Thursday, February 26, 2009

Ceci n'est pas une toque

There's something to be said for instant gratification, but I'm certainly not getting any of it. My bit of secret knitting project #1 is done, but project #2 is still hanging around, and unlikely to go away soon. Same with project #3. That one's going to be a while.

And then there's the double-knit hat. The energizer double-knit hat. The hat that's still going.

For nearly 15 years, as long as I've lived in Toronto (and by extension, Canada), I thought I knew what a toque was. I understood that a toque was a kind of knitted winter cap that wasn't a tight-fitting beanie or skullcap. But according to DH, this and even this are not toques. Neither is this standard Seaman's cap, which I consider to be quite respectable and toque-like. DH was very specific: In a toque, there should be a gap between the top of the head and the crown of the hat. He says this pocket of air is warmed by the heat coming off your head, and this then helps keep your head warm, like insulation. Above all, it is not snug. Apparently, this is his idea of a perfect-fitting toque. The tassle on the top, says DH, is optional, though it's the only time that he will be willing to wear a tassle.

I was a little confused when he told me this, but then I started really watching guys old and young on the subway (all in the name of research, of course), and I realized that yes, for the classic "toque look," there is a gap between the top of the head and the crown of the hat.

I would call this a "badly fitting winter hat," but it just goes to show what I know.

So, the never-ending double-knit hat will be a DH-defined toque. Which means I have quite a few more inches to go.


Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Threads That Bind Us All Together

The new Baronial Pillow was presented to the Baron and Baroness of Septentria this past Saturday at Ealdormere Kingdom 12th Night. I finished weaving the back a couple hours before leaving for the event, having had to replace not one or two, but four broken warp threads the night before.

Four Vest Yorvik ladies, (myself, Eleanor, Aislinne and Violetta), formed an instant sewing circle upon Eleanor's and my arrival at the event at 2pm, and spent most of the afternoon putting the finishing touches on it. We were like a well-oiled, multi-tasking sewing machine. Aislinne, who had created, applied and embroidered the baronial arms on the front with hand-made felt and some of my indigo blue and green hand-dyed drop-spun wool embroidery thread, added two more badges to the front, recently delivered from their respective Cantons. In the meantime, I cut the back off the loom, hem-stitched the edges and pulled out the packing thread. Violetta, who had made the inner stuffed pillow from red linen, added the last of the stuffing to that and sewed it up, then helped me weave in the loose bits on the back. Eleanor held us all together with the passing of pins, scissors and wrangling ends of long fabric.

After Violetta whip-stitched one long side of the top to the bottom, Eleanor and I sewed up the sides and attempted to make the fringe more respectable. With 10 minutes to go before court - we were first on the agenda - Violetta stuffed the inner pillow into it and began to whip stitch the long bottom closed. In a moment of inspiration, Aislinne took the remaining warp thread off my shuttle and skeined it, stuffing it inside along the bottom just before Violetta finished closing it up, so that when it's opened up later for eventual re-stuffing or repair, there is a small repair kit inside. It was finished as court processed into the room.

Unsurprisingly, I don't have pictures of us working, because I was, well, working. I saw some pictures being taken, so if someone else posts them, I'll link.

The new Baronial Kneeling Pillow for the Barony of Septentria, Kingdom of Ealdormere, made by the Canton of Vest Yorvik, bearing the arms of each Canton in the Barony (Skeldergate is still coming!). Finished woven size (before stuffing): 3ft. x 18". It comes with a lifetime guarantee that we will make any necessary repairs.

Just under two years in the making, from shearing to wool prep to dyeing, carding, spinning, weaving, embroidery and finishing. A group project, from start to the very moment of finish, with the participation of not just the four of us who finished it on Saturday, but many others in the canton who helped us procure the fleece, clean it, dye it, and even help me weave a few inches. I personally learned a great deal about dealing with raw fleece, dyeing and weaving during this project.

A little better view of the weaving and Baronial Arms. The canton arms displayed here are: Vest Yorvik (top left), Monadh (bottom left), Eoforwic (top right) and Swan's Keep (bottom right)

And now, I can put something new on my loom. Thank Jeebus.

Also: A closeup of the arms of the Canton of Vest Yorvik, our official part of last year's baronial taxes, where each canton was to create their embroidered arms. Vest Yorvik then had the added privilege of making the pillow to display them all.

Designed and stitched by Aislinne with help from all members of the canton (a few stitches each), using my hand-dyed hand-spun blue, yellow, green, black and natural wool. The red is the same red as the pillow wool.