Monday, January 28, 2013

Ursulmas Weekend

It was a laid-back and chilly weekend at the fairgrounds with a few hundred of my closest friends.  Saturday I went solo (no kids) and helped Avelyn set up all the costumes for the static Costumers Display.  She did all of the leg work getting the costumes procured, but I supplied several of them. She was able to gather several costumes from locals in a variety of times and regions, and they brought their pieces on Friday night and early Saturday for us to arrange.  We were mostly successful.

We would have loved to have more dress forms to put the costumes on, but finding available forms is difficult enough...arranging for these things to be picked up or dropped off when people aren't planning to attend or get sick at the last minute--impossible.  The clothes look so much better on a 3-D form than just hanging on a hanger.  That's something to work on for next time.  I would also like us to put together some kind of banner telling them what we are doing--"Clothing Through the Ages"--and some kind of interactive activity for our visitors.  Maybe one of those life-size cut outs with a hole where the face should be...something for the kids...  
We can also open up a corner for others to come and stitch and socialize.  Since we have access to an outlet, we can provide hot drinks to anyone who wants to sit with us, snacks, and a little bit of music when the performance stage is empty.
The unusual costumes included this Japanese kit, a Polish dress, and the Turkish kit of mine.  Each outfit was to include a one-page description of the garment, who would have worn it, when it was in style, and where it would have been found.  Several people came by to ooooh and aaaaaah over the Japanese gear--one guy even offering to buy it.  I said that he could leave his information with me and I would see if the maker would be interested in making a commissioned piece (which, it turns out, he is).  He declined, so then I directed him to Gypsy Caravan who sells costume patterns.  

We were located right next to Thorbjorn "Thing-maker", who carves spoons, makes jewelry & tools, collects gems along the riverside, runs a forge, makes his own know, the guy I want to keep close when the world goes to Helena Handbasket.

This is the front of his booth, which won the best  working display in the Ursulwyk area.  Technically, we are also in that area, but we didn't have enough going on to even compete with the spoonmaker and his lovely daughter.

Across from me was Hroswitha, the blind weaver (formerly the blind bookseller).  She had her loom out and worked on it a bit over the weekend.  She also knits and her hubby does some wood carving as well.  He was working on bowls as well as spoons.

Behind her, to the right, was the stage & performance area.  It had scheduled performances for singers, dancers, musicians, and a magic act (Cammie went to enjoy this on Sunday).

Their Magesties held court and gave out awards, scrolls, and other accolades to various members of the populace.

I brought my weaving to have Gypsy Caravan to sell.  I managed to sell two of them.

Behind us was a couple of people making rope  and yarn out of several different materials.  
Sebastian was making rope using some interesting twisting machine, and beside him a young woman was working softer materials, carding, spinning and plying yarn.

There were a number of merchants there, although it seemed there were fewer this year than in previous years.  There probably was--there was a reduced amount of space available in the main hall now that they've installed permanent bleachers--welded into place taking up all that real estate that we used to use for merchants and activities.  I didn't get much time to wander the merchants at the north end of the hall, but I did a quick walk-through.

We were disappointed to not be able to get rid of the ugly banners hanging from the walls.  From what I understood, part of the deal with the grandstand was that these banners would be taken down, but two days before the event, they announced that they weren't going to be able to do it.  Sorry.  They also didn't clean the floors adequately, so there were big puddles of oil here and there.  Gross.  We have started brainstorming ideas for making big banners and flags to hang from the walls to cover up the "Central Welding Supply" sign.

The next day, Cammie came with me to hang out at the event, and she played a great deal in the Children's area.  She made a cardboard shield, a pair of dipped candles, and a game board with game pieces.  

His Lordship Jason ye Silver-tongued sang and told stories at the stage, which Cammie attended.  Jason was my apprentice brother for several years.  He also recently ended the fealty relationship he had with our absentee Mistress.  
We wrapped up at about 4 pm Sunday and came home.  I made a pan of mushroom chicken, rice and green beans.  

Before the weekend...just to take a step back, I quilted up a customer's quilt.  I had some difficulty with  the back of the quilt, and having experienced this, I decided I needed to write a How-To for customers. This is the visual example of why vertical seams running top to bottom are bad.  The seam provides extra bulk and causes puckers and stretching.  If you don't fuss with it a bunch, you can end up with lots of issues on the finished product.
Here's the quilt top...I love the colors!  The golden fall colors are really gorgeous, especially when set with the black sashing, and the batik border fabric is a beautiful compliment. I did a simple stipple over the whole thing.  I have a bunch of quilt tops in line now, but all of them are for charity.  Five are for Quilts of Valor, and the three others for Seattle Children's.  It'll give me a chance to work on some new quilting designs.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Quick Late-Night Update

I finished up the purple, white and green woven band.  It's 1.5 cm wide and 4 yards long.  I've seen people listing this sort of thing on Etsy for about $45, but theirs are usually 3 yards long, so I figure at $15 a yard, I can charge $60.  Hopefully I can make a couple of sales over the weekend.  I know I have one commissioned piece that will be picked up this weekend.  If I can make four or five sales, I'll be in good shape!

After wrapping up the ends, I warped up another piece using the same pattern, but instead of the 4-forward, 4-back design, it's a 6-forward, 6-back.  It makes a really cool diamond-and-X pattern.

Not a lot more to say about what I'm doing.  Gotta get some paperwork together, some sets of Turkish and Viking clothing for displays, and the weaving stuff to work on while I'm there.  It looks like I won't be doing my Costumer's Guild stuff.  I haven't garnered any judges, and will probably have to make a few adjustments to the documentation and might have to re-make a couple pieces or make different items altogther.  I'm going to bring it with me and have some of it on display, so if it gets organized at the last minute, I'll have it on hand and can be ready to present at a moment's notice.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


It's been a foggy week.  Every day with the fog.  I'm tempted to drive into the mountains just to get above the darn clouds.  Enough already!  OK, the fog finally broke for the "higher" elevations (the valley below us was still socked in, but we got a bit of blue sky here).

With the fog has come cold and frost.  Every morning (at least the school days) I've had to scrape windows.  What's frustrating is that last year I bought an ice scraper and now it's nowhere to be found. I've had to pull out cards from my wallet--zoo membership cards, Costco cards, etc.--to do the job.  I should probably just go buy another stupid scraper.

The long weekend passed uneventfully.  Kelly didn't have Monday off, so it was a day for me to sleep in a bit and then get some of the usual housework done.  Laundry, dishes, more laundry, and even more laundry.  I think I folded six loads yesterday.  I'm still missing two pairs of jeans.  I don't know how these things disappear.  Maybe they're in someone else's dresser and they'll finally figure out that they're not theirs in Spring.  I know it's not in Ben's, anyway.

With Ursulmas just around the corner, I decided I needed to get some weaving pieces finished for the weekend.  The sale of these pieces will help defray the cost of me going to the event as well as the fabric purchases I made for my Costumer's Guild challenges.  I still have a couple left over from last year, did a couple after the last event, and had one on the loom for a while.  This first one I called the Ithra weave.  I had intended to keep this for myself, but the joy of it is that I made it...and I can always make more.  So I decided to finish it up and put it out for sale.  I haven't measured it, but it's about 4 yards, like the rest. This is a variation of one of the patterns I found online called "Acret" (similar to the one below) but I added a few extra cards and did an 8 forward-8 back repeat (turning the cards 1/4 turn 8 times forward, passing the shuttle after each quarter-turn, then doing the same thing in reverse).

This one I quickly warped up and started weaving on today.  I got over a yard done just today, and it's going much faster than the others.  Since it's only 12 cards, they turn rather easily, so I think it'll be no problem to get it done by the weekend.  The pattern is called "Sed"; no idea why.  There's a lady on Deviant Art that weaves a lot of stuff and that's what she called it.  I've done a number of her patterns.  I picked one out that I really liked the look of and actually got the first card warped up before I realized it was for a six-hole card.  These only have FOUR holes.  I don't own any six-hole cards.  I blinked at it for a few seconds, then went to get another cuppa tea.  After choosing a FOUR-hole pattern, I warped up 12 cards of green, white and purple.  This is the first couple of inches...

And this is about a yard of it.  You can see the cards on the strings, and the larger peg with the green bungee wrapped around it is the tension peg.  The tension peg keeps the strings taught.  The bungee is to hold the ruler that I use for my shuttle.  Tres fancy, non?  This is a 4 forward-4 back repeat.  Very simple.  The band is wrapped around the pegs in a giant 4+ yard circle, tied together at the ends...hence, the big, hairy cluster of strings at the bottom of the photo.  That's where I started weaving, and will end about 6" from it at the end.

Girl Scouts was today.  I tried to do a lesson on drawing, but I don't think it was very successful.  I think we a) needed more time, b) needed more assistants--me vs. 12, and c) the girls have had virtually *no* background in shading, perspective drawing, and still life painting.  A couple of them actually knew what it was...that was a start.  I think I needed to a) have a larger drawing board or chalk board to demo on, b) my own ruler, c) more paper and d) a large alcoholic beverage.  Wrap up the meeting with some name-calling and parent-conferencing, and you'll see the necessity for step d).  That took a little time to decompress from, but the parents in the situation were *awesome*!  I can't say enough how well the parent end was handled.  I hope that the consequences set in place make a lasting impression and we don't have a recurrence of this issue.

I have a bunch of work to get done on the documentation for the weekend...and some more weaving...and maybe some sleeping.  G'nite...later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Weekly Update

It's amazing how this blog has almost turned into a weekly update of what I'm doing and where I'm going.  Let's see...last week was really crazy.  Everything happened.  Tuesday was three hours of dentistry where we took Emma to the ortho, got her wires off; took everyone to the dentist for routine cleaning and Emma had her broken tooth worked on a bit more; then back to the ortho to get the wires put back on.  There was only about an hour left in the school day, so I opted to take them home instead, and then take Cammie back for a Girl Scout meeting.  Wednesday was the usual early release and karate.  Friday was CF clinic for Ben, Cookie Rally, and driving to Portland.  Ben's lung function tests were pretty much off-the-charts good, so we have to keep up the therapies and hope that he maintains that good health.

Girl Scouts Cookie Rally was that evening--it was nice that they held it on Friday so we didn't have to worry about going to bed late and being tired the next day.  We partnered up with another troop that ran two booths and our combined troops ran three more booths for money management, poster making and cookie tasting.  A few of them got the chance to put on the cookie costumes and entertain the younger Brownies and Daisies.  They did great!  They even did the flag ceremony and rocked it!  I'm so proud of all these young ladies...despite how goofy the can be...

Right after the Cookie Rally ended, I hopped in the car and drove to Portland for 12th Night.  I thought it was going to take four hours, but given the lack of traffic and higher speeds I was able to shave 45 minutes off that time, arriving at Sharon & Jeff's at 12:15.  We sat and chatted and went to bed around 1:00.  We knew we had to be up and off to the site fairly early to sign in at gate and they needed to be at a 9:00 meeting.  I wasn't welcome at this meeting (for Peers only...I'm not there yet), so I went to the merchants area and looked at the goods.  While I found a few things I liked, there wasn't anything I needed.  I knew I needed to get some linen for upcoming projects, but I also knew I could get a better price online or from Fabric Depot on sale.  I ended up spending most of that hour chatting with new author, KateMarie Collins, a longtime friend of mine.  It was great catching up with her and sharing stories about kids and daily life.  She shared a recipe with me that I'm going to have to's a tortilla soup, although I may modify a few minor things--there's a lot of "can of this" and "can of that".  I'd probably try to put in fresh tomatoes instead of canned.  It sounds delicious, though!

The rest of the event was great, although I didn't get any photos of anything.  I was sitting in a place that didn't afford a good view of a lot of the court proceedings--the Royals, the awards, the swearing ceremonies, the elevation of Laurels and Pelicans, a Knighting, and the Coronation itself.  (I borrowed this photo from Lisa Kelly...hope she doesn't mind since I did a little name-dropping there.)  The new King & Queen have decided to do a German Kampfrau thing this reign.  Funny thing is I was thinking about making some German Kampfrau...but now I don't want to look like a camp follower by copying them.  Maybe I'll stick with the Turkish stuff for a bit longer.
The knights swear fealty with their swords.  It's gotta be a rather unsettling feeling to have all those sharp things pointed at you...I guess it's a trust thing.

I had dinner with Ariel and her girlfriend, Sarah.  I showed her my binder of Costumer's Guild entries, which I was unable to present for the rank challenge; there was no official guild business done at the event.  Not sure exactly why, but I was told that nothing was organized or that the challenge officer had stepped down and wasn't any case, there was nothing going on.  I left all the clothing pieces back at the house (where I was staying...not my house) and just carried the 1/2" binder around with me.  It was small enough that it wasn't a burden.  I was able to share it with a few people who were really happy to see it, especially when they got to the last page and the HOT SOCKS!  At least, that's what Duchess Hludwige called it when Mistress Isolde jabbed her and showed her the photo. Ariel was impressed, too!

We got back to the house at about 11:00 and settled down fairly quickly.  It was a long day.  The next morning, we had breakfast--it was supposed to be a breakfast meeting, but no one showed up for it.  Afterwards, Jeff was thinking about taking the dog out for a run, and I suggested that we go visit Fabric Depot.  Sharon eagerly agreed and off we went!  We found a couple pieces of linen for my Scholar project.  Now that I finished the Journeyman stuff, even though I will have to tweak the entries a bit and be ready to present it at Ursulmas (if it gets organized), I decided to start making Kelly a full set of Scandinavian clothes for him to wear.  I might base them all on the Greenland finds, which should be fun.  I have to teach and write a bunch and do about 20 hours of service to the it'll be a year-long project, I figure.

On the way back from the fabric store, we stopped in for a visit with Mike & Laura and baby Malcolm, and to deliver a special quilt for him, pictured on the bed behind this glowing couple.  I'm so excited!  He's due any day now, so I'm anxious to get news of the delivery.  It was a short visit, but Mike gave us a tour of the house and all the rooms and hallway they've finished up, the progress on the bathroom in the Garage Mahal, and the studio and music rooms upstairs.  It really looks like a comfortable home, and they're pretty much ready for baby!

I took Sharon back to her place, packed up the last of my things and made a deal with her to buy 11 yards of her linen at the price she paid for it--$4 a yard!  Two pieces are 5 yards each, and one is a 1-yard chunk.  She also gave me links to a couple of really great sites where you can get killer deals on linen in different weights.  One of the sites sells 1-2 yard pieces of bolt-ends, so I may be able to get some really great deals on end bits to make costumes.  This works out really well when making tunics--one yard for the front, one yard in the back, one yard for the sleeves...if you're using different dye lots, it doesn't matter so's medieval!  The Bocksten man tunic had different color sleeves than the body of the tunic.  White is even dye lots to match!

A few weeks ago, I ordered a Geomate Jr. to use for geocaching, and I took it out for a test seek.  Unfortunately it was too dark to find it and I didn't have a flashlight, but at least I know that one cache is going to be easy to find!  I thought I'd try to look for a few more today, but I ended up waiting over two hours for a new customer to come by with a quilt top.  It's a lovely fall-colored queen-size.  She wants a simple stipple all over it, which I will be able to finish up pretty quickly.  Tomorrow's weather is supposed to be equally nice, so maybe I'll go for a walk.

I pulled the loom out of the garage and wove a couple of feet of cardweaving yesterday.  It felt so good to work with the strings again!  I want to weave a couple more pieces before the event in 10 days, where I can sell them on commission with Gypsy Caravan and hopefully pay for my gas and weekends...and a bunch of linen I just purchased...  This is one of the weaving pieces that I started some time back and I'm debating whether or not to sell this one.  It was meant to be something for me, but I may go ahead and set it out for sale.  If it doesn't sell, it was meant for me.  If it does, I can always make another one.  Eh...I'll sell it.  I'd like to make one or two more to add to the four or five I have already.

Oh, and yesterday we had a handyman come out to give us a couple of quotes on work we need to have done.  The kids' bathroom needs to have the floor fixed...and we may have some mold under the floor after the flooding.  Kelly took him around and showed him some other things we'd like to get done over time, and while they were talking out front, he noticed that there were signs of water damage under the siding.  I think some of the weatherproofing might have failed on the sunny side of the house...ugh.  Hopefully it will turn out to be minor and inexpensive...but you know it never is.  I'm hoping to get hardwood floors this year and tear up all this worn out carpet.  It's 15 year old carpet that is really only meant to last five years.  Maybe I'll have to seriously consider getting a part-time job just to pay for home improvement and repairs.  I'm barely organized enough as it is...not sure how I'll manage that.

However, having people coming by today got me motivated to clean up a bunch.  I still have to clear off a table and the island, and I'd like to box up a bunch of stuff to take to GoodWill.  Maybe later this week.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

And it's only Tuesday.

I'm down to three days before I head south for the winter...or the mid-winter...or just the present my Costumer's Guild stuff.  For a bunch of details, you can see my SCA blog on that.  There are a lot of words, although it's a bit light on pictures of what I'll be presenting.  I'm thinking that after I present...that is, assuming they'll allow me to present...I can have photos of everything that passed muster and what was lacking.  I'm hoping that I've dotted all my T's and crossed all my I's.

I knew today was going to be rough when I woke up to the alarm, and I reached over pushing every button I could reach to get it to shut up because it's Saturday and I don't need to wake up.  Ten seconds later, I realize my error.  Now not only can I not snooze, having disabled the option for the day, but I will, indeed, have to get up NOW before I get too cozy and fall asleep.  Ah, least I can get a shower in today and not have to rush.  (THERE'S the sunny side!)

Today was an adventure in dentistry and scouting.  Dropped off all the kids at the respective schools by 8 a.m.  Went home and had a quick cuppa before racing around again.  Picked up Emma at 9:30, took her to the orthodontist to remove the wires from her braces.  Dropped her off there and went back to pick up the littles at school and went back to the Ortho.  Went inside and talked with Dr. Ortho for just a moment who asked about the broken teeth and how it happened.  Like he couldn't ask the 15 year old?  Weird.  Stole another lip goop (I do this on every visit--it's the best lip goop in the world and I figure I'm getting my money's worth having two kids in dental appliances and a third one coming 'round the bend).  Took all three kids to the dentist for routine check up and cleaning for them and myself.  We're all good, but it took TWO HOURS.  Oh, and Dr. Dentist did a bit more fixing up on Emma's tooth to smooth it out where he couldn't reach behind the wires--which is why he wanted us to have the wires taken off before the cleaning.  Grab lunch...although Emma's lip was all frozen again from the procedure, so she nibbled.  Back to the Ortho to get the wires put back on.  It's only an hour before school gets out at this point, so I take Emma and Ben home and drop them off.  Cammie and I grab the Girl Scout stuff and head back to school where Cammie goes back to class for 30 minutes.

Girl Scout meeting commences.  We're getting ready for hosting the cookie rally.  It's a lot of rah-rah-rah to sell cookies, but the event will help teach them to make change for customers, learn some good safety tips and how to ask politely (and graciously take no for an answer...NO SNARKY REMARKS!), learn how to ask for donations for the military and other charity gifts (many Girl Scout troops donate boxes of cookies to local food banks and homeless shelters), and make nice posters to draw the customers in.  Oh, and they get to eat some cookies.  Yumm.

On my way home from the first GS meeting, I got an IM that my friend Scarlett was in town visiting another friend, and she suggested that if I had time, I should stop by. She's living in Portland now, but working in Bellevue, so she's staying with friends during the week and driving home on weekends.  Rough gig...but it's a temp job that may turn into something permanent.  If it does, they'll be heading North.

Kelly had to take Ben to speech therapy, and I knew I didn't have much time to eat or cook.  Zip home for a quick dinner of burgers--made by Emma.  I gave her directions to make spaghetti, but she wisely decided that since only three of us would be eating, it seemed a waste to make dinner for 5. Good point.  She didn't make a vegetable, so we had fruit cups.  And we didn't have buns, so we used wheat bread.  Remind me not to buy wheat bread again.  It tastes like dryer lint.

And then...oh, day's not done to the Girl Scout Leader Meeting!  Sigh.  I didn't get to talk to the one gal I wanted to about the cookie rally.  I'll have to send her an email.  No biggie--I just thought I'd try to corner her while I had her in front of me.  After an hour at that meeting, they started to play some kind of Girl Scout Jeopardy with the safety manual and volunteer guide.  I decided I really didn't need to be there for that, so I snuck out.

I was able to stop by and visit with Scarlett and Elizabeth for a little more than an hour.  It was great catching up.  We vowed to try to get together more often.  It would be great to do that...she'll find out if her job is being extended very soon...hopefully in a day or two.

Gotta sleep fast...another busy day tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The week after...

So the Christmas holiday slipped on by.  When you last heard from me, we visited Uncle Don and Marjan, who had an open house.  We saw a few other rellies there, too, but went for the big visit with them on Boxing Day.  We spent the day there, exchanging gifts, eating turkey, and getting told to shove it...ah, happy memories!  The week following was spent kicking back, going to the movies, and working on some projects.

I don't really make resolutions anymore.  I usually break them within two days, so I make general guidelines for what I'd like to do this year.  My thought this year (not exactly a resolution) is to walk more and use more "whole" foods, especially for lunches.  I don't really like the little frozen meals, so I think I'll see if I can come up with a bunch of lunch recipes--fruit salads, chicken & feta salad, low-cal but filling sandwiches, etc.  More fruit and veggies, less crap.

On the business end of things, I got the new part for my long arm, a "roller encoder", part of the stitch regulator system, which was covered by the warranty (which I had to renew) but would have otherwise cost me...

...TWO HUNDRED FOURTEEN DOLLARS AND NINETY-NINE CENTS!  For a piece of plastic!  I was concerned because it's smaller and a different shape than the old one, but I was happy to see that it fits and works great!

To celebrate, or perhaps just to make sure it worked, I put this quilt on the frame and quilted it up.  This needs a binding on it and it's ready to pass on to its new owner, a young boy who isn't even hatched yet...whose name, according to rumor, is Malcolm.  "Mac."  I think I'll have to give him a nickname better than Mac.  Like Micky MacMaster.  My brother's name is Mike.  His wife's maiden name is Master.  Makes sense to me.

Here's the coat I finished a couple days ago.  It needs some button closures, and I need someone to help me fix the hem (the lining is longer than the outer part of the coat), but otherwise it's ready to wear!  I am happy with the pattern pieces, although I think I've proven that I need to adjust the length, so I'll have to put the muslin pattern back together again and have someone mark the length for me.

Today, Cammie and I went to a Geocache that I had visited once before.  We admired the frosty cobwebs on the greenery on the way.  She brought some swaps to trade for goodies in the bucket.  She chose a small kitty toy and left a yarn zombie behind.  There weren't many swaps in there.  Maybe next time I'll bring extra swaps to leave behind.

Two of the kids go back to school tomorrow--the older one doesn't go back until Monday--so after I drop them off, weather permitting, I'll see if I can find a couple more Geocaches.  I had gone to look before, but my GPS was so poor, it got me within 20 feet of it...not quite close enough to narrow it down.  I did find, however, if I enter the GPS coordinates into Googlemaps, it'll pinpoint it exactly on the map.  Or at least, I think so.  Tomorrow will be the test to see how close it really is!