Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Yes, I know, I've been Jessica-no-postey for eleven days. I think my brain 'sploded. Here are some pics of recent FO's to tide you over 'til I pick up all the little bits of brain scattered about the state of Tennessee.

An ugly apron and two popholders, prizes for the Bardic Olympics. A lovely dancing lady won the apron for "best Music" and Iris won the popholders for "most melodramatic."

Iris's old toybox, repainted.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

I have discovered a potential flaw in my himation plan. Aside from my carding woes, there's the matter of the garment itself. I was raiding my fabric stash today to see if I had any suitable fabrics that would work as a himation for this year's Ostara gathering. I found a mustard colored fabric that was nice and heavy, a blue cotton print with a pretty border (the Greeks were all about the border decorations), and a pale green with tiny little eyelets in horizontal stripes. I figured that in spite of the differences in fiber content between the mustard colored fabric and well, wool, that the weight of the fabric would be about the same. So, I wrapped it around myself as one does with a himation and I came to the realization that not only was it too long, it was also too heavy to be walking around in and it wouldn't drape right. Nevermind that it's mustard. This does not bode well for a handwoven woolen garment. I tried on the blue cotton print and it worked just beautifully. The borders really set off the garment, it draped perfectly, and I had exactly the right length. The green cotton worked about as well, but I'm not as fond of the color.

So, what does this mean for my wool weaving project? The classy ladies of ancient Greece probably wore linen. From what I know of linen, it can be woven quite finely and drapes about like cotton. It's also a pain to spin and expensive to come by. Most folks wore wool. It's easier to spin, cheaper, and can be woven into a very heavy and warm fabric if need be. There are also very fine woolens that are softer and thinner, but still quite warm. The stuff I'm spinning is about laceweight, so it's going to weave up nicely, but how is it going to drape? Is it going to be too heavy to wear? Should I wash the lanoline out to reduce the weight?

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Fleece: 1
Jess: 0

The two lonely little skeins (at least they have each other), the rolag to the right, and a spool and a half not pictured here is all I've carded so far. Each skein is about 2oz, give or take. The pile of sheep fuzz in the background is, according to my bathroom scale, still 4 1/2 lbs.
I am seriously considering sending it off to a mill to be carded. The only problem with this is that they have to wash it to put it through their machines or else it will gum up the works. Normally, I wouldn't object to this in the least except that I want to keep the lanoline in the wool because it makes it water resistant. So, I'm carding it by hand.
A drum carder! A drum carder! My kingdom for a drum carder!

None of this process was mechanized before 1700. As I cry into my wool, wishing I had a drum carder, I think about those that went before me that didn't even have the possibility, however remote, of obtaining such a thing. For me, it's in the realm of possibility. For them, it was not. I thank the Gods for modern technology, but it's good to remember where we came from. This is hard labor. Sometimes I think I'd rather be digging ditches than hand carding wool. It takes about ten hours of work, by my estimation, to make about 2 1/2oz of two-ply spun wool on the spinning wheel. I'm getting faster, but if I charged you per hour for just the skein of yarn you would think I'm nuts for charging that much, even at minimum wage.
The trireme, a ship introduced to the Greeks in the 8th century BCE, 150 of which defeated Xerxes 2nd invasion fleet in the Battle of Salamis in 480 BCE, has sails. Here's a picture of a reconstruction. You can get something of an idea about how big the sails are by looking at the people rowing in the picture. In ancient times, those sails was made from fiber that was entirely processed by hand.
I'm getting a drum carder. As soon as humanly possible.

One hour of solid work- and I mean solid not doing anything else and really working hard - produces about 2oz of carded wool.
I have blisters.

Friday, March 09, 2007


I didn't manage to get pictures taken yesterday afternoon because I got distracted and then my camera battery went dead. So, there you are then. I did, however, manage to get pictures today. The gods have blessed us with superb weather and it looks like it's going to continue for a while.
Let's see, where shall I begin?
Ah, yes, project HN.
I finished this yesterday at the house of Dragonfly & Butterfly Awakening. Unfortunately, as I mentioned before, it's too small for it's intended 6'3" husbandly-type wearer, so I'm setting it aside until the right person comes along.
Knitted on sz6 straight needles in Phoenix soysilk in green and black. The pattern is a 4 stitch knit, 4 stitch purl vertical zigzag with several mistakes intentionally left uncorrected.
Mock Croc socks. Still plugging along on those, though now I have one finished and one started, it should go fairly quickly. Here they are, pictured next to my primroses, the first in my garden to bloom.
Next, there's the bath scrubby I made for all the little soap slivers we get after the big bar gets used up. It's made from leftover bits of Sugar&Cream cotton and is shown here hanging in the shower. It was knitted on size 4 straights in the Bicolor Tweed stitch from 365 Knitting Stitches. This was started and finished on March 2.
Then, there's Coronet #2 for The Boy. I finished Coronet #1 for Miss Rhiannon back in November and gave it to her for Yule. The Boy saw said hat, thought it was groovy, and wanted the Crazy Hat Lady (me) to knit him one for a few pennies. So, here it is, on size 8 bamboo dpns, just as before. I'm hoping perhaps I can weave in the top a little better this time because it came undone on the last one.
Spinning: It occurs to me that I'm going to need some drop spindle-spun yarn for the warp. Stuff spun on the drop spindle is stronger because it has to support the weight of the spindle and therefore better suited to be warp threads. The brown stuff on the bottom right is some I've spun using my drop spindle and I've been thinking about using that for my warp threads for my himation. I'm considering also using more of the Peaceful Pastures lamb. I haven't decided. I do know that one of these days I want to purchase a drum carder. It takes me six hours to card enough wool to make two and a half oz. of yarn. I'm getting faster at it, but still, that's ten hours all told to make yarn from raw wool. I have a greater appreciation for the scarcity of garments before any of these processes were mechanized, but dang. Ten hours. After I get my electric guitar, I'm saving my pennies for a drum carder. Still no loom, but I'm not in a huge rush for it, so it's no biggie. I'd like to have my own ball winder as well, but I have one that I can sometimes use, so the absence of a ball winder isn't nearly so painful as the absence of a drum carder.
Oh! I nearly forgot! I finally finished the Zebra swallowtail handkercheif. There it is. The image is traced from a photo and stitched mainly in satin stitch, with the outlines backstitched. It goes with the West Virginia White I finished earlier. Truth be told, they are going to two different people, but I think of them as a set. I finished this one last Saturday, I believe.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Okay, Beck, I'm on it. I'll take pictures this afternoon, but here's the skinny:
  1. Finished project HN today (ran out of yarn). It doesn't fit it's intended wearer, but it's a scarf, so it'll fit someone, non?
  2. Finished one Mock Croc sock (though not until after February was over). The other one is one inch - Reason one why March is for making mates.
  3. Finished the sherbet hat for Iree to match her adorable sherbet mittens. She now wants a scarf and a sweater and and...
  4. What flower basket shawl?
I have also discovered that it takes me about ten hours to make about two and a half oz of two ply sportweight-ish yarn. Six hours of that is carding. I'm making the big eyes at the husband to card wool for me. Hasn't worked yet, but he's gonna fail that will save eventually.