.I've been travelling, teaching in Quebec and Iowa. It's lovely to meet people, share what I know, and learn from so many talented people. As a consequence I've updated the contents of the twining patterns on my website, tweaking the directions, hopefully making them easier to understand.
The Midwest Handweavers Conference took place in Grinnell, Iowa recently, and I had the privilege of sharing with several very talented people. One of them, Jason, made it all the way through my twining patterns, and gave me some excellent suggestions. I've now edited those twining patterns on my website. Anyone who has already downloaded them, and who wants an update ... please contact me and I'll send you the new-and-improved version.
I taught sprang at the assembly of Quebec Handweavers in St George, Quebec. There I met some extraordinary fingerweavers.
I also met Monique Dumas, who had taken a sprang class from Peter Collingwood years ago (her first encounter with someone speaking with a British accent), and who went on to be the very first to teach sprang at the Maison Routhier. She showed me her lovely sprang shrug.
My students at my class at Maison Routhier did me proud.
Lovely meeting every one of you. I wish you many happy hours of sprang.
I was talking today with members of a Colorado-based sprang study group. They had some questions, and I was wanting to refer them to a blog post of mine ... and then I realized that I never posted those pictures, never told that story on my blog. So here it is, the making of that shirt that was on display at HGA's Convergence last summer.
I have been exploring different ways to create a sprang shirt.
The obvious way to create the neckline is to make a slit for a V-neckline.
When I did this, I found that there is stress on the stitch at the bottom of that V, and it does not look nice. Because of this, I have begun to look for other ways to create that neckline.
This pullover began with a false-circular warp to create a large rectangle for the front and back. The loops will sit near the hem of the garment. There is a chain line at the shoulders.
I laid the piece out flat, and traced a circle (basting stitch) with a red thread at the place that I thought should be the hole for the neck. The hole must be as large as the circumference of my head. I then cut across the stitches inside this hole, being careful to leave threads long enough to tie knots. I unravelled the stitches to the place of the red thread, and tied knots.
This gave me a neck opening, with unsightly knots all around. I covered the knots with a collar.
The collar started out as a long flat warp. I chose a 2-2 interlacing stitch for the collar.
For the sleeves, I wanted to try making them narrower at the wrist, wider at the shoulder. To make the cloth wider, you must add threads.
I added a loop of yarn every second row. This gave me two sleeves, that are wider at the shoulder, narrower at the wrist. I cut the sleeves apart, and tied knots. The knots are hidden on the inside of the garment.
The finished pullover was judged worthy of the fashion show at the Handweavers Guild of America conference Convergence in 2018 in Reno, Nevada.
While in Vancouver earlier this year, I stopped in at Maiwa on Granville Island. I will be teaching a sprang class there next year. I wanted to have a look at their yarns, to evaluate their use for my students. I saw some lovely linen yarn.
I decided to try to make yet another sprang shirt, using this linen yarn. OK, I purchased seven skeins.
Wanting to use some of those colorful motifs from Coptic bonnets, I set up a multicolored warp.
This piece will be the center back of the shirt.
Now for two pieces to go on either side of the center back. These pieces will go over the shoulder, starting and ending at the hem of the shirt.
Now for the front of the shirt. I decided to use the lighter green as the background for the front of the shirt. The first time I sewed the front into the shirt, there was a clear difference in tension (rows per inch) between the lower part of the front, and the side pieces. I re-sewed it a couple of times before getting it right.
Now for two narrow pieces to go under the arms.
And lastly, sleeves. I shaped the sleeves as I went along.
I chained around the hem, to give a firmer edge to the shirt.
I finished assembling the shirt, and washed it.
Look for me this summer, sporting my new sprang shirt.
And here's a better image of that shawl I made last month, demonstrating perhaps some of the drape and flexibility of the fabric
Photo by Chris Black
I visited the Kelsey Museum collection in the spring of 2016, went home and worked out the pattern for this hat, and then came back in the summer of 2017. At the occasion of my second visit, I took a photo of my replica beside the original. Actually I took two photos. In one of them, my replica is inside-out.
If anyone is interested, my SprangLady website contains three tutorials that take you step-by-step, showing you how to do this twining technique on a background of interlinking. And I do still have the specific pattern for this bonnet.
I set out to make a new sprang top. In the past I'd say the choices are a V-neck, a boat-neck, or you cut out a hole for the neck. Last spring I made a shirt comprised of ten separate pieces of sprang. I was using 'estate yarn' (yarn of an unknown age and unknown fibre content).
While I like the shirt, some of the threads are shattering ... the shirt is not standing up to wear. So I need another one. I purchased new yarn, nine skeins of Berroco Mixer, and made up nine pieces for this new shirt.
Although it might seem overwhelming to set out to make nine pieces, it's no worse than knitting a sweater. I made a center-front piece and a center-back piece. These pieces start at neckline and hem, and work to a place somewhere near the waist. There are two pieces that go over the shoulder, working from hem to hem, and meeting at the shoulder. I also made two pieces, one to go under each armpit ... worked from armpit and hem towards the waist. These pieces were all flat warp.
There are three circular warp pieces, two sleeves and a collar.
Assembled together, they make a shirt.
The basic stitch is a 2-2 twill, it has a comfortable amount of stretch. The Berroco is a mix of cotton, polyester, viscose and nylon, so I'm hoping it will stand up to washing and wearing.
No need to hem this material. The pieces have selvedges all around.
Last Summer I made a scaled down copy of the Braddock-Washington sash for Carlyle House. The word is that the display is now complete, and viewable to the public. Here is the photo they sent me, the mannequin wearing the general's uniform .... complete with sash.
En route to the British Museum, I stopped off to visit a friend who lives near Sheffield. I met Andy and Elaine a few years back. Elaine really wanted to know more about sprang. They were, at that time preparing to participate in an event, re-doing the battle of Marathon in Greece ... he was going to be one of the bad guys. I made him a pair of leggings, appropriate to the time period, and based on research by Dagmar Drinkler.
It seems that Andy has worn these leggings to several events. Imagine my surprise when I read on the internet that sprang is not at all suitable for leggings! Andy showed me a post indicating that, with one broken thread, the pants will fall apart. This, I thought, is the perfect moment for a bit of testing, some experimental archaeological if you will.
Andy allowed me to cut a thread in his leggings. To make it a fair test, I cut a thread at the knee, a place that would be affected by movement of the leg.
Andy took a picture of me cutting the thread just in front of his left knee.
Here you see the broken thread at the left knee.
Andy then went outside to do some work in the yard.
He cleared his deck of the leaves, and tended to his leaf-blowing machine.
His leggings stayed on the entire time ... no falling apart ... no falling off. Indeed no increase in the size of the hole. The wool threads stayed put.
Wool has a certain 'grabbiness' to it's surface, and the wool sock-yarn that I had used to make the leggings is no exception.
Yes, I've seen silk sashes in museum collections with long vertical slits, where a thread broke. The slipperiness of silk as well as the simple interlinking structure would allow a slit to develop ... but the slit will only open up so far. At some point the length of the cut threads will, itself, prevent further un-doing. The structure of the zig-zag pattern in these leggings also helps prevent un-doing.
I repaired the damage I had caused, tied a knot to mend the cut ends, and tucked the knot to the inside of the leggings.
The damage is now repaired, the knot almost imperceptible.
A big Thank You to Andy Cropper for permitting me to carry out this test.
I attended the 2017 CIETA conference, held at The Hermitage.
Very interesting discussions of textiles as symbols of power. The Hermitage treated us to a special exhibit of their collections ... including a display featuring garments worn by Peter the Great. His military uniform included a sprang sash.
The curator told me that the sash originally was tricolore: red, white, and blue. The fiber is silk with silver threads worked in. You can tell it is sprang, because one side features an S twist to the stitches, the other side features Z twist. There is a line at the shoulder where the S and Z meet.
The idea of sprang mittens has come up ... twice within the last week. A researcher colleague of mine found a pair of sprang mittens at a textile market in Bavaria. The seller had no provenance, but they look like sprang mittens in the collection of the Brussels History Museum, that date to the early 1800s.
And then and e-mail from someone who took my sprang class earlier this year, Jenny from Regina. She sent me photos of her explorations since that class, including a photo of a lovely sprang mitten.
Mittens are a great place to explore sprang. Make two rectangles, cut them apart, tying knots at the cut ends. Sew each piece into a tube, and voila, two fingerless gloves, aka, mittens. Use the opportunity to explore patterns.