Friday, January 25, 2013

Prudence Cap

Immediately upon receiving the latest Piecework, January-February 2013, I knew that I had to knit the Prudence Cap to wear with my historic attire.  This cap would be something warm to wear over my muslin day cap while spinning on the porch of the Estudillo House.  But darn it, I did not have the desired yarn in my stash (or at least, I did not have all the yarn).  I ordered two balls of 5-ply gansey yarn from Schoolhouse Press, one dark navy and one cream.  This is a smooth, tight yarn that would create the period appearance as desired.  With only a week to go before the third Saturday, I knitted myself into a frenzy.  

I like the way it turned out.  I struggled a bit with the ribbons because I did not want the large width ribbon specified in the pattern as written.  I decided on a more subtle look.  This cap is really, really warm. Since the winter so far has been very cool in San Diego, I thought I would definitely need to be wearing this cap. 

So imagine my surprise when the third Saturday turned out to be 80 degrees.  People were walking around Old Town in shorts and tee shirts.  A young family visiting from Philadelphia could not stop smiling and laughing.  But for the wearing of the wool bonnet?  Not so good. It stayed home.  

In the photographs I am wearing the Prudence cap over the day cap I made completely by hand from a period appropriate commercial pattern.  It's hard to find day cap patterns that aren't too puffy, and that don't tie under the chin. Still looking.  

Monday, January 14, 2013

Milkweed Spinning

Gosh, it is cold here in San Diego.  It was 35 degrees this morning, and I had frost on my windshield when I left for work.  Despite the chill, I decided to work on some milkweed spinning this weekend.  The variety is Asclepias eriocarpa, found in patches at many locations in the local mountains here in San Diego. The common name is Indian Milkweed and it is has been used widely by the local Native Americans for belts, rope, twine, nets, etc.  Hohenthal (2001: 178) noted that milkweed (axor) cordage was used by the Tipai as sewing thread until it was replaced by common cotton thread.  

I had stalks from a few plants that I collected from the local mountains.  The stalks were dry, but not too dry. I broke the outer stem a bit to loosen up the fibers.

I just did a little finger spinning.  I tried clockwise and counter-clockwise, and spinning to the left seemed to work out better for the singles.  Plus an ample supply of spit on my fingers helped a lot.  Notice the workbench which I moved from my mother's house. It's going to be just perfect for my projects.  In the photo above, you can see the spun (left) and unspun fibers as I work through them.

A small sample of two ply.  I did a few from several different stalks.  One stalk was still rather green.  It's a fine line between too green and too dry.  I'll try some additional stalks when it warms up a bit.  Brrr!

Hohenthal, William D.
2001  Tipai Ethnographic Notes: A Baja California Indian Community at Mid-Century.  Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 48, edited by Thomas C. Blackburn.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Weaving

I like the way the brown rebozo turned out.  This was finished just in time for cool weather in Old Town.

It's mostly brown as you can see, but with lighter stripes in three shades of red.  It makes a great wrap, but I wish I had made it a bit longer.  So, the only solution is...make another one.  This time, I am using mostly red with two shades of brown striping.

Folks, in this photo it really looks more bright red than it is.  This one will be longer, but the same width and sett.  I used the two-ply Harrisville shetland yarns again.  This yarn finishes up so nicely, and is warm but light weight.  I guess I am in a rut, but I do like weaving warp stripes.  For one thing, the weaving itself is easy with only one weft color that complements the main warp color.  But the main thing is that I enjoy winding these warps.  I pick the stripe colors I want, then make the color order and stripe width as I go along following proportion principles.  In this new one, the stripes were either 3, 5, or 7 warp threads wide (8 seemed too wide).

When I first learned to weave, the patterns insisted on symmetrical stripes.  In fact, I would fold the warp in half precisely so that each side was identical across the width of the piece.  How freeing not to be enslaved to this methodology.  My pieces are now asymmetrically striped, and much more creative.  And they are unique; no machine or pattern can replicate what I do on the fly as I am warping.