Sunday, June 28, 2015

Sky shawl

Another weaving project.

This one had been on the slow burn for a while. In my stash was a roll of light indigo coloured tussah silk. Very slubby but a beautiful colour, just like faded denim but somehow still a fresh colour, gorgeous.   I was perplexed with what to do with it but I decided that it would look lovely with a mixed colour against it and that a selection of the blues and greys that I had in my stash would work well, in terms of colours, with it. Amongst the stash were two mid-weight 2 ply wools, one a dark blackish blue, and the other a light blue grey, but I only had a smallish amount of each. Then there were several cones of very light weight wools in various blues and greys. So not only was my weft of uneven thickness but my warp was going to be of wools of various thicknesses too - I was a bit perplexed as to how to go about calculating the sett for this project.

So I took my ideas and yarns to my first area weavers meeting. Do some samples they said, quite rightly. See I hate doingsales or practice pieces so I had been hoping to avoid that. But I was a good girl and warped up my table loom with a narrow warp and started swing. The sett was WAY. To open so I unwove, re slewed and started agin. Better this time. I did about 10cm in plain weave and loosened the warp, too stiff. Then I did a bit in 2/2 twill, ok, better. But maybe if I had beaten the plain weave more loosely that would be ok, so I did that, better still. Finally I did a bit in 1/3 twill. This last has the affect of placing more of the warp on one side and more weft on the other, which shows off the silk nicely. But when I took the sample off the warp and had washed and dried it I decided to go with the loosely woven plain weave. 
Sample starting from top.

I took the sample to a Guild meeting to double check my conclusions and received general agreement that the sett would work and be stable.

So my next new experience was to warp the sectional beam loom using the multitude of bobbins that came with it. Last time I had 'cheated' and had wound off the warp in the normal way and then used the sectional beam tensioning device to wind each section on. That had worked fine but I wanted to do it properly this time. What had held me back was a) how to wind the bobbins, and b) how to tell when they had enough on them, and not too much. We surmounted a) with an electric drill and a long shafted bolt but b) proved more difficult. I made do with just putting a certain amount on each bobbin but in all cases it want enough so every warp has needed up with a join AND almost all the bobbins have left overs on them which is wasteful. How do I manage it if I have an expensive warp yarn of which I have only the right amount?

Anyway I finally got the warp threaded etc last weekend and began weaving and am already half way through the weaving bit. Seems like the fun bit is also the fast but, it's the planning and warping that takes the time, which is why I am already planning the next warp, and it's going to be a long one, probably about 20m or more with a fine grey marl yarn of which I have SO much I could probably clothe half the barony. I am thinking more twirls for garb this time.

I was right about the colours in my current project. As with the blanket project I am glorying in the fabric as it appears as if by magic under my fingers, disappearing into my lap. It's going to be a shawl, in case that wasn't clear.



Sunday, June 21, 2015

To council and more

So we went to council and the event was approved. Now the real work begins which in the medium term breaks into three categories:
  1. advertising
  2. recruiting
  3. making

Advertising

There are lots of different kinds of advertising involved in an event. Sometimes you can just get away with the basics, which have to happen anyway - getting the details on the 'official' calendars. In this case I have done this - I still had the log in details for the baronial Google calendar from when I was web officer so I added it there first. The Kingdom also has a Google calendar but events need to be submitted via a form and then approved by the sponsoring group's seneschal. In both cases I kept to the basics for space purposes: a brief description, time and place, costs and audience note which in this case includes kids and dogs. Since there is already a dog on site both kids and dogs need to be dog friendly. These will be followed by similarly basic event notices in the local newsletter.

Then you have the more 'in-game' type ads. I'm going to do a series of these to appeal to local artisans /merchants, archers, fighters and bards as we have items at the event specific for those and we want generate some 'excitement' in those groups for the event. This is where you can really bring out the 'theme' of the event, hint at other aspects and, hopefully, get people planning for it. My 'communications plan' allows for a couple of these on the local mailing list and newsletter for each edition between now and the event, of which there are three (July, August, September).

Finally I'm also going to do a couple of short articles which will expand on the ads above. Time allowing I will do one on holmgangr, one on Viking archery and the wand/apple shoot, one on Norse food and another on Norse poetry/riddles, all with sources so that (again hopefully) people might get excited about trying something new, or something they already do but with a specific Norse flavour, and at the same time give them some easy sources so they don't have to work too hard to get there.

Recruiting

While Nick and I could probably do all this ourselves, and will do the planning and making of stuff etc, but on the day I like to have deputies for all main parts of the event. This means that if one of us has to run off and deal with an emergency there are still a couple of people who can keep things running. In addition the plan is to overlap the end of one event with the beginning of the next, so again, having some extra people who can keep things running will help with continuity. My other reason for wanting to recruit sub-stewards is that it gives newer people the opportunity with helping run an event without having to do the whole thing which is good for bringing on new event stewards.

The other group of people we need to recruit are marshals, range marshals, lists and herald: all offices which have special requirements in training and/or SCA accreditation. The more of these offices we can fill in advance the better. However I can leave asking for helpers until a bit closer to the event.

Making and acquiring stuff

We need a bit of stuff for this event, props and consumables, such as the wands to be shot at etc. Some of this I'll borrow, and some of it will have to be made. Also we have a bonfire to build. More on this later.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

To council

So, coming up with ideas and plans is all very well but in order to get an event on the calendar it needs to be approved by the local SCA group and advertised in their newsletter and elsewhere. To do that I need to fill out some paperwork which also includes making up a budget.

There are two main types of costs for SCA events: fixed costs and per/person costs. Most events have site fees, food, advertising, and event specific costs for 'props' plus extra charges for non-members and in this Kingdom there is a Kingdom levy which helps support the Kingdom's costs.

Site fees can be fixed, per person or a mix thereof. In this case there are no site fees so that's easy. There are also no food costs per se, in that there is no catering at my event. I don't mind doing feasts and have run several successful feasts in the past, but they require a different kind of organisation and if I was to start planning one now, given that I'd still need to recruit a cook, I'd really be planning it for December or later. However there are going to be apples used as targets for the archery and possibly the games so I'd better allow for some of those.

So most of my costs are 'props' such as the golden apples, printing for poems and riddles for the bardic and other event specific items like prizes. Given that I have to create those in advance and they're not really tied to the number of people attending I have to treat them as fixed costs - I toted it up and it came to almost spot on $100, which includes the 10% contingency that the group adds.

Fixed costs mean that you have to get a certain number of people through the door to break even. Which is always a concern. You end up with a balancing act - if you make the event more expensive then you don't need as many people to attend to cover your costs, BUT the higher cost may put people off. If you keep the cost low you run the risk of not covering your costs and leaving the group out of pocket.

This is one of the reasons that you create a budget and proposal and present them to the local group - at the end of the day they are taking a risk on your judgement - if the event loses money that comes from the group's funds, not yours.

The other question to consider is whether or not to charge children. Our group's policy is half price for under 12s and free for under 5s. The Kingdom levy also only applies to persons over 18, which leaves the gate with 4 breakpoints to consider, which I think is a pain. My personal philosophy is that as most kids come with adults we should make it as easy/cheap for those family groups as possible. Also we don't have huge numbers of teens in the group. So I'd as soon make an event free for all kids (under 18) and have more come along - which is viable for an event like this one, but not for all events of course.

So with a fixed cost of around $100 how many adults at how much do I need to come to my event to break even or make a small profit. I'd like to charge $5 - that's including the $1 Kingdom levy - which would require 25 people to attend in order to meet my costs - surely not an unreasonable number in a  group of our size as 65 booked for Baronial Anniversary (March council minutes). I could be persuaded to charge more as that would make it a dirt cheap event, we will see what the council says on the matter.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Inspiration

 So once we have the broad outline of the event is when the fun bits really get underway, fleshing out that outline into an event concept that holds together. Balancing what's practical, what should be fun, what's actually doable, what people will be willing to do.

So what we have so far is a bonfire on or near the Spring equinox. Now I could be really obvious and do something Celticy, we used to have an event in Spring called the Celtic games and that was a lot of fun so I could just revive that. But something made me look a bit further north for inspiration. It didn't take much poking around to discover that Idunn, the Norse goddess of spring, was also the keeper of the golden apples of immortality, and had a bit of an adventure wherein she was kidnapped by a giant. On realising that they were getting old and doddery the gods sent Loki (of course) off to retrieve her and he turned her into a nut and carried her home in the form of a falcon, while being chased by the giant in the form of an eagle. He got her home safely, but what if he hadn't? What if, say, he dropped her, and her precious apples into our back yard?

So, now we have an event featuring a bunch of golden apples, and a nut. A treasure hunt for the golden apples and other Norse activities. Ideas kept percolating, being assisted by occasional (and I use the term very loosely) 'research' and this is where I got to.

Event to start around 12 or just after lunch. To start with an archery competition, probably a wand shoot, but definitely an apple shoot (real apples required, equine quality* + personnel: range master). Next a market for all the 'peaceful Norse traders', this could start perhaps half an hour after the archery begins so that our events overlap. Overlapping events can work really well to avoid gaps in the schedule and provide alternative activities for people. Once the archery is over start setting up the space for a holmganga 'tournament' (holmgangs are more duels but it will do for a Norse tournament format). 

After the fighting some games to keep people active and warm. Back in the day when we used to have a Celtic games event one of those games was spiking apples* from 'horseback' so that would be a goodie. Another possible game is something we did at an event in Calafia, the game was called Knotlickr, I don't remember exactly how it was played, a bit like field hockey? A quick hunt around the internet suggested that they hadn't had that event for a while and no rules online so I've emailed the Calafian seneschal to see if they can help.

Then light the bonfire, before it's really dark. Bonfire placement will be critical but I'll consider layout later. Potluck dinner early, some bardic, assisted by prepared short poems and riddles for people who haven't brought anything and then end, not too late.

While this is all going on I'm going to have an ongoing search for the hidden golden apples. Also have apples as prizes for the different events, and maybe some spares for spot prizes. Then at the end of the event see who has the most apples and they get a Norse gift basket, or prize. That gives people opportunity to do some canny trading to accumulate apples. It's not as organised as an actual quest, and I'm not really a fan of quests at events, but it still provides something to bind all the activities of the day. People can ignore it if they like, or get really involved and go treasure hunting.

So, now I have the general plan for the event, a theme binding it all together, a date and site. My next job is to get approval from the local group which requires a budget. To do the budget I need to know what I'm going to need to buy, which means fleshing out the activity in detail. I've also decided that I'm going to need some help so recruitment is in order.

* horse apples will be required for some activities, these are cheaper than eating apples and will be willing consumed post event by said equines.