61) The Tuesday Tudor: falling behind

I only managed to complete three out of my six goals for the weekend:

  • Complete the bodice shell – YES, including eyelets;
  • Attach the dress skirt to the bodice – NO;
  • Cut out the partlet – NO;
  • Find my lucet (to make ties for the coif) – YES;
  • Decide on and order sleeve fabric – YES;
  • Get some wool onto my Saxony wheel – NO;
  • Find (and hopefully set up) the distaff for my Traveller – YES.

Which means things are getting serious.  I only have one more weekend to complete this outfit: the demo is on the following Sunday.  I do *not* want to be doing anything except finishing touches and packing on the day before the demo, so it's time to push ahead.  I can see that I will have a wearable outfit in time, but there is still a lot to do.  In the meantime: photographs!

This is the petticoat so far, and the hat I will be wearing:


I'm rather proud of the petticoat; the pleats look pretty awesome.  It's not hemmed yet; that's something I would rather do by hand, but will most likely run out of time for.  I'm leaving it till last because I can easily and quickly put in a machine hem if needed.

I bought the hat at an SCA event a couple of years ago.  It's styled on some pictures from earlier manuscripts, but straw hats are peasant wear, and as such, didn't really change all that much over the intervening centuries.  I'm happy with it.

The bodice for the dress itself is looking good, too:


This thing is the reason so little else got done.  Each of the three pieces (two fronts and a back) has been covered twice: once with linen (the lining) and once with the grey wool.  The eyelets (which are just visible in the photo) are hand-bound.  Once complete, the pieces are whip-stitched together along the seams – and all of that is hand sewing.  Machines just cannot do it.

It took far longer than I expected – each eyelet takes about 15 minutes to bind, and there are 16 of them – and my fingers are needle-sore from gripping and pulling.  One day, I will learn to use a thimble, but this weekend was not that day.

This morning, I was up early, so I pressed the waistline of the skirts, and pleated them.  I used knife pleats on the petticoat, but am using box pleats for the dress.  The whole thing is now a complete pin-fest, because a pleat is, in essence, three layers of whatever you're pleating, and I can only get my pins through two layers of skirt:


So I have to pin both the back and front layers of the pleat to the middle layer.  I'm going to sew the pleats into place tonight, then take out the pins and try to attach the skirt to the bodice.  I don't want to think about the number of times I'm going to stick myself on pins in the process: sewing is so much spikier than knitting.

One last photo:


This is the wool yarn that I'm hoping to get on the loom in time for the demo.  It's singles, spun by me from fleece prepped by me, and dyed (by me) using elder leaves harvested from my garden.  In reality, it's quite an intense warm yellow colour, but J did Something to my camera this weekend, and I need to find out what, and undo it.  The reason I'm so keen to get this on the loom is that I feel it really represents the way that peasant woollens would have been produced in period.  The fact that I have done it all myself, using native breed wool and a native plant for the dyeing, is Just Right.

Fiber Friday!

Announcing a brand-new Yarnscape tradition, and the launch of another product line: hand-carded batts, perfect for spinners and felters!

This is just a mini shop update, with four batts in each of two ‘flavours’.  First up is Rose Rage (a gradient batt, moving  from pale to dark pink).  This one’s pure merino, no sparkle:

Then we have Titania, a blend of purples with holographic silver Angelina (moderate sparkle):

I’m selling these as one-ounce batts.  This is a bit of an experiment, because Etsy charges per item listed.  I could quarter my listing costs by advertising a single four-ounce lot, but this is more flexible, and should appeal much more to felters and other low-volume batt buyers.  I hope!

Besides, you can get a four-foot long, eight inch wide lace scarf out of less than an ounce of fibre.  I’ve done it.

60) All Tudor, all the time

Woo-hoo!!  A three-day weekend beckons!

Progress on the Tudor outfit has been S-L-O-W this week.  In fact, the overall progress list looks very similar to this time last week:

  • Stockings (optional) – not started;
  • A shift (optional) – not started;
  • A petticoat – machine sewing complete, waistband attached;
  • A dress – bodice in progress, skirt has all machine sewing done;
  • Sleeves – not started, no fabric;
  • A partlet – not started;
  • A coif – just ties remain to be done;
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.

This is partly because sewing the dress bodice is all about fiddly hand-work, with lots of pins and checking and stretching and re-checking and clipping fabric into curves.  I just forgot how long it could take!

I've also had a bit of a reality-check this week, where I realised that my job at this event is to demonstrate weaving, spinning and/or dyeing.  The public are not there to see my clothing, but rather, what I am doing.  I need to start getting my demo kit in order!

So, this weekend,
I will be spending some relaxed quality time with my long suffering other half and the two dogs.  But I really need to make some serious progress on the Tudor.  I shall aim to:

  • Complete the bodice shell (eyelets optional);
  • Attach the dress skirt to the bodice;
  • Cut out the partlet;
  • Find my lucet (to make ties for the coif);
  • Decide on and order sleeve fabric;
  • Get some wool onto my Saxony wheel;
  • Find (and hopefully set up) the distaff for my Traveller.

Bonus items:

  • Find yarn and plan the warp for the demo weaving;
  • Machine sewing on the partlet;
  • Pattern the stockings;
  • Make lucet ties;
  • Cut out linen for the shift.

Again, I
will aim to check in again on Tuesday – hopefully with a few more things checked off on the Big List!  I love working on big projects like this, and checking in on a regular basis keeps me accountable and honest.

One-skein project: Pretty Thing in Smitten

59) Tuesday’s Tudor Update (yes, it’s Wednesday)

First a quick status update on last weekend's goals, which were to:

  • Make an official pattern for the bodice (for future reference) – DONE
  • Complete the bodice interlining (two layers of fabric, plus boning); – DONE
  • Cut out the main fabric layer and lining fabric layer for the bodice; – DONE
  • Cut out the skirt (main fabric and lining) for the dress; – DONE
  • Machine sew the skirt for the dress; – PARTIALLY DONE
  • Make a decision on the sleeve fabric. – NO

Bonus items:

  • Wash the white linen for my new shift – DONE
  • Cut out the partlet; – NO
  • Any and all possible hand sewing. – finished the waistband on the petticoat

I've just realised as I was typing this up that I should have sewn the two skirt layers together before putting the machine away on Monday.  Darnit!  Once that's done, I can do a temporary pleating job and hang the whole lot on the mannequin for the hems to drop.  I need to do that with the petticoat anyway, so perhaps that's this evening's job.

Now, onto the pretty bit of the post.  I realised that I haven't shown you the fabrics I'm using for this project yet!  So, here they are:


Green: Petticoat.  Grey: main dress fabric.  Russet: dress lining.  The grey is a lambswool blend; the other two are linen.  The green was white when I bought it; the stuff dyes beautifully.

I need to email Herts Fabrics
to see what wool they have in stock for sleeves.  The sleeves are separate
to the rest of the dress, and can be a contrasting colour.  I'm thinking a mustardy yellow might be fun?

Oh!  And the shoes!


Pretty convincingly Tudor looking, eh?  I'm really pleased with them – they're very comfy, too.  Another view?  OK:


See the label?  Yep, Clark's.  Not a reenactment shoe at all, but very comfy, and they definitely have the right 'look', as long as you stay away from the crepe soles.  I'm really pleased with this find; reproduction shoes would have cost about the same, but these really can be worn with my jeans, and ordered without a special fitting, to boot.

Currently, I'm working on the bodice of the dress.  The front is
lightly boned: three strips at each side of the centre, one at the side
seam, and a diagonal armpit-to-bellybutton bone just to keep things in order:

Bodice pieces

What you see in that photograph is the interlining for one of the side pieces, lying on top of its own lining and outer fabric.  The interlining is two layers of heavy canvas, stitched together to act as a single piece, and with the boning channels created by more lines of stitching.  The bones are lying on top of the whole thing, and further back on the table is the interlining for the back of the bodice, folded in half, with its lining.

Each piece of the bodice will be completed separately – interlining wrapped around with lining and main fabric – then the finished pieces will be whip-stitched together.  This feels like a really scary construction method, cos the whole bodice is basically held together only with your own hand-sewing, but it's worked in the past, and I'm sure it'll work this time.  It also avoids nasty, bulky seams involving eight or more layers of fabric.

Speaking of boning, I'm using giant cable ties.  And when I say giant, I really mean giant:


(The scale on that tape measure is in inches, by the way.)  I use tin snips (also pictured) to cut them to length, and to round the corners.

I spent at least two hours faffing with the bodice last night, and I don't think I'm any further on than I was at the start of the evening.  Oh – my mistake – I have marked the positions of the lacing holes.  I need to punch those through the interlining before I go much further with the bodice, so I'll try and do that tonight, too.  Then I have no excuses for not making more progress.

And that's about it for now.  See you on Friday for the weekly Tudor Check-in!

58) Checking in on Project Tudor

(I've been holding off on this post, hoping I'd get time to snag a few photos, but no luck.  I figure I might as well post now, and then do photos later, as and when…)

So, my aims for last weekend were:

  • Order my shoes,
  • Finish the coif, and
  • Dye the petticoat fabric

And, if possible

  • Cut out the lining for the partlet (the wool has yet to arrive, but that would be a bonus),
  • Cut out and machine sew the petticoat.

As of now:

  • My shoes (and nearly all the fabric I need) have arrived, and they are wonderful.  Turns out the quickest way to ensure that all black wool contains the household quota of dog hair is to wash it in the washing machine, but I digress.
  • The coif isn't finished – it's been my portable hand sewing project this week, so that works fine
  • The petticoat fabric has been dyed
  • All the machine sewing has been done on the petticoat.

Last night, I located the pattern for my Florentine Renaissance bodice (must get better pics of that outfit; the loose hair and headband look was strictly temporary, and they're just rong.)

However, the bodice is sorta-kinda the right shape.  Straps in the right place, waistline in the right place.  Lacing in the wrong place.  This bodice will lace up at the centre front, because as a farm-woman, I wouldn't have a maid to lace me in in the mornings, and I can vouch for the fact that the side-back lacing is not practical by yourself.  So I cut out a variation on that original pattern, sewed on my temporary lacing strips, and proceeded to pull various muscles in my back and shoulders, as I attempted to fit the new pattern on myself with only a small mirror for help.

I think I got there.  Which means that the hardest, most unpleasant part of the project *should* be done.

This weekend, I plan to drive all over the local countryside in order to pick up a car load of alpaca fleece.  However, I need to crack on with the sewing too, so I shall aim to:

  • Make an official pattern for the bodice (for future reference);
  • Complete the bodice interlining (two layers of fabric, plus boning);
  • Cut out the main fabric layer and lining fabric layer for the bodice;
  • Cut out the skirt (main fabric and lining) for the dress;
  • Machine sew the skirt for the dress;
  • Make a decision on the sleeve fabric.

Bonus items:

  • Wash the white linen for my new shift (which is an optional project, but washing is easy);
  • Cut out the partlet;
  • Any and all possible hand sewing.

I will aim to write another blog post on this project by Tuesday, at the latest.  It's interesting: although there are a lot of items on the original list which have not been started, or which are nowhere near finished, I still feel like this project will be achievable in the given timeline.

So, here's the list, with three weeks to go.  Optional items are italicised, completed items in strikeout.

  • Stockings (optional) – not started;
  • A shift (optional) – not started;
  • A petticoat – machine sewing complete;
  • A dress – bodice patterned;
  • Sleeves – not started, no fabric;
  • A partlet – not started;
  • A coif – handsewing and ties remain;
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.

57) Catching up: spinning

So – what have I been up to?

I washed the blue silk:



Note the yellow gloves.  These were donned *after* I noticed that the blue that was coming out of the silk was not coming out of my fingers.  I guess since the dye rubbed off onto my hands whilst I was spinning, I shouldn't have been surprised at this, but it made me a bit grumpy at the time.  Anyway, it dried beautifully, and wound into nice little yarn cakes, too:


The Tour de Fleece ran for the duration of the Tour de France, the idea being that you spin every day that the cyclists ride.  I started out strong with spindle spinning as I walked the Race for Life:



49 metres of silk singles, spun whilst walking 5 kilometres.  Cool, huh?

I decided that I wasn't going to find a good use for 100g of Corriedale in this pretty handpainted colourway:


So I carded it to make a more blended batt:


Which I spun and plied in under a week (personal best!) to make a rather pleasing 4ply-ish weight.  This is going into the 'stranded colourwork' basket to await other yarn-partners:


…and then I started on the last of my Sweet Georgia club fibres from last year.  This was 67g of BFL and 33g of tussah silk, dyed in the same colourway (not quite as eye-popping as it appears here):


I started with the BFL, which wanted to be spun fine (you can still see hints of the dratted blue dye round my fingernails in this shot):


The BFL was addictive spinning, and I finished it before the end of the Tour:


The silk was a different matter.  Given that there was half as much silk, by weight, I figured that the silk had to be spun even finer so that I'll have roughly the same yardage of each when I come to ply them together.  The finer a yarn, the more twist it needs.  And silk likes a lot of twist.


After about 15 minutes of trying to spin this stuff ultra-fine on my standard bobbin and flyer, I realised that I was going to get frustrated.  I was sitting and treadling like mad, waiting for the singles to fill up with twist.  It was time to put on my big girl panties and break out the lace flyer that I've been hoarding for the last 18 months:


Much better.  Though I can tell you that even with a fast flyer, 33g of silk at this weight is still a lot of spinning time.  Last night I got a good couple of hours spinning with the local Tuesday group, and I reckon another couple of hours should see me finish the singles.  Then: Plying!  Fun!!

56) What was that sixth goal again?

6.  Sew a Tudor costume

Oh, really?  Yes, really.  Today is August 12, and I am booked in to do a demonstration of spinning, weaving, dyeing and anything else I can rustle up at a Tudor event on September 12.  I'm exactly a month away, and I need Tudor era garb, somewhat peasanty.

I have stuff that is appropriate to the UK from a couple of centuries previously; I have stuff that is roughly from the right period, but Italian, and totally the wrong social class.  To give you a rough idea of the sort of outfit I will be wearing, check out Emily's awesome outfit here.  (And the rest of her site.  It's *wonderful*).

Working from the skin out, I need:

  • Stockings;
  • A shift;
  • A petticoat;
  • A dress (lined)
  • Sleeves (also lined; these dresses don't have them built in);
  • A partlet (shoulder covering);
  • A coif (head covering);
  • A hat;
  • Shoes;
  • Belt, pouch and other accessories, like a knife.

Then there's the actual demo stuff; wool, looms, dyestuffs(?), spinning equipment (wheels and/or spindles), you name it.  Fortunately, my house contains quite a lot of those things, and also quite a lot of fabric.  Unfortunately, a fair bit of the fabric isn't appropriate, so I've ordered some more.  Even more unfortunately, many of the items in that list are double-layered, and, as luck would have it, I typically have the correct fabric for only one layer on any particular garment, which rather limits the progress I can make right now.  I'd really, really love to have this basically finished by the end of the month, which means I need to get cracking in a serious way.

So costume-wise, what do I already have?

  • A shift that will 'do'.  It's cotton (inappropriate; should be linen), and not that well made, but if I don't get round to making at better one, it will do the job. (I've ordered the fabric for a new one anyway, though).
  • Some sleeves that aren't right, but which could be used in a push.
  • A coif-in-making.  This doesn't need too much work to be finished.
  • A hat.  A straw one, in this case, which is appropriate to my farm-worker persona.
  • The belt, pouch etc.  These are transferable from my earlier garb; the don't change much over the centuries for the peasant classes.
  • I plan to buy my shoes.  I'm not that mad (yet).  Well, I am, but not in this timeframe.

What can I get away without?

  • Stockings.

Therefore, what *must* I do in the next month?

  • Dye fabric for and sew a petticoat;
  • Sew a dress
  • Sew a partlet;
  • Finish the coif;
  • Buy the shoes.

The biggie is the dress.  The shoes I can do in five minutes on t'Interwebs, assuming they fit when they get here.  The coif needs some hand-sewing time, maybe a couple of hours.  So I could safely get those finished this week.  The petticoat is an easy 'make', though it will definitely require some machine sewing to get it done on this timescale, and I do need to dye the fabric.  I've never made a partlet, but I have a trustworthy pattern source on hand.

I have the rest of this week, plus two more weeks.  As a bare minimum, by the end of the weekend, I will aim to:

  • Order my shoes,
  • Finish the coif, and
  • Dye the petticoat fabric

In addition, I'd like to:

  • Cut out the lining for the partlet (the wool has yet to arrive, but that would be a bonus),
  • Cut out and machine sew the petticoat.

After that, it's on to the dress bodice, which will have no fewer than four layers, including some boning!  Watch this space!!

It all takes so much longer than I thought…

OK, only one shop update over the weekend – once the photography, labelling, inventory and the rest are taken care of, dyeing the yarn seems to be the smallest part of this business – but I did get the silk listed!

‘Candy’, available here

During the swatching process, this yarn renamed itself from ‘Shine’ (I know, original, right?) to ‘Smitten’.  Because I was so totally and utterly smitten with my swatch:

Swatch on 4mm needles, ‘Soft Slate’

I didn’t exactly choose the best background for that swatch; the colourway, Soft Slate, is a soft grey with lavender, blue and soft brown highlights; click for bigger to see the shine, the soft colours, but I can still promise you I didn’t do it justice.

I love the texture of this yarn.  It’s a 2-ply structure, which is quite unusual for thicker silk yarns; they’re often singles.  The problem with singles is that they tend to bias in the knitting, and they are much, much more prone to pilling and other abrasion-related damage than plied yarns.  This yarn, though, is plied, and it’s quite dense.  You can see that there is an almost pebbled look to the yarn; the same sort of effect you get in high-end sock yarns, and that adds its own detail to the surface texture of the fabric:

‘New Growth’ (my favourite greens!) – available here

I’m guessing that no-one will be too shocked to hear that I couldn’t resist keeping some of this for myself.  I have a whole skein of the Soft Slate, and yesterday, I cast on for the Yarn Harlot‘s pattern, ‘Pretty Thing‘ cowl (Ravelry link).  It’s looking luscious.

55) Over doing it (July recap; August lists)

Overwhelmed, overcommitted, overstimulated, overloaded.  One of my themes for the year was to be, "keep up with the obligations I have taken on", and for the first time this year, I feel like I've been falling behind.  July has been totally and utterly crazy – in both good and bad ways – and I really cannot describe the relief I felt when I turned the calendar onto August and saw… nothing.

Not that I have nothing to do, of course, but it was so nice to see a clean slate; no weekends booked out, no events, no workshops, no courses.  And, looking back, it's no wonder.  In the last month, I have:

  • Attended a two-day workshop with Sara Lamb, to learn the basics of cut pile weaving;
  • Competed in the Race for Life, where, although I couldn't run, I did spin whilst walking;
  • Spun every day during the Tour de France (aka the 'Tour de Fleece');
  • Hosted J's Mum whilst she was visiting England;
  • Spent one and two half days at Knit Nation, including lugging my wheel to and across London by train and tube.

(That's part of the Wollmeise stall at Knit Nation.  They brought a metric tonne of yarn to the event; it absolutely glowed.)

This, on top of my usual full time job, plus dog-wrangling, gardening (it being the Busy Season) and the rest of daily life.  (No, not much housework; I'm catching up on that this weekend, with any luck).

Other things I wanted to achieve, such as dyeing more yarn, updating my shop and so on, as well as things I normally achieve, such as blogging, have taken a serious back seat.  And now, I find I'm avoiding blogging, because there is so much to catch up on.

Well, consider yourselves caught up.  ;)  I may, perhaps, get around to more detailed posts on some of these topics at some point, but if I don't, then fine – I'll just tell you about what I'm' doing right now.  So, onto the goals list:

June has been a startlingly different month to May!

  1. Yarnscape: Continue listing yarns, and get some fibre up, too.
    Nope.  I think I managed one update, and no fibre.  This weekend, though, I promise!
  2. Finish knitting Basil (Ravelry
    link), and cast of the blue silk Peacock Feathers shawl

    Sorta.  Basil is knitted and blocked, but not seamed.  I've also not cast on for the shawl because (darnit!) I can't find my pattern.  So I've ordered a replacement.

  3. Tour de Fleece spinning.
    Definitely!  I really must blog about this; it was so much fun, and I did achieve a lot.
  4. Finish the spindle-spun silks
    No.  I'm getting close, though.  All the warp and most of the weft is spun; should finish this month.
  5. Keep up with the gardening!
    Not bad.  The garden is not neglected, but I haven't kept up wiht the planting, either.

  6. **Plan and maybe warp my  handspun silk scarf project.
  7. Restart my Pilates practice again
    No, but I have been getting into good habits with my physio excercises for my hip.  And I ran again last Wednesday!  (But only a little bit, and with my osteopath's permission).  Generally, good stuff.

So, what?  Maybe four half-achievements?  Well, as I said, it's been a crazy month – let's see how I do in August! 

  1. Yarnscape: At least four shop updates
  2. Significant progress on the Peacock shawl
  3. Write up one design for give away or sale
  4. *Finish the spindle-spun silks
  5. Keep up with the gardening!
  6. Sew a Tudor costume (details to follow…)
  7. Keep up with the physio.  Add Pilates if possible.
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