Sunday, March 28, 2010

Baby stuff

I made these for a friend. They were finished about two weeks ago, but she reads this blog, so I couldn't show them to you before!

Here they are!

I can't wait to see them being worn!

The hat was made with Red Heart WR1840. -> Pattern here
The booties are from Bernat, but there's no number on my printed page, but the name is "Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Bernat Satin Baby's Booties (To Crochet)" -> Pattern here

If you want a SUPER EASY booties pattern to knit, there's one on the Bernat website. It's called "Bernat Handicrafter Cotton Bernat Satin Baby's Booties (To Knit)"-> Pattern here

Isn't she adorable?

Monday, March 22, 2010

On to Japanese clothing - a followup

I received a few very helpful answers from the SCA-JML mailing list.

But first, a site I forgot to link to yesterday, the Wodeford Hall.
This page is about The Kosode:
This one is about painting and printing fabric:

Now, on with the replies!

Saionji wrote:

Tekko and kyhana are for warmth or other protection. If you don't need them, don't bother.

Photo of me slumming at Pennsic two years ago, shows me in a single layer of linen with an obi that's a bit fancier than necessary.
Note that this is a case of one of my regular kosode doing "double duty". It's big enough and long enough to wear as another layer with some of my others for an impression of higher status, but simple enough to wear as shown in the photo.

In general, peasant kosode will be a bit shorter - mid calf would not be an indecent length and you can achieve that either by hiking it up (as I did)  or by cutting yours a little shorter, and maybe an inch narrower than someone of higher social status. Linen is a good substitute for hemp or ramie, two bast fibers which the Japanese had and which the lower classes wore.

Tasuke is a method of tying your sleeves out of the way. It's extremely practical and fairly easy to do once you know how. A strip of bias tape works great for this. Scroll down here to find a photo how-to: is a detail from the great "Genre Scenes of the Twelve Months" screens in the Tokyo National Museum, dating from the 16th century. It shows women transplanting rice as musicians play and drum (a scene replicated at the end of Kurosawa's "Seven Samurai.") Note that hems are at the knee, sleeves bare the arms up to the elbow and if you look carefully, you'll see painted tasuke - it's easiest to pick out on the planters in black as their taske are red.

An accomplished textile artist can dye, weave or otherwise decorate the fabric in bolt form. I freely admit to cheating when I paint by cutting out my fabric and doing partial assembly so I can lay the thing out over a table and line things up as I apply the decoration.

When asked about Shogun, she said: 

Caveat: Films are not documentation, though they can certainly get your inspirational juices flowing. I haven't actually seen "Shogun" since its network airing back in the day. However, I've gotten this question enough times that when a paperback "making-of" edition turned up at a local book store, I acquired it.  There's a photo of the costume designer displaying one of his production sketches next to a book containing a 17th c. painting that I recognize.  "Shogun" was a a cooperative collaboration between a U.S. and Japanese production company and they did a good job in terms of production design. The women's costumes, particularly the procession of pink, floral stuff worn by Yoko Shimada as Mariko, strikes me as the evolving 17th century style, particularly in regards to the width of obi (looks about 4" to me), worn tied in a soft bow at the back, and the softer, less stiff fabrics used.

I've been watching a lot of Kurosawa this month, thanks to a local film festival, and the period costuming in many of these can also serve as a point to start from. Here are some stills from "Hidden Fortress" of a young peasant woman, that match reasonably well with the rice pickers in the "Genre Scenes" screens as well as some of the Kyoto Costume Museum items you posted:
has a better shot of her head wrap, which can be achieved using a square of fabric folded in half on a diagonal.

Then, booknerd9 (sorry, you didn't sign your name) wrote:

I wear a kosode and mobakama for pretty much everything. You can also tie the sleeves back and this keeps them out of the way quite well. However, if I'm in the kitchen, I tend to wear a mundane apron because I'm neurotic about getting stains on my garb (;

 After that, I received another answer from Saionji:

The men's stuff from "Shogun," is not stylistically different from pre-Edo, but the women's clothing is definitely showing the evolution toward the newer styles.

And finally, after I said: I've been able to take a look at the Kurosawa pictures and I have a question. On this one: The sleeves appear incredibly narrow, almost like a tube sleeve, t-tunic style. I thought the sleeves look rather narrow too on the KCM pics. What do you think?, Ii answered the following:

"Kosode" can refer to either the tube-sleeve look or the more distinctive curve--it really seems to refer more to the opening of the sleeve mouth than the rest of the sleeve.  That said, having a little extra fabric looks more posh, and became the standard.  Looking closely at the image, this is a more traditional sleeve, with the curve, but you are looking at the bottom seam nearly head-on.  Look at his left sleeve and you'll see the characteristic "v" tail shape, and you can follow the straight lines across to see that they are just all being pulled upwards.  It is small and peasant-wear, but it is still there.

I think this pretty much answers all questions I had! I promise to write the next post myself ;-)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On to Japanese clothing

First a description of what I need. I'll be camping this summer for a whole week on a Japanese-themed encampment. This is a site with no running water, no electricity and very muddy pathways if there are more than three drops of rain. Also, I'll probably be working in the kitchen every day, so I need to keep sleeves and hair out of the way. Long flowing robes are out of the question. But, since I'll be somebody else's assistant, I can easily be clothed as a servant girl.

As usual, one of the best sources of information is the Kyoto Costume Museum. If you go there, check the Japanese language pages too, they have a lot of information that hasn't been translated to English. In Japanese, the costumes section starts here: In English, it's here: (Tip: Google Translate won't really make much sense, but will at least allow you to locate the period names in the menu!)

One problem with the English side of the Kyoto Costume Museum website is that they lump everything post-Heian and pre-Edo together into one huge Kamakura period, which covers more than 400 years of costume history. Digging through the Japanese side of the site, I found that they divide this period in three eras:
  • Kamakura (1185–1333)
  • Muromachi (1336-1573)
  • Azuchi-Momoyama (1573-1603)
For my purposes, I should be looking in the Azuchi-Momoyama period, but unfortunately, there are simply no examples of commoners from this period, and nothing really interesting for me. So, for inspiration, I have looked at everything post-Heian, up to the early Edo period.

The first image is from the Kamakura period (1185–1333). This is too early for me, but it's closer to what would be found in Momoyama than Heian or Edo period.

A woman in everyday wear, kosode and yumaki (=light wrapping skirt).
Found here:

There is not much to say about it. Ankle-length kosode, apron-like cloth at the waist, long hair, long sleeves (they seem longer than modern kimono sleeves).

It doesn't seem to be puffed up at the waist, but seems to be cut ankle-length, which is good for me.

These are from the Muromachi era (1336–1573). Getting closer to the dates I'm aiming for. There were a few pictures of commoners in that era.

Ohara-me or peasant woman of Ohara village selling firewood in Kyoto, from this address

This is a little earlier than I'd like, but it would be much more practical than a long kimono for working in the kitchen (or running around in the woods, for that matter!).

White socks in sandals in the dust and grit outside, though, will not stay white long! But see the next example for a solution.

Note that she is also wearing an apron, even if we can't see this in the picture.

Katsura-me or peasant woman of Katsura village selling food in Kyoto, from this address

Much like the other one, except yay, no socks!

The head covering would be practical for cooking too.

I love the dye job on this, and reproducing it would be feasible.

Woman of the warrior class in street wear: a kosode pulled up over her head. It's on this page:

What interests me most is twofold. First, the obi is not really an obi at all, and tied in front. This is normal for the period.

Second, the kosode seems to be made ankle-length, not longer and folded over like it's done on court ladies or in post-Edo kimonos.

Also, she doesn't seem to be wearing tabi.

And, the pattern on her kosode is very interesting, because it's not an all-over pattern like in earlier eras. They call it the tsuji-ga-hana zome dyeing method. Basically, it is tie-dyeing (shibori), but supplemented with many different methods (painting, embroidery, etc.)

The other interesting ones I found are all in the Edo period. This period starts in 1603, which would be perfect for me, if I knew which costumes correspond to what date on the Costume Museum site. But since it goes up until 1868, it ends up wayyy out of my timeframe. While clothing didn't undergo any major changes between Heian and Edo, it changed dramatically during the Edo period to become standardized into what we now know as traditional Japanese costume. So using anything from that era is risky.

In any case, here are the two interesting costumes I found. (There's another one, but it's described as late-Edo, so I won't include it here.)

Commoner in Kosode (short-sleeved kimono) of the early Edo era.

The explanations on the website for this one are interesting. The sleeves become shorter and the obi wider (and it's now worn in the back); the fabric width becomes standardized; and she's wearing coloured tabi. Also, the pattern is printed on the kimono, not woven.

Commoner in kosode (short-sleeved kimono) of Genroku (1688-1704) or the (yes, it ends like that on the site). Found at this address

It's later than my period, but it looks more like the kimonos in Shogun than any other of earlier dates on the site. The description talks extensively about the resist dyeing techniques developed at the time, which means I probably can't use anything similar for my own kimono.

This one might have the waist poofed up; there's no way to know under the obi.


How do I make the arm and leg coverings?
What is the standard width of fabric (if there is one) for a pre-Edo commoner?
How good/bad are the costumes in Shogun?

Saturday, March 6, 2010


This has nothing to do with my blog, but... they're so CUTE!!!

I can't decide if I prefer the giant microbes, the sushi plushies, the tribbles or the dismemberable zombie... Check it out!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

First socks

My very first pair of socks was made in January and February, with this pattern

Before you ask, the wool was a self-striping wool: Red Heart's Heart and Sole.

I had so many problems with them...

First I misunderstood the instructions and made a sock that would have fit a 5 year old kid. I put this one aside and started the second one in the right size. Once this one was done, I put it aside and took apart the first one to remake it. But once I was done with the heel on the remade first one, I realized I'd made a mistake in the other sock... so I finished this one, took apart the other up to just after the heel, and re-knit it. Phew!

I don't like the shape of the toes. Next time I'll make them shorter. And I'd like to try short rows for the heel.

But, I think they're pretty nice :-)

La doudou pizza d'Aliénor

Voici la toute dernière photo de la doudou pizza que j'ai commencée après qu'Aliénor m'ait expliqué comment elle a fait la sienne. Le principe est simple: prendre des bouts de laines de fantaisie les plus différentes possibles et les couper en longueurs d'environ une longueur de bras étendus. Ensuite, les attacher bout à bout et faire une grosse balle de laines de fantaisie pas rapport. Ensuite, prendre des laines ordinaires de toutes les couleurs et les couper en bouts d'environ 6 longueurs de bras, les joindre ensemble et faire des balles. Crocheter ensemble une laine de fantaisie et une laine ordinaire.

En fait j'ai commencé ce projet en septembre dernier, mais j'ai été interrompue par l'Halloween, puis par Noël, puis par mes projets de teinture... ça avance, mais pas vite!

More dyeing and recycling

This is the rest of the pics I took this weekend and at the beginning of the week. First, I repeated the recipe for the really good dye job I did - 2 packets of grape at 12, 2 packets of cherry at 8, and 20 drops of blue at 3. I was curious to see just how different it would end up being!

Looks different already, doesn't it?

And here it is with the first one! First batch on the right, second on the left. Same, yet different. I'm just a little disappointed that the blue didn't come out as vivid on the second batch as it was on the first.

Here's 30 drops of neon purple on the right side and 30 drops of neon pink on the left side.

The purple didn't really come out. Next time I think I'll add a little blue. It's pretty nonetheless.

Next, I decided to try another technique: ball dyeing. It was a great way to dye all the little ends left over, the short lengths, but also the yarn that was used to join the various pieces of the shirt together - this one came apart so easily that I was able to keep even the joining yarn, which was slightly different from the main yarn. Frankly, on the photos, I can't tell them apart...

Wind (or re-wind) your yarn in loose balls so that the dye can penetrate somewhat. The lower right thing is not a ball; it's a hank with a big knot tied in it.

Dye everything blue. They take a long time to cool off!

Then, once they've cooled enough that you can rinse them safely (remember, you can't change the temperature too quickly or they'll felt!), you rewind them so the dyed parts are on the inside.

Here's what it looks like when you start rewinding. On this pic you can start seeing some undyed yarn at places where the individual yarns crossed each other.

Halfway point

Almost all done now! I was surprised this much dye made it to the middle.

All done!

Submerge them again (I ran out of white vinegar, so I used cheap cider vinegar - smells much better!)

And dye them purple! Because not a lot of fiber is exposed to the dye bath, it takes longer than usual to dye. This batch wouldn't clear so I left it in the slow cooker to cool overnight. The water was clear by morning!

Here's the final result! If I were to redo this, I'd know that the purple isn't quite as potent as the blue, and using 45 drops of purple to 30 drops of blue might have worked better. Pretty anyway.

I also took apart two sweaters

This second one was a big disappointment. Not only the shoulder seams are cut, which is the usual (if annoying) way of things, but the *armholes* are cut too, which means that at least half the shirt comes out in short lengths. It's a shame because it would have been really, really nice wool. Next time I get one like that, I think I'll felt it instead and sew something with it.

The worst part is that I seem to be allergic to that wool! I was in full-blown allergies on Sunday, hypersneezing fits and runny itchy nose and everything... I can't work on it more than about half an hour. Look at the colour of my hands after I spent something like 4 hours working on the shirt watching the last day of the Olympics! Didn't hurt, didn't itch, but the colour was very unnatural...

I shouldn't be surprised. I am, after all, allergic to most animals...