Saturday, November 25, 2017

Beginning Nalbinding

Earlier this month I taught a beginner nalbinding class at a local library. I taught the easiest stitch I know - York - so that students would be able to leave class being confident enough in their new skills to make a holiday gift. In two weeks I'm teaching the second class - nalbinding mittens. Students will learn increasing and decreasing, and tricks for making the thumb without leaving little holes. There are several ways to do this. I arrived at my favorite after examining many artifact mittens. That's the version I will teach. I'll also show students alternate methods, because just because it is my favorite, doesn't mean it will be yours. If you don't think you would like mittens, never fear - the same techniques work for making gloves.

So, if you know a nalbinding stitch and would like help with mittens or gloves, stop by the East Greenbush Library at 1:00 on December 9. Directions for the classes are posted here in the class handouts.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

merry England

We were in England (mostly London) for a week. Just enough to whet the appetite, barely time to scratch the surface of the things to see and do. Our first day we stretched our legs after the long and lovely train ride from Glasgow. We enjoyed St. James's Park,
walked around Westminster, across the bridge, along the river to the next bridge, up to Trafalger Square,
and eventually back to the hotel.

The next day it was off to the British Museum, where I fell in love with the Lewis Chessmen. Yes, I've seen photos and reproductions. That is nothing compared to standing in front of the real thing.

 What I didn't appreciate until I saw them in person is that every one of them is completely unique, and they all have personality.

Shears (50BC-50AD) from Hertford Heath

Another highlight of the trip was seeing a play at the Globe. We saw Twelfth Night
And equally wonderful was the view that greeted us as we left the theater. 

Friday we were off to Westminster Abbey and the V & A. I would have liked to spend all day in the V & A, but I am happy with the time we got. I spent quite a long time with "my" beloved Coptic socks (Egypt 300-500). We practically had the gallery to ourselves.
This is nalbinding, not knitting.

I also drooled over the Tristan and Isolde quilt (Florence c. 1360-1400). I love the fish and faces.

And that was just the tip of the iceberg of wonderful things to discover:


The next day we climbed to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral (520+ steps), and were rewarded with spectacular views and a serenade by the bells.

You can see the Tower of London and Tower Bridge in this photo. The trip was certainly over long before we ran out of things to explore.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

travel adventures

We are back from a lovely vacation in Scotland and England. What beautiful countries, and friendly people! Of course I made a point of visiting as many museums as possible. In Glasgow we were lucky enough to take a behind the scenes tour of the Burrell stained glass collection. The museum is currently closed for renovation, so they are using the opportunity to conserve and photograph their medieval glass. We got up close to see the lead came, the silver staining, how "jewels" were added, and 19th century repairs. Fascinating! Here are a few pictures:

Examining windows with and without light. The red leaf is from the 19th century. The red and blue "jewels" are 15th century originals. They added them by cutting holes in the center of the receiving piece of glass. I wonder how many pieces were broken in the process?

 German, late 15th century
Don't you love the faces?                                                                                                                                                                                             German, 1443

 French, circa 1280

some details 
 This 16th c. English piece includes chased glass.

French, c. 1520 
Don't forget to take your shoes off when you are going in the river to be baptized!

The oldest pieces in the collection, from St. Denis, France

We were in town for an architectural history conference, so we visited quite a few buildings from many different times. Here are a few highlights:

  Macintosh's Willow Tea Rooms (a reproduction, but beautiful none the less)

 19th century City Hall

  13th century Bothwell Castle

And just so you don't think it was all work and no play, the food was delicious.


 Babbity Bowster, a very old pub.

Then, it was on to England...

Monday, May 22, 2017

Lace Knitting

My son is getting married this summer, to a wonderful woman. I've knit socks for her in the past, but I wanted to make something really special for this occasion. I decided to make her a wedding shawl. I haven't done any significant lace knitting before, so this was a bit of a challenge. But I kept at it, slowly. I was a bit sceptical as it came off the needles that it would ever be something beautiful and useful. But blocking is an amazing thing. Here it is:

And here is a detail of the leaves:

She received it at her shower yesterday. I think she really liked it. Of course, I hope the day is warm enough that she won't actually have to wear it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A visit to the Met

We visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week. The main purpose of the visit was to see the terra cotta warrior statues from China. That was a fabulous exhibit, but I was surprised to see many things in the exhibit besides the famous warriors, such as little statues of dancers:

 (206 BC - 9 AD)

and silk embroidered textiles: 
(2nd c. BC)
these were very difficult to photograph due to the lighting conditions

One of my favorite things was this pair of 2nd century BC silk mittens: 

And then there was this cosmetics pouch from Niya, an ancient oasis town along the Silk Road:

 (25-220 AD)
They found a bronze mirror inside it.

Keeping with the Chinese theme, we also visited an exhibit of Chinese story scrolls. This one was painted in the 13th century:

 The poem that accompanies this picture says:
In the eigth month they twist the thread,
the black thread and yellow.
"With my red dye so bright
I make a robe for my lord."

And finally, we visited an exhibit of 19th century embroidered Chinese theatre robes. Here is a detail of one of my favorites: