New Thread Complications

It is what it is.

4 tama* of old silk thread, 4 tama of new silk thread. I knew there would be a difference. I set them alternating so that the difference in the cord would evenly spiral through it instead of bouncing from side to side creating a zig zag wave in the weave from the variance. I’ve seen how differently weighted and sized strands affect a braid.

I didn’t expect the cord to appear tighter. The new thread is higher quality and smoother than the old, and the resulting braid is more fine. It’s also slightly smaller. Just barely.

Two bundles of white braided cord sit opposite each other bottom left and top right. A segment extends from each bundle creating a diagonal from left to right. The cord on the left is slightly smaller and of finer texture than the cord on the right.
Kazari-himo number two, half new silk thread on the left, number one all old silk thread on the right.

Between a little more weaving last night and some this morning I’ve finished 148 inches. I’ll have the weaving of kazari-himo (decorative cord) number 2 finished tonight. Tomorrow will be for reeling out more silk thread and cutting the kosode.

Speaking of more silk thread…I’ve done the math. Three times, actually. The first time I had just enough thread. The second and third times were just now to double check and then verify that my double check was indeed right. The first time I was wrong. Oops.

I will have to order more thread since the new thread is so much lighter than the old thread requiring more threads per strand. And since I have to order more anyway, I’m going to up the threads per strand to 40. I know that seems like a huge jump, but I totally spaced and called the last set 15 threads per strand when they were really 30. I made 15 loops around the sawhorses. There and back makes 2. Oops. This is why my math was off the first time.

I’ll need 2 more spools. Did I ever say that these spools are 1,090 yards each? Bwahahahaha! Yeah. I’m going through a lot of silk thread.

*I realized tonight I’ve never really explained what tama are. They’re weighted wooden spools or bobbins. Each strand of the braid is wound around one tama, the braid I’m weaving has 8 tama or 8 strands. I’ll take some pictures of my kumihimo “equipment” for a post later this week. I think I should also probably start a glossary to assist my readers…

Documentation First

For the longest time, I considered myself a walking A&S display. I didn’t enter competitions. I’m apprenticed, so (I thought) it was obvious I was “on the path” to Laurel. I taught some classes, did service and shared my art and that felt right for a long time. And then I moved to a different Kingdom. I’ve only been able to attend a handful of events so far. No one here knows my Laurel, and unless they check my wiki, they wouldn’t even know I’m apprenticed. I don’t usually wear a visible green belt. I haven’t run events here. I haven’t held office here. Nothing is obvious. I feel like a person without context. And now, well, there aren’t in person events. I needed a way to share my art and knowledge, a way to show my growth in my chosen discipline.

This pair of competitions, this outfit, all of it, is my first go at A&S competition in the SCA. First go and it’s Kingdom and Inter-Kingdom level. Go big, am I right? Eek!

I wanted to make sure I was as set up for success as possible, after all, I’m really competing with myself. I’ve mentioned my production schedule. That was born out of my research and documentation.

It wasn’t long after discovering the Calontir Clothing Challenge (let’s just call it C3 from now on) and settling on an outfit that I realized I could also enter Crowns A&S Champions (A&S Champs) at essentially the same time. I had already listed each element of the outfit and wrote out an outline of my basic documentation. Using the East Kingdom A&S rubric as a guide, I revisited the outline and laid out what the piece was, what materials I was using to create it, what period references were used for the patterns, how it is done in period and what deviations I am making and why. I’m also adding to these notes as I go so I can include what I learn through the process and how I dealt with challenges and changes in the final version.

I refused to officially enter C3 until I had all that done; entry for A&S Champs is coming up next month. I do enjoy the confidence I have in this project because I had all the groundwork complete before starting. Let’s hope this endeavor can help me create some context in the East Kingdom.

And a weaving progress report: I’m at 78 inches and counting on the second cord. I’m also starting to really feel the repetitive motion in my shoulders.

On a wooden base of a marudai rests white braided cord, coiled in tight loops between the 4 upright wooden dowel legs of the marudai.

Every Day, a Little Progress

8 tama are wound.

I made the switch to the new thread halfway. The new thread is a little lighter and has a different hand. It’s a higher quality thread. I had to increase to 15 threads per strand to achieve a similar, though not exact, strand size to the old thread. I think I’ll use 16 threads for the remaining 2 cords.

I may have to order more thread. I know. I refuse to do the math or even think about it any more today.

I’ll start the braid for cord 2 of 4 tomorrow.

I have panel 3 of 4 prepped and I’m going to settle in to a YouTube playlist and stitch until done.

On the Way to Kosode

What do you do when you find that your bolt of linen is 2 yards too short?

Well, I pivoted to silk.

Luck was with me today when I discovered that I didn’t have as much linen as I thought. I managed to find another few pieces of linen and had almost resolved myself to piecing it when I remembered a bit of white silk in my stash. I measured it. 4 2/3 yards at 55 inches wide. It was going to be close.

Next I set myself to drafting a kosode pattern. The modern analog for a Heian kosode is a nagajuban. It’s the skin layer. Yes, there are perfectly lovely and workable patterns available. All my other kosode use them. I specifically recommend this page by Lisa Joseph, known in the SCA as Saionji no Hana.

The other two garments in the ensemble will be constructed using Jidai Isho no Nuikata, a wonderous tome made by experts in the field of Japanese historical dress who took apart garments left to a temple and patterned them. It’s as close to historically accurate as I can get. But it doesn’t include a woman’s Heian kosode pattern.

I decided to use two men’s undergarment patterns and the women’s patterns for hitoe, itsutsuginu, uchigi, and uwagi as the references. I used my own measurements to determine the length for the body of the garment. I made the sleeve just a bit shorter than the hitoe sleeve so it nests inside neatly. I drafted the overlap panels to be 13cm shorter than half the length of the body panels, the same as the aforementioned women’s patterns. I used the collar length from the women’s hitoe and the width is the same across all garments.

Now was the moment of truth, did I have enough silk?


As luck would have it, I have exactly enough silk. Down to the inch, exactly what I needed.

A yellow soft measuring tape curls over the fold of white silk fabric. In front of the fabric is a spool of white thread. The label reads, "Superior Thread, Kimono Silk, #100 Silk Thread"

In other good news, Golden Witch shipped my silk thread without delay! They even included some nifty vintage fishing findings. I have an angler friend who may appreciate them. No, I didn’t realize I was ordering from a rodmaker’s supply. They had the thread I needed in stock at a great price.

I’m so excited to have the silk thread to finish the kazari-himo. I’m seriously considering blasting out the three remaining cords and finishing the two remaining panels. That’s right. Finished another one last night. It would feel really good to get an entire layer complete ahead of schedule.

Tomorrow I’ll warp the marudai, stitch another panel and possibly cut out the kosode.

Not As Planned

There are bound to be hiccoughs. It’s why I’m trying to push hard and make progress every day. Even if it’s only a little bit of progress.

Some days work is extra hard. Today was one of those. Some days life kicks you in the feelings. Today was also one of those.

But my backup linen thread came from Vavstuga. I got 60/2 Bleached.

And I’ve pinned an edge of a mushi no tareginu panel and will spend this evening after dinner stitching it.

A piece of sheer silk in white extends away from the camera. The edge has been rolled twice, pressed and pinned along the length.

Tomorrow is another day.

166 Inches

More than I expected, but that was without the weight change factored in. I couldn’t be more happy with the results.

A looped bundle of white braided cord, kumihimo, with tasseled ends.

I spent many hours weaving today and managed to finish the first of 4 cords to make kazari-himo or “decorative cords” for the hat in my travelling outfit. I tied a couple of overhand knots in it, loosely and held it up to hat brim height. It’s perfect.

Total time on this braid was approximately 13 hours. 2 hours to reel the thread and wind the strands on tama. 10 hours of active weaving and about an hour in set up and take down, tasseling the ends and clearing the leftover silk from the tama. Not bad.

That makes 2 out of 3 items complete for the first 3 week period of my production schedule. Tomorrow I’m going to spend some time working on a kosode pattern and prepping my linen.

Until the new silk thread comes in I intend to get another panel for the mushi no tareginu (curtains for the hat) started. And speaking of thread, I got a payment off to B & T for the reappearing package of linen thread and a thank you for my honesty. I’m glad a lovely merchant is not out any money because a parcel went missing.

Thread Day

I ran the math. 4 cones. Each kazari-himo, the decorative cords on the hat, needs about 1 tama more than a cone. Because of course it does. At least I’ll have fine silk thread left over? It’s ordered. The hat project just got a little pricey. Oh well. This is why I don’t get a lot of take out.

In the post I received two packages. One from Britex Fabrics with silk thread, and the other was my replacement package from Burnley & Trowbridge with my linen thread. Hooray! Mostly.

A collection of spools of thread. Left is Kinkame brand pale yellow, center is kinkame brand in gold. The kinkame spools have one spool standing on end and another laying on top with the end toward the camera. On the right are 2 spools of 80/3 Londonderry Linen thread in white from Burnley and Trowbridge .

The gold thread I ordered is a more bright gold than I thought it would be. Drat. And it doesn’t blend well with the more antique gold taffeta. Double drat. Don’t try to match colors via your computer monitor. I really thought it would be close. HA! Nope. I will likely have visible stitches and matching thread helps them hide. I don’t know that the Heian ladies would have thread dyed to match the varied fabrics of all those layers. Maybe they did. It wouldn’t surprise me either way. But I can get close, so I ordered a different shade. The bright gold will get a different purpose some other day.

And then another package from Burnley & Trowbridge appeared in my mailbox. The post does not run twice a day. I’ve contacted the lovely people at B&T to let them know that I now have an extra order and I would really like to give them more money.

Today wasn’t all packages and orders. I’ve also managed 58 inches so far on the first of the four kazari-himo. I did change the counterweight. I read through some of the set up instructions in Roderick Owen’s Braids (highly recommend). He instructs to have a counterweight that is 45% of the tama weight. I doubled what I had for the test braid. The resulting cord is much more supple. I’m pleased.

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.

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