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X-es and…Well, more X-es!

September 29, 2015

Two dear friends of ours were married about ten days ago and since they are both adults with an established household, they didn’t really need much in the way of the usual wedding gifts.  They’d also indicated on their website that handmade gifts were welcome and I like to give something personalized to close friends on occasions like this.

I’ve been doing counted cross stitch since I was young (probably 10 years old or so), though it’s kind of gone by the wayside a little bit since I’ve picked up a lot of other crafts through the SCA.  Still, I knew I wanted to do a wedding design as a gift for them.  I did some searching online until I found a pattern that I thought they’d really like – not too traditionally wedding-y (no hearts and flowers) and no sappy poetic verse (we’re not that kind of folks).  Luckily, I also found a site where I could just buy the pattern and not have to lay out a lot of money for a full kit since I have lots of embroidery floss already and a big piece of Aida cloth is relatively inexpensive.

I started stitching the day after we got home from Pennsic and I worked for an hour or two most nights.  I finished the work just in time – the Thursday evening before the wedding!  That left me just enough time on Friday to remove as much cat hair as possible and press the wrinkles out of the piece before wrapping it up.

I had originally planned to keep track of how much time the project took, but I never started writing things down.  I did, however, take a photo of my work each day so I could see the progress I made.  Instead of a whole series of images, I learned a very basic new skill and used Windows Movie Maker to stitch the images together into a time-lapse video with a musical accompaniment.

I still really like this design and I’m happy with the way it turned out.  I like my little video, too!

OK, other new thing learned – since I didn’t pay for the upgraded version of WordPress I had to upload my video to YouTube and link to it…  But, here’s at least a picture of the finished product!  Click the “my little video” link above if you want to see the whole thing.
DA 33

Two Scrolls

September 22, 2015

A couple of weeks ago the announcement came out from our regional signet (scribal officer) for the court at Vikings Come Home, an event in northern Michigan.  I took two assignments, one that I made from scratch and one that I used a blank to produce.

Vikings Dragon's Heart 15The from-scratch scroll had to be kept super-secret since it was intended for the person who was serving as signet at the event.  This lady is also on the staff of the current royalty and was receiving a Dragon’s Heart for her service.  Since she does a Norse persona, I was thinking along those lines for the scroll and I achieved my “vision” really quickly.

This is a “less is more” scroll with a simple outline of an interlaced dragon (from Pinterest) holding an interlaced heart in its talons.  Vikings Heart DetailTypically the device of the Dragon’s Heart award is embellished with silver scales, but I decided to keep this pretty minimal and just added a couple of silver dots at the points of the heart for detail.  I also gave the dragon an outline of red dots and filled in the big gaps between the text sections with dotwork as well.

The second scroll was for a person I didn’t know at all, so it was difficult to pick a style (his name didn’t really give me a clue) but I ended up using a 14th-century style whitework blank that I’d made a couple of years ago.  I’ve been using up some of these blanks, so I’ll have to try to get started making some more at some point!  Vikings AoA 15I like this scroll, especially that I left space for the signatures outside of the framing element – it’s a little different than the standard border that encloses everything.


Lucky 13

August 28, 2015

I’ve been working on a couple of different projects over the last few weeks since we returned home.  One of them I can’t reveal yet since it’s a special gift for a friend and I don’t want it to be public until it’s given – stay tuned for that in a few weeks!

The other quick project is a set of inkle woven bookmarks made to be given as largesse when our local baroness goes to an event in Colorado – the Kingdom of the Outlands.

Outlands BookmarksI made a batch of kingdom-themed bookmarks a few years ago that were smaller than these, about 3 inches long.  These are about six and a half inches and I ended up with 13 of them from one warp of my loom.

Just a basic weave for these, based on the kingdom’s device, which has an embattled border.  It’s always nice to see the pattern develop once the weaving starts.

I have to sit down and watch a tutorial on pick-up weaving so I can branch out a bit.  I took a class at Pennsic, but my brain still hasn’t really absorbed the process yet.

Button & Buttonhole Tutorial

August 14, 2015

After taking a few years off, I taught my self-stuffed cloth buttons class at Pennsic again.  Even though it was at an early time (9am is early for a lot of people) I had eight students and everyone was able to successfully complete a button.  One student who was left-handed did have difficulty with the buttonhole portion, but I’m sure she’ll get it worked out over time.

Unfortunately, the images I included in my handout were not the greatest.  If I’d made color copies the handouts would have been nearly $3 apiece, and that was simply too much to spend.  So I promised the class that I would put my handout up here to make the images available to them, and here it is!

Button Up!

Please note that the instructions here are for right-handed individuals, particularly when it comes to the buttonhole.  Left-handed instructions are available from La Cotte Simple.

If you have questions, feel free to ask!  Making buttons and buttonholes is one of those little finishing details that I enjoy doing by hand when I sew – this is a step that lets me add a little creativity and individuality to my work.

Back to the Real World

August 11, 2015

I know there are a lot of people who consider Pennsic to be “home” – many even say “welcome home” to others when they arrive – but I’m not one of them.  Pennsic is a great vacation and I enjoy it every year, but home is where my bed and my TV and my kitties are.

So we’re back home now, back in the real world.  The Hubs went back to work on Monday and I’m working on doing the laundry (lots and lots of laundry) and getting things back in order.  We have a couple of post-Pennsic projects we are working on, such as some minor repairs to the wooden chests we use every year and I have some garb adjustments to make before moving on to other things.

BootsPennsic was, as it always is, good and not so good.  Super hot the first week (the thermometer in camp hit 100 on Tuesday afternoon) but very little rain.  I was a little disappointed about the lack of rain, since I’d bought new rubber boots beforehand because western Pennsylvania had been experiencing higher than usual levels of rainfall during June and July.  There was a lot of panic over the possibility of mud and several camps were even moved by the land staff because the low areas were not capable of being used.  Ultimately, my boots sat in the tent for both weeks and didn’t see any mud.  There’s always next year!

Camp drama was minimal, which is always good, and I did not have a Pennsic job this year so I could spend my time as I chose rather than being tethered to a radio.  I didn’t do the volunteering I’d planned, other than teaching a class and doing a golf cart public safety shift, but that’s OK.  It was nice to just do what I wanted and there will be other years to volunteer.

So I sat around with friends quite a bit – we had a really enjoyable “craft and snark” group one night – drank more than a bit on a few nights, and went to classes.  I even watched a little bit of the battles on a couple of days, which is something I haven’t really done the past few years!

I took a couple of weaving classes, one on card weaving shapes and letters and one on Baltic pick-up inkle weaving.  The Baltic weaving is interesting and I need to do a sample warp on my loom to try it out so I can fully wrap my head around the process.

I also took a beginning fingerloop braiding class and made a new braid favor for the Hubs to wear on his belt (the old one had been snapped during fighting at some point).  The teachers of this class were SUPER patient with the four young children in the class, none of whom were able to focus and follow directions very well.

A “beyond basics” lucet cord class was also interesting and I learned some new techniques, particularly one for making a two-color striped cord (one color on each side).  Ready for more medallion cords when they are needed!

Reed Basket 1The nicest classes were those taught in camp by a friend who specializes in basket weaving.  I took her class on beginning reed baskets, where I made a simple flared shape.  It was really fascinating to learn how to manipulate the reeds, and everyone in the class came away with their own individual basket shape.  I’m planning to trim down the wooden base so that it doesn’t stick out so far, but overall I’m very happy with my first-ever basket attempt.  We even used the basket in camp to hold some small red potatoes we’d bought at the store, and I saw several others who also made practical use of their baskets.  This was so easy, I’m contemplating an idea for an eventual largesse project!

Needle Basket 1The same lady also made me a gift of another project to congratulate me on my elevation.  One of the techniques she uses is making a basket out of pine needles, which is a documentable method that I may use as part of an A&S entry at some point.  Instead of the white pine needles commonly available in the northern part of the world, she kindly brought along some needles from the long needle variety of tree that are found in southern regions such as Florida.  These are needles that are easily a foot long!  This is a basket that is coiled and stitched together using waxed linen thread, and I had a lot of fun working on this piece over a couple of days in camp.

CupI didn’t buy much this year, though I did end up with a small cup from Please Touch Pottery.  It was only $5, a combination of the same mottled green glaze as the beaker I bought last year with a bright blue on the lower part, stamped with fleurs, and the only one of its kind.  I couldn’t resist!

I also got a new barrette from Circle Works, a merchant selling a variety of hair ornaments made of bronze.  I’ve had one of her hairpins for several years now, as well as a barrette with a fleur de lys coin attached.  The coin popped off earlier this year, so I brought it back Barrettefor repair.  It ended up going home with the craftsperson to try a different epoxy – apparently she stopped making them because the barrette flexes and the epoxy does not so there was a problem with the coins or other attachments coming off.  We’ll see if she can get it to work – if not, I’ll still wear the barrette without the coin.  I got a new one in a different pattern so I’d have one to wear at Pennsic and a little more variety at home.


WoolI had resolved not to buy any fabric, but…  There was a new fabric merchant called Royal Blue Traders who had mainly wool, and I found a fabric that I just couldn’t get out of my mind.  It’s a lovely light wool with a brownish background and a thin blue and green plaid running through it.  It’s so hard to find good wool locally that isn’t super-heavy and I really don’t like to buy online – I want to feel the fabric – so ultimately I did a little bargaining and bought about 12 yards of the material for a slightly reduced price.  There will be at least one wool cotehardie in my future, once I work out a four-panel pattern, and probably something for the Hubs and I was thinking of a Bocksten tunic for me as well.  We’ll see how it goes…

So that’s it – another Pennsic is in the books and now I have to go back to thinking about everyday things like work and grocery shopping and working on other SCA projects.

Last! Post! For Pennsic!

July 24, 2015

Apologies to the Beastie Boys for that one…

So we leave for Pennsic tomorrow morning.  The trailer is largely packed, though we still have to tarp and strap it, and the car needs to be loaded.  We’ll try to get up as early as possible tomorrow to get a good start – we’ll see how that goes.

I didn’t really have any major projects to make this year – the elevation prep kind of took over in May and June, and then my mother had hip replacement surgery at the beginning of July.  Here is the pile of Pennsic sewing for 2015 – mostly white linen.

IMG_1847Three pairs of braies, two shirts, and two fighting coifs for the Hubs, two pairs of white stockings for me, and a Midrealm pale tabard for the Hubs to wear while fighting.  He’s part of the Queen’s Guard this year, so he wanted to be identifiable.  The tabard is pretty standard (white with a red stripe running front and back) but I added the special device for the guard on the front with paint.

IMG_1846I think the device turned out all right, though I’m not entirely happy with the fabric marker I used for the outline.  I suppose it’s probably better on a tighter weave, but it tended to feather just a bit on the linen.  Well, it’s a fighting tabard, so it’s going to get beat up anyway, right?

I also still need to hem the tops of my stockings as well as an old white tunic that I undid the hem to give it a little more length.  I figured I would bring those items to work on in the car while we’re driving to keep myself entertained for a few hours.

IMG_1831I also made a small embroidered pouch as a gift for a friend who is being elevated to the Order of the Laurel at Pennsic.  I used a bit of the leftover silk I had from my own elevation garb, as well as the purple linen for the lining.  The embroidered initial and laurel wreath are done with silk, as is the lucet cord for the drawstring.

Instructions for the pouch can be found here.  These were the easiest instructions for a lined drawstring pouch I found – super simple and not requiring any convoluted instructions!  I scaled down the dimensions a bit based on the size of the silk strip I had to use and I think it worked out pretty well.

So that’s it!  Tonight we will finish packing the trailer and load the car.  Tomorrow morning will just be tossing in the last few odds and ends (like our pillows) and we’ll be off to live in our canvas hotel for two weeks (too many amenities and conveniences to really call it camping).

Elevation Madness, Part 6 – And Then It Sank Into The Swamp

July 7, 2015

OK, so it’s now been more than a week since the actual event and, as usual, I spent the last week thinking to myself that I should do a last update to wrap everything up and, as usual, I kept putting it off, so here we are!

So if you were at Baron Wars you know already that the weather was so bad it was verging on the ridiculous.  It wasn’t completely horrific – the rain wasn’t actually a torrential downpour, it just rained from about the time we got set up on Friday night more or less continuously until we left at about 4 o’clock on Saturday afternoon.  The high temperature was about 65 degrees, which wouldn’t have been so bad if it hadn’t been raining, and the rain wouldn’t have been so bad if the wind hadn’t also been gusting at 30-40 miles per hour.  Ridiculous weather for June!

At any rate, I ended up sharing vigil space in one of the fort blockhouses with my household brother, Sir Gregoire, who is also being elevated as a Pelican at a later date.  Being in the blockhouse was great – not only out of the rain, but out of the wind as well – and it allowed visitors to chat with both of us without having to trek to separate locations in all the mess.

Of course, at the end of the day, water started coming up through the floor of the building, but according to the fort staff that’s “normal”.

IMG_1779So the dress got done with the exception of rolling over the last raw edge of the wool/silk fabric where I added a band of linen at the bottom hem.  I finished that up this week so it would be taken care of.  Overall, I’m happy with the way this dress turned out.  I made good use of both the body fabric and the linen for the trim – there’s hardly any of either of those left.  I have some of the grey silk that will go back to the person that “loaned” it to me, though I’m keeping a strip that I will use part of in a small pouch that I’m planning to make as a gift for another friend.

I finished my new banner in time for the event as well, and I am mostly happy with it though I had a small accident that ended up being not nearly as catastrophic as it could have been.  While working IMG_1761on the large green area, I bumped my elbow on a jack post in the basement and splashed dye out of the (nearly empty) bottle I was working with.  A couple of the drops splashed fortuitously and missed areas that could have been really bad (you can see some of the splash at the bottom near the middle of the fabric.  A little bit got on the small corner where the white and green areas meet, but that kind of blends in with everything, and there’s one small starburst inside one of the white fleurs.  Overall, considering that the results could have been much worse, I am reminding myself that when it’s flying from a pole, no one will notice.
The one serious effect of the weather is that the banner got a little shredded at the end from the wind and rain, so I’m working on rolling the edge so it doesn’t fray any farther.  I really like the way the dragon and pelican turned out.  Watering down these dyes to make lighter colors works really well and let me make the lighter green on the dragon and the grey I used for some shading on the pelican.

Because of the crazy weather, the royalty decided to move court up to 2 o’clock to allow people to leave early if they chose to.  Court was held in the Boar’s Head, a stone building inside the fort.  There was barely enough standing room for everyone to squeeze in, but the atmosphere was great!  You could hear what was being said, you could see what was happening, and the camaraderie and fellowship were really a great part of the experience.

IMG_1767One of the best parts of the whole thing is that some friends made me a coat!  We’ve had this red wool laying around for a number of years – it’s a coat weight and every year I mean to make a coat out of it to wear at colder events, so this was a great opportunity to finally get that done.  They did a fantastic job, the coat fits great and was great to wear after the ceremony (yay, wool!) and has this amazing pelican emblem appliqued on the back in wool and wool felt.  The ladies who made the coat still want to add some silk trim, but ran out of time due to an ordering/shipping snafu before the event.  Still, it is an amazing gift and I’m very proud to wear it and show off the skills of my friends.  I’m kind of hoping for a cool Pennsic this year…

So now I’m a Mistress of the Order of the Pelican.  It still feels a little weird to think of myself that way, and I still plan on continuing to contribute to the Middle Kingdom and the SCA in whatever ways I can.  We’ll have to see what this new status brings.