Saturday, November 02, 2013

Norwegians are awesome

Last night was National Knitting Evening in Norway (Nasjonal Strikkekveld).  A team of knitters tried to beat Australia's Back to Back world record.  After watching the attempt, I can only conclude that Australians are nuts.

The program is available in Norwegian here:

This program followed NRK's "Slow TV" programming tradition.  Previous examples included 12 hours of someone building and maintaining a fire, and filming a ship traveling up the Norwegian coast. Despite the label of "slow TV", the knitting challenge was quite suspenseful as a look at the #nrkstrikk tag on Twitter will attest.  I worked on a sock while I watched.  It was a nice international knitting experience along the lines of the Ravellenic Games, but with more simultaneity.  The team didn't break the world record, but they've acquired an large internet fanbase. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

An Echo Flower Shawl for Grandma

As a part of my get well craft project series for Grandma, I present the Echo Flower shawl.

The pattern, designed by Jenny Johnson Johnen, is available for free online:   Echo Flowers

The flower pattern that makes up the body of the shawl was easy to memorize.

Like all knitted lace, the finished shawl doesn't look like much until blocking.

To block lace, the shawl must be soaked in cold water.  I then laid it on a towel, rolled up the towel, and gently stepped on it to press out the excess water.

 Then I stretched the shawl to open the lace pattern, holding it in place with stainless steel T-pins.  I blocked it at Mom's house while I was in Michigan and I forgot to bring my blocking mats with me, so I laid down a clean sheet and pinned into the carpeting.

Here's a close up of the border.  The most tedious part of the pattern was the nupps, which are the little bobble bits.  They're worth the frustration for the final effect, though.

I really like how the flower pattern turned out.

And here's the whole thing.  Grandma loved it.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Grandma's Get Well Soon Necklace

This started as a general thank-you present for my grandmother, who has been very supportive of my academic pursuits.

On Friday she took a fall and is currently in the hospital.  She's expected to make a full recovery, but I'm frustrated that I can't drop everything and go visit right away, so I finished this ahead of schedule so my sister can deliver it for me on her way back to Michigan.

This necklace features floral components as a centerpiece.  The pattern for these was featured in the August 2006 issue of Bead & Button Magazine, designed by Anna Elizabeth Draeger.

The components were fairly easy to make.  I did make a few changes: bead loops instead of jump rings for the connection points on the flowers, weaving around the outer edge instead of going back down the 'spokes' for the final peyote round, extra crystal links, and a strap of my own design.  

I'm pleased with the final result.

It's sufficiently sparkly.  I think I'm going to make another copy of the center component and hang it off a hair stick.

Here's a picture in full sunlight.  The crystals are more purple in sunlight, and pinker in artificial light.

Not shown is the clasp, which is a beaded toggle clasp with a tubular peyote bar and herringbone loop. I like using larger toggle clasps, particularly for Grandma, because they're easy to grasp and manipulate.

Overall, the project instructions were clear and the components are easy to work into your own designs.  It was a fun project.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Green Pearl Necklace

At a bead shop in Graz, I picked up some green glass pearls.  Today I made a quick necklace out of them.

Glass pearls with cut glass beads as spacers, strung on seven strand Beadalon.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Finished Graduate Conference #2 Scarf

I've finished the scarf I started at the graduate student conference.

I blocked it to a length of about seven feet.  It'll be fun to bring out again when the weather gets cold.

The pattern by Jared Flood is available for free here:

Noro Scarf

I find Noro to be unpleasantly scratchy.  My version uses Mochi Plus in a rainbow colorway and a wool/alpaca blend for the black stripes.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Extant 1896 Bridal Gown at the Schoolcraft Underground Railroad House

On the fourth of July, Mom and I went to visit the Underground Railroad house in Schoolcraft, Michigan after the town parade.  It's a national historic site that's always open for tours on the 4th, and we had never been there before. I'll post more pictures from that trip at another time, but now I want to share my pictures of an 1896 wedding dress they had on display.

It had a card tucked into the neckline that read: "Bridal Gown - Worn by Marybell Stuart, daughter of William & Joanna Stuart, at her 1896 marriage to Dr. Raymond C. Morris.  Marybell Stuart was born March 17th, 1872.  She died in childbirth October 4th, 1899, age 27."  The rest of the card can't be read.  In addition to items that belonged to the family who sheltered formerly enslaved people trying to escape to Canada, the house contains a collection of items designed to show what life was like in Schoolcraft in the 19th century.  I imagine they celebrated the arrival of birth control.

I had fun taking pictures.  The dress has pleated trim at the neckline, cuffs, and hem.  The sleeve is voluminous until the elbow, where it becomes fitted.

The lace on the sleeves was gorgeous.

It looks like dress hooks helped secure the skirt to the bodice in back.

More hook closures.

The skirt has an asymmetric ribbon detail.  It appears to be the same ribbon used to trim the sleeve cuffs.

Pleated trim attached to an underskirt or petticoat?

Here's how the ruched fabric on the bodice was gathered at the shoulders.

I had great fun examining the way this dress was put together.  I think the fabric detailing at the cuffs, bust, and hem could be replicated by block printing.

Clerical Bead Embroidery in Vienna

One of our stops in Vienna was the Schatzkammer, or Imperial Treasury, now a museum.  The Schatzkammer houses the former jewels and robes of office of the Habsburgs.  Additionally, a large section of the collection was composed of clerical finery and ornate reliquaries.  This piece caught my eye.

This, if I understand my clerical garments properly, is the back of a cope or pluviale, a cape that goes over the rest of the vestments.  The embroidery is a combination of raise goldwork and bead embroidery.

The beads appear to be made out of coral.  While gold and silver embroidery was fairly common in the collection, bead embroidery was not.  If I had to guess, I would think that the beads were strung then couched onto the fabric, but I couldn't get close enough to say for sure.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Yarnbombing in Salzburg

While we were waiting for a group of students to get back from a brewery tour in Salzburg, I saw this:

Yarnbombing!  I was amused.

Next layer in Victorian dress project

I'm in the process of making a bustle dress, because I can.

I've already made the corset.  The next step is to make the bustle to go over the corset, then a petticoat to go over the bustle.  After that, I can finally begin work on the dress itself.

I'm using Truly Victorian's Petticoat with Wire Bustle pattern.

So far I love Truly Victorian patterns.  The instructions are clear and the patterns are printed on heavy paper, not tissue, which makes it easy to trace off my size then have the pattern available for future use.

Gizmo insists on helping by making sure the ironing board doesn't run away.

I've finished the main part of the bustle, minus a dress hook or two.  The next step is to create a ruffle overlay that will cover the boning channels so the hoop wire can't be seen through the skirt.

This requires about 50 feet of hemmed ruffle fabric.

One of the problems I ran into was how to keep the hemmed ruffle from devolving into a wrinkled mess while I worked on the rest of it.

My solution was to wrap the completed ruffle around an empty paper towel tube as I pressed, pinned, and stitched the rest.  I'm using a slip-stitch hem.

I have about twenty more feet to go before I start stitching the gathering threads.  Thankfully, that part I can do with the sewing machine.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Ancient Egyptian Beadwork in Vienna

As a part of the teaching job, we took students on excursions to various cities other than Graz.  We spent four days in Vienna, during which we visited a number of museums.  At the Kunsthistorisches Museum, they had some nice examples of Ancient Egyptian beadwork.

I'm not 100% sure on how these figures were stitched.  My instincts say brick stitch (Diane Fitzgerald has previously documented the use of brick stitch by the Ancient Egyptians), but it could technically be peyote stitch.

In addition to the supposedly brick stitch portions, there are remnants of beaded netting around the edges.

The face is also beaded.  The eyes are interesting.  In order to create fine lines, the stitching changes from a 2-drop stitch to a single stitch.  There's some damage to the middle of the face.  If the threads are original in that area, it might be evidence for peyote stitch based on the direction of the continuous thread, but I suppose it could also be the result of an attempted repair for display.

In addition to the pictorial pieces, there was also a netted shroud.  I'd bet that this piece has been restrung, it's just too neat.

There were also beaded collars.  The drop beads are horizontally double-drilled.

As well as assorted necklaces and collections of beads.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Greenland Boots - Leather Applique?

Here's one of the neat things I saw on my trip to Austria.  On June 16th I visited the Museum in Palais, a small museum in Graz.  The permanent exhibit features status symbols from Styria and the temporary exhibit focused on shoes.  This pair of boots from Greenland caught my eye.

I took a closer look at the colorful band of embroidery.  I expected some sort of cross stitch, but a closer look revealed something more interesting.

Unfortunately my close up picture is blurry, but what's going on here is that the blocks of color are actually little rectangular bits of applique, presumably made from different bits of colored leather.

The dark marks are the stitches holding the applique down.  I'd never seen this type of embellishment before and was very impressed with the craftsmanship.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

So I've been in Austria for the past seven weeks

Just got back from Austria.  I was a teaching assistant on a study abroad program for the university.  It was tons of fun.  I'm still recovering from jet lag.

While I was there, I was able to visit many wonderful museums, which have given me inspiration for new beading and sewing projects.  I've posted most of my pictures at my Graz 2013 Super Happy Fun Blog, but I'll be posting some pictures of clothing, paintings, and beadwork here to analyze them from a crafting perspective.

I miss Graz.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Mirror Mirror


I've filled in the background areas.

Now I'm starting a border.

After I've finished the border, it will be time to attach a backing.  I typically back my bead embroidered pieces with Ultrasuede.  Once it's lined, the final step will be creating a closure.  The collar ends do not meet behind the neck, so I will be adding strung beads or some sort of chain.  I believe I will create another embroidered piece with one mirror to act as a counterweight pendant.