Tool for the job

I have a lovely hunk of russet rusty wool fabric. It’s a bit tweedy, there’s not a whole heck of a lot of it, and it’s been living in my stash for a very long time. (Like.. a good 20 yrs sort of long time.) Recently (for some values of recently), I finally realized that its a rather lovely size for a wrap at camping events, and it’s wool and warm and when one just wraps the whole length around themself one doesn’t have to end up with any bits of this lovely wool gone to waste. Perfect.

It’s also been at least a couple of years and I haven’t bothered to hem the two raw edges. <cough> It’s wool, so it’s hardly going to fray terribly, but seriously. A quick consideration of stitches, and single fold with herringbone came out as the winner. Wool thread, doubled for strength (it’s still terrribly fragile stuff), and off I go.

Except the damnned thread loves to break. I was using a good thick embroidery needle to give some space for the thread, but the wool abraded it something fierce. But wool singles are perfectly period for sewing? What gives?

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Bone needle. A friend suggested I try the bone needle I have, just to see. It’s comparatively huge, but the woollen fabric doesn’t even blink at nudging aside and nudging back… and not a single break in the rest of the hem.

Tools for the job. They work! And now, my woollen wrap has its raw edges all finished, one less thing on the to do list!


Casual Knowledge acquisition

It’s an odd thing to consider, all the times that you are settled somewhere and there’s conversation going on around you. It happens all of the time at events, especially when someone is obsessively embroidering in advance of Kingdom A&S (hypothetically speaking). It is sometimes conversation you’re a part of. It is sometimes conversation that is happening that you know nothing about. It is always fascinating.

I feel as if I should clarify here, that I’m thinking specifically of geeking out A&S conversations. This is not a musing on sitting around listening to gossip, especially overhearing gossip. Look up at the blog title. Adventures in A&S. Right, focus here.


I spent yesterday at a most delightfully excellent Twelfth Night event, full of silly and chatter and conversation (and not even all that corrupt mayoral elections! Well only a leeetle corrupt, ish. Nothing to see here.) I got to spend a lovely chunk of time sitting and embroidering listening to conversations go on around me. A couple of bards geeking out about medieval poetry forms, a topic that might as well have been in greek for all that I understood not a word of it, but their enthusiasm (and lamentations) had a familiar cadence. A conversation about the care and feeding and tips and tricks from someone new-ish to sewing from a very skilled seamstress. That last conversation came to mind today when I sat and fought with my sewing machine.

My feud with sewing machines (and sergers) is well documented. There’s a whole lot of hate/hate going on, and I routinely curse and lament that all machines do is let me screw up faster! Still, conversation just yesterday let me quickly work out what the machine was kvetching about today. (Which then required taking it apart to fix a broken part of solve, but that’s a whole different point. I may also have argued that I never have trouble with bobbin tension when I’m handsewing!)

A longwinded way of musing upon casual knowledge acquisition. Someone else’s question that I happened to be present for the answer for yesterday, saved me a whole lot of grief today. It’s amazing, truly, the little tidbits of information that we pick up when we’re not really noticing. Totally worth not walking away from conversations that aren’t in your field, you never know when they’ll come in handy!


Happy New Year!

Good morning Sunshines!

(It’s always morning somewhere, just run with it.) Welcome to 2018! This is one of those times when the big picture was fairly miserable, but the little picture was pretty good, so I’m going to focus on the little picture. It really felt like I got nothing accomplished (handwork wise) in 2017, but when I look back at my projects, I think it is more that I got nothing big and flashy accomplished. So because I’m all retrospective, I’ll drag the 3 people who still read my not regularly updated blog along with me.

One of these years, I will make an effort to write down what I finished over the year. There was a time when I did, and those are awesome to refind years later (with projects I completely had forgotten about listed!), so perhaps 2018 will be the year I do that again. This year, however, is memory and photos and ravelry notes.


Knitting: 8 snowflake ornaments, 2 lace bookmarks

Crochet: 6 snowflake ornaments, giant lace art panel for flying mosque

Dyeing: Scattered silk skeins of weld and indigo, a swack of cochineal playing


Weaving: tablet: turquoise trim, blue and gold silk, sheepy trim, double weave samples, brown trim

4 shaft loom: leg wraps

Bobbin lace: 9 pin edging for camica

Sewing: cotton/silk camica, 3 apron dresses, 2 linen shirts, bodice muslins (lost count), linen underdress.

Misc: Naalbinding samples, dozens and dozens of jars of canning.

Hunh, not bad for what was, to my mind ‘not much of a productive year’. There has been a lot of other stuff that was worked on, but not finished, so doesn’t make the 2017 list, but should be on the 2018 list! (Like how I somehow finished no embroidery in 2017? That feels wrong, but plenty of work got done, certainly.)

2018 has more knitting, more crochet, more embroidery (lots and lots!) and zomg more sewing. I’d love to tuck more dyeing and weaving and spinning in there as well, but we shall see!

What does your list look like? Any surprises?


There are a lot of steps to a project that many (myself included) don’t actually recognize as being part of the process. They’re the boring stuff before you get to the good stuff. The REAL stuff. In my brain, I always seem to assume those will take just a blink and then I’ll get to the chunk of the project that I love.

Ahh ha ha ha ha. Yeah. Laugh. You probably should point as well. Really, that’s bloody delusional. Even I think that it’s ridiculous when I stop and think about it. Yet, I find myself resenting the time it takes to wind a warp, sley a reed, thread heddles. I find myself grumpy at waiting for fabric to be pre-washed, at the tests and trials and muslins. That’s just preamble, I can’t wait to get to The Actual Craft ™.

It took me three days (around work and social and sore and life) to measure out thread, wind it onto a niddy noddy (which irritatingly went missing and required a hardware store trip), tie all my figure 8 ties and get to where I could consider getting this thread wet. Make notes, do plenty of math. No colour yet, just ready to get wet.

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Weigh out thread. Weigh out mordant. More notes, more math. Simmer and soak and rinse. No colour yet, just ready for colour.

Weigh out dyestuff, crush it, weigh it again, soak it. Simmer and filter and simmer again. Colour, but not on your thread yet.

Dunk in thread, simmer and wait and squeeze and dry and eventually wash and dry and admire. Colour! On thread!

Dear brain, those are a lot of steps that aren’t part of The Actual Craft ™, you are on crack. Enjoy the process!

Snowy Challenge

I do more handwork than just SCA handwork (although precious little these days), but one place I still indulge is with a bit of lace knitting. (A few eyelets in 16th century knitting does not lace make, alas.) I know I will need ornaments for a lace exchange coming up this winter, and decided to make a well loved and favourite knitted snowflake pattern. (You can find it on Ravelry, of course. It is not a beginner pattern. It is fussy and requires a certain confidence in your stitch manipulation that takes some time to have. Not hard, per se, but requires some deftness.)

I’ve made it before in size 10 (aka super normal run of the mill available everywhere size) crochet cotton. This time I used size 30 and 2mm needles, as I wanted something smaller. Which was fine, it’s a perfectly nice snowflake, but still a bit big. So I got out the size 100 cotton and the 1 mm needles and then we fell into crazytown. I’ve been ‘accused’ of using sewing thread to knit with in the past, so I included it for scale in the picture of the threads. (Sorry that the thinner threads are hard to see, photography is not amongst my skills.)

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See? Totally bigger than sewing thread!

Knitting with size 100 thread is a stunning pain in the tush, and I loved every second of it. It’s thinner than anything I’ve knit with before, and I am going to say that a tiny fussy lace snowflake was a spectacularly stupid place to try it first, save that I love that little pattern and it’s short, so it was worth it. The two snowflakes are exactly the same pattern, with exactly the same number of stitches, only the thread and needle size is different.

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Now I just need to decide if I’m going to give both of them away, or if I’m going to keep one of them for myself!


I have been bitten by the weaving bug something fierce, which considering quite how many non-weaving things are on the project to-do list is a little distressing. (Some of this might be productive procrastination from the to-do list.)

I had help from a friend getting the warp on, it was a mess (note to self.. learn how to not make a mess of the warp getting it from warping mill to loom.), but we got there.


I snapped threads all over the place (vintage wool singles. It happens), and the first snapped warp thread I thought I was going to cry. I clung to my beginner book instructions and followed each step as if I was doing CPR and a life depended on my skills. (Fortunately, this was not actually the case.)

By the end of the warp, a snapped thread was a brief grumble, and a quick repair and back in business. My tension is a little wonky, and sometimes my beat isn’t even. Some of that will come out in wet finishing, and some of that will live forever as a ‘this is a beginner piece’ memento.

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Now, I have the weaving all done, and the ends woven in. It needs a bath, and hemming, and to be made into leg wraps for my best beloved. It feels good to finish a big challenging project again. Now I need to hurry though the to do list, so I can do more weaving!


Queen’s Prize Tourney, for those who don’t obsessively follow A&S events in every kingdom. A novice tourney in that only those with an Orion or no A&S award may enter and they require a sponsor to do so. The sponsor must have a Crucible (Grant level A&S award) or a Laurel and provides a token prize, as well as mentorship on the project.. however that looks. The prize (almost always) goes to someone who is not their sponsoree, which basically means this is a glorious Oprah Winfrey style of prize giving. (You get a prize! And You get a prize! And YOU get a prize!) The prizes are not supposed to be epic, they are a ‘hey, thanks for coming out’ little something.

Failures are welcome. Unfinished pieces are welcome. Pieces that you have gotten stuck on and need advice on are welcome. Masterpieces that you are super stoked and proud of are welcome.

The ‘judging’ is face to face and is specifically less about critique and more about discussion and coaching and generally becomes a glorious geekfest between the artisan and the three or so people who are knowledgable in that field. (or at least interested.. anyone can judge and many entrants are also judges.. myself included.) There are no scores. There’s no judge form where you have to come up with something to say about the details of the piece. You get to spend half an hour or so discussing what they loved, what went wrong (in some cases, what went horribly horribly wrong), and next steps. Sometimes folks want and need a lot of direction on next steps, sometimes we all just get to be super stoked on where the project is going next.

And yet, so many of us stress about it. Is our work good enough? Are people going to politely smile and privately think ‘goodness, I really thought his skills were better than that’? Are the judges going to be mean? What am I going to say for a whole /half hour/!? Is it perfect? It’s awful and no one is going to tell us that it’s awful.

Reminder literally taped to my work monitor.

It is brutally hard to tell the brain weasels that whatever you’ve got, at whatever stage its at, is alright to peek out. It’s your creation, it’s part of you and letting others into the process, which is often more failure than success, is HARD. It’s making yourself vulnerable. It’s admitting that you’re not good at something (or for some people, it’s admitting that you ARE good at something).

Samples pack small.

My naalbinding samples and I will be at QPT tomorrow. Little bits of things, with wonky parts and tension that can’t figure out if its coming or going, and a whole section that is starting to look pretty good, dammit! Like most people there, it’ll have a hidden side order of vulnerability and humility tucked under the documentation, peeking out warily. It’ll get showered with advice and love and creative energy from all sides, and it will be glorious. And I’ll even get a prize.


I have plenty of it, although it’s not polite or fashionable (especially as a woman) to admit it. Mine generally comes in the assumption that I can put string in its place. That in a battle between string and me, I will win. Be it in weaving it, or braiding it, or knitting it.. no matter what, I will triumph.

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Weaving after the initial fight.

And I will, eventually. I have with everything so far (There are things I am not as skilled at. There are things I don’t enjoy, but I get the basics eventually). Every time, however, I forget how hard the trip to get to the basics was.

I’m trying to work on my naalbinding for QPT, and my arrogance is biting me in the tush. I learned the very bare basics at Pennsic, and decided that of COURSE it was string, it’d be a walk in the park to get something done that I was happy to show at QPT.

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Before I made a mess of it.

Ha! The universe is laughing its arse off at me for that one. It’s a struggle for every stitch, and my QPT entry might yet be a smouldering heap of charred wool after a fit of pique. I’m quite sure that regular servings of humble pie are good for me at the very least!


Preserves (w. Onion Jam recipe)

Pardon the brief foray into modernity for a moment, but this seemed like the best place to stick a jam recipe that I’ve tried, rather enjoyed, and has been requested a few times. In theory, I can find it here again. So if you want period recipes, just avert your eyes and move along, but my SCA tasks were paused for an epic canning day. (Sour cherry jam, sour cherry jelly, cherry chutney, zucchini relish, lime marmalade and the one that everyone wants the recipe for: Caramelized Onion jam)

Caramelized Onion Jam

4 heads garlic

1 tsp oil

5 cups chopped onions


3/4 c cider vinegar

1/2 c lemon juice (bottled)

1/4 c balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 tsp ground mustard

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

6 cups sugar

1 pouch liquid pectin

Cut top off garlic heads, drizzle with oil. Bake at 400F for about 30 mins. Let cool.

In a dutch oven, saute onions in butter/oil for 30 – 40 mins until nicely browned. Squeeze roasted garlic into the pan, and stir in vinegars, lemon juice and spices. Bring to a rolling boil. Gradually add sugar, stirring constantly. Return to a boil for 3 mins.

Add pectin, bring back to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, skim foam as needed. Pour into hot jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Cap and process for 10 mins in boiling water bath.

Makes approx 7 – 250 ml jars.

Busy day!

Thinky Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, sorry about that. There’s been more doing than writing about doing at least! There’s also be a lot of big thoughts, and questions, and as always, not nearly enough answers to said questions.

I’ve been working on a secret project that I can’t share yet, but provided me opportunity to refine skills that I’ve only recently been building. Apparently even under a deadline, I’m still a perfectionist, and that’s slow. Frustrating, but part of life, I suppose. It’s a pride thing, and I suspect that I’d of been less of a perfectionist on something made for myself than for someone else.

Possibly a perfectionist for me too.

I’ve had to face the reality that my ‘wanna do’ list and my energy levels have very little to do with each other. I struggle eternally with trying to pretend to myself and the world that my chronic health concerns don’t give me pause. There’s the warring desire to present a facade of ‘I got this!’ and the reality of having to admit that sometimes, the day/week didn’t go as planned, and not enough got done and that the evening of laying on the couch with a hot pack wasn’t just lazy.

HG Kitty went visiting!

Which is a longwinded way of saying that I’m heading into a baronial event weekend without finishing everything I’d hoped to, and trying to have a zen moment. Because at the end of the day, there will be people, and laughter and singing and sharing and it will be so much more than the embroidery I didn’t finish, or the regalia that didn’t get updated.