Ready to Begin, Again

I really thought I would give the kumihimo a rest and do something else. Nope.

I actually didn’t plan to get much of anything accomplished as I had other priorities today. I didn’t wake up knowing what to do, nor did I happen to do research that illuminated an answer. The fact of the matter is this – there is only so much space in my apartment and I can only move the sawhorses so far apart. So I set them as far apart as I could and measured. 248 inches. That should net 135 finished inches which is lovely and long and has room for knots.

So I set myself to reeling out silk thread and winding tama (wooden bobbins/spools). I was more careful this time and lifted the end loop off and passed a bit of string (DMC floss that had previously been used to attach a strand to a tama) through it.

8 wooden spools with white strands made up of multiple loose threads are arranged in a rough semi-circle The looped ends of the strands extend to the center point of the semicircle and a dark grey string has been passed through the looped ends.

After I had all 8 ready, I cinched the string in a lark’s head knot and taped it down to the table. I then smoothed the cut parts of the ends and bound them all together with needle and (silk) thread. This is a much more tidy start than the …test braid. That looped end will eventually be cut and trimmed to make a tasseled end.

8 wooden spools with white strands made up of multiple threads THe strands are gathered together and bound. Needle and threadextend to the left of the bound spot. The strands have looped ends which have a dark colored string tying them together in a lark's head knot. The dark string is taped to the wooden surface with a piece of masking tape.

It’s nearly midnight and I should really get to bed, but I’m sorely tempted to go ahead and set the tama and start again. I won’t. But I am tempted. And I definitely have to order more silk thread.

A Disappointing Finish

I finished my first length of kumihimo for the kazari-himo, decorative cords, for the hat!

Or not.

It was a good test. I was pleased with my weaving speed and the cord produced. There’s just not enough of it. As I was nearing the end I grew more excited, until I realized the take up was likely more than I thought. I was almost done and did not have almost three yards. Crud.

I wanted 108 inches, minimum. I got 89-90. Boo! And yes, I pinned my one complete panel to the hat and pinned the cord to the hat just to see. I tried. It’s just not long enough.

A coil of braided cord with tasseled ends.

Decorative knots of some kind are required. I’m currently wondering if my 3 yard estimate is quite enough or if it needs to be a bit longer than that. My test lets me know that I’ll need to start with strands of 200 inches long to end up with finished cords of 108 inches. I think I need to order more silk thread…

I’m going to shift to other portions of the project while I think about what to do.

Nonsense and Notions

When I decided to enter the Calontir Clothing Challenge, I already had a firm plan. (I’m not the type to enter into anything without a firm plan) I ordered all my notions and had this clever plan laid out accordingly. And then my linen thread didn’t show up. Tracking said it had been delivered. I waited 2 days, just in case. Nada.

The good news is Burnley & Trowbridge have magnificent customer service and a replacement is on the way. One of my fellow entrants also recommended Vavstuga’s 60/2 linen thread, so I have a backup on the way soon.

In other good news, my kimono needles arrived today! These are from Shibori Dragon.

A folded paper needle pack that reads Trade Mark T.E.C. Tokyo Needles #9

They’re lovely. The eye is so very small on them and they’re super sharp.

A needle to the left of a quarter.

I’m really looking forward to sewing with them. I may pick up another mushi-no tareginu (curtain) panel and stitch on that to break up time spent weaving. I’m going to carry on with those two tasks until my linen thread shows up as I really don’t want to make the hitoe my first hand-stitched garment. I’ll get all the linen prepped, pattern drafted, and pieces cut out for the kosode in the mean time.

Kumihimo for Kazari-himo

I’ve entered the Calontir Clothing Challenge as a “historical beginner”. My emphasis in the challenge is trying my best for historical accuracy. These kazari-himo will be close but not right. Kumihimo on a marudai is late period, mid 16th century at best. These decorative cords should be made using a fingerloop braiding technique called kute-uchi. I’m slowly researching and learning, I am weaving on a marudai as a practical substitution.

I started by using a cord and my hat to measure a plausible length for the kazari-himo, and compared that to the source image and came up with 3 yards. Kumihimo has a 35-50% take up, so I’m starting my first length at 4 1/2 yards. After the cord is woven, I’ll asses the actual take up and adjust for the remaining 3 cords.

Two sawhorses set 4 1/2 yards apart served as holders as I wrapped silk thread in a loop 10 times. This means that each strand of the braid will have the equivalent of 40 threads per strand as the thread is 2 ply twist. In period it would have been untwisted single thread as fine as 00 size.

I then spooled the strand onto a tama. Once I had 8 tama prepped, I set them together and prepped them for weaving on the marudai.

Today’s effort produced one of the mushi-no tareginu (curtain/veil) panels completely hemmed and 20 inches of braid. And now it’s already tomorrow… though I think 1:15 am should still count as yesterday.

Project Announcement

My entry for the Calontir Clothing Challenge and Crowns A&S Champions will be almost entirely from stash fabrics. I’ve ordered linen and silk threads, Japanese needles and bought one yard of a period passable polyester brocade for one of the accessories for the outfit. I will either buy one yard of red silk taffeta or buy acid dye and dye white silk taffeta I have on hand for a different accessory.

I’m making a travelling outfit suitable for a woman of the Heian period of modest rank inspired by this lady of high rank:

Woman of the upper class of heian era Japan in travelling outfit wearing a very large brimmed hat with veil panels or curtains hanging from the brim.
Woman of the upper class in tsubo-shozoku (travel outfit) with mushi-no tareginu ( a hemp veiled sedge hat) – Kyoto Costume Museum

If you’re curious, it’s the purple layer that specifically denotes this lady’s rank. Only the imperial family would wear purple or murasaki, one of two forbidden colors, kurenai -a reddish pink- being the other and worn as a sign of direct favor. Sugawara no Naeme is a Lady in the SCA. The forbidden colors are not appropriate.

This ensemble has multiple layers which correspond nicely to the four layers of the Challenge. We have a kosode, made of white linen (this could have been silk in period) as my first layer/underwear. Second (mid) layer is a hitoe of green silk taffeta. My third layer/upper garment is an uwagi of beautiful yellow silk brocade (that I bought many years ago for this purpose) lined in a gold silk taffeta. That leaves the hat for the fourth/accessory layer. I purchased the hat years ago, and it needs new trimmings. I’m sewing up new panels in silk and weaving 12 yards of kumihimo for the decorative cording, kazari-himo.

In order to finish the ensemble on time for Crowns A&S Champions I’ve broken it into chunks. 4 cords, 4 silk curtain panels, 4 garments (I’m counting the lining as a separate garment as it’s a separate garment’s worth of work). To finish on time with the least stress, I need to finish one cord, one panel, and one garment every 3 weeks, the last 3 week section being reserved for any catch up that needs to happen and the last garment/finishing up the uwagi. I intend to make it last. This plan has me finishing on January 7th. The current intention is to hand sew everything.

I have a few stretch goals if I finish early, the red kakeobi (sash) worn around the shoulders, the kakemamori (amulet case) worn around the neck, and a pair of zori made of paulownia wood. I may have time to finish these after A&S Champions and still make the C3 deadline.

The first step for me is measure out oodles of silk thread into 8 sections (20 threads per section) and reel it onto tama. I’ll bounce between my marudai and stitching a panel for the first week in hopes that my thread will arrive. If my linen thread has not arrived by the time I finish the other two items/within one week, I’ll move on to the hitoe and sew the kosode after.

Next time some talk about the kumihimo I’ll be doing…

Every Blog Starts Somewhere…

I had intended to launch my blog in conjunction with my YouTube channel. I hit a snag with filming and then I found the Calontir Clothing Challenge. I could stand to make one of the many outfits I have planned for Sugawara. And I have a firm interest in starting to enter my projects in some of the many Arts and Sciences (A&S) competitions. There were a few days where I sincerely thought I could complete a full set of robes and all the elements of karaginu mo in the four month scope of the Challenge. And then I discovered that my kingdom’s A&S Champions competition, Crowns A&S Champions, had a deadline 3 weeks earlier in the same month…

Mannequin dressed in itsutsuginu karaginu mo. There is a hiogi , folded, in the hands held at waist level.
Itsustuginu – karaginu mo for female attendant

If I was to meet the deadline for A&S Champs, I had to simplify. I was already struggling to order the volume of fabric needed for karaginu mo. Another entrant to C3 mentioned making their project entirely from stash materials. There are some lovely silks in my stash…AHA!

Once I had a firm plan, I entered the Challenge and informed my Laurel. I may have forgotten to mention that I was entering Crowns A&S Champions as well…oops.

SO…wanna know what I’m making? Stay tuned.