Jul 30
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 30th, 2010| icon38 Comments »

Sometimes left-overs are great!  When I finished plying the green and navy together for Blackwatch, I had some of the navy singles left over.  When I finished plying Blerry Slushie, I had some of the red singles left over.  Well, not one to let anything go to waste, I decided to ply the remaining navy and red together and see what I would get.

And this is what I got!  4.7 ounces of 50% merino and 50% fine wool in a sock weight yarn.  I named it Brambleberry because it looks like the fruit, both partially ripe and fully ripe, on my wild bramble bushes. 

But I am sorry, this is not for sale.  I’ve been wanting to knit some fingerless mitts for Scott to keep his hands warm in the winter, but also keep his fingers free for drawing, inking and using the computer.  I think this ought to do the trick nicely!

It has cooled off here for a brief time with the highs in the lower 80’s but the hummidity has abated a bit. Yesterday was actually rather nice, if still a little too warm for my tastes, outside.  My morning walking partner loves summer and the hot temperatures, but even she admitted that she is ready for autumn.

Jul 27
Touching History
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Historically Speaking | icon4 07 27th, 2010| icon36 Comments »

Several years ago, I had the opportunity to volunteer to make costumes for the 1836 area of Conner Prairie.  These clothes were hand-sewn on the areas that could be seen, and I really enjoyed this type of work.  The patterns used were taken from vintage clothes of that era that were on loan to the museum by Tasha Tudor. 

During this short, two-year stint making these costumes that were to be worn by the interpreters, I learned a lot about how vintage clothing was assembled and worn.  My triumph while there was making a corded petticoat with 25 yards of cording.  These petticoats were the precursor to the hoop skirts and crinolines that were to reach their height (width) during the 1860’s. 

The petticoat was entirely hand sewn and even traveled to one of the comic book conventions in Chicago where I sat behind the table, sewing away, and explaining to people what I was making.  It was the interest in this project, and the draw it had on the people there, that eventually lead me to sit behind the table with a spinning wheel, keeping my hands busy and pulling people in for a better look – and to buy comics.  This petticoat, I understand, is still referred to as “the petticoat” at Conner Prairie. 

Also, I made one dress for the 1876 schoolhouse for the schoolmarm to wear.  You can imagine my glee and pride when I visited Conner Prairie soon thereafter and in the schoolhouse was the teacher wearing the dress I had made.  Luckily, by this time sewing machines had been invented, so I made it on my sewing machine.

Where am I going with this?  Well, this past weekend while I was at Kristy’s, she showed me a pattern from her husband’s great-great-grandmother.  The pattern was like nothing I had ever seen before and I took several pictures of it to show to you.  It was almost (but not quite) enough to get me back into making vintage costumes again. 

The paper the pattern was printed on was very thick – thicker than card stock, but not as thick as cardboard.  Obviously it was meant to last through several dresses and the adjustability of the patterns meant it could be used for the entire family of adult women.  In fact, there was a sheet with the names of several women, including the owner of the pattern, and their measurements.  Fascinating!

I started with the sleeve.  Since this dress was in the same style as the 1870’s dress I had made for Conner Prairie, it immediately brought back memories of making that dress.  The sleeve is curved toward the inside seam which means that while wearing it the arm cannot be fully straightened out.  Also, the sleeve was fitted very tightly.

See the small holes?  These were used to mark cutting lines, dart lines, and other fitting lines.  With this many options, these dresses could be form fitted to the person much more easily than we do today.

Now, let’s go to the bodice front.  Again, there were lots of darts to be sewn in to fit the corseted body snugly.

The same with the back of the bodice.  And look at how tiny the waist is!  When I was a docent with the Morris Butler House in Indianapolis back in the late 1980’s, there was a dress (and I assume it is still there) that had an 11 inch waist.  At that time I weighed about 120 pounds, and my neck was 11 inches around.  I used my neck as a visual at how tiny the dress’ waist was and then reminded people that there would have been a corset, corset cover and chemise under that!

This piece was referred to as the Skirt and Dart Rule and was used to measure out the fabric for the skirt of the dress.  I didn’t get to look more closely at this piece, and I think I will ask if I can study the pattern even more.  The dress pattern I had used for Conner Prairie had a skirt pattern, so I’m not sure how this piece was used.  More study is needed on my part.

The following are several of the written areas on the patterns.  They are a bit blurry, but if you go slowly you can make out the words. 

And this was on the bodice front.  The Climax System.  I would love to know more about the history of these patterns and the creators of it. 

Anyway, I thought you would love to see this wonderful old dress pattern.  If I were a woman of leisure (HA!), I might be tempted into recreating this dress.

Jul 26

Kristy’s and my first item to do was to look over the sampler and see what patterns in it we liked and wanted to do for the towels.

There were several she really liked and she was so thrilled at how her sampler turned out.

Next, we needed to wind the warp onto her loom and get her ready to weave.  For this her husband David joined us so he would know what to do when she needed to warp the loom herself for the first time. 

So, Kristy tied the warp ends onto the back apron,…

the warp chains were straightened out (David was a bit concerned at the mess of warp chains under the loom as Kristy and I threaded the loom on Saturday),…

and the winding on process began.  We had 8 yards 12 inches of warp to put onto the loom, enough to seven towels and loom waste.

But David got the hang of his job while Kristy did the winding and I made sure the edges of the warp stayed onto the corrugated cardboard I use to separate the warp layers on the warp beam.

After correcting a few threading errors, we finally got the warp tied onto the front apron bar,…

and got the header woven.  Kristy was all ready to start weaving!

Of course, you can’t weave without bobbins of yarn ready, so she filled up 14 bobbins, enough to get her through until she can get a bobbin winder of her own.  I could tell that David already has an idea of how he’s going to make her one.  He is one clever man to have around!

With a box of full bobbins, Kristy sat down and wove the hem of the first towel.  This first towel is going to be a sampler of the weaves she wants to use for the next six, so she wove a couple of inches of tabby, a cuple inches of a pattern I don’t know the name of but it is sort of a half basket – one pick using the treadling of 1-2/3-4 and repeat and a couple of inches of 2/2 twill before she tuckered out for the day.

Here is what her towels look like so far.  I really like the colors she has chosen and believe she will have lovely towels when she is done.

And best yet, doesn’t Kristy look happy at her loom?  She kept exclaiming how pretty it looked and how much she was enjoying the weaving.  She said she had waited all her life to do this, and she could not be happier.  Now, what could a student say that would make a teacher happier?  Nothing!!! 

And here is an example of how handy David is.

He made her this adjustable weight, rocking weaving bench for her.  She got to use it yesterday while weaving for the first time.  She is one lucky lady.

And, that my friends, is how I spent my birthday weekend.  It could not have been better!

Jul 24

About two or three weeks ago (they have been going by so quickly lately that they are becoming a blur) I purchased and brought home this sweet little gem of a loom – and the best thing yet is that it is a Dorset!


It even has F.C. Wood’s name engraved on it.  Needless to say I am more than thrilled to have this for my workshops.  It needs a little work (a cracked beater side bar that needs to  be fixed for example), but it will give my students many, many years of learning pleasure.  Starting yesterday with Kristy.  I was going to start telling you about the weaving class last night, but I accidently forgot the camera at Kristy’s house.  OOPS!!!!

Doesn’t she look so happy as she is weaving along?  Kristy has woven on a rigid heddle loom before, but never on a floor loom.  She wove part of the morning yesterday and most of the afternoon before we took a break to discuss her main weaving project.  Since this is in Kristy’s house and she owns her own four-harness floor loom (remember, I was down there about a month ago to help get it ready for weaving), I let her design something besides a scarf.  Time is no contraint here because she can continue weaving long after class is over.  What she had chosen to do was weave dishtowels and she had already purchased the yarn for them – 8/2 cotton.

We played for a while with my Weave-It Pro software on my laptop and came up with a design that worked with the yarn she had for it.  Then she wove on the Dorset until it was time for me to go home.  Last night, she showed her husband what she had been doing and he, too, sat down and wove a little.  I think it is so cool when spouses are interested in learning, too, so they can discuss the topic with some knowledge.  And Kristy has the sweetest husband in David!  On top of that, David loves to make things.  I’ll be taking losts of pictures tomorrow of some of the things he has made for Kristy to help with her weaving.

This morning, both Kristy and David met me at the front door.  They had an apple with a candle in it and sang Happy Birthday to me!  Yup!  Today, I am 46 years old and I had the most wonderful way to celebrate my birthday in teaching a very enthusiastic student how to weave.

Today, we started off by measuring out the warp.  We measured,

and we measured

and we measured some more – 484 warp threads in this project and that’s not counting the floating selvedge threads!  23 inches wide in the loom, 24 epi and 8.33 yards long.  That took all morning and a little into the afternoon.  I measured off all the white yarn, and Kristy did the colored yarn.

Then we sat together at the loom and began sleying the reed, her taking one half and me taking the other.  She has only an 8 dent reed and a 6 dent reed, so we put the 8 dent reed on the loom and sleyed it three ends per dent.  I told her there may be some reed marks on the towels and recommended her eventually getting 10 dent and 12 dent reeds in stainless steel.  It didn’t take us very long to sley the reed – maybe an hour total.

Then we moved to the back of the loom where I had removed the back beam and the warp beam so we could get into the loom to thread it easier.  Getting the loom threaded, with her working on half of it and me working on the other half took about three hours, but it is threaded and ready to wind on in the morning.  Then we’ll make sure there are no threading errors and away she’ll go.  Her first towel is going to be a sampler for her own use so she’ll be able to test out several patterns to see which ones she wants to use on the rest of the towels.  If I understand her correctly, each of the following six towels will be woven off in a different treadling sequence so that they’ll match, but be different.

Needless to say, both Kristy and I were tuckered tonight, but we accomplished a lot today.  We kicked some warping butt, let me tell you!

And last, Kristy is a sewer and has made some dolls for her two grand-daughters, so she said she would like to see what I make in dolls.  So Lizzie and a faceless and hairless doll accompanied me today (the half-made doll is a newer design and I wanted to show Kristy the changes between Lizzie, my first doll of this pattern, and the current incarnation).  Lizze took one look at the play room and we didn’t have to worry about her for the rest of the day.

She spent most of the day trotting around on this lovely Pinto.  Like a lot of young ladies, she is horse crazy and she rarely gets to indulge in riding.

After having worn out her horse, she and Mr. Cowboy sat together and he told her story after story of riding the range and Yippie-Ki-Yi-Yiing those little doggies.  She talked all the way home about this guy.  I think she wants to be a cowgirl when she grows up, now.  I wonder if Ree and her family would like to take her on for a while?

Jul 22
How about a Berry Slushie?
icon1 basicallybenita | icon2 Work-in-progress | icon4 07 22nd, 2010| icon36 Comments »

Like I mentioned in an earlier post, even though I am working on the taxes, I am also spinning.  Last night, I finished plying, soaking and hanging some yarn that I really enjoyed spinning.  This is such a nice, soft wool yarn!

So, this morning after it was all dry, I weighed it.  8.1 ounces of fingering weight goodness here!  I’ll get it measureed this weekend to see how many yards it is, but I thought you’d enjoy seeing it before it goes into the store.

I named it Berry Slushie because it is miserably hot here and this looks like those wonderful concoctions made of ice and syrup.  Just seeing this cools me off.

Isn’t it pretty?

Tomorrow I am beginning another weaving class.  This one is different though.  Since only one student signed up, I am driving to her house and teaching her how to weave on my new little loom (more about this tomorrow), then we will warp up and she will weave her main project on her very own loom!  I don’t know who is more excited about this, me or her.

And since she can continue weaving after the class is over, we decided to warp the loom up for dishtowels rather than a scarf.  I’m thinking about having her put on enough warp for 4-5 dishtowels so she can weave each one differently, but still use a straight 1-2-3-4 threading. 

So, I guess, rahter than this being a workshop, it’s more like an intensive private lesson weekend.  Don’t worry.  I’ll get lots of pictures for you to see.

Jul 21

Sandy and I have three more shirts uploaded to the store as follows:




Also, we have added the fabric we have dyed so far to the store.  Because these are not a yard in length, we are discounting them.  Rather than the full cost of $7.99 per yard, we are discounting these to $6.50 per piece.  There will be more of these “less than a yard” pieces going up in the near future, then we will have full yard pieces.  All the fabric pieces on this site are “pre-shrunk.” 




And last, this is the sunrise from yesterday morning.  Aren’t the orange clouds against the blue morning sky lovely?

Jul 18

Bear with me for a few days, folks.  Back in April, I filed an extension on my company and personal taxes and I’ll be taking advantage fo this little lull in my activty to get them done so I can get my refund.

Of course, this does not mean I’m completely inactive on creative endeavors.  I spun a little yesterday to relax, I have been working on both pairs of socks, and I have a secret project in the works.  Oh, yes, and Sandy and I have an order from a shop for 20 T-shirts.  Woohoo!!!

Jul 16

Wow!  Why don’t all of your go over to Sheldon and send Dave Kellett an email (link above comic) telling him how much we have enjoyed this portion of the strip.  He has shown us knitters (weavers, spinners, fiber people, etc., for that matter) as not little old ladies in rocking chairs, but as active people into all of the wonderful aspects of this fantastic, fun thing called life.  And maybe as a little obsessive, too.  And sneaky…  Yes, definitely sneaky.

I emailed him and he’s a very nice guy!

Now, go Cozy someone!  You’ll be glad you did!

Jul 15

I believe Dave Kellett has caught the diversity of lifestyles of those who knit – as well as the obsessiveness of knitters.  Isn’t this great?

Jul 12

As you know by now, Sandy and I have delved into te realm of dyeing our own T-shirts for sale.  Since we have started this, we have had many, many orders both far and near.  Below are two pictures of happy customers and you can see Roxie here, gladly modeling the shirt we made for her.

Mary could hardly wait to get her shirt and showed up before I could get its picture taken for my archives.  It is because of her that I thought you might want to see pictures of some of the shirts we have sold.

Colette loved her shirt so well, that she ordered ones just like it for her mother, daughters and granddaughter and they are getting a 4 generation portrait taken in their matching shirts.

So, if you have a family gathering, company picnic, Little League or soccer team and need matching shirts, please email me and ask.  This is something we are more than happy to do for you.

This shirt is for a young lady who saw the Pinwheel Fireworks that Sandy made a few weeks ago and wanted one similar to it.

I wish I had thought to take pictures of some of the others, but I will from now on. 

We also dyed several extra shirts to put in the store for you to purchase.  Check out the following!









And, beginning today through the end of July, we are offering free shipping on all orders over $100, so take advantage of this offer while the getting is good!

If you are looking for a custom-made shirt in your choice of colors and design, please email me.  We will even email you a proof photo of the shirt before shipping it to you to make sure it meets your expectations.  Just remember, we might not be able to match some of the designs exactly, but we will do our best to come as close as we can.  Also, if you want either Woman of Peace, Man of Peace or the Latin I Spin, I Weave, I Dye (in solid colors) on your shirt, just let me know by email when you place your order and I will add this to your shirt for free.

Now, to show you a couple of other designs we did over the weekend.

Thanks for letting me brag and jabber on about these.  Now go and buy a few!

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