Monday, May 23, 2016

running like the Red Queen


in which our plucky heroine embarks on a slow sewing project...

The gown this embroidered cuffs and yoke decorated was close to twenty years old, and the original linen garment was far too threadbare to patch again. Fortunately, the beautiful plaid indigo linen twill, a gift from Kateline, seems as if perfectly matched to the venerable embroidery.

I've been gradually reattaching the embroidered pieces to the component sections of the new garb. It is tricksy, since they were not originally created as applied pieces, so deconstructing the older gown leaves odd edges that need finished in ways that don't always line up readily with the new. However, it is well worth the effort, since another linen undergown will be most welcome at summertime SCA events
***

and because it is Monday, here is a tiny delight...

***

Went out on my bike to do the grocery shopping that was put off yesterday due to crashing rain and electrical storm. On the way home found yards of sturdy if weathered 1/2" hardware cloth being discarded... SCORE! Managed to carry it home on the bike rack, rather awkwardly, since it wasn't neatly rolled and I only had one bungee.
I may now have enough to build the chicken fencing hurdles that have been on my wishlist for forever. (I have been scavenging hardware cloth for several years now) With some 2x2 lumber, some eye screws, some rebar pieces, and the hardware cloth, a whole set of moveable panels can be built, to contain the hens and use them to destroy grass and weeds and cultivate and fertilise the yard.
***

I carved a few more tiny stamps, and each one allows even more variety in the trim designs; in the last few days, have completed eight different designs of multicolor block printed trim-for-sale: motifs are about 5/8" wide, fabric strips are 2 1/2" wide, 46" long; $25 ea

As far as I know, printed trim was not really used in the SCA time period. My intention with this is to provide, for self, friends, and others, something that imitates some of the elaborately woven or embroidered embellishments that were used on garments. Just as a lot of the block printed fabric that I and others create is also in imitation of and inspired by the elaborately woven fabrics that were used in period and mostly not available in modern times

Actually weaving or embroidering trim is not something everyone wants to do, and while I myself enjoy both those activities, and a lot of my garb has embroidered or tablet woven embellishment, I also think that an alternative to commercial machine-woven trim might be a good thing, the hand printing has slight variations that seem quite appropriate, in the same way that hand embroidery and hand weaving are variable.
***

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed my
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone 11 concrete piers
4 charter #8 planted green onions yard waste bin
5 Aesa apron dress repair chook waterer some apple thinnings
6 11 scissors cases rebuilt undergown -
7 blockprinted trim - -
8 Viking purse - -
9 charter #9* - -
10 - - -
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12 - - -

Thursday, May 19, 2016

slow stitchery


in which our plucky heroine unvents* a knot...

I've been slowly making progress on my Viking purse, in betwixt working on projects for others, or for sales trinkets. I love that I've been able to bring knowledge learned as a child into projects done decades later. I learned to braid round, and square, four strand braids back when my age was measured in single digits, and that skill has served me well over the years.
After I braided the ends on the shoulder strap for my Viking bag, I really wanted some sort of tidy way to finish the ends, after sliding the braid through the holes in the carved wood. My vague concept was "some sort of decorative stopper knot, with a tassel"...

After an unsuccessful internet search for a four stranded stopper knot, I experimented with different ways to bring round the ends, and decided to combine a four strand square braid interlace I learned as a child, with a sort of loop around and through, to form a knot with a tasseled end. Each of the four tassel ends were then split in half again, leaving eight strands.

Well, as it turns out, I managed to "unvent"* the Turks Head terminal knot, as Tullia commented when she saw my project. Turns out I was looking in the wrong places for information, and when I borrowed a Library book on leather braiding, there was the very knot I had sussed out a few days before...

...and now that the strap is neatly ended and attached to the bag, all that still remains is to run a line of stitching in waxed linen up each side of the shoulder strap. This is a slow process, not as much in the stitching which is straighforward and simple, but because stitching through the two layers needs must have stitching holes punched through all along the strap on both sides. I use some venerable thonging chisels, which come in either single, four, or seven ended options.

I've been using the four end chisel, as that is the best balance between effort and convenience. I expect that the strap will be finished entire before the first summertime SCA event.

* unvent is an Elizabeth Zimmerman term for creating from scratch a design or technique that others have likely come up with once or more again in history... not exactly the same as inventing somthing brand new, but equally clever

Monday, May 16, 2016

Monday musings


in which our plucky heroine continues trying not to worry but instead to work...

This weekend was mostly about setting about preparations for projects rather than completion: started work on a new Golden Torc charter master, set up parts for making tiny fibulae, filled out my primary ballot and took it to the drop box at the end of the street, attached a lining layer to the strap of the Viking purse, ironed strips of fabric for blockprinted trim, and other such necessary tasks. The next two weeks will hopefully be filled with making things...

Meanwhile, out in the yard, a recent development: there are baby persimmons! Hard to see, hard to find, as they are green amidst the greenery. Last year my Fuyu had one persimmon, it was the first one ever, though the tree has been in the ground for eight years.

I found out last winter that persimmon wants watered during dry summers, which I have never done in the past. Now that I know that, I intend to save rinsewater to keep it watered during the summer, and will hopefully get a somewhat larger number of fruit!
***

It has never been what I expected, but it is worth the trip...

"By Way Of Sorrow" - live version by Cry Cry Cry
***

Saturday, May 14, 2016

like a rainbow


in which our plucky heroine embraces the whole spectrum...

I went to Fabric Depot early yesterday morning, trying to beat the heat and intending to buy some suitable silk fabric, with which to make narrow block-printed trim strips... but the dupioni had huge slubs, and the other silks were just not very appealing colors/textures. Instead I chose an assortment of Kaffe Fasset shot cotton fabric. This fabric is very finely woven and smooth, and almost shimmers due to the different color warp/weft, it should be excellent to print on, and will give the effect of silk. Plus, the clerk was willing to tear the fabric instead of cut it, so it is nicely on-grain, and will tear neatly into narrow printable strips. Looking forward to working out various colorways for the different backgrounds.
:::


Finished up stitching the scissors cases on Thursday evening, and took them with me on the bus ride yesterday,to add their hand wrapped wire suspension rings...

I now have a colorful array of hand stitched leather scissors cases, complete with a hand wire-wrapped suspension ring, and furnished with period style scissors. These will be for sale at whatever SCA events I go to this summer; my goal is to have an assortment of these smaller "trinkets" available, in addition to my custom regalia business
:::

While not every post needs a sound track, this one just seemed perfect, since it was running through my mind all yesterday...

Rolling Stones - She's Like A Rainbow
 :::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed my
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone 11 concrete piers
4 charter #8 planted green onions yard waste bin
5 Aesa apron dress - -
6 11 scissors cases - -
7 - - -
8 - - -
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10 - - -
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12 - - -

Friday, May 13, 2016

black and white and red all over


In which our plucky heroine indulges in decorative frugality...

The apron dress for little Aesa of Blue Cedar House is finished. Started out with a wool jumper I made years ago for Beth Mead, which I cut down and restitched, then added edgebinding and shoulder straps at the top, a fragment of tablet weaving as front trim, and blockprinted fabric as a hemline band:

blockprinted linen bands used as hemline trim, I keep finding different ways to combine the blocks I have made to create patterns, in this design I am rather charmed by how the negative space makes additional shapes.

This tablet woven fragment is leftover from weaving I did years ago, as part of a prize in Adiantum (Valeria wove red/black twill wool for a cloak, and I made tablet-woven trim to edge the cloak) The pattern here is doubled kvrim, which turns out is not period after all, but I thought that it is reminiscent of the complex woven patterns that are appropriate:

:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed my
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone 11 concrete piers
4 charter #8 planted green onions -
5 Aesa apron dress - -
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Thursday, May 12, 2016

more charter painting fun


in which our plucky heroine completes charter #8...

On Monday night I decided to go to the local SCA branch "paint night", which I'd not previously attended, since it is in the next town over, and requires either a long bus journey with multiple transfers (more than an hour and a half each way), or arranging rides there and back, which I decided to do... it was a very different experience to gather around a large table, with each person also working on charter painting, since I mostly do my painting alone. There was conversation, and laughter, and consulting about choices, since painting involves a lot of decisions, even though the basic outline is fixed...

I started painting a new Award of Arms charter. After an hour and a half, it was time to go home, and most but not all of the base layer of paint was in place...

The next day, spent a couple-three hours beginning to add details to the charter I started painting yesterday... there are a number of areas still in need of more work, but it is starting to look suitably elaborated. The background behind the band across the bottom of the decoration needs both filled in and detailed, and there are many areas that will be much improved with some linework, as these two images show what a difference that makes:


My 8th charter painting was completed Wednesday evening. I am quite pleased with the improvement from the ones in this series I painted earlier this year. It was a lot of fun to add so much interior detailing to the motifs... the more I look at historical period examples, the more ideas there are to try! After I had started on this charter, I then found photos of the period original that must have inspired the artist... which gave me more ideas about how to decorate the charter painting...

I was particularly happy with the little vines inside the background... while not as complex as the original period document, they are the most detailed I have managed to create so far. The dark green bands are about 1/4" across.

Overall, I'd estimate that it took about twelve hours of painting to get the charter to this level of elaboration, though I will admit that I rather lost count; since this is an activity that I do entirely for fun, and as a service contribution to the organization I participate in, I need not keep careful count of my time, but can simply enjoy myself.

And, of course, there is the pleasure of imagining how happy someone will be to receive this, which will be part of a ceremony marking their own contribution to the SCA... Indeed, my goal in painting charters is to create the painting at a level that I would myself be pleased to receive, and this one I really find appealing! Perhaps in time I will create some original artwork using these techniques, since it is most unlikely that I will be on the receiving end of any more awards in my SCA career, but for now, the relaxation and pleasure of the painting is reward enough...

:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone 11 concrete piers
4 charter #8 planted green onions -
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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tuesday tidbits


in which our plucky heroine was brave, and clever...

Clever to put the eleven unwanted piers left from deconstructing the shed on Craigslist:free. Brave to arrange for stranger-men to come here to Acorn Cottage to take them away. My imaginary husband was much in evidence the last two days. The really good thing is that it would have been quite expensive to discard the piers, they were HEAVY!
:::

After finding the small period style scissors, and digging through my leather scraps of a suitable weight for making sheaths for them, it was apparent that most of what was left was rather unsuitably colored. As the only leather dye on hand is a dark chocolate brown, I decided to experiment by mixing in a dab of the dyestuff into a few tablespoons of denatured alcohol, which greatly diluted the intensity. Was then able to "overdye" some of the scraps into more subtle colors.

Today began preparing to make a colorful assortment of leather scissors case sets, to have for sale at events later this summer. These are a useful and safe way to keep these little period style scissors handy... I wear mine hanging from my Norse apron dress brooches, along with other tools and trinkets, but the scissors cases also are a good idea when storing the little snips in a sewing basket, to keep the cutting edges and points away from contents and fingers!

:::

Planted the root ends of the last two batches of green onion, in this self-watering planter pot. Had been meaning to do this for a while. They will grow back into a whole green onion plant, and if you simply snip off a bit as needed, instead of pulling the whole plant out, you can keep them going for months and months
:::

Started in on charter #8 yesterday, and spent a chunk of the afternoon adding details, shading, and linework... After a total of about four or five hours between yesterday and today, there are a number of areas still in need of more decoration, as well as some "background" spaces in the design that still need filled in, but it is starting to look suitable. I really want to get a good brush for doing even more TINY details.
.
:::


May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone 11 concrete piers
4 - - -
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Monday, May 9, 2016

media Monday


in which our plucky heroine is delighted by charming silliness...


I agree... thank you Hayao Miyazaki!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sunday success


in which our plucky heroine keeps going into the backyard...

Tah daaa! the site where the shed once was, now bare of both debris and former shed. Farbjorn raked and dug over the ground to let it begin the process of returning to live soil.

The salvaged 2x4 pieces, mostly from the roof trusses. Still need nails removed and some nice purifying time in the sun, these were neither moldy, toxic, or rat-contaminated

The remaining shed debris, stacked awaiting our next opportunity to borrow the truck so we can take it away. There are a number of concrete supports, in a sort of truncated pyramid shape that bolt to the floor joists... I am considering offering them on Craigslist for free

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch shed gone -
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Saturday, May 7, 2016

the shed is down


in which Farbjorn Shedwrecker removes the offending (moldy) building from my backyard...

Best description and views of the shed-destroying process: a thank you letter from young Aesa to her granny, who lent us the truck for the afternoon... I love how "stage 3" shows the (imaginary future) grass and the feral plum tree (which had been living squashed between the shed and the fence, in a space about a foot wide, for the last ten years, now released to be a sort of faux-espalier...)

Thora and I came back from running errands this morning to find that the shed had been substantially reduced to a pile of debris.

Former owners, fans of the cheap and inappropriate fix, had put up a garden shed made mostly from flakeboard. Last year I noticed that not only was it disintegrating along the attachement edges, but that the entire back wall was being infiltrated with both black mold and white mold, and therefore not worth trying to salvage.

Just in case anyone is curious as to what the former shed looked like... it is hard to see here how degraded the double doors were, the broken away edges of the flakeboard walls and doors, and that the entire inner walls were full of embedded mold colonies.

There may be some salvageable 2x lumber from the roof trusses, but most of this went to the transfer station as garbage, just over 1300 pounds and $75 (so far)... there is another load for next month, since it didn't all fit, but the majority of the shed has left the backyard.

The shed floor is not yet fully demolished, but I can see that eventually there will be room for either a garden beds back there, or some additional fruit tree space, in what is one of the sunniest corners of the yard. Why clueless former owner put a huge shed in the best spot in the yard is baffling, but many choices they made have me scratching my head.
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
1300 lb shed debris
3 small coin pouch - -
4 - - -
5 - - -
6 - - -
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and last but not least, our stalwart supervisor Seppi Dangertail!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Norwegian medieval money pouch


in which our plucky heroine does a dab of leatherwork...

I've long been wanting to try this project, a small medieval coin pouch. I followed these directions on Katafalk, and found them to be both accurate and useful.

The design, based on an extant 13th/14th C medieval artifact from Bruges Museum in Bergen, has a clever and simple round of gathering, that shapes the pouch, helps make a space for the coins, and actually creates an almost flat bottom for setting the pouch down.

The first step, after cutting out the circle of leather that makes the pouch, is punching the holes for the drawstring and the lower gathering

Next step is to run a strip of leather through the holes in the middle of the circle...

Then pull the leather in to create the pouched center. and anchor one end of the strip so it will keep that size

Take the long end, thread it into a large needle and carefully stitch over each of the gathers, catching the gathering strip at the same time. Once all the way around, send the working end of the strip to the inside of the pouch, and tie it off.

Voila! a clever pouch, with neatly anchored gathers. Approximate size 3" from base to top edge. I looped the drawstring strap around the top edge, which still leaves just enough to loop and tie onto a belt.

There are more detailed process photos on Cathrin Åhlén's blog Katafalk, I find her various works very inspiring, and am grateful that she found this delightful small purse and showed so clearly how to re-create it.
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
-
3 small coin pouch - -
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Friday fragments


in which our plucky heroine notices improvement:

It feels like I am living in the middle of a storm of creativity lately, as if the tide has finally turned from the long drought that began with my cancer diagnosis four years ago...

Russ wanted to paint a heraldic banner for his wife, similar to the one that I made for him as part of Sekrit Santa last year, and asked me if I was willing to draw up the design. I of course said yes, because A: heraldic drawing is one of my superpowers, B: because more heraldic banners and suchlike adds pageantry to the game we are playing, and C: because Russ is all sorts of helpful, so my being able to help him is a good thing!

I ended up using the window as a light box, since the banner is rather large. Indeed, I used it twice, once to reverse the rampant wolf motif, and a second time when transferring the drawing to the fabric.
:::

I have been refurbishing an older SCA underdress of mine, fixing the wonky neckline and shoulders, by adding an embroidered replacement yoke* in exchange for an experimental neckline that worked poorly.

The undergown fits a lot better, because it no longer slips about randomly orbiting the neck and shoulders. Still need to work on seam-finishing the inside edges where I cut away the old neckline, and now I should be able to get quite a few more years of wear out of the garment.
The lower hem edge, which had a plain wide band of ochre osnaberg fabric, now looks a lot better with periodic application of these amusing block printed acorns.
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses cardboard recycling
2 banner design block printed
undergown hem
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*a closer look at the simple embroidery on the replacement yoke:

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Viking Age bags and other things


in which our plucky heroine picks up an unfinished project...

Started making a strap today for the Viking age bag I was working on last year, (the one with the wooden handles). I unearthed some thin top-grain leather strips in my misc craft stash, and realised that would be excellent to complete the project.

I will braid the ends where the strap goes through the bag handles, weave a stopper knot on each end, and add a second layer to the flat portion. Considering doing some leather stamping/tooling as well, since this is vegetable tanned leather and suitable for suchlike...

.
the bag interior opening, and bag prior to assembly
:::

may history not be forgotten - Kent State, May 4 1970
In some ways it feels like just yesterday, and in other ways it feels like it was a different world, a world filled with hope and horror intertwined. I was halfway through high school...
I am less hopeful now, not just because how young I was then, but because overarching cultural choices have created greater planetary environmental degradation, in the intervening decades. Still, where there is breath there is some hope, and we all continue to do the best we can, to make a healing difference where we can, and to choose the actions that can repair what we can reach.
:::

not quite all the way carved block, 4" dia, part of an intended set of three... the original (woven, wool and linen tapestry, 6th-7thC) fabric has little winged ponies facing in both directions, with the interstitial blocks being striped hearts! I couldn't resist...

and a picture of one of the original 6th - 7th C tapestry roundels
for more images, check out the museum that holds the original tapestry fragments, which were part of a pair of pants. Scroll down the page to find the image link on the bottom row...
:::

Took a bit of time this evening to shift three tomato cages over the feral rosebushes, which should help contain them in a more upright configuration, rather than allowing them to sprawl in a tangled mass all over the south side of the yard. Last summer there was much sharp pokey macrame in an attempt to do something similar; the steel wire cages, applied much earlier in the year, will hopefully save my fingers and arms!
:::

1 yd narrow trim samples at three different levels of complexity: 1 color/1 block, 2 color/3 block, and 3 color/2 block + dots. My intention was to time the process in various iterations, to come up with possible cost, which works out to 10/15/20 per yard; will have to make up some samples to see if there is any interest...
:::

May SMART goals
# THINGS MADE THINGS FIXED THINGS GONE
1 printed trim samples caged feral roses -
2 - - -
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Sunday, May 1, 2016

four and a half years


in which our plucky heroine feels not so plucky

Every six months a checkup... that is tomorrow... cancer sucks. I never ever feel "safe" or "recovered", every unfamiliar twinge or symptom is worriesome. I try my best not to think about it all the time. I almost always do well at enjoying the present moment, though I did that before cancer became part of my story. But I never know if some bodily change is simply the result of normal aging, or the result of a rogue cell that escaped the knife and the heat and the radiation... The checkup tomorrow could bring another six month respite, or not.