Saturday, August 27, 2016

Returning to an old project

Do you remember that I want to reproduce the medieval nalbinding mitten from Ribe, Denmark? Something has always gotten in the way of finishing, even when I felt like I was making good progress. Partly it is because there is so much to learn, but for the past year, it has been due to inactivity.
Currently I'm spinning up more Jacob wool.

Well, preparing for my lefties class got me going on the mitten project again. Why? Well, the starting edge of the Ribe mitten faces in the opposite direction from my usual mittens. As I made samples for my lefties class, I wondered if perhaps that mitten was made by a left-handed person.

Hand-warmers made with left-handed Oslo stitch.

But, I think the answer is no. I think my first thought - that the mitten was turned inside out when complete is the correct answer. I think this because of the slant of the stitches. Whichever way you turn a piece of nalbinding, the stitches slant in the same direction - right or left, depending on which way they were made. Compare the picture above with this detail of the Ribe mitten:

The stitches point in the opposite direction. I hope to finish spinning over the holiday weekend, and then I'm excited to make another sample.

Sunday, August 21, 2016


I can't believe we have been home from Pennsic for a week already. My thanks to everyone who took my classes, particularly the left-handed nalbinders. As promised, class directions for spots, stripes and rings, and for lefties have been posted here. They say that teachers should learn as much from their students as the students learn from their teachers. In this case, I think it was true. Having prepared for and taught the left-handed class, I now feel as comfortable stitching with my left hand as I do with my right. Thank you for prompting me to strive harder!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We went to visit friends in Connecticut last weekend.
They took us across Long Island Sound in their lovely boat, to the little village of Northport. Very quaint. We poked around in the little shops, and I came across this:

 I had to have it - it was only a couple of dollars. I'm sure it is a 20th century piece, but there they were - linen stitch and loop stitch, just like I had learned from Barbeta!
I can't wait to get back to work on my own piece.

And here are a few more photos from the weekend: 

Mike even let Rich have a turn driving the boat.


It's a trip we won't soon forget.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

I can't believe it has been so long since I've written a post. Today is Fathers Day, and we went to Thacher Park for the day.


We couldn't have asked for a better day.

Since the last time I posted, I did make the Dalarna stitch hat, and a pair of matching gloves:

I'm very pleased with how they turned out. The gloves have a 9-row cuff of Dalarna, then I switched to Oslo, with an F2 connection. I added a row of buttonhole stitch at the end, because I decided they needed a pop of color as a finishing touch.

I've also been spending a lot of time prepping for the classes I'll be teaching at Pennsic this year: Nalbinding for Lefties, Nalbinding Rings & Spots, and 16th Century Embroidery Pattern Books. I did a dry run of that class at our recent event, War of the Roses, and it went quite well. I was nervous because it is a new topic for me, and I am not an expert. But I think I was successful in spreading my enthusiasm, and it resulted in a good discussion, which is what I was hoping for.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

I was kissed by a llama!

Last weekend was the Washington County Fiber Tour. The first farm we visited was the Quarry Ridge Alpaca Farm.
 I got a very happy welcome from this beauty. She came right up to check me out.
Besides a few llamas, the farm has many alpaca. 
They are much more shy than the llama, but when you stand very still they will come up to you.

They are so cute, but they have really funny feet. Made for climbing around in the Andes, I suppose.

At the other farms we saw BFL sheep,
angora goats

and cashmere goats

 While the sheep and angora goats are sheared, the cashmere goats just have their undercoat combed out, so they always look this beautiful.

We also had time to visit a carding and spinning mill. I didn't know we had a local mill anymore.

Yes, I came home with quite a bit of yarn and roving. Altogether, it was a very fine day.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dalarna Stitch

I learned a new nalbinding stitch yesterday. I really like it:

Dalarna Stitch

It is quick to make - as quick as Oslo stitch, but it is denser than Oslo stitch, so I think it will be very warm. And I love how it looks almost woven. I will definitely make a hat with this stitch, and perhaps a pair of matching mittens.

The stitch is easy: start like Oslo, with one loop on the back of your thumb, and one loop on your thumb. Take the loop from the back of your thumb, then pick up the thumb loop. Turn and go under the working thread. Use the F2 connection. The twist gives it little loops on the inside, like Russian stitch has.

That's it - I'm off to stitch!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Playing with color

As anyone who reads this blog is sure to know, I usually have more than one project going at a time. So, while I was working on the laurel cloak, I was also having fun playing with nalbinding. It is the creative part of SCA that I enjoy most. Exploring medieval ideas and seeing what can be done within that context. With that in mind, I've been looking at extant medieval nalbinding and designing my own pieces, playing with the structure of stitches (how does the result differ if a different stitch is used, for example). Here are the things I've been making:

Two-color mitts, and the start of three-color socks.
Spots and rings:

First I played with what happens depending on the number of stitches used for the second color, and then I played with the stitches. The sample on the left is Mammen stitch; the one on the right is Finnish stitch.

Then I made some mittens. The brown mitten is Finnish stitch. The green mitten is Mammen stitch.

Then, if one can make horizontal stripes, it is also possible to make vertical stripes:

I have never seen any artifacts with vertical stripes, but they are no more difficult to make than spots, so why not? The mitten is Russian stitch; the hat is Oslo stitch.

And finally, using the Coptic stitch, I played with colorwork:

The red water bottle cover has my badge - a wool comb. The little bag is to hold my phone.