Finding historical objects

 When asked what she'd like for her birthday, my daughter said "things from 1780-1810".

She's very interested in this period - largely from the naval history angle.

She likes real objects to use in role playing games - I've seen her use a few items of WW11 stuff to great effect. Just passing them round the players really helps to embed you in the setting.


However, there isn't much stuff around from 1780-1810 and most of what I can find is expensive coins.

Can anyone give me interesting suggestions?

Original is best, but replicas would probably do if accurate.

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Back dancing

 First post-Covid morris practice.  Been a year and a half since the last time we were together.


New hall, several of the team still avoiding meeting people indoors, so a lot different.


But we had a blast!


It's good to remember why I do morris - and here's the answer - Dancing makes you feel alive.  Playing music with other people makes you feel alive.

Dancing as a team to music played by your friends? Beyond price.

Charging down the hall with my friend Paul, both of us doing giant step hops - I felt myself again.


(Most of the team still have major fitness issues to recover from, but Paul and I were in pretty good shape)


This is the first time I've held out for a proper ten minute warm up - and it certainly paid off for me at least. And a proper cool-down.  No aches or pains today, and I was moving really freely yesterday in spite of a lingering problem with my Achilles tendon/calf muscle.

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I really need an icon for weaving...

 Kotturinn took me up on my recent offer to weave a belt, and we're both really pleased with how it came out.

As you can see, with this kind of weaving, there's a different pattern on the two sides of the band.

The star and diamond pattern was the one I chose it for, but I quite like the back side as well.

Here's a close up


For these interested in the technical stuff, it's a 'Baltic' style pattern woven on an inkle look.

It's a warp-faced weave  -ie. The weft is all one colour and the patterns are made by manipulating the weft threads.  (Unlike any weaving you did as kids, which was probably weft-faced.

I used two yarns of different thickness. Every thick weft thread will have a thin one on each side of it.  (Sometimes, you can use two thin threads side by side to achieve the effect of a single thicker one.)

The thinner of the two yarns effectively push the thicker yarn up between them and make the thicker yarn stand a little proud.


I used a strong, thin, wool, machine knitting yarn that I got from the local scrap store for the background.  I'm very fond of this particular purple yarn, it goes well with a lot of things and I have a whole cone of it.  Unlike acrylic yarns, it doesn't stretch under tension, so I have more control over the weaving.

The pattern threads were from self-patterning sock yarn passed on by a friend - the colours were used in a way that makes the pattern almost symmetrical, but with a slight random element. that I rather liked.  I really love the way the softer colours work together.


So, anyone else fancy a belt, hairband, bookmark, edge for a skirt, trim for a blouse, etc?  I'll make them all out of second-hand yarn and all I ask is a donation (amount of your choice) to one of my favourite charities.


You get to choose the approximate colours, length, and width.

You can choose a pattern if you like -but you can also say 'surprise me', which is what  Kotturinn did.


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Adventures in dressmaking

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee and by a general desire to avoid buying new clothes wherever possible, I'm making a summer top out of an old skirt that had a small hole in it. I bought a copy of Collins-Complete-Book-Needlecraft in a charity shop. It's a well written book and has the advantage of a loose sheet with lots of patterns on it. Very difficult to get free patterns, there appears to be no dressmaking equivalent to Ravelry.

The patterns in the book have no seam allowance - not quite sure why - you have to add it manually when cutting the pattern out.
The process of making a top goes roughly like this:

1. Not that the pattern had a single front piece and two back pieces. See no reason for there to be two back pieces, so cut it on a fold of a fabric and end up with one front and one back.

2. Pin it and try it on.

3. Realise that the reason for having two back pieces is that you can't fit the top over your head unless you have a back opening with a fastener of some kind.

4. Not enough fabric to cut out two new back pieces, and cutting it in half would leave no seam allowance, so try one of the many options suggested in the book and decide to do a pinhole neckline at the front.

5. Pinhole neck needs bias binding. Go out and buy bias binding - have no idea if wide or narrow binding is needed. Am stupid enough to believe staff member in Hobbycraft who assures me that the wide binding I am holding in my hand will be fine.

6. Attempt bias binding - find that the thick binding can't cope with the tight curve of a pinhole neck. It sticks up at right angles from the fabric...

7. Cut the bias binding in half down the centre of the strip and read lots of stuff on the web about how to attach bias binding round curves.

8. Better result this time, The bias binding still sticks up a bit, but not nearly so far.

9, Find button in stash and make a loop with bias binding to fasten it across the pinhole. Of course, the button has to be slightly to one side of the centre, which is annoying when you look at it...

10. Decide that I'd like to add some short sleeves. There's just enough fabric left from the skirt to do it. I'd like sleeves with a sort of loose, floppy effect, so I cut them on the bias (some of the Sewing Bee sticks).

11. Sew first sleeve in inside-out.

12. It also seems a bit tight.

13. Hm. Tweak sleeve shape a bit to make as much space for the shoulder as possible.

14. Sew in both sleeves. It all looks good, but I really don't like the way the neckline looks with that button, and the sleeves are still a bit tight.

15. Ah, we forgot the missing seam allowance when cutting out the sleeves....

16. Decide to scrap the pinhole neck. Cut out a big, deep neckline. Remove all the old bias binding and apply new. Getting much better at bias binding now! It's definitely lying flatter, and pressing it properly helps even more.

17. THere are some slight wrinkles on the shoulders now - probably a result of the new neckline removing some of the tension in the fabric.

18. Some careful measurement reveals that I remembered the 'extra' seam allowance on the back panels, but not on the front. Hm. That's another reason why the sleeves feel tight - the fabric across the shoulders is a bit tight.

19. Decisions, decisions. I can either remove the sleeves altogether, or take them out and reduce the seam size as much as possible. It's sewn with a 2cm seam, so I could probably gain 1cm all round without totally destroying it....

It's a good thing that I regarded this entire exercise as a learning experiment!

I've learnt a lot about both fabric and technique. The skirt was old and well worn and the fabric was soft and slippery and very hard to pin and cut accurately.

I've gained a reasonable understanding of darts - I managed to alter the pattern correctly for my bust, and I also managed a slight change to the side shaping. I wanted it loose fitting, but with some slight shaping.
I now have an idea of how to modify patterns to alter the shape of sleeves.

I now know three different ways to apply bias binding and have a reasonable idea of which one to use where and why.

I will always check patterns to see if they include seam allowances!

I will try my next project with a slightly stiffer fabric (I've a second-hand duvet colour in a nice, bold pattern...)

Here's what the top looks like at present - it looks a bit crumpled as I hadn't ironed it and it had got tossed in a pile by the sewing machine overnight....

So, shall I remove the sleeves, or try resetting them in with a reduced sleeve allowance?

I mean, I could just abandon it. It's never likely to fit that well, but it's all education!

How's the picture size?

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Puppet Show!

 I have a large collection of Pelham (and a few assorted) marionettes from my youth.

Now Oswin is seven, they're coming out more often and getting used again.

Here is our dog training session, followed by our version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.


Sit back, get out your popcorn, and enjoy!  (We offer no apologies whatsoever for limited scenery and levitating bears.)



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Keeping cool

By trial and error, I've discovered that it's better to close the curtains and open the window behind them, rather than close both.


If you close the window on the sunny side,  the heat piles up between window and curtain and it ends up hotter than the outside. Opening the window allows that extra heat to escape.

If you have a ground floor, sleep there with the back door open. That helps lose heat overnight and lets you sleep in the coolest place in the house. This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


 Have finally given in to the heat and ordered a retractable awning for both our south-facing downstairs windows.


My next door neighbour has one, and her kitchen is  LOT cooler.

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How do you sail one of these...

 I have a story that I really want to write.


Unfortunately, an integral part of the story is a traditional Oceania Voyaging craft (as seen in Moana).  This type of vessel is capable of circumnavigating the globe.  One already has...


My problem is that I want to write about what it would be like to be part of the crew on such a ship and how one would learn to sail her - because part of the story involves a group of total novices and one very experienced sailor, going on a journey together.


But I have no idea where to start.  I know a small amount about some English forms of sailing (but not very much) but nothing at all about Hokulea and how to operate a crab claw sail - this is all I've been able to find, and having it in audio rather than written makes it even harder to follow - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmH337ckZQw

Is this how it's moved around?


Basically, is there anyone (I know at least a couple of you are proper sailors, and my best experience is an attempt to sail in a straightest line in Poole harbour with my daughter watching every second) who would be willing to work with me to write something that sounds plausible and interesting?

There is no purpose to this story - it doesn't even count as fanfic - unless you count a story 2000 years in the future and loosely inspired by Moana as fanfic.  It's just that I want to write it.

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Negative numbers

 I've adopted two approaches for the negative numbers problem - thanks for all the helpful comments.

I've presented the number line in the form of an elevator going up and down and explained (truthfully)  that my old university was built on a slope,  and floor 0 was street level.

The lift had -ve numbers for floors below street level and +ve for above.

Thus, the answer to any problem with negative numbers is a floor level - which hopefully gives it a concrete meaning.

Secondly, I have forbidden her from using any 'methods' for solving this kind of problem. (She's not at an age where she's expected to be able to do anything complicated with negative numbers, so rules on how to resolve them are not necessary. She just needs to understand that they go in opposite directions on the number line.

It worked in the lesson - let's see how she fares with her homework.



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3/1 twill tablet weaving

 I've recently moved on from the basic and double-faced tablet weaving patterns that I've been doing for the last few years, along with inkle woven patterns, to the fiendishly difficult 3/1 twill tablet woven patterns.

I've finally got to the point where I can weave them with a reasonably degree of accuracy..

That took many weeks of swearing, undoing (where possible) starting all over again,etc.  But I've now got the technique and my ability to read the patterns and check each row as I do it at a reasonable speed.  ie. Slow, but not nearly as slow as when I started!

In this kind of weaving, you're effectively setting every thread individually on every line.

But, the results do look very nice.  

If you look at this video, you can get a rough idea of what is possible.


I've only tried weaving images 15 pixels across so far, some use 30 cards or more, but I'd really love an excuse to weave some of the larger and even more complex images.

The catch is finding someone who needs such a thing!

One of the best known historical items is the stole of St Donat

I suspect this replica took an awful lot of work!

Hence, do you know anyone who has a use for a really complex and wide woven band?

Narrow bands - less than 20 cards if the warp is fine, or less than that if the warp is thicker make good belts and straps as they are very strong.  narrow bands can also be used to decorate clothing on the end of sleeves, or on hems, or round necklines, etc.

My test twill band will become another hairband for Oswin.

But wide bands with patterns that don't repeat are essentially decorative items, unless you're creating something to be worn for ceremonial purposes.

So, does anyone need a stole or similar for such a purpose?  (Normally, I give away everything I weave, but for something this complex and time-consuming I would actually want some payment)

(If you want a simple belt woven, just ask!)





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