corriedale and a very textured blend of Merino, Tencel, and Mohair locks plyed with Wooly Nylon, a stretchy thin thread.  It was challenging as the textured yarn wanted to grab the other yarn and itself.  Once it was off the loom, I decided to make one to wear when I am doing the living history events on cool days.   It is being done with cut strand method and weaves on the diagonal.

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While trying to get it done for an event tomorrow, I was also trying to get a pair of fingerless mitts finished as well as I will be selling knitted and woven goods at Old Christmas at Wilderness Road Regional Museum and demonstrating spinning tomorrow.

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They were finished except for weaving in the ends while being passenger to breakfast, Farmers’ Market, and the grocery.  There are less than 20 rows to go on the shawl, so hopefully it will be woven though not washed and blocked for tomorrow.  It is my hand spun Coopworth from Hearts of the Meadow Farm.

I must admit, that weaving up my hand spun uses it much more quickly than knitting up the same amount of yarn.

As for the week after Christmas, eldest son and grand worked together to put the Trex surface boards on the deck.

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We are excited to be able to safely go out the French Doors of the dining room and not have a one story fall.  The deck surface and stairs are done.  The surface is maintenance free.  Unfortunately, the rails did not arrive in time for installation then, but they have now arrived and are due to be delivered this week.  When he has time, eldest will return and put up the railings, balusters, and post caps.  When the pressure treated posts have dried, they will be painted to match the railing and will be the only part of the deck that will require maintenance of repainting periodically.

While we were sorting tools, putting away cords, he and I tackled phase one of a major garage cleaning and reorganization, labeling boxes that contain power tools, making a pile of tile and metal fittings, Trex scraps, and other items to keep.  Most of that was moved to the barn today.  More will be moved another day and once the deck is done, the garage sorted out the rest of the way, a barn organization is in order.  It has become a repository of building materials, building equipment, and miscellaneous other stuff.  Some of it needs to go home with it’s owner, some can be sold or given away, some just needs to be straightened up so we can find it when a job needs it.  Some of the tile that was moved can be used to replace the water damaged bamboo floor in front of the walkout basement door.  That is another task for another time.

Back to weaving or the shawl won’t be done.  I hope you had a great holiday season and have faced the new year with hope and strength.

An Update from the Mountains

I just realized that I have been silent for quite a while, almost two weeks.  It hasn’t been due to illness or vacation, it has partly been due to participating in a Le Tour de Fleece competition, so much of my effort has gone into spinning.  During that period, I obtained a supported spindle and spindle bowl and have worked to learn to use it with some consistency.  That has sidelined the top whorl and Dealgan spindles.  I have carried my little Turk with me too, so that when my frustration with the new skill became too great, I could return to a familiar that is small enough to pack in my tote.

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I have learned to dye roving and played with color.  The one on the left has been spun into yarn.

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Used some natural colors in fibers that I had never used before.

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Taken some of that fiber and blended it with other natural fibers to create a mixed fiber batt on my drum carder and then spun it into yarn as well.

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This is what I have produced during the past couple of weeks.  The reddish bobbin on the right has a mate still being spun on the wheel and those singles will be plyed tomorrow for another skein.  The lime green is being spun on the support spindle.  To ply it, I have learned to Andean ply, where all of the singles on the spindle are wrapped in a specific way on your hand and then plyed from the two ends to the middle.  I am plying it onto a bobbin on my wheel each time I fill the spindle.  There is still a third to a half of the fiber to be spun.

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The little Turk has Merino and camel on it and is almost ready to ply.

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In the midst of all of this spinning, some organizing was accomplished.  We bought me a stressless chair toward the beginning of the month and as it took up much less space than it’s predecessor, and as I took up weaving too, we bought me a three shelf cart that I assembled and set beside my chair with a knitting basket, a weaving basket, a spinning basket, my laptop, my loom, and a vase of spindles on it.  With my wheel for spinning time, or my ottoman for relaxing and reading time, I have spent a fair amount of time in my “time out” corner.

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I did finish my first weaving project, a 6 foot fringed scarf.  I am sure that I will improve with experience, but am pleased with the outcome of this.

A matching cart was purchased and assembled for the utility area to organize and store my soap, lotion, and salve making supplies; and for my yarn and fiber dyeing supplies.  It allowed me to get much of it off the pantry shelves and onto a rolling cart that can be moved to the area where I am working on product making or dyeing.  Eventually, I hope to purchase an inexpensive microwave for the top of the cart that will be used for dyeing as I have found that to be the easiest method tried to date.

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On the farm front, we have started harvesting cucumbers and peppers and I have pickled two pints of jalapenos for  hubby and son so far.

The first two batches of chicks have all been cut loose by their Mama Hens and are beginning to form a flock of young birds that keep away from the adults for the most part.  Some of them still return to Huck’s coop at night, some to the layer’s coop.  The single chick that hatched from the third batch only survived a week and it’s Mama Hen continued to try to sit on whatever eggs were layed that day, but wasn’t committed to hatching them.  She has now returned to the perch with the other adults at night.  One hen is unwell.  I don’t know what is wrong, but I isolated her with food and treated water.  She is not rallying and I am torn whether to euthanize her or keep trying to make her well.  Because of her symptoms, all of the feeders and waterers were sanitized and the entire flock is getting water treated with electrolytes and Apple cider vinegar.  Once the temperature breaks a bit and the sick hen either gets better or is permanently removed, I will sanitize the layer coop and the isolation coop as soon it will be needed to house the culls.

We still love our life on our mountain farm, even though it is hot and humid during the day right now.  It gets delightfully cool at night.

Falling Down the Rabbit Hole

Of fiber arts, that is.  Already, I knit, can crochet (but don’t much anymore), spin fiber on a spinning wheel and on drop spindles, and recently tackled kettle dyeing of yarn. Last week at the spinning group, my friend that taught the camp with me, brought me three of her rigid heddle looms to try and I brought one she was planning on selling home with me to play with for a week.  By week’s end, I knew I was hooked and told her I wanted to purchase it from her.

Today, was teach the newbie day.  She invited me over this morning to learn how to dye fiber, not just yarn, and yarn with multiple colors using a microwave.  She has a dedicated microwave in her utility room near her utility sink and work counter, just for dyeing.  With 3 bins full of colors to choose from, I was absolutely giddy.  I had taken a 150 yard skein of chain plyed Shetland yarn and a bag of white Romney roving, unsure which I wanted to dye.  She suggested both, then suggested a second pan of roving and walked me through the process with me doing the tasks while she watched.

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This is what I came home with from the lesson.  I can’t wait for the fiber to dry so I can spin it and see how it does.

While the fiber was cooling, the next lesson was how to warp the loom for a scarf.  Again, she talked me through the instructions while I did it to learn, provided reminders and suggestions to speed the process up and explain why certain things were done the way she does it which made sense to me.  Once the colors were chosen, the loom warped and the weft color selected, I began weaving on it.  After a few rows, we tried a lighter gray weft and then black and both of us agreed that the black was the way to go. We left for a drive through lunch and on to the spinning group where I un-wove the two grays and started over with the black.

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A scarf in the making on my newly acquired, gently used loom.  My husband calls me his “crafty” wife and swears he didn’t say “crappy” wife.

I am now the owner of a spinning wheel, 4 drop spindles, a set of interchangeable knitting needles, a few crochet hooks, and a 10″ rigid heddle loom.  Not terribly much invested in dollars, but lots of hobby time tools.

The Retreat

Thursday morning, I departed, leaving Mountaingdad home to care for dogs, chickens, and for part of the weekend, also Son #1 and Grandson #1, while I traveled two hours west with a spinner friend to Hawks Nest State Park for a 3 day spinning retreat.  And a treat it was.  In route the other 4 of the other spinners from our local group met us at Tamarack, a delightful juried craft market with a cafe run by The Greenbrier.  We wandered and ogled the wood, glass, pottery, weaving, prints, and quilts then had our lunch in the cafe before making the last half hour trek to the park.

There we were treated to rooms, most that overlooked a long section of the New River Gorge.

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The view from our room and from the conference room of the retreat.
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Check in area of the lobby.
We didn’t even unpack before we set up our wheels and started to spin, Shetland, Mohair, Cotswold, Dorset, Alpaca, Yak and Silk.  Many vendors with more fiber to tempt this hungry group of fiber artists.

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Spinners and weavers, tables of fluff, chatter and knitting, all lots of fun stuff.

At night we partied on goodies brought from home and pot luck shared with beverages of choice.  To town we zipped for lunch at the Cathedral Cafe for homemade soup, salad and bread, then homemade Chai tea and carrot cake.  Another evening to town for pizza, salad and beer or rootbeer.

Three days of new friends and old, food, fiber and fellowship.  Each of us leaving with a goody bag of fiber samples, notebooks, pens, pencils, patterns and a door prize each of wonderful donated weavings, fiber, photo frames, salsa and chips, bags or other wonderful surprises.

In spite of the chattery good times, much yarn was made, much was woven or knit.  I succeeded in over 400 yards of a mixed fiber skein.

This will be added to my growing mixed fiber yarn of naturals and colors that will be a blanket someday.
This will be added to my growing mixed fiber yarn of naturals and colors that will be a blanket someday.
This hot mess of overspun Merino that looks like a 106 yard long hair scrunchy.
This hot mess of overspun Merino that looks like a 106 yard long hair scrunchy.

And 100 grams of beautiful Merino that is awaiting the other 100 grams to be spun and plied that will become a gift scarf for some lucky person.

The Hot Mess was Merino purchased there as is the Merino that is only half done and the 8 ounce bag of Dorset Lamb fiber the Hot Mess is sitting on.  I will enjoy more spinning reminders from the weekend and look forward to the next retreat in late winter of the one next fall.  I will return.