Pretty colours

•April 17, 2015 • 10 Comments

It’s fairly boring doing all the little skeins, but they do look pretty once they’re done.


So, if anyone would like to come play with them this weekend I think there are still spaces at the Weald and downland, or alternately I’ve listed a bundle of ten in my folksy shop (see the buttons in the side bars)

And I’m really looking forward to playing with the skeins I dyed up for tablet weave. I think the pale second wash madder was the right choice to contrast the darker colours


Zodiac progress

•April 16, 2015 • 20 Comments

Firstly, some self pimping. There are spaces left on the workshops at the Weald and downland this weekend- medieval appliqué and medieval beasties.

Also, I’ve dyed a bit more embroidery wool than I really need, so I’ve listed some on my folksy shop

Next, I’ve finally got the twelve signs of the zodiac assembled so that I can get on with the four seasons for the corners. The delay was caused by needing some tablet weave to cover the edges. I wanted a simple pinstripe twill in veg dyed wool. It needed to be at least twelve cards wide, but unfortunately I ran out of the cochineal dyed red, so I ended up with an extra little stripe of yellow down the centre. It was important to use this red rather than something else because this red runs through the embroidery courtesy of some warp ends I was using up for embroidery.


Again, I’ve chosen to see this as a medieval solution to a medieval problem, rather than as a mistake. I actually rather like it.

Sunny boy went in the middle, and I assembled each piece individually around him. I’ll admit I was a bit paranoid and checked the manuscript With each sign to make sure I was getting them in the right order.


I used a linen thread and whip stitched the pieces in place, then worked back up the same seam again, giving a sort of cross stitch effect. It was really useful having a large piece of board to lay things out on, it let me move the whole thing around to change my angle of stitch without disturbing the layout.


All sewn together


Which I thought looked rather spiffy even before I added the tablet weave


I’ve deliberately left a generous amount of cloth around the edge so I can trim it down later. There’s about six feet of the narrow red/yellow tablet weave left, but I think I’ll sell that as I want a wider red band around the edge of the circle. I’ve dyed more red, and I’m thinking I’ll use a wide plain red band and possibly embroider the sign names onto it. I could try weaving the signs in, but measuring tablet weave under tension is an inexact science at best before you factor in sewing it round the edge of a circle, and I think it would be highly unlikely to line up.

It’s just under three feet across so far


•April 15, 2015 • 6 Comments

I think it might have been the year before last that I began to experiment with making a replacement for my beloved carpet bag for weekends away.

I got as far as sewing together lots of braids into a big flat bit before I realised that the machine I had at the time just wasn’t up to the job.

I also hit a major snag with the bag feet. I ordered some from le prevo, only to find out once I had then that they needed a screw attachment which was sold separately. You’d think they would have mentioned the need for a second component when I ordered, you’d think this would count as basic customer service, but no.

I rang le prevo and tried to order some, but they said they needed to know which bag feet the screws were for. Now, considering they only sell one type of bag foot, I found this confusing, and I no longer had the invoice to check. You’d think le prevo would have been able to look up my order on thier computer, you’d think this would be basic customer service, but no. They gave me this district impression they’d rather I get stuffed.

I decided le prevo could go to hell and that they’d no longer count me as a customer because I cannot abide crap customer service.

And then I found some other bag feet at the Harrogate needlework show, so I had no excuse not to dig this out again.


The strap is red suedette wrapped around some heavy duty webbing. I got the bits out last week and poked them for a day or so, trying to remember what the heck I thought I as doing.

I would like to point out that I was pretty much clueless throughout.

I made some piping out of the red


And then sewed it around the ends of the bag after deciding that attempting to sew the bag together whilst dealing with piping would probably lead to a monumental temper tantrum.


Then I wiggled the end panel into place and sewed. There’s probably an easier way to do that bit, but like I said, clueless


Then I assembled the lining and began sewing the zip into place before remembering about the feet that had caused the whole project to grind to a halt in the first place.


I cut some board to size, made a hole or four, and popped the feet in.


These were nice easy feet to use, and chunkier looking than the le prevo ones


Then I got back to the zip


It sort of ended up looking ok, although the strap is maybe a little long, and I cocked up the measurements somewhere because I definitely intended it to be bigger


But overall it’s not bad for an experiment. I have a better idea of what to do now, and the braids are cheap so I’ll definitely have another go when I have time, since I really like the look.

Now I need to decide what to do with the green one I started at the same time…

I think denim straps with green?

Oh, and if anyone fancies it, there are still places at the Weald and downland this weekend for appliqué and embroidery workshops

Sunday embroidery course

•April 15, 2015 • 2 Comments

If anyone is in the neighbourhood there are still a couple of spaces on Sundays medieval beasties/ laid and couched work workshop at the Weald and downland museum

Last dye batch for now

•April 14, 2015 • 12 Comments

I think there is a dual meaning to the phrase “exhaust bath” when veg dyeing

– I can get a tiny bit more colour from this before it’s really exhausted, or

– I have exhausted all the possibilities of stuff I can dye in my house unless I start on the tea towels

I just dyed about four kilos of yarn, plus this bit of cloth…


There’s four metres, enough for some sort of frock. Dad got me a stainless steel beer barrel and lopped the top off it for me. It has a huge capacity, and was too big for the kitchen hob, so it went outside on a camping stove, propped up with a couple of bricks.

I honestly can say the cloth( a lightweight tabby wool I use mainly for embroidery) was an exhaust bath. As I dyed all the threads I used every bath between two and four times, then lobbed the leftovers in the beer barrel.

There’s cochineal, lac, two sorts of madder, cutch, weld, Persian berries, walnut and logwood in there. I did the same thing with a load of exhaust baths and some cloth before and got a very similar colour.

I’m not sure what to do with my dirty purple, it looks like a very Tudor colour somehow, but I don’t really need another Tudor kirtle. And now I’m torn whether to use it with the collar instead of the camel…?


And then we have the last of the skeins and embroidery cloths,


From top

– logwood and exhaust bath
-exhaust bath( much paler on threads and more pink)
– first Iranian madder
– first English madder
– second logwood
– first logwood
– compound brown of many baths. I’m very pleased with my brown, as it’s almost identical to the one I’m running out of.

In other news I’m drinking a rather splendid thing called rhubarb nectar…yum


•April 13, 2015 • 7 Comments

My weekend was one of petty frustrations. I spent days last week making braids and tassels so I could finally put the lovers purse together, only to fall victim to my own crappy measurements


I feel like a bit of a numpty because not only did I do the same thing on the other purse, but I failed to realise it until I’d cut the backing cloth. Luckily I’ve left a generous allowance so I’m going to have to add a narrow strip of curtain down either side. It’s not going to happen this week though, I’ve got to much else to do.

The other frustration was with the circlet I’ve been working on. I made a concerted effort on Saturday to finish setting the stones (there are 120, so it’s taken a while and I’ve been sick of sight of it on the bench whilst I set it aside for more urgent jobs). But I found one setting I wasn’t happy about, so I removed it and made a separate setting to be riveted on because you can’t solder silver after it’s been gilded( this is an absolutely period thing to do, and in fact later became the standard medieval way to set stones on a crown), but riveting it was a three hand job so I brought it to Gareth’s for some help…


Where, as you can see, we managed to bend it the point of being knackerded. So I have to go back to the workbench and make whole new rivet setting before I can finish the crown by setting the pearls round the edge.


I made Gareth a washbag

•April 12, 2015 • 7 Comments

And predictably, it’s much better than mine


He’s off to Windermere tomorrow, so he’ll need that.

The rock fabric works well for that, I’m glad I found a use for it. I bought it off the net to make collar and cuffs for some shirt fabric with beach huts on, because I thought the pebbles were much smaller – had a bit of an oops moment when it arrived.

Gareth says rocks are nice and manly for a washbag. When men say things like that I always assume that it’s because it will remind men of the rocks in thier heads…


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