Thursday, January 27, 2022

Italian Memories - hanknitted 18th century mittens

 When we travel, and N is driving, I quite often knit. In fact any packing starts and ends with, what am I taking to knit. I need stuff to mindlessly knit in the dark, I need stuff, that only needs to look at once in a row for daytime car riding, and I need my regular stuff to knit in hotels and such. 

When I made my red 18th century dress last summer I knew that sooner or later I am going to sew the cape, and also I will need mittens to go with the set, so when we went to Italy in september, I took a skein of red from my sockyarn stash, and I've knitted this on our way to Rome. 

As usual, I looked at 18th century mittens online. Most of them are sewn, though there are a couple of knitted ones to, one in particular in Colonial Williamsburg. I've also looked at a few that costumers knitted, and then I winged it, so no pattern.
Though, I've knitted quite a few mittens mostly "half fingered" ones, with a few fingerless piece, but I always started them from the fingers, from the "top down", this was the first one I started at the cuff. 
Quite simple piece, from the cuff there are decreases to the wrist, then increases for the thumb, thumb's stitches put away, the hand knitted and finished with a few short row to shape the point over the fingers.
Thats it. Five grams of yarn. Next time I knit this, I will decrease on the outer side of the arm, opposite of teh thumb, not because it does not fit this way, but it looks better, when I put it down.
Photos: Norbert Varga (@Bodeszphoto)

Yarn: Drops Fabel

Monday, January 24, 2022

Procrastination - "The" 18th century red cape

 Because if you need to make a 19th century ballgown bodice, you are actually making an 18th century cape, right? Perfectly logical. 

What happened that the traditional year end's reenactor's skating party was became a beginning of the year's skating event, and though I had some really great plans, answering the age old question of what to wear, timewise I just could not manage it, but I needed to wear something. However my reanactment wardrobe is not really winter-compatible. Most of the outside events are held in late spring, summer, early fall, if we do have something in the winter, they are indoor.

So hight time I started doing something about that, right? Back, when I first took part in a play, that the acting group of our foundation put up, back in 2017, I needed to run out for something, and I got loaned a cape. I loved it and I wanted a cape ever since. 

I knew the red capes for all the fashion through the 18th century and the early 19th century, but for some reason I didn't wanted a red one... I really have no idea why, but I remember saying I do not want a red one... probably I would've preferred a blue one? Up until the moment I found a big piece of thick wool in the ILT store (kind of a fabric outlet, I keep mentioning them, because I get most of my fabrics from them), maybe back in 2018 or 2019. Its been damaged at the edges, oily dirt and few cm long tears on one edge, but it was so cheap, and there was enough of it even this way, so I got it, thinking I would still have more than enough for a generous cape even if I cut the edge off.

I had that fabric for years, and it was so thick and such a big piece, that no matter how I tried to fold it, I could not fit it into any place I otherwise keep fabric. So it lived on the end of my sofa. Yes, I don't really use that sofa, except for surface collecting.. all kinds of stuff. However that piece of fabric kept dust there, sometimes I've put it over to the other edge, somethimes thinkig I should do something with it...

Over these years I did researched these red capes, checked the pictures, the patterns that are available over the internet, consulted the sewing groups about the best approach. Should it be half circle? a full circle? Somewhere in between? (The fabrick is thick and has a nice weight, so a half circle should do, otherwise my back would break). Cut from one piece? (most patterns are pieced, especially because fabrics were narrower back then). Does it have a slitfor arms? (No). What about the hood? The pictures I've seen had this lovely fan saped pleats on the back of the hood, how was it made? How was it attached to the cape?  

And now, I said the time is here, the fastest solution to my "what to wear to the skating event" was to finally make that cape. 

Opening the fabric, I found that not only the edges are damadged, but also the insides have... lets call them damages. Tiny, things, that could very well be that same thing that damaged the edges, or could have been moths, or something else, but there were still huge pieces intact, I just have to be clever. 

Out went the "oh-I-have-enough-for-wahetever-I decide" and in came the let's make the best of this. Piecing is period, and in most of my searches, this pattern came up, so I went with this as a base, but I winged the exact sizing and the shape of the hood.

Since I was rushing with the sewing, I forgot to make pictures, so you have to make do with the finished pictures. 

The two long seam was sewn with the machine, but hand...felled (?) doen to prevent fraying. 

The bottom edge was also hand sewn:
I decided to make the hood detachable, so without it I can use the cape for earlier periods.
I am still not sure that these small buttons are the best solution, but for the first day they worked well. 
Unfortunately, there is not many types of hooks one can get here (and ordering from E-bay became much more difficult and much more expensive lately), so I had to do with the one I did managed to get. However I took of the original manmade leather tag it wanted me to sew on (cause I put a stitch or two in it, it will break right away) and chaged it to a growgrain ribbon I folded in half to make it even stronger. Umm actually dug into my boxes of ribbons, found  a piece of red velvet ribbon, cut a piece of it scalded the edges agains fraying, put it into the ring, though, it would be better if I doubled it up, went back for another, longer piece, but could not find the roll. Not in either of the boxes. Dissapeared. Completely. Totally. Dunno where. Thankfully, after almost braking down crying over spilt milk lost ribbons, I found the growgrain which seems even stronger than the velvet. Good. 
The hood is lined with silk. I had a red silk shirt, I brought back from Miami, back in the nineties.  I didn't use it for decades now, but  I never trew it out. It is SILK, after all. Then, when I got the red fabric for the cape I figured, it would be cool to line the hood with that silk. So the silk shirt joined the red fabric to be put around every few months, waiting to fulfill its faith. As it happened, I could just managed to cut the lining out of the two sides qith one seam going down in the middle (which used to be the side seam of the shirt, but then again, piecing IS period. )
Once again, the two long seam, that closes the hood at the two long edges were done by machine, the rest (tucking down the hood's edge, arranging and fixing the pleats on the back, closing the hood's back was done by hand. 

By then I figured that I will add the hood to a small round collar, that one seam was also done by machine. The bias tape I used to cover the seam was cut out of the sleeve of that shirt, and tacked down by hand, so was handsewn the edge of the small collar. 

Now I have the perfect wither cape to frolic around. 
Modell photos: Norbert Varga (@Bodeszphoto)
Detail photos - from my phone

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

New Year's good luck.. with some delay...

 It is now a tradition, and I am happy to say, that by now not only for me... My friend, Angela started this, and now I have a whole group of people on FB to knit a good luck sweater with me. 

However I have been under some - mostly self inflicted- obligations in december, and for once I have not prepared everything beforehand... For one, I was working until the last minute in december 31st, besides, I was like, oh I have   aton of red yarn, I will think of something...

But then I had a concrete idea of what I should make, and when I started poking around in my stash I realized that the thing I had in mind needs more yarn than my average 4-500 grams that I have around... 

Then as I was digging around in my stash I thought I have several option...

I can make a fair isle sweater, with gray base and a lotsa differnt shade of red... out of sock yarn, because if anything I do have sockyarns, by the ton. But I already have a very colorful fair isle on the needles...

Then I found a bunch of tweedy yarns, some of it in shades of red:

So I thought hurray, I am going to knit a stripy cardigan, "design" one, if you will, just out of my head. And started knitting furiously, but the original idea, the one, that needed more yarn... just stuck in my mind. And as I was knitting the stripy thing, I messed up the calculations. I messed up bad, so before i could do more damage, I frogged the whole thing, put the yarns in a bag, as the idea was actually good, I just need better calculations, fine. Next time.
And then I was thinking, if my original idea bugs me so much, why I do not do it? I do not have that much red yarn, and I kind do not want to buy more yarn as I already have more than most would know what to do with right? (Okay I admit, I am kind of in love with DROPS's Soft Tweed, and if they would have it in red, I would bought it, but they do not at the moment...). However, back in my red-haired days, I collected a lot of orange yarn. Some of it in cones, some of it in skeins, and those on cones were usually more than the basic 500 gramms units... I dye yarn for others - if not for a living, but as a hobby, as an adventure into the world of colors, don't I? I have a ton of dye at home don't I? I have citric acid, vinegar, don't I? And it is not likely that I am going back to being a redhead, so I will never really use those orange yarns, now will I? (Unfortunately,, wearing orange makes my hair look much more yellow, than it actually is, therefore I minimailzed wearing orange)...So more digging in my stash, and from the corner, where I hidden some yarns on cone out came about 800 gramms of heathery orange (covered in thick dust, but a vaccuum cleaner helped with that.) 
Skeined it up, and left it in a warm water and vinegar solution to soak overnight. Now I never dyed this much yarn at once with the intention to have them all the same color... So I needed up my game, thus dug out my biggest steel pot (which is actually a leftover from PJ's days, he liked to cook in gigantic pots, while I prefer to use -much- smaller ones), prepared the dyebath, mixing several different shades of red. I wanted a deep red, with possibly a hint of warmish brick in it. The dye had simple red, dark red, rapsberry and some more red in it, and came out... how shall I describe, more cold shade, more blueish red than I would preferred, and usually I tone this down by adding a bit of orange to the mix. However I knew the base is orange to beginn with. I stuck the skeins, and left them boiling for a while... Then I rinsed it, rinsed, and rinsed, and more rinse (I wasn't going skimpy with the dye, I can tell you that), and more rinse, soak in more vinegar solution and after I hung them up drying. 
(Yep, that is the shelf N. put up for me above the stove. Perfect place to dry freshily dyed fiber/yarn)

And then, two day late I could finally start knitting...
Now I can see, I am going to be bored out of my head with all that ribbing... but we will see.

Oh, what it is, you ask? Its a surprise. You will see. 
And BTW... yess, I know, I never showed last year's finished sweater either... I did finish it, though we never photographed it... By the time I finished it, the weather turned so warm, that I didn't need to wear it, and life got into the rushing phase... Hopefully we can get out one of these days and make a photosession. 

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year

This is what Instagram likes think about my year...

And this is how my top 16 picture would look like, if I selected them. 
 Because it isn't the likes, not even the crafts (however much I love them, and however much they are part of me), but everything else. Friends, love, experiences, music, travel, and such what matters. Even if by far not as comprehensive as I would've liked it to be. 

I was thinking about the last year, and no, I did not hate it. It was not all that bad. Of course, nothing can compare to the last few months of 2018 and the year 2019, but ... I mean the world stopped so abrouptly in 2020 and I remember walking down on the totally empty streets in march, thinking that the world changed and our lives will never be the same again. In 2021 we can see that it is true. So many things changed, small ones, and big ones, and I think we are all dealing to adjust to those changes. 

As for the future, as at the beginning of every year I think I'd be a better blogger, a better crafter... But experience tell me to say I will try my best, and we will see the rest. I do have a few things to show you, so the next few weeks will be still in catch up mode, even if not as much catching up with events, but with crafts (I still have not shown you my last year's red sweater for example). 

So here is to 2022. Let's hope, you will be better to us.