I had a little time before Double Wars when I knew there was going to be an elevation, and had time to prepare a little thing. For her reign with Marcus I made napkins for Cecilia, and I also made up a shirt with embroideries that I finished for their coronation. For her elevation to the Order of the Pelican I had a tiny napkin in a fine even quality linen which I embroidered with a little pelican in one corner and her initials in the other (C J). I forgot to take a picture of it, so had to ask her to send me a couple. It was fun to do, even if it was a last-minute thing. All of the stitching was done in black silk, except the three drops of blood, stem stitch. I think everyone needs a tiny napkin for court-tears. Also, since I have taught it a couple of times now, the handout of long-armed cross stitch, and the handout for drawn-thread hemstitch can now be found under the folder Documents at the top.
At Cudgel war this summer I bought a lucet, on which you can make cords of infinite length. I tried it the first week I got it, but had not yet learned the proper technique, so the silk I tried it with produced a sub-standard product.
A week or two ago I found some cotton yarn in my deep storage, and went ahead to do some practice cord with that on the lucet. I started by doing just a short cord, to get back into the swing, testing with my left and right hand both to see if I was using the wrong hand. I am left-handed for writing, but sew with my right hand, and was luceting with the right as well.
After the first short cord I came to the conclusion that I can do with the left, but the right is what feels most natural. I actually had to try doing it left-handed at Visby because a lady there had just learned and got stuck and needed some assistance to untangle a mess – and she was left-handed. I didn’t really reflect on it at first, that it was actually left-handed, but I could decipher it without too much trouble. So that is why I decided to try it with the left at home with my own lucet.
Each lucet, being hand-made, is a little different so using it most efficiently is a matter of practice, and the size of your hands compared to the two tines, the length of the tines, the width between them and the angle. I think the tines on my lucet are a teeny bit too long, but I can produce a smooth cord on it nevertheless.
So after producing several metres of brown cotton cord I switched over to white silk, using the same, rather thick yarn which had not worked for me at my first attempt. This time I had to be careful of the twist of the yarn, make sure I worked it the right way, and un-twist when it built up at the bobbin. I also found that I could work it entirely reversed, a necessity since one finger was bleeding and discolouring the thread, and I just couldn’t stop!
Anyway, from this white silk I produced a cord for my new stiffened bodice which is now entirely finished. The outside is an unbleached linen, the lining is silk satin, and the shoulder straps are tied down in front with linen cord, also produced on the lucet. I could remove the polyester satin tape which I had been using to close the bodies, so the front now laces up with my new silk cord, and stays beautifully, thanks to it being slightly flexible.
Making linen cord on the lucet is also some sort of badge of achievement, as linen yarn tends to have lumps here and there, but I used good quality bobbin lace linen and worked up a length of lucet cord in fairly short amount of time.
After finishing that white cord I remembered that I have other dresses where I am using the same polyester tape for cords, and started in on making more cord in the same thick silk, this time in black. For this I worked out exactly how to use the twist of the thread most efficiently, worked out how to hold the yarn in my hand and which movements produce the best result for this yarn. This means that right now my right hand is feeling slightly sore, as I’ve been working with my lucet the past few days, using new and strange muscles.
While I’ve been in the frozen north, I’ve worked on three commission jobs, and one personal sewing projects. All of these projects will be coming along for delivery at Cudgel War which starts one week from now.
The first one is a partlet, which is accompanying a smock, which I have been working on for a long time. I finished the smock fairly quickly, but the partlet took a little longer, entirely because I didn’t actually pick it up to do anything on it, and also because I opted for a more work-heavy way to assemble it.
The second is a machine sewing project, commissioned to create a wardrobe for Pennsic. I’ve been using the machine and made three pretty much identical tunics, inspired by the Herjolfsnes-kirtle. One in bleached linen, two in unbleached. I did finish the necklines on them by hand, because… uh. Because. But all other seams and felling was done by machine, in a very efficient manner.
The third commission project is a red wool flat cap. At Double Wars I had brought the red hat I knitted, because it’s been on my shelf forever now and I’ve never been comfortable using it as it was too big for me. I had asked before the event if anyone was interested in buying it off me, for a seriously reduced price, and one lady was particularly quick to take me up on the offer. She only arrived to Double Wars late in the week however, and before she was there to try on the hat, someone else approached me asking if I could make them a red hat. I said that of course I could, and I even had one red hat finished with me which was for sale. If the lady would end up not wanting it after trying it on I had a taker as the gentleman tried on the knitted hat and was much pleased with it. In the end the first lady snatched up the hat, and was (jokingly) called hat-stealer for the last two days of Double Wars.
So I took a head measurement by means of a string, lost the string before leaving the event, and took delivery of half a meter of red wool from the gentleman to make a sewn flat cap for delivery at Double Wars. With the measurement I drew out a circle, made two discs an appropriate depth which I stitched together along the outside edge and turned inside out to topstitch along the outside. Then I cut out a crown another appropriate size larger than the disc which I stitched in to the inside edge of the brim, making laid pleats all around the circumference. Then I folded in the other side of the brim to enclose all raw edges. I will advise the recipient to add a “sweatband” of either silk or velvet on the inside as well. Pretty much all extant flat caps, even for poorer folk, have a lining of silk (finds from the Mary Rose for example) so I will also recommend that to the recipient. It took me just under seven hours to make this all by hand, so I think I will definitely make myself a flat cap in the same manner as well.
The fourth and final project is the one for myself, which I am also doing by hand. I discovered after Double Wars that I only had two chemises for my 15th Century wardrobe, and as I’m planning on wearing that for Cudgel War I wanted to make at least one more. Some of the linen in my stash went with me and I cut out a very simple A-line kirtle bodice, fairly straight sleeves with underarm gussets of a strange shape. No godets. I discovered I didn’t need them for fullness once I had made up the side seams. All seams are sewn up, and felled with linen thread, and the only thing left to do is carefully hem the neckline. I’m planning on doing that on Tuesday, when I’m going over to Master SvartulvR and Viscountess Elizabeth to hang out and craft.
Since my coif has been on the frame for a while now, last night I finally started the actual embroidery on it. I started by doing the outlines entirely in stem stitch with the new filament silk I bought at Double Wars. It’s a little wierd to work with this black thread, as compared to the other colours from the same source, as it feels much thinner, for some reason. I am using it doubled, and it doesn’t fluff out as much as the other colours did on the test-piece where I tried them out.
So, the outline: I have a solid line outlining the entire embroidery, outside of which I’m going to do a narrow hem, and then embroider over it to enable me to make up the shape with insertion stitches, basically. For the top and bottom lines I decided not to follow the drawn pattern exactly, but rather follow the threads of the ground fabric. So they are exactly on grain. I have four vertical lines at the centre back of the coif, which I will also work by following threads of the fabric. The rest is all on the diagonal and I won’t bother counting. I could have stopped and rethought my thread choice before I got too far, as I’m not entirely happy with the narrowness of the outline. But that’s a little late now.
So far: 3 hours and 20 minutes of embroidery work done.
- The tiny prize token I posted about earlier is now completely finished. Including the markings which makes it unique for this occasion.
- The decision has been made as to what items I am giving out as token-tokens during the Display at Double Wars.
- The cross-dressing party at Double Wars is now sorted as to what I’m wearing. It includes a silly hat.
- The belt which has been half-assembled for three or more years has today gotten the first round of belt mounts riveted on. By me. I need to drill through two more to make it twice as blingy, but I broke my drillbit. Bronze, it turns out, is a very hard metal.
- Class preparations for my double embroidery workshop at Double Wars is 3/4 sorted. The materials for both stitches have been assembled and prepared and one of the two handouts has been written up. The second handout I will have to do sometime in the week.
- A commission job, sewing for a growing boy, was also finished. Mostly machine made, but with some hand-finishing in the details. Delivered by proxy.
So that’s a full half dozen items to cross off the list. I’m feeling all efficient, and I credit it to pancake breakfast and delightful summer warmth.