Thursday, 4 June 2015

Cross stitch hairbands - Repurposing traditional Icelandic motifs

This time I get to write about two small projects that I am particularly fond of, for different reasons. Both are made in cross stitch - a craft that I have found as particularly relaxing and enjoyable lately. That might be the case because in knitting and crochet, I am gradually moving towards bigger and more complex projects, whereas in cross stitch, so far, my attempts have been small and quick to complete.

The projects are two hairbands that were initially inspired by the following picture taken from the Nordic Fashion Biennale 2014:

Now that I am currently reading Katie Davie's Yokes, I can actually say that I can recognise the above yokes as Greenland's nuilarmiut - or at least some sort of inspired reproduction of it. But the first time I saw this picture, my eyes were not particularly interested in the yokes, but rather on the hair pieces. Something clicked and I decided that I want to reproduce them.

Not so curiously as you might expect (if you follow my posts for a long while), I looked in Íslensk Sjónabók for motif inspiration. It took some serious page turning until I decided on the motifs for each piece. I was very concerned about the shape of the final piece (square, rectangular, something else?) and since I am basically a cross stitch newbie, I decided to stick to basic stuff. But that didn't mean that I didn't get to play with color and add some elements.

Both major motifs were taken from the first part of the book that delivers all designs found on a 17th century handwritten Sjonabok. The charted format of the designs make it very easy to adapt to(and alter in) cross stitch. That's why I added more colors, more feather caps on the bird's heads and S-like elements.

The finished pieces look rather different than the inspiration and that's mainly because of the material. I am guessing that the original ones above are made of leather, but naturally when trying to recreate such items with simple cross stitch fabric, some serious engineering is involved.

The first piece that incorporated a simple elastic band was easy to figure out, but it took me some time to finalise the second piece, that is also much closer to the inspiration. For it, I decided to use jewelry wire to form two corner pieces that would in essence enclose the hair and not let the hairband slip downwards. The two pieces then were joined together with some plain crochet. 

And that was it! Add a hair stick and the whole thing worked like a charm. By the way, the sticks I am using in the photos are wooden ones with carved heads on their edges. They might look a bit creepy, but they were handmade in Africa, possibly before I was even born. They have been in the family for decades and no one really knows/remembers what their original purpose is. They make great hair sticks though!

Now that I have the hang of it, I will probably create more. I have a version in mind, that uses a third fabric as background - a dark shade of blue.

Another interesting aspect of today's post, is that this is the first time I post project pictures taken with vintage film lens. I have quite the collection of them from various old cameras (I will be talking about them extensively some time in the future), but until now I was not really able to use them on my digital camera, except from 1 or 2 of them. 

The reason for that is their range and mount. Only two are Nikon compatible but their range is not the best for detail photography. One is tele lens and the other one some kind of portrait lens (I am over-simplifying but you get the idea). I have others that are more suitable, but their mount (M42 mount) was not compatible with Nikon's (F mount). I had no idea I could do something about this, until a few months ago, that I discovered that just a small metal adaptor could solve the problem. There are some issues with infinity focus (it just doesn't work) but otherwise the lens function properly.

And thus I begun shooting in full Manual control and getting the results you see in this post. I am so infatuated with one particular lens (that uses the Carl Zeiss technology) that I have come to use it exclusively for our shop's product photography. I plan to test the others too, but I think it will take me some considerable time to get bored with these lens. :)

One thing is for certain, you will be seeing more project pictures taken with these lens!

P.S: for more pictures, head over on my Ravelry project page. (or click on the links given above)

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