Sunday, October 25, 2009

Introducing 'Constantia', my slow fashion model

Hey - who is this?

Let me introduce 'Constantia' to you! A bit shy yet, she is, but I guess you will see more of her before long!

When Sara came to visit me, we talked about the possibility of using a doll for our knitting and other textile experiments, thus being able to try out patterns and ideas in a smaller scale.

We agreed on keeping the dolls quite simple, not too small, and on using the same outlines for both, hers and mine. As Sara is far more experienced than I am in doll-making, I asked her to outline it and to teach me how to sew and stuff it.

I wanted a doll looking more like a grown-up woman, with ample bosom and belly and a few grey hairs - well, more like in real life, if you see what I mean :-)!

Constantia measures about 80 cm/30 inches and is entirely made out of stash material and what I had at hand: an old cotton sheet, dyed with black tea, a red and grey tangled wool, a bag of padding and a little black acrylic paint for the boots. (For these first photos I just dressed her in one of my daughter's T-shirts - it's getting a bit chilly outside.)

Although we had almost a week together, Sara and I started making the dolls only a few hours before she had to go - so she left with only a paper pattern and I had a kind of empty fabric skeleton without a face in my hand ... So well, Constantia is not perfect - neither am I - but she's my first try-out and I would like her to serve as a model for a bit of slow fashion, for handmade and recycling wearables.

(German summary: Dies ist Constantia, eine 80 cm Stoffpuppe, die ich gerne als Model für selbstgemachte Anziehsachen verwenden möchte. Als Sara bei mir war, haben wir diese Möglichkeit des verkleinerten Ausprobierens diskutiert und zusammen ausgearbeitet - es wird also auch eine zweite Version davon geben!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Emily's green and orange bag/Emily's grünorange Tasche

My daughter Emily celebrated her 11th birthday today and she had asked me to make her a small bag in her favourite colours green-orange-and black.

I spun the wool, plied it with an orange thread, knitted it - except for the black edge and the strap, which are crocheted - and finally punched it with the embellisher (but only from the front side). I found a lovely flower button to suit it as well!

She had also asked for a scarf some time ago, so I crocheted it (with sock wool!) in the green and orange colour scheme as well ...

When she got it this afternoon, she was so happy and content and wore it the rest of the day - it's a wonderful thing to do something for her, as she appreciates it so very much ... I'm a very lucky mum!

I'm also knitting on my 'Stone Age Project' - I guess it's going to be a sweater when it's ready - although I've been thinking about doing a pullunder with loose sleeves to button on, too ... don't know yet. Nevertheless, it's a funny way spinning small amounts out of the raw wool, then winding it onto the niddy-noddy, washing it several times in hot soap water, drying, winding into balls, knitting - and spinning again ...

The wool turns out very soft, very natural, clean but with a tiny, tiny smell of sheep, which I must admit I love, if it's discrete enough ...

I've also found a gorgeous book, a bible for all knitters who want to work freely, not wanting to be bound by rigid knitting patterns and special yarns recommended but shaping their own personal sweaters:

And tomorrow Sara is coming ...!

(German summary: Meine Tochter Emily hat sich zu ihrem 11. Geburtstag eine von mir gemachte Tasche und einen Schal in ihren Lieblingsfarben gewünscht. Die Tasche ist hauptsächlich gestrickt - aus selbstgesponnener Wolle -, ein kleiner Teil gehäkelt, dann mit dem Embellisher gepuncht/verfilzt. Ich stricke auch an meinem Steinzeitpullover - d.h. ich spinne die Rohwolle direkt, so wie sie ist, dann erst wasche ich sie und stricke weiter ...)

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Back to Basics/Zurück zum Ursprung

Sorry to have kept you waiting again - of course I've been doing some textile things inbetween, but somehow, I was in the mood where nothing seemed worthwhile writing about or interesting enough to show ...

I'm not even sure about it now, but I'll share it with you anyway:

At the moment, I'm back to basics, re-reading books like "The Good Life" and "Simple Food for the Good Life" by Helen and Scott Nearing, "Gardening When it Counts" by Steve Solomon, "Spinning in the Old Way" by P.A. Gibson-Roberts and "Wer wandert, braucht nur was er tragen kann" by Anne Donath.

I've finally got my high-whorl handspindle, which I use for spinning a thick, yet soft single yarn out of quite harsh and rustic, 'original' fibers: the dark one is Mongolian sheep, the light one a Russian Karakul sheep blended with camel undercoat fibers.

This is truly slow work, spinning small amounts on the handspindle, then knitting the yarn in 10 stitches small squares, using my chopsticks, in a pattern similar to the one of Scandinavian birchtree bark basket weaving.

Although these are sturdy and archaic fibers (except the camel undercoat), the yarn still turns out quite delicate and comfortable through the handspindle and the loose knitting.

I just felt that I needed a break from all those soft and softest modern silky yarns in pastel colours - and as a friend told me of a journey to the Indian mountains, where she had seen a very basic way of spinning and knitting right out of a basket of raw wool, I knew that I wanted to try that out, too.

As this is a very basic wool, it will certainly be possible to felt it too, if I'd like to.

I haven't decided yet if to use it for a wrapping or for a garment - it has a touch of stone-age to it and might not be everyone's cup of tea - but it is basic, for sure ...

(German summary: Ich experimentiere gerade mit sehr ursprünglicher Wolle - grobe russische und mongolische Schafwolle und teilweise noch sehr fette Lockenwolle, die ich unkardiert direkt verspinne und erst danach wasche ... Es ist eine angenehme Abwechslung zu dem supersoften, pastellfarbenen Designergarnen - und irgendwie brauche ich das jetzt!)