February 25, 2013

Blue Dish Cloths

On my last visit home, I scrounged in a thrift store and found an old Canadian-made wooden bowl.  The bottom is stamped with a word that could be Bartbocraft or Barbocraft, Canada.  Got it for a souvenir.  Had a local up-cycling shop sand the surface down and refinish it with a semi-gloss coat of something that won't turn the wood orange.  Looks so much better.

The handknit blue dish cloths look okay too.  Must try to avoid causing the curling at the corners next time I knit some.

February 23, 2013

Article about Old Believers Tablet Weaving

Sometimes information comes in by dribs and drabs.  When I do tablet weaving, I secure the warp at my waist using a tool I had made after an image in the documentary film Old Believers.

The weaver in that film is Feodora Seledkova.  According to Kathe Todd-Hooker's "The Russian Old Believers in Woodburn, Oregon," Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot, Winter '96/'97, p. 58-61, a weaver named Feodora S. taught Todd-Hooker how to weave after her tradition and allowed belts to be photographed for illustration.  Her age, difficulty finding a successor, and use of a translator are the same in both article and film.

In one illustration, p. 58, there is a piece of wood, with a balled-up knot of completed belt sticking through its centre and a thick belt looped through the notches on either side as though securing it at the waist.  The interesting thing is, the piece of wood is shown from the side.  You cannot see the clever shape that allows the design to do this.

I think it's interesting that the information would be obscured in the article, and shown in the film.

February 22, 2013

York språng pattern

I did a little more work on the sample of York språng pattern and then I quit, and took it off the frame.  This pattern really needs a wide warp, not a narrow warp.

At the end of this how-to video about the York pattern I show the sample as an example of what not to do.

It is one thing to be able to do the pattern and another to attempt a pair of stockings.  Pity Collingwood doesn't give more context in his book, some idea of how large, how many threads, what type of yarn.  I have tried to discover what museum collection holds the piece, so far without success.

February 21, 2013

Språng in Barber's The Mummies of Ürümchi

I got ahold of a copy of Barber's The Mummies of Ürümchi (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999), looked up språng in the index, and went to the page.

Two women wore black hairnets that may or may not be made in språng.  That is all.  She adds a footnote defining språng and states that it is still done by "elderly peasants in parts of Greece, Scandinavia, and Central Europe." (p. 200)

February 20, 2013

Borum Eshøj språng hairnet at National Museum, Denmark

Found the Borum Eshøj språng hairnet image at the National Museum, Denmark's website: http://natmus.dk/historisk-viden/temaer/livet-i-oldtiden/hvordan-gik-de-klaedt/bronzealderens-dragter/kvindens-dragt-i-bronzealderen/

Part of the caption, translated by Google Translate, reads, "The woman from Borum Eshøj at Aarhus had a beautiful hairnet and a hat, which was merged into sprang technique, with the grave."

This same item is shown in Peter Collingwood's The Techniques of Sprang and described in the book as having ridges and multiple twists.

February 19, 2013

Språng Bredmose Cap in Glob's The Bog People

I got ahold of P.V. Glob's The Bog People: Iron-Age Man Preserved, trans. Rupert Bruce-Mitford (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969) to look at an illustration of a språng cap found at Bred fen, Storarden (Arden forest), Denmark.

While I am a little squeamish about grave finds and wish we could let everything rest, the cap is certainly pretty.  Glob describes it as "a skillfully-made little bonnet or cap of wool yarn, held by two fastening-strings.  This is made by means of a special technique known as 'sprung' (sprang) and is a charming net-like head-covering."  (p. 82)

I like the translator's choice to give the name as it is pronounced in the original language.

The shape of the cap is similar to the bog hood I made, though there is no tablet-woven strap at the front and the yarn looks thinner.  The pattern of interlinking looks much like Skrydstrup, with five or six repeats, though it is hard to see.  I am not sure if there is a line of interlacing where rows of S twists reverse to rows of Z twists.

The National Museum, Denmark gave me this page when I searched for Bredmose (Bred fen): http://natmus.dk/historisk-viden/temaer/livet-i-oldtiden/hvordan-gik-de-klaedt/teknologi-og-produktion/sprang/.  In the right margin is a thumbnail image of the Bredmose cap, which you can enlarge to see in more detail.  The museum shows a different view than Glob's book, which is good.  I can see there is some seaming below the gathered section at the back.  The image is in colour, though presumably what you see is not the original colour of the wool but a tint picked up from bog water.

The large image on the page is not the cap found at Bredmose, it is a hairnet found at Haraldskær.  It is in fragmentary condition.  The pattern looks to be mainly holes used all across the warp, given by Collingwood in The Techniques of Sprang starting on page 132.

I ran the text of that museum webpage through Google Translate.  Part of it states, "Sprang [is] prepared in a frame where the clamped warp threads are twisted with each other in various patterns. Trend pattern is held in place by a single line, and without the use of a continuous element [weft]...Textiles in sprang technique associated primarily with headdresses for women."

February 18, 2013

Chief's Cape Image on Textile Museum (U.S.) Website

This chief's tunic or cape from nineteenth century Africa looks like it might possibly be constructed as språng, http://www.textilemuseum.org/totm/October2011.html

The shape is rather graceful.  The tunic stands out a little from the body, I assume because the raffia fibre is somewhat stiff.

February 15, 2013

The Story of George Washington Carver

I picked up a used copy of a slim children's book, Eva Moore's The Story of George Washington Carver.

When I was a child, Carver was a hero because he invented peanut butter.  He was also a hero to the grown-ups at church because he combined faith and intellect in his approach.  He prayed to God asking for revelation so he could understand the purpose and potential of materials in his experiments.  That is, "what is the peanut for?"  Then he did systematic scientific experiments, lots of them.  Carver was also considered admirable because he had gotten a good education in the face of racial prejudice and limited opportunities.  That's pretty much all I knew as a kid.

I know more now, from the biography, and someday I should read one written for an adult audience.  I respect Carver's commitment to teaching people how to cultivate and use natural materials in practical ways that made their lives better.

There are mentions of yarn, needlework, and dyes in the book.  Moore writes that Carver owned his mother's spinning wheel, meant for cotton, and could spin yarn himself.  He could also knit, crochet, embroider, and sew.  He made rugs out of dried okra stalks and taught people how to make them.

Carver taught a system of compost and crop rotation to increase cotton yields.  He taught farmers to make yellow paint from clay.  He developed dyes from sweet potatoes and peanuts.

February 11, 2013

Handspun in My Real Wardrobe

I've thought about what concerns I have about my proposed språng pullover, the concerns that hold me back from starting.

I fear that I will find the result somewhat unwearable, ill-proportioned, and not for me.

I know I should start anyway since my chance of getting something wearable increases when I make things to wear.

Still, out of everything handspun I've made, I've only kept and used the Susie's Reading Mitts as part of my real wardrobe.  That's not much.

after two winters' use

With the mitts, I had the advantage of a pattern to follow.  For a språng pullover, I know of no pattern.  All I have are an understanding of general principles and techniques, some practice on small pieces, and exposure to a handful of pictures from books and websites that show finished interlinked pullovers.  I don't want interlinked språng, I want interlaced.  Anyway, it is not much but it is enough to go on.  I will remind myself that two years ago after some dithering I got up my nerve and knit two matching mittens for the first time.

Wearability isn't my only criteria for success but right now it's in the fore.

I'm looking for that crossover point where you can tell by looking at me I've acquired and applied skills congruent with my opinions on pollution, biodiversity, sense of place, resilient systems for meeting basic needs, fair trade, owning the means of production, and such.

I'm also looking to wear beautiful white linen and natural white, grey, and black wool.  I recently saw a photo of grey Wensleydale wool handpun in Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot.  Just lovely.

February 09, 2013

Path of Least Resistance and Least Glory

I am half-heartedly working on the narrow bit of York språng, and I am knitting blue cotton dish cloths for another family member who commented favourably on my photo of the last batch.

I took a half-finished dish cloth to a lecture so I could knit while I waited for things to start, and I saw someone else there knitting.  That was a pleasant surprise.  I am often around knitters at fibre meet-ups but am rarely so otherwise.

I'm delaying the start of my big project of a språng pullover, and not for any good reason either.  There are reasons, but not good ones.  I feel flighty.

My large woven linen Ms and Os towel is on the go.  Almost all of the warp is threaded through the heddles, and that is some consolation.

I am waiting for a mail-ordered ratchet that cinches up stretched cord.  I was displeased with the way the thick dowel at the bottom of the frame left a good chunk of the språng bog hood unworked.  I want to put a thin cord across the frame in the Nordic manner to stretch the warp.  That allows the twists to go right up to the end of the warp, leaving less unworked.

This missing tool doesn't excuse my lack of handspinning for the pullover, though.  No dauntless hero, me.

There are advantages to knitting dish cloths instead of working toward the glory that shall be mine when I make the pullover.  Mostly, dish cloths are easy for me.  There is no gauge to figure out.  My knitting gauge is consistent; by contrast, handspinning, weaving, or språng require attention.  I've memorized the pattern.  I can sit down and be comfortable in an easy chair.  I can look up from my work and keep stitching.  I know how long it will take me to finish, and I come to the end of a dish cloth quickly.  Also, knitting is portable and fairly unobtrusive.

I'm going to have to get over it.  I will tell myself that the handspun språng pullover is the smart project to work on now.  I'll assure myself that it's okay if I botch the job through inexperience, and swatches will help.  I will ask myself what else concerns me about a språng pullover and puts me off.

I might make a Tegle-pattern språng scarf first, as a warm-up exercise.

February 08, 2013

Cedar Bark Hats article

I am reading a stack of secondhand Wild Fibers and Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot magazines.  They're great, if you can get over feeling insignificant because you are not herding yaks in remote places and promoting your artwork to galleries.  I copied out several quotes defining art, design, and craft.

There was an article on harvesting, processing, and using cedar bark for fibre, Carol Ventura's "An Ongoing Haida Tradition: Cedar Bark Hats," Shuttle, Spindle & Dyepot, Spring 2002, p. 40-45.

Cedar bark is a topic I've paid attention to previously because it is a naturally-occuring fibre source on Vancouver Island (where I'm from) that is used for clothing and I am interested in local fibre, what is around that can be utilized.  I am more concerned with flexible cloth, though.  This article presented the fibre used un-spun for the stiff hats I associate with the traditional dress of the Nuu-chah-nulth and Haida.

Over Christmas I got to read most of Edlin's Woodland Crafts in Britain and was surprised there were references to various wood fibres commonly twisted and used for cordage and clothing.  When I was in school, bark cloth was presented as peculiar to First Nations culture.  Presented as entirely peculiar, really.  Not according to Edlin.

February 04, 2013


I have a long narrow warp on a språng frame.  The yarn is knitting yarn I picked up cheaply secondhand.  I put it on the frame so people could try språng but no one did, so it was just sitting there.  I am using it to try out the York stocking pattern from Collingwood's book.  The pattern is similar to the Skrydstrup pattern I used for the bog hood and it needs a much wider warp to do it justice.