Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Thing

I've actually put in my financial etc reports for Spring Thing so I figure I'm overdue to give a blogger report on it. About four weeks out I had a serious attack of life. Life attacks are a known issue in the SCA, they can occur at any time and generally are unavoidable, because if they weren't we'd avoid them like the plague. Mine was work related, more on that later. Anyway because of it there are a couple of things that weren't as well prepared as I had intended and I was generally feeling harried.

Then we had a bad case of weather. The weekend before the event was lovely. I think that at some point I'd even walked kiwi in a t shirt. But early the week before Thing we looked at the weather report and it was bleak, like in snow down to 300 metres or so, southerlies, rain etc. I'd always known that that was a possibility. September is still early spring around here and definitely ski season weather. However postponement would have messed up the plans of the crew coming up from southern Southron Gaard, currently known as Wildmoor, and so we went ahead.

And it was fine. Not the weather so much, that was cold, overcast and in the evening a bit drizzly. But nearly 40 people showed up, and shot at apples, fought, threw stones, bought stuff, hit each other's heads with something resembling a stuffed sock and roasted per freshly shot rabbits over an open fire for dinner. 

Some moments were a little chaotic but that happens when you're really running an event. But the only injury was self inflicted, we didn't burn down the neighbourhood, and everyone got offsite in a reasonable fashion. I think that I managed to inject a bit of Norseness into the event with my opening 'law speaking'. More light at the meal would have been good, I don't know where the candleabra had got to but it really was needed, I need to make a bag with the extras that go on the pavilion when it gets set up.

So that's it for running events for me for a while. I have new challenges coming up which I expect will call for some life reorganisation. And we're still hoping to go to 50 year celebrations next year so that will preclude any other major plans.
Photos, as always, over on Flickr.

Below, the bonfire that I made, but we didn't burn (just a bit of it).

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Less than a week to go

OK so I've sort of failed at the 'blog the event preparation' plan, largely because there has been a HUGE intervention of life over the past couple of weeks. However its not been that exciting as this is the grunt work that happens between the 'vision' stage of an event and the actual 'doing the event'. I'll give you a run down.

Make/buy/acquire stuff

I've made a bunch of things for the quest/treasure hunt - the event theme is Idunn's golden apples so I have thirty golden 'apples' which will be hunted for and won over the course of the event. Whoever ends up with the most apples will win the prize.

We've made six 'shields' to use at the Holmgang and made or adapted appropriate stuff for the lists. Two bits of wooden that I thought were just tree stakes have had nails driven into them to be the sheild trees. We happened to have two heavy sacking cloth ground clothes that had big eyelets in the corners which will be ideal for the holmgang cloth and just needed some baling twine loops for pegging them. For the other ring we've bought a pack of ever useful garden stakes and some medium weight rope. We're covering these costs ourselves as both stakes and ropes will be useful. I do this as much as possible for events - it also means that we're not throwing away stuff afterwards, or just as bad, forcing the group to store it just in case its useful again.

We bought a huge bale of peastraw to shoot arrows into. It must be about two metres tall and weighs a ton! But again, we've paid for that and after the event it will go on the garden. Getting it standing upright is one of the tasks for the morning of the event. In addition Nick has cut many 'wands' for the archery out of some spare timber we had lying about and I painted them white. He's also made 2 staples for hold them and an apple holder, which is the other archery target - combined apple/wand shoot.

Last weekend we went out to pick up stuff from the quartermaster but the main target of that trip, the signs, were no where to be found. One has since turned up but I think that the group might have to replace a few. Some of them were more than 20 years old so were probably ready for replacement. I'll put one of our silk banners by the letterbox - should be fairly obvious to people. We did get the first aid kits an a bit of cleaning/kitchen stuff.

And then prizes. Most of these are being donated from our stash of goodies, a couple of things I've made and then some appropriate food-stuffs. I had wanted to include some of the fabulous single variety apple juice that was being produced in Dunsandel but apparently its no longer being made.

Writing stuff

So the other thing I've been doing is gathering bits and pieces that people can do without preparation for the bardic. I'm hoping that some people who haven't prepared anything might be tempted to give it a go if its easy and short like a Norse riddle. Plus I've been trying to learn a song to present myself.

As well as that I've been 'scripting' a few things that I want to do throughout the event. A Thing was a time for the laws of the group to be spoken by a lawspeaker so that everyone can learn the laws, in a mostly illiterate society. So I've selected a few of our 'laws' from Corpora and Kingdom and some proverbs from the Havamal. In addition I've got the rules for the various events, and the 'vision' to start off the quest. So there's a bit of speechifying to be done. All of which needs to be written down so I don't forget it at the time.


I had made a communications plan but it kind of got a bit squashed. I had planned a series of shirt articles for the local newsletter followed by fortnightly or so blurbs aimed at different sections of the group: fighters, makers, archers, entertainers etc. Some of this happened OK, I did three short articles for two newsletters and a couple of the targeted posts but then the LIFE attack happened and my last couple of emails didn't. I have one going out today which has a short: don't forget to bring list in it and directions to the site and then I'm done.

Transport issues

There's been grumbling, or just plain failure to launch, in the past when we've had events outside of the city limits (and bus routes) before so for the second time I have offered to sort out shuttle transport for the less independently mobile, but had not a peep. So I don't think that I'll bother again. Its something that has to be done well in advance or folk just have to sort it out for themselves. I did actually contact a couple of places and the quotes seemed very high to me given that we're only 30 minutes from the centre of Christchurch!

Yeah so that's where we are. Its not a fantastically complicated event, simplified by having it at our own place, and I'm mostly down to a handful of small things to sort out, mostly the kinds of things that have to be done the day before anyway. Still have to do the printing, buy apples and catch up with my volunteers.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sky Shawl complete.

I actually finished this some weeks ago and have only just gotten around to blogging it. The shawl didn't take very long to weave - in fact much less time than my planning and warping had taken. I think I was done in less than three weeks. The plain weave was very easy to weave, the only thing that slowed me down was having to beat very gently. I ended up more placing the weft with the reed than actually 'beating' it at all.
Full length of floor, unfinished.

It came off the loom and still felt a little stiff in my hands. I assumed that like the sample a wash would take care of that. Above you can see it laid out on the floor, not a great way to photograph it. As you can see I left a long fringe on it. I knew that I wanted a fringe but hadn't decided how to finish the ends. However Nick had long ago bought a lot of cobalt blue beads and one lot were about the right size for the ends so, after removing the waste weft I simply beaded and knotted the ends of the warps.
Detail with beaded fringe

Next I trimmed the fringe to a reasonable length, about 20cm, and washed it. It is still a little stiff, giving it a lovely drape and body, while the wool warp gives it some warmth. It will be really nice for summer evenings.
Shawl draped on dummy

More photos of this project are on my Flickr.

I discovered at my next weaving meeting that the weft that I had thought was silk, because of its lustre and slubbyness, is actually linen. So there you go, one lesson learnt: test your fibres.

Waste Not

I actually ran out of the weft a bit earlier than expected and so there was a bit of warp left over. There was also some warp left over on the bobbins that the sectional beam uses so at Nick's suggestion I used those left overs as wefts and wove a bit more. There's enough for a small bag or cushion cover or something like that.
Left overs

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.