Monday, October 22, 2012

Primative Sheep Rovings

I decided I should post on my latest project of trying to spin as many primatve sheep breeds as I can get my hands on. I had the opportunity to attend the Dutchess County fibar festival last weekend in New York state. There were a great number of merchants from all over the country which specialized in fiber, mostly wool. I am still slightly boggled by the shear volume of yarns in many colors, weights and contents. The beautiful fall colors were a great backdrop.

I was, however, looking for some rovings from primative breeds. I have a list in mind for some of the breeds I would like to try including: Icelandic, Shetland, Jacob, Manx Loaghtan, Karakul, Soay, Heberdean and Merino. I realize there are other breeds out there that have been around for a long time, but these are the ones I want to start with. I had already had the opportunity to spin Shetland, Karakul and merino. When we got to the show, I was also introduced to the breed of North Ronaldsay sheep. I was lucky enough to score some rovings from North Ronaldsay, Jacob, Heberdean and Icelandic.
This picture shows some of the rovings I purchased. Starting at the dark one on the top left and proceeding clockwise they are: Heberdean, a mixed color ball of Jacob, a light grey North Ronaldsay, a moorit Icelandic and a white lamb Icelandic. As you can see from the picture I have already started spinning some of the white Icelandic and the N. Ronaldsay. I went to the show with a friend of mine who also has some Soay and Manx Loaghtan at home, and promised to ive me a small amount to play with.
 
I am going to spin them all on a drop spindle. At this point I am most familiar with a top whorl spindle so I will be using those eventhough I am trying to replicate a medieval mindset and top whorls were not that common. That is what I learned on, and therefore I am going to use them for now so the differences in the yarn will not be due to my learning a new technique. 
 
There are some very obvious differences that are immediately apparent just from handling the rovings. The Heberdean and the Karakul are both very harsh, scratchy wool, clearly useful in making rugs, blankets or heavy outerwear. The Karakul was so scratchy, it was painful to drape around my neck. On the other extreme, the Merino is very soft. The specific Merino I had did not take dye very well though.
 
Anyway, there is a lot of spinning, and dyeing to do to compare these varieties. I look forward to working with them in the near future. 

two new scrolls

I had the opportunity to do two Anglo Saxon scrolls. The first one was a Pelican scroll for Godric of Hamtun. It is a replica of one of the Stockholm Codex Aureus pages. Unfortunately, I did not take a picture of this one before I sent it out. It had a great deal of gold leave since I had chosen to replicate one of the decorated text pages. This scroll was number 43 for the A&S 50 challenge.

The second scroll was patterened after a page I have saved on my computer under the name Anglo Illuminate. I do not have a link to the original page though, and I do not remember the provenence of this piece. This scroll was a county scroll for Avelina Keyes after she stepped down as our queen. I believe she specifically asked for me to do one after seeing the previous scroll. Since her personna is early period she was hoping for something early. That is why I chose the Anglo Saxon piece. This piece is #44.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

my own bobbinlace pattern


I read somewhere that the real mark of a bobbinlace maker is the ability to make tallies. I ahve now been making lace for years and I decided it was time to take the next step. In the book "Gekloppelte Reticella" there are lots of pieces of milanese lace pictures that all contain multiple tallies. Since I do not have a teacher, I have had to learn from books. In this case I turned to youtube.com. A search of bobbinlace tallies came up with a few different methods for making them. I started the piece of lace adn tried multiple different ways each time I came to another tally. It is pretty easy to tell which end of the lace was the beginning. The tallies are hopeless. By the end of the piece they are getting a little better. The tallies are the filled in triangles coming out of the middle of the first third and fifth medallions.
 
You can see in the first medallion that the triangles are not well formed at all. Either they are vanishingly small or have rouge threads sticking out. By the fifth medallion I have begun to get some consistancy. After this small piece, I started another immeidately to continue practicing. I also want to use this pattern around the collar of the elizabethan smock.
 
In other thing I had been wanting to try was making my own pattern from an existent piece of lace. I decided to start out fairly simple and make a piece of lace from "Old Italian Lace" by Elena ricci. the piece I chose is made entirely from braids intertwined. I copied a picture of the lace and made a variety of samples of different sizes. I did not see anywhere in the book, the original size of the samples. I made 3 small samples of the lace with different sized of linen thread.
 
 
The first piece is made with 35/2 thread while the middle one is 60/2 and the far right is 80/2. I did them in order from left to right. I personally like the one farthest to the right, the thinnest thread. comparing it to the orginal picture, I think the thinnest one looks closest.
 
 
 
These pieces of lace are numbers #36 for the tally trial, and #37, 38 and #39 for the A&S 50 challenge. Next, I am going to try a piece that has mixed braids and grounds from the same source. I am working out of Volume II in the section on Venisian lace.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Pigment Class

  Last weekend I got the opportunity to teach a class at the known world heraldic and scribal symposium. I chose to teach a class titled "Mineral Pigment determination in Medieval Illuminated manuscripts by Raman Spectroscopy". Obviously, this is a very modern method to determine the pigments used on manuscripts. I was a little nervous about teaching that in a reenactment setting. I was not certain how it would go over. As it turned out, I did not have to worry. The people that came were very interested. up until recently, by which I mean the last 10 years, we were dependent on the look of the pigments under microscopes to guess how they were made. There are also some treatises written before the 17th century which explained how to make pigments. From these two clues, we have been theorizing on the makeup of pigments used in medieval illuminated manuscripts.
 
  Ten years ago, improvements in the portability of Raman Spectroscopes made it possible to bring the technology to the manuscripts. Over these last 10 years, about 18 papers have been accepted by scientific journals on the subject, mainly in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy and Chimica Acta part A. I attempted to review these papers and draw some conclusions from their findings.

  The earliest manuscript I found a paper on is the Book of Kells, in a paper titled "The Examination of the Book of kells using Micro-Raman Spectroscopy" by Bioletti, et al published in the Journal of Raman Spectroscopy. This specific piece has been studied repeatedly to find how it was made. The previous 3 studies had theorized a total of 23 pigments that could have been used in its preparation. Then they put it unde the laser of the spectroscope. There were 2 pigments which could not be identified, including a pink and a yellowish brown. The natural pigments, those made from plant material, tend to fluoresce which subjected to the procedure and swamp the minimal signal derived from the Raman active compounds. However, some fascinating information was collected. The red pigments were made with red lead, while the yellow is orpiment. Interestingly the blue is all indigo. There is no indication of Lazurite, the mineral preoduced by grinding Lapis Lazuli, in the Book of Kells. The green was a mixture of orpiment and indigo, called vergaut, and there is a purple which is probably orcein.  Possibly, the most interesting is that the white pigment is derived from gypsum. White lead was quite in a great many of the other illuminated manuscripts tested, adn even shows up in the Lindisfarne gospels. However, the Book of Kells only has gypsum in the areas tested in the procedure.

  Therefore, one of the most beautiful early examples of mauscript ornamentation has a paltry 7 or 8 pigments making up its palette.

Book of Kells contains

Red - red lead
yellow - orpiment
Green - vergaut
Blue - indigo
Purple - Orcein
White - gypsum

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Scroll #42

This was another short time limit scroll. I only had one week to do this one, and unfortunately it was during a week when 1.) we were approaching our big yearly events 2.) I had a badly sprained ankle. The ankle was painful enough that I could not sit with it on the floor to work on the scroll. Before I had sprained it, I had already done the main illumination in the puzzle initial style. I waited until the last possible day to put in the calligraphy.


Here is a picture of the ankle immediately after I sprained in. that giant lump resolved into areal range of pretty colors over the next couple of weeks, lots of purples, greens and yellows. No, it was not broken. I did run down and get an xray of it to make sure. It certainly did put me behind schedule for me event though. I was still on crutches when I was processing in for court. I had 2 big strong fighters to lean on, and had one of my retainers in charge of the crutches.

Anyway, here is a picture of the scroll. I was originally slated to hand it out, but the prince decided to attend, so he did it. I am currently working on another scroll in the background. It is going to have a lot of gold leaf.

Monday, June 4, 2012

scroll#41

Another Scroll for the challenge. This was a rush job. I usually like to have more time, but they needed it in two weeks.

This was the 41st scroll that I have made for the A&S 50 challenge. Only 9 more. I am currently working on another one which is not due for a couple months.