thelittlewriter's projects
12th Century Christmas Present
December 25 2011
December 31 2011
Project info
12th Century Christmas Present
Simple Color-Patterned bag with Islamic motifs by Chris Laning
Needles & yarn
US 7 - 4.5 mm

This project was my Christmas present for my brother who is a member of the SCA. His persona is a Norman/Sicilian soldier from the 12th century. My brother is very much into recreating things as closely as to how they would have been made at that time, and so I tried to honor that with this project. I used dyes which would have been available at that time - though I did not dye indigo in the method of those times - and I handled the wool from start to finish.

This project began with as a fleece that was given to me. We think the sheep is a Rambouillet. I cleaned the wool, then carded or combed it and spun it into yarn. Some of the yarn I spun with my drop spindle, but as I was running low on time, most of it was spun on my spinning wheel.

Once spun, I chose this pattern, which we believe would have been used around that time. Because he is located in Sicily, he would have had access to trade, and a bag such as this could have made its way into his hands.

I chose to dye the yarn with beets first, because they are readily avaiable now and have been in Europe for a very long time. There has been much conversation about whether the beets in Europe at that time would have been red or not, but since I only have access to red beets, this was what I used. I dyed the beets one night in the crock pot with vinegar and got a very vivid red, which may fade over time.

I then dyed the yarn with madder roots using an allum mordant. I dyed them in a pot over several days and got a peachy orange as a result.

Finally, I used indigo to dye the remaining yarn. I used the easiest method I could find, the one listed on Maiwa’s site. It was a lot of fun to watch the yarn change from lime green/yellow to blue. The blue yarn was done with two dips, and the purple was originally dyed with madder then overdyed with indigo.

12/31/11 - After blocking the bag around a book, adding tassels, and handle thingy, and a drawstring, this bag is complete!

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December 25 2011
December 31 2011
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40 projects, in 178 queues
  • Project created: December 25, 2011
  • Updated: December 31, 2011
  • Progress updates: 2 updates