Friday, April 4, 2014

Peg Loom: The First Rug

It has been a productive Spring Break for me.  I finished my first rug on the peg loom.  
It is soothing to work on this loom...the repetition, the patterns, the texture of the wool...all pull me into a sort of trance.  The natural oils in the wool soften the skin on my hands as it slips through my fingers.

I purchased two types of wool for this.  The white is an Ashland Bay Faulkland Wool Top, and the grey is a Norwegian Wool Top.  The Faulkland is super smooth, like silk, and is made of long, straight fibers about 5 inches in length.  The Norwegian is scruffy with a rougher texture, the fibers being about 3 inches long and slightly curly.

My pattern was simple.  I started with white only...then grey and white stripes...then white with grey dots...then a few rows of row of grey...and then I repeated in reverse until I came to the other end.  I ended up not having enough white, so I had to take about 5 rows of white off the front end, and weave them in at the back end.  Because of this, the rug didn't turn out as long as I would have liked it to be.  I wanted an additional 5 or 6 inches on each end.  Now that I know how far 1 oz. of yarn will go, I will be more prepared for the next rug.  I used nearly 48 oz. of wool in all.  I wonder how many sheep that would be?

To finish off the edges neatly, and to help disguise the fact that the rug is shorter than planned, I used some of the Norwegian wool to make tassels.  The over-all size of the rug is about 2 ft. wide by 3 1/2 ft. long.

We already have one cat that approves.  
A camouflaged cat loaf..."Ah Ha!" she says,"No one can see me here!"

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jane Austen's Quilt: Finished (Finally)

Oh. My. Goodness.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but the Jane Austen Quilt is FINALLY done.
Can you believe it?!?!

Five years in the making, and it is finished.  You can't imagine how relieved I am about that.  Considering the fact that I can't measure and cut evenly, and very few of my little squares match up, I don't think I screwed it up too badly.  I did have a little trouble with the surgeon's knots that hold together the front and back fabric.  After I washed the quilt, I noticed that a good many of them had come untied.  I think my problem was that I cut the strings too close to the knot and they came loose when tossed around in the wash.  

Throughout the process, I was terrified that my part of the quilt would look even worse next to Margie's part, and somehow cheapen what she did.  But, in the end I'm happy with my scrappy little quilt.

In case you want to follow the back story, here are the links to part one and part two of the quilt making process.  But I have to give you some updated links to the original inspiration.... THIS was the article that led me to the quilt obsession.  HERE is a write up or "pattern" of sorts from JASNA about the quilt. And HERE is an amazingl, well researched blog called 1812 War and Piecing that covers all of the details of the quilt with some great close-up shots of the fabric used...please read it, you will be glad you did.

I bound the quilt with the same fabric that I used for the backing.  Most of the quilt is machine sewn.  I whip-stitched the binding on by hand, tied the surgeon's knots at each corner of each diamond by hand, and I hand stitched around the basket and each flower and leaf in the large center diamond just for fun.  I have an even greater respect for Jane Austen (if that's possible) than I did before...and, well, for any woman who has ever hand made a quilt...I can't imagine sewing all of those tiny little squares (Jane's were diamonds!) by hand.  If it took me 5 years to complete the quilt (granted...I procrastinated a LOT) how long did it take Jane, Casandra and their Mother?

In between the backing and the top is a layer of cotton batting.  This is a deviation from the original.  I wanted mine to be a very warm and cozy quilt.  Now that spring is here, it's almost a shame to think I will be putting it away for the coming warm season.  If only I could have finished it before this past was a frightfully cold one, and I could have made good use of it.

Will I make another quilt in the future?  If it's like this one, the answer is "NO."  But, I might try my hand at something or other at a later date...something less mathematical.  For now, I'm eager to return to costuming.

Two of our three cats approve of the quilt.  The third is more interested in my lap and shoulder than the quilt, and she is curled up on me as I type. 

*I apologize for Owen's creepy eyes.  He doesn't usually look so demon possessed.* 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Peg Loom

Recently, my talented father made me something that I will cherish to the end...a peg loom.

Sewing costumes aside, I've become increasingly interested in textile arts of all sorts. Specifically, small wool farms and shepherding have captured my interest. Last week I picked up a book called, Adventures in Yarn Farming: Four Seasons on a New England Fiber Farm by Barbara Perry. It's a calming read, and now I want to buy a farm and raise sheep.  I love the whole process, from sheering sheep, to spinning, to dying the yarn. I don't know exactly what I would do with all of that yarn.  I am an horrible knitter and crocheter. But that's something I can do.

I've used traditional looms like this one before, but I was curious about other types. One night, during a mindless wondering of the internet, I stumbled on a video of a women weaving on a peg loom.  Of course, the history of it fascinated me, but so did the simplicity.  I knew my dad could make me one, and he agreed.

The warp strings are threaded through each removable peg.

This process takes a few hours, and can be frustrating, because the strings tangle easily.  Your warp strings should be as long as you want your rug to be.

I bought a pound of this gorgeous Falkland wool roving. It still smells like the farm it came from. I like that smell...fresh and humble.  My goal is to make a small rug for my bedroom.

First, I divided the wool in half.

Then, I divided it into quarters.  Dividing it is easier than it seems.  It pulls apart fairly equally as if it's made to do that.  I suspect it has something to do with how it was originally carded or pulled together.

Four piles of somewhat equal in size wool.  Beware of wool snatching cats.  I think it must be a drug to them, I can't keep them away from it.  I have a bad feeling that my cats might claim this rug as their own.

I rolled each pile into tidy little balls.

Weaving on the peg loom is simple.  Start at one end, and weave the wool in and out between each peg.  When you get to the other end, go back the other direction, weaving in and out the opposite pegs.  I attempted to make a (very crude) video documentation of the process.  I am NOT a videographer, so, unfortunately, it was filmed in several shaky parts.

part 1

part 2

part 3

part 4

part 5

This is what it looks like once the pegs are full, before you slide the work down onto the strings.

Here it is with part of it slid down, and some more weaving on the pegs.  I forgot to mention in the last video clip, that you will need to pull on the strings and "snug" up the woven part so that it's closer to the pegs before you start your new batch of weaving.  Otherwise, you will have a big gap between each woven section.

It is such a soothing, and basic craft...I love that about it.  As is the case with any craft, the more I weave on the loom, the better I get at spacing and how tight I should make each row.  I know that I will have to purchase more wool, because one of the four balls I made only makes about a foot of woven rug.  I might buy a grey wool, and do a striped pattern.  

When the rug is done, I will show the final result.  But my next post will, hopefully, be about the Jane Austen Quilt I've been working on for years.  I am OH SO CLOSE to being finished with it.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Busy Holiday Season & A New Year

Long time, no see...

(new glasses)

I have no real excuse for being an absentee blogger for the past two and a half months.  It's truly been a busy holiday season, with weekends full of hosting family and friends, ballet performances, and vacations.  In all of the glory, I haven't had the time, nor the creative inclination to do much more than read a book during any down time I've had.

(our Christmas tree)

(a cat in our tree)

With the coming of the new year, I'm hoping to simplify, and if I'm honest, blogging won't be a priority.  Sewing goals will be minimal in 2014.  I would like to finish the Jane Austen Quilt that my Mother-in-Law started a few years ago.  I also plan on finishing the Rev War area Jacket that I started in October.  Other than that...I'm unsure...I'll let life be life this year, and roll with it.

(our table dressed for Christmas tea with the ladies)

(laughter, love and food amongst friends)
I'll sign off this year with pictures taken over the past couple of months...a collage of my busy world. 

(my little Nutcracker star)

(Victorian Christmas ornaments)
 (Bodega Bay, CA)

 (a kitschy cafe based on the Hitchock cult film "The Birds.")

 (church where "The Birds" was filmed)

 (school house in "The Birds")

 (Sonoma Beach, CA)

 (wind-blown Jane)

 I hope you had a merry holiday season, and I wish you a bright new year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Historical Sew Fortnightly Challenge #19: Wood, Metal, Bone: 1770's Stays

Well, well, well...better late than never, right?  For the HSF Challenge #19 I chose to reproduce the 18th century stays in the "Costume Close-Up" book by Linda Baumgarten.

 (Pre-lining shot)

 ( is pieced at the side seams and at the straps, tacked around the edges so that it can be removed and replaced when soiled.)

  Unfortunately, because I hand stitched everything, they took me twice as long to finish as I thought they would...a month and a half, to be exact. Row after row after row of channels stitched...and my fingers are not thanking me after binding the seams and edges in leather. Ouch!

There are a few differences between my stays and the stays in the "Costume Close-Up."  I used reed instead of baleen(for obvious reasons) to fill the channels, I lined the inside of the tabs with linen instead of leather, and I added straps to mine, because I'm way to busty to go without support (for this, I was inspired by the stays on Diary of a Mantua Maker's Blog.)

 I'm feeling very Revolutionary after making these stays...especially with the current government issues.  I'm listening to the Les Miserable soundtrack as I write this blog post (I know, not OUR revolution, nor the proper era for the stays, but the soundtrack is inspiring none-the-less.)  I feel like I could be one of the "little people" that rises up and shakes a fist at the big wigs that can't get along and make decisions in the Capital. 

"Do you hear the people sing
Singing the song of angry men
 It is the music of the people who will not be slaves again
 When the beating of your heart 
Echos the beating of the drums 
There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes."
"And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings but we got some bite
 So never kick a dog because he's just a pup
 we'll fight like twenty armies
And we won't give up "

Just the Facts

The Challenge: Wood, Metal, Bone: 1770's Stays

Fabric: Linen for all three layers of fabric.

Pattern: Drafted, but based on the one in "Costume Close-Up"
Year: 1770's

Notions: Linen thread, cotton embroidery floss, cotton tape, reed boning, and leather (cars shammy) for binding the seams and edges.

How historically accurate is it?: I would say 100%.  Hand stitched, appropriate materials and construction.

Hours to complete: ???? Too many?

First worn: Not worn yet, but hoping to wear it in a couple of weeks.

Total cost: ? Everything was from my stash except for the leather, which cost about $11.00.  Of course, I bought the items in my stash at some point didn't I...