The 300 site tokens are complete and ready to be handed out at Hocktide.
Things have been really busy of late, what with business meetings and last minute stuff for Spring Coronet, it's been a lot of juggling SCA work and not much time to keep up on the journal.
The La Tene cloak is finally starting to really take shape. I picked it up from Aja after she finished machine stitching the large pieces and the woven trim. She was sweating the details of the overall perfection or lack there of. I kept reminding her perfection isn't necessary in this project because it all comes out perfect in the end since the felting and couching fixes everything.
I had a fair bit of hand stitching to get done before we could start felting. Did I mention, I used to hate hand stitching, but discovered the happy zen part of it and now rather enjoy it? Oh, I did? Well, I keep repeating that because I hope some others may discover how relaxing it can be too.
You can see here where we started to get some stretching and warping, so Aja machine stitched as much as possible, leaving one side of each leg and the tight turns loose. I then zipped those down by hand, easing the felt down to minimize the ripples. Felting will take care of that even more, and even the couching will help stiffen and shape.
There were also several detail pieces that had to be cut and tacked down before felting could begin. The head was like last years cloak in terms of sort of like puzzle pieces that had to be cut and fit together.
I was hoping to set up a work session at Alric's office where the conference tables work really well for sewing. I figured once the stitching was done, we could have four people felting at a time and take turns at it and get it done in a single afternoon. He secured us a time slot, but real life being what it is we didn't have enough folks able to make it. I saw no sense in dragging everything somewhere else to work for a few hours and decided to stay home and work.
Aelfric dropped off a loaner quilting frame which works really well for draping the garment over for the felting as well as the embroidery and couching. He and the family were down with the plague so I shooed him home quickly. Aine came over to start the felting process with me. We actually got a good amount done in just a few hours. I still had hand sewing to do so I switched off and she went to town with the felting needle.
In case you didn't know, this is not a traditional use of tools or materials. Felting needles are more often used for making dolls and more 3-dimensional items as well as felting from loose wool. I haven't been able to find any information or similar projects where they are used on pre-made felt to secure applique. Let me know if you see something similar.
Last year, the felting was an afterthought and we had already applied the backing thinking we were going to quilt the applique down. As a result, not as much felt pulled through with the additional layer. As you can see, quite a lot of felt is pulling through creating a fuzzy reverse side. In the second picture you can see that the felting is very much working the felt into the fabric creating more of a micro layer on top of the wool but worked in with thousands of little fiber fingers. If you look at the upper right you can see the area not yet felted and the blue dot within the drawn circle sitting on top while the others are worked in. It will be very interesting to me to see how this holds up. If all goes as planned, the outer portion may puff up a bit when the cloak gets wet, but I expect the underside to compress and re-felt somewhat.
*In retrospect, I believe that an earlier application of the backing last year helped to reduce any stretching and warping of the felt to almost none. This time it is going on just prior to the couching.
I digress somewhat. I spent Monday finishing the hand stitching of all the tiny parts for the head, tail and joint spirals. I really want to get this puppy done. We have Spring Coronet next weekend and I'm hoping it will be done so we can show it off and maybe even start selling raffle tickets. I have selfish motives as well. The sooner this is done, the sooner I can start the saddle blanket, and well, attend to the business end of being an event steward.
Tuesday, I was able to felt the head so I could start the line work embroidery. It's simple stuff, it's just there is a lot of it to do and it's on the tedious side. The overall outline of the image will be done in couched lucet cord. It really makes the whole thing pop. I'm very much hoping that we can get some other folks to do the couching. I love the look and texture, but ooooooh how I hate doing it. Don't know why, just do.
In the first picture you can see that the head pieces and mane are all on. The second shows some of the detail. Not as much as I would like because my camera isn't great. You can barely see the lines in the ear that are just to differentiate from the halter. I am using a simple chain stitch for most of it, but a running stitch in the ear and around the eye and nostril. What you can't really see at all, is that I doted the halter with little red french knots to carry the color upwards and add texture.
More felting tomorrow. I'm glad the cutting is all done. I have a ganglion cyst that has come up on the outside of my thumb that I'm pretty sure is where my tailor snips ride when cutting out the little curvy bits. It should go away just in time for me to start cutting the blanket out.
Wednesday Feb 23
We were supposed to have a big work session at the college, where I optimistically hoped many of the farmed out bits would begin to come together. Que dire weather forecast of huge snow storm moving into the area. So, most folks didn’t make it. I myself had a hard time keeping on task as Sir William was there and he and I kept talking horses and swapping stories. It’s all his fault! He showed up with horse hair on his jeans, and all this work on projects for an equestrian event, and the horse fever that had long lain dormant in my blood… Well, we got a little work done, but not near as much as I had hoped. Doggone real life keeps butting in for everyone. I remembered to put the camera in my bag but forgot to use it while work was being done. It seems to take a real effort on my part to attend to such details. Next time around, maybe we can recruit a videographer or something to handle that part.
We did get the general measurements hashed out for the saddle blanket. I hope to get the blow up of the line drawing done soon, so I can start making templates for all the pieces that need to be cut out.
Thursday Feb 24
I spent most of the day trying to recover. I ran around like mad on Wednesday before the work session doing things like stopping by the local tack store to get some help with figuring out some average measurements for the Saddle Blanket, Aside from that, blood draw for lab work, three doctors appointments, then back to pick up Ralph from work, drop him, grab something resembling dinner, pack up a bin of materials for the work session and my ever present chair and pad and headed out in a snow storm for Ashland. No wonder I felt like Road Kill x 2 the next day.
I’m seriously reconsidering the effort to trek out to the college. It’s a bit of a drive for me, and I have to miss my evening swim because I can’t swim, take Ralph home and get to the college all at the same time. Mostly though, I have to stop working, pack stuff to take to work on, drive to the other end of the valley, schlep me, my chair and what ever materials I am hauling, work for two hours, (trying really hard to keep that yakking to a minimum) then pack it all out, drive home, where there is no one to help me get it in the house from the car… It kicks my butt, folks aren’t showing up as hoped, and most frustrating of all, I could stay home and get more done on several other projects during that time with less physical challenge and drain.
Friday Feb 25
Real life strikes again. I spent 4 and a half hours with Ralph in Urgent care. He took a header in the drive on Thursday, and broke stuff in his left hand, and badly chipped his two front teeth, and generally bruised himself up pretty bad. I managed to get out and pick up some of the bits that didn’t make it to the Wednesday night session so I could deliver them all to our new stitcher extraordinaire, Aja. Crystal got sick and now finals are coming up for her and the other students that were hoping to make short work of the sewing part using the industrial machines at the school shop.
Que celestial choir, Aja has a bunch of experience as a stitcher that she has been keeping secret. I’m sure she already regrets letting that particular cat out of the bag. So, all the bits and pieces that have been farmed out are making their way to Aja’s house, where she will be stitching them down to the cloak shell.
I managed to get the courier work of picking up bits from point A and deliver them to point B, then drive to point C to drop off beads to be worked into the fringe ends of the woven trim, and pick up the buttons that Alric made. Ealhwynne will then deliver the trim from point C to point B. Did I forget to mention that we had on again, off again, snow storms all day and a forecast of hard freeze starting in the late afternoon?
Saturday Feb 26
Murphy’s frigging law is plaguing us! Between bouts of real life hitting everyone, and some mis-communications it seems like everything is one step forward and two steps back. I spent the weekend working on stuff I hadn’t planned on, so I could get it all to by Aja on Monday so she has enough time to get all the pieces stitched down by next weekend when I hope we can schedule a work session and make up some lost time by getting all the felting done in a day. The needles arrived and I got four or five of the same size, in hopes that we can drape it over a frame and have several people felting at once.
It may seem like I’m being a slave driver, but all the work leading up to this point is the easy stuff. The part that will really chew up the time is the embroidery and couching of the cording. Plus we are hosting Spring Coronet, and have several other projects to get done. I want to get this puppy put to bed so we can get on to the other things, and okay, so I can focus my energies on the saddle blanket and the rest of Hocktide.
Monday Feb 28
Delivered the front motif pieces to Aja.
This is a La Tene motif from a scabbard. I made a cardboard template for a single piece of the repetitive shape. I decided we should cut the motif down the middle forming it out of two strips rather than cutting it all out of a single piece, to make it easier to handle. We then traced around the template with a pen. Using ink isn’t a problem as the side with ink gets placed towards the backing and the couched outline will hide any bleed through and really tighten the whole image up to a crisp look.
Aine did one strip before real life got in the way and I finished with the other. I wanted to show the back of the work so you can see how basic the tacking is. I’m using a single thread of cotton floss and figuring that any thread broken in the felting process won’t matter and will work into the felt.
This particular portion had to be handled carefully. The cutting out required quite a bit of handling and turning while cutting with the points of very sharp scissors. The more you handle this thin commercially made felt, the more likely it is to stretch and thin. Care had to be taken while tacking it down to do so very lightly to avoid further thinning or pulling. You can see in the picture that it looks very quilted. No need to worry as that will all smooth out when felted.
More soon, I hope.