Back to the Future

This past weekend I attended Abbey Medieval Festival as a 15th century reenactor with my new and improved textile workspace. Having a place I could permanently have my stuff set up in and having a few friends in the workspace with me worked much better than last year.

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There were some things that went well on the weekend, and some things that didn’t go as planned, but I’ll start with the positives.

I had a rainbow of woo! The naturally dyed wool got a lot of love over the weekend and it was great to see people interested. It got people talking about the colours of the middle ages and people were interested in both the actual science of dyeing as well as general discussions about the relative cost of different colours.

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Speaking of dyeing, my dyeing vats were fit for purpose and lasted the weekend. I got a lot of compliments on my “clay ovens”. Of course, what they were was a pot from bunnings, turned upside down and assaulted by an angle grinder, standing on an inverted bird bath top.

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I also managed to get the madder to the right temperature, which considering I had only my hand as a thermometer and a fire in a pot, I was pretty proud of.

I had a lot of fun with the magic of indigo. I discovered that people were continually stopping by so rather than dyeing big skeins of wool, a small bit of cotton string worked well for showing the same thing 50 billion times.

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We also had fun with cochineal and watching it change different colours. Oh, and I had a bunch of cool stuff.

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And yes, my dyes and mordants actually made it there and back in glass jars with no mishaps.

I really liked the signs I made

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I made over 30 or so of these all up, and also put them in our woodworking workspace.

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And of course I had some friends with me this year, two dedicated ladies with me:

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And some friends the dropped by:

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Finally I took a photo of me wearing the same outfit as painted in my sign which I’ve wanted to do for a while.

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While I had a great time, there are some things I want to change for next year.

First of all, we were meant to be set up by midday Friday, and due to a series of events that didn’t happen. This meant that I didn’t spend Friday doing videos as planned, nor did I spend it getting my dyeing all set up (I planned on getting some dyes soaking and some yarn mordanted ready for saturday morning). This put me half a day behind with my planned dyeing and meant I didn’t do a lot of dyeing that I wanted to do. We have taken note for next year what and when slowed us down and the elements we can control will be changed so next year we can plan to be ready earlier.

My spinning wheel looked fantastic, it was built by my friend who had never seen a spinning wheel before and he finished it the day before we started setting up. We were meant to spend some of Friday trying to tweak it to get it working, which didn’t happen. On the positive side I did receive some advice on the weekend and we know what needs to be done to get it operational.

I also should have laid some of my stuff out more neatly, I meant to but didn’t get around to it. oops.

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Group photo- we planned on taking a big group photo of all of us.  Group photos are very hard to do at events, by the time everyone has had breakfast and is dressed and ready it is close to 8:30 and the public are in and you’ve got to be working.  Especially this year, it was so cold I lazed in bed until 6am! Two and a half hours isn’t long when you have so much to do and need to get the fire started so you can make breakfast (not to mention hot water on to boil so you can wash up after breakfast). Everything takes longer in the 15th century.

Now I’m back to the future, and coming back to reality. There are many things I love about the future, like being able to have a hot coffee before I properly wake up. Or plugholes. You know, after you have finished with a sink full of wash water you just pull the plug and out it goes? No need to carry it somewhere away from camp to empty.

But of course, I’m already talking and planning the next event. I’ve applied to be a presenter at the Queensland Living History Federation’s conference, I presented the year before last (last year they ran it the weekend I was getting married so I obviously didn’t attend). So (Hopefully) the next event I’ll be attending is that where I’ll be presenting, but I haven’t heard back yet from the organisers so we’ll see.

 

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Video Wednesday- A Russian Spinning Lesson

Today I share a video of a lady showing others how to spin. Though I don’t speak Russian and the auto-translated captions aren’t quite up to the mark, I the close-ups of new spinners learning to twirl the spindle are still valuable.

 

Video Wednesday- Drafting on the Distaff Side

Today I share a video that shows a clear view of the drafting hand. You can see that this wool is not as finley prepaired as the comercially combed top we find widley available today for handspinners. She appears to really need to tug down on the wool, and I think she is working at keeping her drafting up with the spindle. By this I mean the drafting, not her spindle or spinning technique is the time limiting factor.

Video Wednesday- Reviewing Niddy Noddy’s Custom Medieval Style Spindle

Sorry I’ve been very lax with editing my spindle reviews.
This is my review of the first of the custom designed spindles Niddy Noddy made for me, THis one has no notch.

These spindles were re-shaped to fit my extant whorls below the ‘belly’ of the spindle, often spindle sticks are too thin to use these whorls.

This spindle has no notch, and next week I’ll post the video with a spiral notch.

Sharing Saturday- a New Convert

So the facebook group on distaff spinning is called The Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning. It’s not a religious group at all, but has got its name from the fact that when people try and love spinning with a distaff they want to tell everyone about it. Sometimes people will say “I’m a new convert to distaff spinning!”

Today I would like to share a fabulous post by Josefin Waltin:

Learning New Things – Medieval Style Spinning

She has also posted a great youtube video that includes some slow motion segments.

 

She has lots of fantastic (non-medieval) spinning videos and some great blog posts on a variety of spinning and not-spinning topics.

 

Sharing Saturday is where I like to share work by other spinners or living historians. Often I find something I’d like to share, but if you have something you’d like me to share then please let me know If it’s on the internet I’ll like to it, if not I’m happy to post it direct to my blog (with credit).

 

35,000 Views!

On the 30th of June 2012 I posted on my Live Journal “I have a spinning blog!” An excerpt is below:

My journal is friends only, has been for a while. I post a lot of costuming stuff to the dress diaries community when I want to share it with the world because I know I appreciate reading other’s diaries as they have helped me in the past. Also it is just interesting and inspiring reading what other people are doing. My spinning progress is something I’d like to share with the world because I know I would have found it very helpful. Still world, actually, if I found someone else doing it. I’ve joined a few communities, mostly yahoo groups and I’ve joined ravelry because there are some spinning groups on there. I’m reading lots of interesting stuff but a lot of it is modern based or based on non-European peoples. So I’ve started a blog as my portal to share my progress with the world. I don’t expect it to get high traffic or a stack of hits, that’s not what I’m after, but I feel better knowing that I’m contributing my research to the re-enactment community at large and it’s out there for anyone to find and access…

 

When I started this blog it was really because I felt a duty to share my knowledge in a public place. I expected that a couple of people might look at it, as in, one or two people. I thought it would be wonderful if a handful of people saw it and found it useful.

Well, today I have past 35,000 views which is (to me) a lot. Like, tens of thousands more than I expected a lot.

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When I started learning about these spinning techniques I knew no one that did them. In my early research I found a few old films showing it, but the first person I ever saw talking about it was Norman Kennedy. While there are still people out there who argue that this style of spinning ‘doesn’t exist’, I come across a lot of re-enactors who, like me, are trying to learn about the old European spinning traditions and how they might apply to their period of historic interest. Also, I have come across modern spinners who aren’t re-enactors spinning this way or learning about it. The Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning Group on facebook has over 300 members and is growing.

There is so much to learn, and so much to figure out, but I feel both proud and privileged to have become a part of this little spinning movement.

So I‘d like to say thank you to my fans and supporters, but an even bigger thank you to everyone who is learning about these techniques and sharing your learnings online. Please keep posting, and if you need a platform to publish anything let me know, I’m more than happy to share your work on my blog- even if you are just begining your efforts are of interest to other spinners. If you’ve published something on a blog or website of your own and would like me to link to it- please let me know.

And finally, this is a lot of views for me, if this isn’t a lot of views for you, or your blog has a wider audience than mine, then PLEASE POST ABOUT DISTAFF SPINNING! Because that way even more people can see it! 🙂