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Gatherings and Loose Ends

  Our topics may change, and our dinner fare may be unknown in advance, but you can always be sure we'll have great food and even better company as we explore the ins and outs of stitching and other arts. Here's some of what's been going on at Threadworkers Company meetings...

On the 2nd of April, 2006:

  The meeting was held at Matilda's house. The topic was quilting, specifically the various theories of how trapunto (stuffed) quilting was accomplished. Matilda prepared a mini project, from a class hand out put together by a West Kingdom Quilter, with a small design drawn on linen, which was then backstitched by participants with cotton thread and carefully stuffed with torn up bits of cotton balls. We used toothpicks to encourage the cotton fibers into the narrow places. Even Carlo gave it a try! Many M&M's were consumed during the quilting process. They melt in your mouth, not on your white linen!

  For show and tell, Carlo shared with us a well loved lap quilt his mother made for him and also a wall hanging she created, both sewn many years ago. Then Matilda brought out the first quilt she ever made.

  The pot luck dinner included home made breaded chicken tenders, peas, corn, and yummy chocolate and peanut butter squares.

  We also discussed ideas for improving our web page, including posting digital pictures of meetings and projects in progress, so watch for exciting developments!

...meeting notes by Matilda

On the 7th of May, 2006:

  Threadworkers met at Orianna's for a project day. In attendance were: Orianna, Matilda, Olivia, Carlo, Juliana, Otelia, and a new member from Newark named Elizabeth.

  We had plenty of room to spread out and work on individual projects. We were even able to plug in four sewing machines without blowing any fuses! There were also cutting tables and an ironing board. Everyone got to work on various items: Orianna was machine-appliquing a tabard she hoped to finish for Pennsic. Matilda constructed a light weight linen chemise, then pinned the hem of Julianna's beautiful blue linen gown. Olivia sucessfully cut and sewed a wool t-tunic for herself (with a little guidence from Matilda) and very nearly finished it. (We're so proud of you!) Otelia made headway cutting out and beginning to sew a new dress for herself. Juliana got started on several pair of linen hosen for Carlo. Carlo lent a hand wherever it was needed - first playing with the serger to hem some dish towels, then helping Orianna with the tabard by tracing the charges onto fabric. We were all thrilled to welcome newcomer Liz, who brought her embroidery to work on. We hope to see her at future meetings as well!

  Around 5:00, we broke for dinner: a veritable feast with hot dogs off the grill (courtesy of Fridrikr), yummy roasted red potatoes (by Elizabeth), taboule, macaroni salads, pumpkin bread, and birthday cupcakes. (Happy birthday Carlo!) Otelia had brought bread dough to play with in Orianna's cast iron cookware, so we tried fried dough in one of the pots and baked a small loaf in the Dutch oven on top of the stove.

  A good time was had by all, and it appears that everyone got something accomplished!

...meeting notes by Orianna and Matilda

On the 25th of June, 2006:

  Sorcha and Orianna got together at Sorcha's to talk about Cross Stitch (since that was the topic). But since both of us know cross stitch, we chatted about a lot of other things instead. We talked about sewing machines, button holes, and button hole attachments; we discussed camping and surfed Coleman's website for new camping items: propane-powered slow cooker and oven! And I introduced her to the drip coffee maker that Coleman makes.

...meeting notes by Orianna

On the 23rd of July, 2006:

  At Juliana and Carlo's house, we had a project day. Matilda finished making a chemise and then started a cyclas (both for Olivia, who was not with us). She did some drawn thread work on the chemise, and everyone was impressed by the fact that her machine had a feature that performed this function. Juliana worked on hose for Carlo and assisted both Dubheasa and Carlo with their projects. One of Juliana's sewing machines once belonged to Carlo's mother, and he knows it would make his mother very happy to see it being put to such good use. Eldjarn cut out banner fabric. This was his first time ever at one of our meetings, and we hope he will join us more in the future. Dubheasa, also with us for the first time, continued work on her banner, nearly finishing it. She was able to do some zig-zag stitching on Juliana's machine after being frustrated with that feature her own. In a bold and heroic move, Carlo overcame both trepidation and mild ineptitude to complete the two pairs of braies he'd begun on an earlier day (with help from Juliana) and to start making a coif (with help from Matilda). He's sure his mother would be proud of his accomplishments.

  Dinner began with an appetizer of shrimp and cocktail sauce, courtesy of Eldjarn. We continued on with fruit salad and with cheese and sausage biscuit balls, offered by Dubheasa. She also contributed salad greens mixed with tomatoes, olives, mushrooms, and cauliflower. Shredded carrots, cabbage, radishes, sprouts, chopped pecans, chick peas, and a few extra tomatoes rounded out the salad, all served from separate containers in buffet style, as prepared by Carlo. Various dressings were also provided. Juliana served a beef and barley stew. Dessert was a cherry pie brought by Matilda.

  After dinner, we returned to our projects and continued to sew! It was a very successful day, made all the more enjoyable by listening to Middle Eastern and Irish music at the beginning and then playing Mad Libs, taking turns collecting words from each other for the stories while the sewing went on. It was at least 9:30 by the time it was all over. Everyone felt they had been very productive.

...meeting notes by Carlo

On the 23rd of September, 2006:

  The Threadworkers descended on Peregrine's house to learn knitting! We were thrilled to meet newcomer Karen (who has been a knitter for quite a number of years and is somewhat acquainted with modern knitting culture), her son Michael (who modeled a sweater she had made) and daughter Elaine (who knows more about knitting, at her tender age, than many of the adults who showed up!)

  For the meeting, Peregrine had pulled a box out of storage containing knitting needles, yarns, half started projects and books that she hadn't looked at in quite some time. Likewise, Juliana had excavated a nearly completed doll sweater, begun long ago; she was hopeing to get some pointers on the finishing process. Our cast of novices consisted of Sorcha, Carlo, Anna, and Matilda. Sorcha said she tried to teach herself to knit once, but that attempt resulted in injury when she accidentally stabbed herself. The rest had never attempted this dangerous craft before but were not deterred by that warning. All cheered the arrival of Otelia, our fearless teacher, who probably knows everything you would ever want to know about knitting socks but were afraid to ask. Needles and yarn were distributed, and Otelia taught the novices how to "Cast On", "Knit", and "Perl", demonstrating, repeatedly, one-on-one. Thank you! Anna seemed to get the hang of it fairly quickly and had a good start on a scarf before the evening was done. Carlo and Matilda each completed large knit caterpillars (or mustache cozies, as the case may be). Juliana practiced making ribbing, which resulted in a small square sampler. Peregrine, most ambitiously, began work on a sock from a pattern in a book.

  Those who stayed for dinner enjoyed roast chicken, yummy scalloped potatoes, pasta salad, stuffed grape leaves, olives, banana bread cupcakes, and cookies! With the high level of interest in knitting, we will most definitely be scheduling another knitting meeting for sometime in the future to measure our progress, learn more stitches, and examine the impact of knitting on life in the renaisance!

...meeting notes by Matilda

On the 29th of October, 2006:

  The threadworkers met at Matilda's house to work on award thingies for the Kingdom. Juliana worked on a Gage, Matilda a Fleur, Orianna a Keystone, Sorcha (for a short time) a Sycamore in beads, and Carlo (with much trauma) an Alce.

  We discussed cross stitch and beading, crochet, knitting (Matilda showed us how far she has progressed since the knitting meeting - she is now making Christmas presents!) and other sundry things.

  We broke about 6 for dinner. Matilda made kielbasa and green beans, Juliana and Carlo made yellow rice and brought homemade bread, Orianna brought Halloween cupcakes.

...meeting notes by Orianna

On the 12th of November, 2006:

  Sorcha and Matilda held a small meeting this month to try two different techniques for felting combed, clean wool. Needle felting involves balling up a small bit of wool very tightly and repeatedly jabbing it with a barbed needle to violently tangle the fibers. This is highly dangerous and not for the faint of heart, at least as threadworking tasks go! After forming egg shapes with plain white wool, we decorated them by adding layers of colored wool bits or yarn, securing them with more jabbing.

  Later, with the assistance of Talia, we tried a kinder, gentler version of making felted fabric. We placed a thin layer of wool fibers lengthwise in a pie pan or small plastic tub, then added another layer on top crosswise, and a third layer lengthwise again. We squirted a bit of dish soap on the wool and gently added enough hot water to get the wool wet. Using our hands, we flattened the wool to the bottom of the container and spent 10-15 minutes massaging it in the hot, soapy water to encourage the wool fibers to tangle and remove the air from between them. Half way through, we flipped over our now matted wool and continued squishing it in the suds. Once satisfied, we rinsed off the soap with more warm water and then shocked the fiber with very cold water to lock it in place. When it dries the fabric will be suitable for a small project, such as making a cat toy or needle felting an appliqué. Sorcha is planning to teach this fun, clean method as a children's class at a future event!

...meeting notes by Matilda

Apologies for a gap not sewn up in our notes. Threadworkers did meet during this time.

On the 3rd of June, 2007:

  The June meeting was just Matilda and Alison, but we looked at pictures of period examples of cording and couching techniques, rifled through Alison's collection of Japan Gold threads in various weights, and worked on couching mini-projects. In just a short time, Matilda completed an "M" by couching a double strand of very fine gold cord to a piece of purple linen using green silk thread. Couching is a very quick and simple method of embellishment that allows you to display metallic cording to its best advantage by keeping it on the surface of the material.

  Timothy joined us for dinner - sausages, bread, three bean salad, and broccoli slaw with pineapple, mandarin oranges, raisins and sliced almonds - and there was much schmoozing. We talked about developing a list of recommend books for the web page and about the very impressive West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild page; please check it out! Alison agreed to take charge of planning the Threadworkers Pennsic meeting. If you have suggestions/comment to offer, she'd appreciate your input!

...meeting notes by Matilda

On the 15th of July, 2007:

  Pleasance, Orianna, Dubheasa, Eldjarn, Carlo, Katrina, and Juliana worked on Pennsic projects - mostly garb. Pleasance helped Orianna pin hems on two dresses, then Orianna cut out a dress for Ingrid. Pleasance was also working on garb for Una for her elevation. Katrina was working on a parti-colored cotehardie. Dubheasa was cutting out her first T-tunic. Eldjarn was fighting valiantly with his serger. In a brave and heroic display of derring-do, Carlo boldly overcame sewing trauma once again to courageously draft a pattern for Robinhood style hunting hats. Juliana was fashioning a bow bag for Carlo's bow to be transported in while in it's taken down state, patching Carlo's braies, and helping Dubheasa with cutting out her T-tunic.

  There was no pot luck that night, due to people having made other plans.

...meeting notes by Orianna, with modest additional
information (and embellishment) provided by Carlo

On the 8th of August, 2007:

  At Pennsic, Alison, Juliana, and Orianna met in High Rafters camp for conversation. They discussed the thread-type classes they'd attended. They played with Alison's inkle loom and pocket loom, and Juliana remembered how to do lucet.

...meeting notes by Orianna

On the 28th of October, 2007:

  The meeting was held at Matilda's house, where we got a great start on the Kingdom banner project. Matilda had already drafted the pattern by enlarging the Arms from the Kingdom web site and purchased supplies and fabric. Julianna cut the red linen ground fabric and backer piece. Orianna carefully cut out two layers of white linen escarbuncles, while Peregrine and new comer, Cyas, worked on the gold linen crown and laurel wreath. Olivia and Carlo provided moral support and jumped in to help when it was time to begin basting the charges on the fabric. Dinner was simple fare of spaghetti and meatballs, bread, cream pies and cookies. The project will be continued at Social meetings as well as upcoming Threadworker meetings, so many hands will get the chance to participate!

...meeting notes by Matilda

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