The plan was to sew a tailor's ham this weekend. Well, best laid plans and all... To begin with, I had errands on Friday, then I hemmed and washed some fabric for the first trousers on Saturday. The first piece I hemmed without a thimble and no matter how I tried to avoid pushing the needle with my middle finger, I ended up with a sore finger anyway.
I've come to the conclusion that the thimble is quite essential in hand sewing and I didn't have one that was suitable. I went online and tried to find one that was the right style and size again, but no luck. And as it happens when I start researching something, it leads to other interesting things. Since I'm still interested in medieval tailoring, I sort of got sidetracked by the medieval thimbles. I found a few sites that had posted their sewing kits, some were for sale, some were just SCA people who listed the contents of theirs.
One of them showed his leather thimble. Leather... Leather! It hit me — I have scraps that I could use to make one! So, I made one. I chose to make it in the style of the tailor's ring thimble, not the Japanese ring or glove finger style. Just in case one day I'll be lucky enough to actually find a bronze ring thimble that fits, I wanted to be ready to use it.
I took a scrap of vegetable tanned 2mm leather, cut it smaller than my finger, wetted it, pierced the holes, and laced it with waxed linen thread. The gap is there on purpose; leather stretches over time and I wanted to accommodate that. This way I can lace it tighter as it stretches. This is also why the stitches are on the outside, not inside. The slanted edges are there because the scrap I had was triangular, but it worked out really well because that's where my finger bends and it fits perfectly into the bend.
When it had dried out some, I tried it without the dimples and the needle kept slipping. Back under water it went for a minute or so, and when it was soft enough, I poked the dimples in with a large gauge knitting needle. This time I let it dry on my finger, occasionally reminding the dimples that they are supposed to be there. To test it, I hemmed another piece of fabric. Oh boy! It's as if I'd never held a needle before. The thimble got in the way, the needle kept slipping, and sometimes I missed the thimble altogether and poked my finger again.
It got better as I went along, but I have realised that I must do the exercises that were shown in the video I linked in my previous post. It'll take time and effort to unlearn decades of bad habits, but I love hand sewing and I don't want my finger to be sore any more.
To give my finger a break, I moved on to making the pattern for the tailor's ham and sausage. I used these instructions to draft the patterns. Drafting the patterns went well, but when it came the time to lay out the fabric and test the placement, this happened:
Every. Time. In the end, I just gave up. It was getting dark and I was getting frustrated, so I decided to leave it be and work on my Leftie instead.
I wore it to work this morning and it is just right. I love the shape, the pinstripes and the leaves, the colour, and the size. It's just right to wear under a jacket in our spring weather. It's big enough to fill the gap between the collar and the neck, but not so big that it prevents the jacket from zipping up. Also, if I need to regulate the temperature while on a bus or metro, I can just slip it off. Taking off a tight cowl is not something I want to do in public.
The pattern itself was fun to knit, mindless and interesting at the same time. I have other patterns by the designer, Martina Behm, and I definitely want to knit a few more of her garter asymmetric shawlettes. Perhaps even a few more Lefties, they are gorgeous and fun.