This probably should have been a Tuesday post, but clearly I haven’t quite gotten to that whole ‘twice a week’ posting thing yet. Granted, this week is not the best week to try that sort of thing in.
Anyhow! Fool 2017. Fruits of our Labours, an all weekend A&S practicum camping event and basically my idea of amazing all in one cold and wet package. (cold and wet optional, but we had both this year.) There’s teaching and learning and early morning coffee (when the stove isn’t protesting the temperature and we notice that the coffee has actually brewed) and sleepy late night ramblings, singing in the tavern when its too cold and wet outside (complete with construction paper campfire). There’s creativity EVERYWHERE and you come home with a sense of:
Which is a pretty awesome place to be, all things considered. I didn’t get to embrace the classes and teaching as much as I’d like this year, there was a lot of mental space being taken up with court and plans and a new position and Crown Tourney this weekend. I did manage to teach a class on painted floor cloths, and take a spinning class (Scottish spindles, and I sucked at it. My spindle went home with someone else, and good riddance), and do some drop in classes, and take a bread class. (Must feed Fred, come to think of it. Must FIND Fred hiding in a fridge full of Crown dinner prep). A group of people took rock and smelted iron out of it over the course of two days, which basically means I hang out with alchemists. Damn.
It certainly made doing my 100 Days of A&S really easy for that weekend, that’s for certain! Now I’m back to stretching skills (but it’s a surprise for someone, so no preview pictures).
I’m still toddling along on my 100 days of A&S (Yes, the hashtag looks like 100 days of sofas which makes everyone happy #100daysofAS ), but as it reads like an ongoing battle between shirt sewing, eyelet making and knitting, it’s not that exciting to report.
More interesting is that it’s purpose is to build habits. Little bit a day, gets it into the routine and makes it automatic. A small group of us decided that A&S is already solidly in our habits (seriously? 100 days of A&S is still like telling me I need to breathe for 100 days in a row. Well /duh/), but we could all use a little less chaos in our homes and decided on 100 Days of Home. Same rules (10 mins is the baseline, a little is better than none), although as one’s home is not generally quite as portable as A&S is, use your judgement on camping weekends.
Of which this coming weekend is the first! (Look at that smooth segue. XD) Fruits of Our Labour is this weekend. It’s a weekend of camping and practicum and while I know that I say all the A&S focused events are ‘one of my favourites’, I think Fool might be my favourite. It’s relaxed, there’s classes, there’s camping and time to sit and talk and everyone is a buzz with learning new things and you get to watch the Ah ha! moments spark all /over/ the place. I love every bit of it. I’m leading a discussion on painted floor cloths, and hoping to drop in to a few classes (I’m not signed up for anything, I learned early that I love the casual roaming and talking too much to overcommit) and of course bringing enough projects with me that we could be stranded there for a month and I wouldn’t make much of a dent in what I have with me. Still, one needs options! (Specifically weaving, knitting, embroidery, and whatever other random crap is in my basket)
My garb challenge was accepted by the Fian (see earlier post for a description of what that is), so after we survive Crown (stewarding the event) this blog might well become all garb, all the time. (possibly with a whole lot of hate for eyelets. I hope to come to terms with them eventually, but this is not that time.) I have no illusions that I am going to have garb I’m happy with on the first attempt. It’s iterative progress, and I’ve got a few more chunks of crappy clothing to work through before I start being happy. (happier). Crappy garb, ahoy!
The 100 Days of A&S challenge has been toddling along. I haven’t been updating you guys with a post a day because… well, this is what it’s looked like:
Day 9: Knitting and sewing on lace
Day 10: Knitting and sewing on lace
Day 11: Tablet weaving and knitting and a return to the sewing mines.
Day 12: Sewing and knitting. (Alright, that’s today and I haven’t knit yet, but I will soon.)
You can see that there’s a whole lot of knitting in there. It’s my portable project, so it’s what comes with me to work for lunch hour handwork. (What? You don’t have a lunch hour project?) As it’s the small gauge stocking project that only gets worked on at lunch hours, there could be something said for how long it’s going to take.
The sewing has transitioned from my camica (done! Even the lace! Not perfect, but for my second attempt, it’s better than the first one, which is the important thing!) to Penn’s shirt. I’m still on a high of ‘I didn’t screw it up!’ from my camica project, so even faced with confusing directions I’m still on a ‘yeah! I got this!’. Which is good, cause there’s new stuff in here. Hopefully Penn wont’ hate it when I’m done. (Sorry, forgot to get a picture of the shirt. Picture a pile of white linen. There ya go.)
Which, to be fair, I should have been updating since day one, but my last post was up to Day 5, so you’ve only missed the weekend.
The weekend looked like a heap of white fabric, as I attempted to hand sew a camica in a week. (NB: That’s a dumb idea, don’t do it. My hands aren’t really speaking to me.) As I started it last Sunday, in theory a week would have been yesterday. That didn’t happen. I should finish it today (possibly tomorrow, depending.)
As I downright pined for something with colour, and as a giant foofy camica for someone of my size is entirely not portable, I also managed to get some knitting in. I figure I should have lovely knee high Eleanora stockings for sometime in the 2020s at this rate. (So once the unending sea of white is done, I should have an unending sea of green.)
I came across this notion a couple days ago, and knew what I was going to write about for my Friday blog post. Baroness Ameline of Rowany in the Kingdom of Lochac has set out a challenge. It’s a challenge to her barony, presumably, and her kingdom, and but in the era of social media, these things sometimes go rather further afield and catch the attention of the Knowne World.
Her challenge is 100 days of A&S, and it’s based off the notion of a century drill as a combatant might do. At least 10 minutes a day of A&S, for 100 days. She suggests starting over if you miss a day. There’s a hashtag for it (#100daysofAS), and of course, now there’s a FB group for it too.
When a friend from Aethelmearc mentioned it to me, her words went something like ‘of course this would be like telling you to try and remember to breathe every day for 100 days in a row’.. and she’s not wrong. I’ve been trying to get in the habit of not sitting down at the computer with my morning coffee, but sitting down at something creative. Sometimes it’s the lace pillow, sometimes the inkle loom, sometimes its sewing. Me and a podcast (or two) start the day. (Current projects are largely fueled by the History of Rome podcast)
I’m on day 5 (yes, I did backdate a smidge, but I’ve done A&S every day since March, and I wanted to start on May 1, cause it sounded nice!), and every day so far has been chemise sewing. Close your eyes, picture a big pile of white fabric with little white stitches. There. That’s been my five days of A&S so far. (I am so sick of white.)
So I took the plunge and submitted a proposal to the fian group again. (Challenge order in Ealdormere, go read about it here.) My last attempt ended in a haze of stress and fakery (stress was mine, the fakery was not mine, but the item I was trying to copy.) This time, I took a step back and looked at my own skills and the places I needed to suck it up and acquire myself some accountability.
It’s fairly well sad that I do so much stuff with string, but cannot clothe myself. I know there are people who enjoy doing it, but I’ve never really given it a good solid try. I get frustrated because I suck at it, and then I (metaphorically) table flip and stomp off and shove it in a corner forever. (I never claimed it was a mature or reasonable reaction). So for the next not quite a year, I don’t get to leave it in the corner forever. I have to pull it back out and actually make myself learn from my mistakes and screw ups and frustrations and either fix it, or do it again. Probably both.
The fian hasn’t accepted my challenge yet, so it might yet change (or be rejected completely, but none of the questions coming back have implied that they hate it), but I kept it simple. (I’ve a couple other things going on in my life over the next year.) One late period linen dress and chemise. Probably Venetian, possibly English. Hand sewn and entered into KA&S 2018 for feedback.
There’s a lot of challenge in what sounds like a super simple fian challenge. I don’t cope well with stuff I don’t ‘get’ quickly. I have to face a lot of body image challenges in clothing myself. It’ll be good for me, even if I’m not expecting it to be a ‘fun’ challenge per se.
I also reserve the right to start bribing (begging, bartering, paying) other people to sew all the rest of my garb forever more after KA&S 2018. <grin>
This is either a bonus Tuesday post, or a ‘pretend this was last Friday’ post. Take your pick. 🙂
We spent the weekend at CostumeCon 35. Our second CostumeCon (the second time its been in Toronto, what a coincidence), and while the last one was a little overwhelming (in a good way) and we spent all our time in panels cause we basically knew a couple people there slightly, this one had such a different feel.
Now, I’ll put forth here a reminder. Garb is not my A&S. My sewing skills are adequate, but require someone to say ‘sew from here to here, go’. My tailoring skills do not exist. Making things fit on bodies is a miraculous mystery. Making things fit on the body you intended? That there is black magic and probably required some sort of shady deal in a ritual circle.
It is for costumers of all stripes. From ‘I gathered up weird crap at thrift stores to look like X’ to ‘I obsessively and lovingly recreated my favourite character down to the last rivet out of pop boxes and glue’ to performance art in wearable form to historical recreations and every permutation and combination therein.
It’s the sort of place where walking up to someone and gushing about their wings/boots/embroidery/seams/laser gun/skirt is normal. (Not so different from SCA in that way). It is also the sort of place where you walk away going ‘I CAN DO ANYTHING!’ (okay, perhaps just me). Reality will kick in later, but for now the inspiration to make amazing things wildly outstrips my actual skills.
The funny thing about skills, however, is that you can gain those. Some easier than others, but it’s possible. The trick is not to let the gap take over. I suppose I have some sewing to do.
I know the blog is called ‘Adventures in A&S’ and that generally implies that the handwork in question is at least vaguely SCA period appropriate. Not so much this time. I’ve been working on a bit of knitted lace, and that’s solidly post 1600 by a couple hundred years. (A few eyelets in a stocking does not lace make, don’t even try. If you want to debate it, bring your sources and I’ll be DELIGHTED, but so far? No dice.)
In any case, in a moment of questionable wisdom, I signed up for an exchange on a lace group I’m part of. The requirement was a bookmark, any style of lace, in the mail by June 1. (When I signed up, I didn’t realize that May would contain ALL THE THINGS, nor did I fully process that ‘in the mail by June 1’ meant ‘finished in May’ and not June.) It is not an SCA lace group, it’s not even an historical lace group, which means I could indulge in my original lace love, knitted lace.
Knitted lace is often the red-headed stepchild of the lace world. We’re new (only a couple hundred years of history), our lace is generally pretty accessible, and as most knitters consider lace weight yarn to be ‘rather thin’, the lace is coarse by bobbin lace standards. (Don’t get your knickers in a twist, a well knit lace weight wool shawl is just stunningly ethereal and gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not the same sort of thing at all.)
Which is how I ended up knitting two bookmarks. One is at a fairly typical knitted doily gauge (Perle 16 cotton on 1.5 mm needles) and the other is at something closer to what I might use for bobbin lace (60/2 silk on 1.0 mm needles). Knitted lace looks like a curled up pile of dental floss before you block it, see?
A quick bath and a little bit of thread bondage later, everyone looks much better.
Generally most pieces once they’ve been dried all pinned out are willing to stay. (I think they’re scared to move by that point.) Even the silk was willing to play along and stay put while they got tasselled.
Amusingly, when I went to get the foam cushion I do most of my small piece blocking on, I pulled it down from on top of the shelves in the craft room and found a doily pinned out on it. That I have no recollection of knitting, nor blocking. So hey, bonus doily!
Now I just need to get the bookmarks in the mail and get back to work on everything ELSE that has a deadline. It was a lovely little diversion though.
There’s always some sort of handwork that is just pure comfort. Much like comfort foods, when you’re a string person, there’s some flavour of project that relaxes rather than frustrates, that your fingers do automatically and it soothes the savage beast. For some this might be crocheting endless granny squares. For others, it’s knitting socks, or cross stitch or inkle weaving. For me? It’s knitted lace.
Someone on FB very aptly put it as ‘this has been a week of Mondays’, and it feels that way. Nothing dire went wrong, but nothing amazing went right either, and the ‘this will never end’ endless stream of white in all my current projects on top of spring snow and I couldn’t face it anymore. Break out the comfort knitting.
Fortunately, I can mix deadline work with comfort knitting this time. I need to have a bookmark out for a modern online guild exchange by June 1. The original plan was to use this to kick myself into progressing further in my bobbin lace, but best laid plans and deadlines and the Universe laughed, as it is so very often wont to do. Modern guilds, however, mean that my lace options open up dramatically and voila.. a knitted bookmark it shall be.
I figured I’d do a quick poke before I designed my own (if one can properly call the plan of ‘pick a nice edging, knit that until its long enough’ much in the way of design work), and found a rather lovely german pattern Blumenlesezeichen and some bright pink thread.
(Because someone will ask: Finca perle cotton No. 16 that has been in stash approximately forever on 1.5 mm needles)
I’m about 40 rows in (don’t be too impressed, the rows are only 27 stitches long) and I feel better already.
These are moments when I muse on exactly what I’m using this blog for. Merely to present projects? Commentary and random thoughts? There’s approximately three people in the world who peek in now and then, so the reality of it is that I’m posting for me. My projects tend to be very long and slow, so if one is waiting for good progress pictures to post, or finished items, I’ll never post much of anything. Commentary and random thoughts, it is! Just scroll to the bottom if you’re here for project pictures.
Ealdormere had its Kingdom Arts & Sciences event this past weekend. It also happens to be my anniversary event. (I maintain that if I’d started at an event that wasn’t KA&S, where I didn’t walk into the room and pause and go ‘I have found my tribe’, I might not have stuck. I’m very grateful that I did.) I’ve entered pentathlon the last two years, and after winning last year, made a conscious and deliberate choice not to enter this year. (Then I had a miserable winter and didn’t get anything accomplished, so thanks Past Me for somehow knowing I wouldn’t have anything to enter anyhow.)
We had 9 pentathlon entrants, which considering I was one of three and one of four adult entries in my two attempts seemed like a lot of pent entrants. This year each pent entrant was assigned a previous winner as a mentor to bounce questions off of (or in my case, to bother my entrant with questions about her progress). For some, it was probably entirely irrelevant if they were well familiar with pent and KA&S, I would think that for those entering for the first time, it would have been awesome. I know /I/ would have welcomed a mentor to keep me on track in that crazy last week or so when I was entering. There’s something far less intimidating about asking a single person who has agreed to be helpful stupid questions rather than posting stupid questions online. Maybe it’s just me, but I prefer to keep my stupid questions fairly well contained.
With that many pent entrants, the other entrants were a little thin on the ground numbers wise. As always, the quality of entries just blows me away. A&S is so often done at the kitchen table, in the work room, the basement. Some of us are fortunate to have portable projects (or forcibly make our projects portable), but the vast majority do not travel well at intermediate states, so there’s no preview of what folks are up to. (Other than, of course, some of us who overshare on social media. I’m pretty sure some folks out there know my projects better than I do.)
I will say that there was copious amounts of quality, but for me.. no one piece stood out as ‘wow, I can’t /even/ on how.. what.. I got nothing man’. Some of that is purely that I’ve now got a good handle of what to expect out of the artisans of this Kingdom, and I’m sorry to say, but you guys have set the ‘mind blowing’ bar really high. Some of that is that my own skills have evolved to where I can go ‘I see how that goes together. I mean, I cant /do/ it, but I know where to start (20 yrs ago would help), so I can admire your skill properly’. Which is WAY better for appreciation, but a little less on mind blowing. I prefer that, actually, if the truth be told. I would far rather appreciate the skill and talent with a level of comprehension rather than just be slack jawed mystified.
It did, however, have the usual effect that A&S events have upon me. It was more subtle this time (possibly the screaming my joints were doing drowned it out a bit), so I didnt feel the hum of creativity while I was there. Afterwards, however? The next day? Even now, four days later, The List is on fire, and the ‘omg, I wanna try!’ is strong. The plans for fian, or next year, or the year after are thick and plentiful. The glorious and delicious bit of project planning, when anything is yet possible, and there’s no ‘middle third’ slog yet weighing upon you. When you’re like ‘oh yeah, I can TOTALLY fit 5 yrs worth of projects into six months, and whip up a new late period outfit by the weekend!’. That is the magic of A&S events.
And then the reality of deadlines crashes down, and you sit at the lace pillow and count up the repeats left to go (118 as of posting) and you content yourself with just writing down all of those wonderful plans for /later/. June perhaps. Just in time to think of a QPT project.