December 31, 2020 marked one year since I began the Great 2020 Dyeing Project Fade Test (which also had a small sidequest of the Madder Adventure), which meant it was time to take down the final fade swatches and process them! For the dyegoods, dyestuffs, dyeing combinations, fiber preparation, and dyeing methods that were involved in preparing for this year-long fade test, please see Part 1.
The final dates for the fade tests shifted only slightly from my original plan:
One week: June 19 – June 26 (originally planned June 13 – June 20 or June 20 – June 27; I split the difference due to the weather around that time)
One month: June 1 – June 30 (no shift)
Three months: April 26 – July 26 (shifted by two days)
Six months: March 16 – September 16 (shifted by one day)
One year: January 1 – December 31 (no shift)
My test of the canary-stained wool (using yarn spun from the yellow tips versus yarn spun from the white roots) lasted three months. I also kept a control swatch of each color and material in a dark place. All the swatches were faded in a south-east facing window for their duration.
After taking a class on natural dyeing using different yellows and indigo in May 2019 at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I decided it was finally time to dye the Romney fleece I bought in 2017. However, I wanted to test sun-colorfastness first, as I had noticed some garments that I dyed with commercial dyes were fading significantly after 2 years of SCA wear and washing.
I decided I wanted to test weld, madder, and indigo (the great triumvirate of medieval dyes) plus cochineal; I also wanted to test these dyes in combination.
I made this bag for Lochmere Midwinters in January 2019 as part of their Pilgrim Bag competition. The picture shows the fabric a much darker blue than it is in real life.
Materials & Techniques
Outside Bag Body
Material: Wool, handwoven on a rigid heddle loom, fulled, and hand-dyed in indigo
Techniques: Handsewn with commercially-dyed wool
Materials: Linen (commercially woven)
Techniques: Handsewn and felled with cotton thread
Materials: Commercially-dyed wool in Atlantian colors
Techniques: Inkle-woven and handsewn onto the bag’s back
Fluffy fluffy goodness made of wool
Don’t worry! The badge hasn’t gone missing: this is the bag’s first “pilgrimage,” so it does not have a badge yet! After this event, I will sew a badge (perhaps a Spike?) to the front flap.
Pattern & Construction
Thanks to Mistress Karen Larsdatter’s links pages, I first found the pattern by Sabine Scholl, the pattern by Myriam Gateault, and the translation of Scholl’s pattern by Lord Coblaith Muimnech (Ansteorra). In several manuscript images on these pattern pages, there were blue bags with white tassels and details (Atlantian colors!). I then remembered the wool cloth that I had handwoven, fulled, and dyed in indigo—it would be perfect for this bag! Addendum 2019: I used a small rigid-heddle loom to weave the cloth out of a rough commercial wool; I then fulled wool by putting it in my home’s washer/dryer and forgetting about it!
While I prefer the look of the trapezoidal bag in these patterns and illuminations, I wanted to use every inch of my handwoven/hand-dyed fabric, so I settled on a rectangular bag (but still with tassels, because who doesn’t love tassels?). Because the final construction was simple folding and bag-lining (pun definitely intended), I did not use a pattern; I relied on the dyed fabric’s width and cut the lining to match.
Finally, while straps in illuminations are usually a single color, I wanted to reinforce the Atlantian colors of the bag body, so I patterned the inkle-woven strap with white and multi-toned, asymmetrical blue stripes. I wove a long enough piece to serve as a strap, then sewed it to the back of the bag to create the same visual, from the front, that I saw in the exemplars. Addendum 2019: I used a modern inkle loom to weave the strap. The asymmetrical blue stripes were a necessity, as I had a limited amount of match yarn remnants!
These three exemplars gave me confidence that a blue-and-white square bag with tassels could be possible across multiple centuries.