In Honor of all the Ladies who inspire

John Downland’s “Shall I sue” was published in his “Second Booke of Songs” in 1600.  There is a complete score available at http://imslp.org/wiki/Shall_I_Sue,_Shall_I_Seeke_for_Grace_(Dowland,_John).

 

Testing the Armor
To the Tune of John Dowland’s “Shall I sue”
Words by Eowyn de Wever

Shall I bow, shall I smite my shield,
Is my challenge heard,
As I wait to enter the lists
At the herald’s word.
There is none so fair as the one
For whom I fight,
Whose fair face and gentle smile
Gives such delight.

Bow we now, to the crown, to our love,
And to the crowd,
Let the marshal’s cry “Lay on!”
Ring out loud.
There’s no flinch, no cry
As she gazes upon the fight,
Though my wounds run red she smiles
At my wild delight.

Swords we cross, shields we raise in joy
Of a mighty bout,
As the knight’s fierce blows teach me
That my armor is stout.
Stoutly built, stoutly made
By my lady’s fair hands and mind,
Kept me safe this day – mildly bruised –
As I step back in line.

Weaving Broken Twill on a 4 harness loom

These are notes for a project currently on my 4 harness loom.  The wool I’m using is 8/2 Jaggerspun wool, from the Maine line, in royal blue and dark green.  I wanted to make fabric that was stripey and that displayed the broken twill diamonds encountered in Viking weaving.  The final fabric will be used to make a bag with Hedeby handles, as described in https://nattmal.wordpress.com/2015/05/14/haithabu-bag/. Unlike her bag, however, I will be using a tabletwoven rather than a leather strap.

The measured warp: 208 eights, in 13 groups of 16, to produce a striped fabric.
The measured warp: 208 eights, in 13 groups of 16, to produce a striped fabric.

Step 1 was to measure out the warp.   As a computer programmer, binary in all its glories is very attractive, so I decided the diamonds would be 16 threads wide, and 16 picks high.  Sizes can vary of course.  So I measured out 13 strips of 16 ends each, on the horizontal warping mill; to make counting easier, the white thread groups the warp in bundles of 8 threads each.  This allows me to easily stretch the threads across the width of the backbeam using the raddle.  Since the epi for this wool is listed as 15-18 for twill, I decided to start with 16 epi, so the diamonds should be about an inch square.

 

Step 2 was to wind the warp on to the backbeam; to do this I used what some call “Angel Wings”: a pair of dowels which are put through the warp on both sides of the cross, and kept together with hairbands.  I use loops of string to hold the dowels in place.  This allows me to wind the warp on to the backbeam while maintaining the cross.  It usually maintains a nice even tension too, although here the wool was being very sticky and obstreperous.

Threading the heddles in groups of 8
Threading the heddles in groups of 8

Step 3: threading the heddles.  We left the dowel sticks in place and heddles from right to left.  The pattern repeats: first 8 heddles 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 and then 8 heddles 2-1-4-3-2-1-4-3.  Keeping track of count was easy since everything was being done in bundles of 8.  The outermost thread on each side was not heddled, and will form the floating selvage.

The reed I have for this loom is 10 ends per inch, so it took me a while to puzzle out how to thread it to get 16 ends to the inch.  Finally I decided that solving 8 ends to the half inch (and 5 slots) was easier, and threaded in a 2 – 1 – 2 – 1 – 2 pattern through the slots.

 

Broken twill, alternating between two shuttles every 16 picks.
Broken twill, alternating between two shuttles every 16 picks.

Step 4: We weave!  Took a bit of monochrome weaving to get the edges right, and I realized that perhaps I could have set the threads closer together on the outside on both sides, but I got it to square up eventually.  And that’s when I added the second colour.  There are two shuttles loaded with blue and green respectively, and the one not in use is perched on the desk next to me.  The shuttle in use treats the thread from the other colour as a second floating selvage, so there’s a little bit of oddness on the right hand side of the fabric.

For now, though, my concern is still on getting the edges even, and trying to keep the squares … we.. square, which means managing the interplay between the tension of the warp threads, and the force with which I beat.  (And when a bobbin runs out, as you can see in the green, you just double up for an inch or so and keep going.)

The last picture, btw, was taken with flash so that you can really see the structure.  In natural light the patterning – especially in the monochrome areas – is much more subtle.

Filking about the Fiber Arts

I was recently reminded I tend to filk about fiber arts topics .. So here I present two filks sung to the tunes of The Irish Rover and the Three Ravens, respectively.


The Wild Seamstress
by Eowyn de Wever, and inspired by Mistress Isolde’s five year and running tapestry project
(Tune: The Irish Rover)

I’ve been a wild seamstress for many’s the year
And I traded my stitches for whiskey and beer.
But now I’m returning, my stitches are done
And the tapestry’s finished, about to be hung.

Chorus:
And it’s no, nay, never,
No, nay, never, no more,
Will I be a wild seamstress,
No never, no more.

I came to a yarn house I used to frequent,
And I told the shopkeeper my money was spent.
I asked her for credit, she answered me nay,
For such stitches as mine she could see every day!

I pulled from my pockets a charter so bright
That the shopkeeper’s eyes opened wide with delight.
She said “I have linen and yarn of the best
And the words that I spoke then were only in jest.”

I stretched out the linen, drew on the cartoon,
And I set to, the deadline was looming in June.
My stitches were even, my colour choice fine,
Yet I fear I must surely be out of my mind.

And it’s no, nay, never,
No nay, never, no more,
For I’m now a tame seamstress,
And get paid before.


Three Weavers
Words by Eowyn de Wever (written at Kingdom A&S 2011)
Tune: Three Ravens

There were three weavers sat at a loom,
Down a down hey down a down,
They traced out life and traced out doom,
With a down.
The first, she spun the living thread,
That held his life, his blood so red,
With a down, derry derry derry down down.

The second wove the gift of life.
Down a down hey down a down,
She wove him love and loss and strife
With a down.
She wove in gold, she wove in ache,
She wove him down to the earthen lake,
With a down, derry derry derry down down.

The third, she cut the final length,
Down a down hey down a down,
And as thread snapp’d so did his strength,
With a down.
Fates and Furies mote these be,
Spinner, Weaver, Cutter three,
With a down, derry derry derry down down.