special projects

Every January our local SCA group hosts an evening of eating and dancing. To help pay for the site, we hold an auction. Usually the tables are piled with cast-off garb, feast gear, books, nicknacks, etc. We don’t generate a huge amount of money for those things. But one year there were several handmade items on the table, which helped to increase the money we made. For this year I suggested we do an artisans auction — all items donated must be made by hand and relevant to our group. My contribution is handspun yarn (surprise!). I have three skeins of Shetland. One is the natural fawn color and the other two constitute my first attempt at natural dyeing in many years.

I started with three pots on the stove. One had alum, one had copper, and one had madder root. While the madder was simmering, I mordanted the yarn along with some fiber. I put one skein of yarn and a braid of roving in with the madder. In the alum pot, I dumped some turmeric and brazilwood. Since there was extra space in the pot I tossed in an old dish towel. After removing the yarn, I dyed a piece of linen fabric. The copper pot got logwood extract and then later I threw in some tin. Nothing exploded and I didn’t pass out, so I think it was okay.

The yarn dyed the best, but what a mess! I rinsed the skeins so many times and still it seemed like the water wouldn’t run clear. And despite straining, I ended up with all these fine pieces of plant matter in the yarn. When I reskeined them, I ended up with a dust pile underneath the swift. But overall they turned out better than I had expected. And you cannot deny the power of natural light in photos!

From front to back: madder root on alum, turmeric & brazilwood on alum, logwood on copper. #Shetland #wool #dyeing #plantdyes #handspun #handspunstagram #yarn
Madder root, turmeric + brazilwood, logwood

(re)energize!

Home again from the annual time-traveling pilgrimage to Pennsic War in Slippery Rock, PA. Each year I long to continue that life when I return home, but it really is impossible. Stop pining away and enjoy it while you can! Purchases this year were typical: fabric, a few new pins, some trim. Nothing wildly exciting. I did splurge on a new card weaving book. When I first joined the SCA, I played around with card weaving a bit. Because I would tie the yarn to my belt for weaving, I found it difficult to travel (or answer the phone or get a snack). Eventually I purchased a small rigid heddle loom that removes these problems. About two years ago I bought a new pack of cards and this year I got a new book. It’s going to happen this time!

When we got home on Saturday, one of the first things I did was dig out my little loom. It was buried in the corner under about 10 fleeces. Since inkle bands are a little easier to jump into, I started with that as a refresher. The first one was rather wonky, the second looked better, and by the third, I wasn’t too bad. I’d like to get a little more consistent, and then I can weave my own trim and straps and thingies galore!

inkle bands
My ultimate goal is to make myself a new belt to fit the new buckle I bought from ThorThor’s Hammer (the best place ever!). In the SCA we tend to rely heavily on leather belts, turning them into the “Batman utility belt” with many pouches and dangly bits. I’m trying to get away from this and going towards a woven belt. Usually when I see them, they are tied in a big knot. I do not like this look. Why can’t I use a buckle? Who says they didn’t? Are there any definitive sources stating otherwise? I’m doing it. But not today.

buckle

 

kickass pennsic!

Another spectacular Pennsic is behind us. Things were different this year, the most significant being the dates. We were moved up one week and required to leave early due to another event that followed. I was not happy with the change, but we still enjoyed the time we had there. Overall the weather was great! During the day it was cool enough that I didn’t have sweat running down the backs of my legs and at night I enjoyed wearing my cloak.

Our camp used to be all about staying up all night and sleeping late. However, somewhere along the way we dropped all the party people and turned into a chatty morning group. Poor Rich! He is the only one left who wants to sleep in and now he can’t because I talk too loud! One morning I got up at 6 am and walked around the neighborhood. It was the perfect time to look at other camps since no one was up yet. FYI: There are a lot of scroungy looking camps!

Front gate

Last year we made the mistake of leaving our sheet wall system at home.  Every now and then we’d have some wandering idiot go through our camp because he/she couldn’t tell that the bridge was the entrance to OUR CAMP and NOT a public through-way. Determined to end it, we had my mom paint a new sign for over the bridge, put up lanterns and attached a rope to block the way (easily moved by those who are welcomed in). Some people may think we are overly cautious about “security”, but we’ve had many issues in the past.

At the bridge

Once you get in though, it’s quite lovely.

Pavilion

Vardo

Camp

We had a new common tent – “Big Blue” as Rich has named it. And it is big. 80 pounds big. This was the first time we put it up, so there will be modifications in the future, but we stayed dry and had plenty of space. Can you tell that the grass hadn’t been mowed in several weeks? It was mid-shin. Where is my annoying neighbor to hassle them? “Why do you let this get so high??”

Common tent

Pennsic is a great place to make friends, but sadly that means you are likely to see them only once a year. Such is the case with these ladies. We met when that little girl was 10 months old. Now she is six. Rich had taken this picture right after they came in and I hadn’t seen them in two years, so that explains the ridiculous Oprah face.

Friends!

The camp has a front and back entrance. Our lovely hand-painted sheet wall panels go across the back since the front of the camp is covered in shrubbery. These are the heraldic representations of our household members. I am a squirrel. Richard is a gryphon.

Sheet wall

Back gate

And that is a quick tour of our camp. I didn’t take any other pictures, not even of my camp mates. When you are there in the middle of it, it is hard to remember to get your camera out. Also, I was using the camera on my phone and then battery died.. sooo… anyway, we have a really great group. It really does feel like a funny little family with each person having their specific role. Hooray for Pennsic. Bringing weirdos together since 1972.

blerg.

You may have noticed things here weren’t quite right for a week or two. We are back up, but all my posts from the month of June were obliterated! Sigh. I suppose it’s not too much of a heartbreak, since I only wrote about five entries. Sadly all my wit and humor is gone for good, but the photos are still available, so here is a little recap of the month:

  • The family went on a fishing trip on Lake Erie. I hadn’t been in a boat for many years and it didn’t entirely agree with me. We did catch quite a few fish, so at least it wasn’t totally pointless.

We caught all these fish!

  • We helped run a Medieval Festival at the Christ Episcopal Church in Warren, OH. Rich and I stayed on site all weekend in our spectacular pavilion.

Ready for Medieval Festival tomorrow! #campout

  • To get ready for Woolfest I spent several days with my new drumcarder, a heap of multicolored fibers, and a marathon of superhero movies.

Carding with Captain America.

  • The new batts came out really great – thicker and more evenly carded.

side-by-side

New batts

  • Rich and I went to Woolfest at the end of the month. It was really fun and I wore one of my new dresses. Summer of dresses is happening!

Here I am at Woolfest. #fibershow

  • We walked around the beautiful Farmpark before the show started on Saturday and took a few pictures including this one of Rich in the arbor tunnel.

Richard

this year it was the crickets.

I am having a difficult time readjusting to “this” life after being Genevieve for a little while. Being at Pennsic isn’t so much a vacation as it is a lifestyle. I can enjoy the outdoors without having to make special arrangements. I get exercise every day without having to make time for it in my schedule. I watch the moon travel across the sky each night. I sleep so much better. I don’t watch TV. Everything I need is right there. It’s so simple.

I hate coming back.

My house feels alien. The yellow kitchen looks so bright. My bed is uncomfortable. I can’t see the sky. And of course I have to get back into my routine, whatever that is.

Remember when I said I didn’t have anything planned for this year? Well, that was true, so when an opportunity to work at one of the merchant booths fell into my lap, I accepted. So from Wednesday of the first week to Friday of the second, I worked at Carolina Calicoes as a “fabric pixie” (that’s what one of the customers called me). Measuring, cutting, folding yards upon yards of linen. It was a great experience and the shop owners were wonderful to work with. At least it was something totally new and different!

I took a few pictures of the camp, but they aren’t very interesting…

pavilion

common tent

vardo

And just to prove there were people in camp…

in camp

in camp

while I’m out…

Since I’m away having a good time at Pennsic, I thought I’d share some memories from years gone by. After looking through Rich’s photo album, I realized that we don’t have any prints since 2005. So this year I decided to buy a disposable camera (with film). I will fill it up and drop it off at the drug store! Plus I’m planning to take the digital camera, although from looking at my Flickr photostream, it seems I’m not even very successful with that.

campfire
Around the campfire at Pennsic 37 (2008)
shadefly
Around the campfire at Pennsic 40 (2011)

packing it up

Just a few days till we board our time machine and head back into the 12th century (or something like that). I’ve been packing up various items such as clothes, shoes, towels, toiletries, bedding, food. I am responsible for everything “in the house”. Rich takes care of the big stuff that lives in the garage.

totes

Before I can pack the stuff that needs to go, I have to unpack what remained from last year. Some thoughts that run through my mind as I pack: what is this? Do we need this? Did I wear this last year? Will I wear it for the first time in 7 years if I bring it? We’ve never used this. Where did this come from? No wonder this box is so heavy, it’s full of metal spear tips. It’s hard to pack light since we take a lot of the camp’s gear, like the shower and water system. This year we have a beautiful new shower floor and fixtures. I’m sure it will be disgusting in mere days (hard water deposits).

Now that all the obvious things are packed, I have to address the most difficult portion: projects. Over the years (9 of them) I go back and forth between bringing lots to do and bringing very little to do. It gets hot there and sometimes all you really want to do is lay around and fall asleep, not have wool in your lap. Other times you’re busy visiting camps and wandering through the merchants. Or perhaps you spend your days in the class tents. But this year my Pennsic friend isn’t coming and there are not any classes I want to go to. So it looks like I need to bring something to do or spend my days lounging. Of course, we are having a few visitors throughout the week that may appreciate a companion, so I’ll probably spend some time with them.

But what do I want to work on? If this is truly a vacation, then spinning and knitting could be considered work, however, I have a few shows coming up. I really need to get some knitting done and I wouldn’t mind using my drop spindle. Perhaps I will bring some yarn and if I feel so inclined, I will feebly cast on and then promptly ignore it. Also, I’ve been reading the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and I will likely spend all day on that. And then there’s the lazy part. Too lazy to pack the stuff and too lazy to use it when I get there…

It’s a mess, but it should keep me occupied. So far I’ve got two unfinished knitting projects; two spindles, one with stuff already going; odd balls of yarn for cuffs; and fiber to spin. I’ll probably bring it all home untouched.

going to Pennsic

another Pennsic project

Rich decided we needed a new lighter bedframe to take to Pennsic this year.
So we spent one day making this:

wood bedframe

It fits a double mattress, or in our case, the futon mattress.
And there is ample storage below for totes.
We were able to fit all the pieces in one bag.
Including the slats.

wood bedframe

And it goes together with these cute little wedges.
Easy to put in, easy to take out, easy to tighten up.
Don’t you want one?

wood bedframe

tunics

Back to that fabric…

olive "helping"
Olive decided to help keep the fabric on the table.

Apparently I have made an unconscious decision that I don’t have any need for new garb. It’s been about three years since I added any new dresses to my wardrobe. I think I’m afraid to cut into my fabric. I have so many beautiful pieces that I don’t want to ruin. Either I’ll destroy it by turning it into something hideous or something that doesn’t fit.

chatty face
The last time I sewed for me, July 2009.

But I have been busy making new tunics for my husband, the Honorable Lord Rickard de Als. His style and size has changed a bit recently, so I wanted to get him some nice new outfits before Pennsic. We decided on the longer length tunics of the 12th/13th century. So far I managed to get an undertunic and an overtunic completed. They are basically the same thing except that the undertunic has tight sleeves and the overtunic has fuller sleeves. Also the necklines are different, but that may have been my own creative license.

finished tunics
Green overtunic and orange undertunic.

The overtunic is finished, but I haven’t finished the hem of the undertunic. I did all of the edges by hand. I’ve started doing more handsewing lately since I learned the rolled hem technique. Good photos here. I still sew all the long inside seams on the machine, but I do the neckline, cuffs, and hem by hand. It’s so thrilling! And it doesn’t take too long once you get the hang of it. Plus it has a more authentic look. Perhaps someday I’ll actually do an entire garment by hand. Someday.

handsewn neckholes
Rolled hem at the neck.