Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Scrap Box and Fiber Expo

Last week I went to The Scrap Box in Ann Arbor, and I get it now.  I've had a lot of people tell me how awesome this place was, and it's totally that awesome.  If you're a crafter (or if you have kids who like craft projects), you need to go visit this place.  I should've taken pictures when I was in the store, so I could show off all the neat things this place has.  It's full of all sorts of craft supplies, and they are all really, really cheap.  Here's the pictures of my loot!

I got a bunch of sheets of plastic mesh, because it's good for stiffening the sides of fabric bags, and I need to make a bag for my loom.  I recently used it to make a basket for Snow's (a 16 month old) dolls - I'll post pictures soon.  When I bought these sheets from JoAnn's for that project, the sheets cost me ~$6-7 for 4 or 5 sheets, if I remember correctly.  At The Scrap Box, they were a quarter each.

I also got five sets of knitting needles, as a friend of mine runs a knitting club at her school, and always wants more needles to give the students.  They were $1 each.

There were also a ton of wooden buttons!  I paid good money for wooden buttons that are similar to the large stained ones below for my steampunk breeches (which I also have pictures of and need to post...).  These were $2 for each bag.  :)  So awesome!

They had a bunch of sample tiles of varying thicknesses.  These ones are about 4 inches to a side, and about a centimeter thick.  I bought them with the hope that they will hold up the pounding of leather tooling (where you impress patterns into leather by hammering on them with special tools).  If they work, they will be wonderful for teaching a class on leather tooling in the SCA.  They were $1 each.  If they don't work, The Scrap Box also had five bigger slabs, which were about an inch thick and maybe 6 inches long and wide for $2 each, and I will go back and buy those (if they're still there).  Those slabs were much, much heavier, though, and I'm hoping these sample tiles work!

And then for my big haul - a lot of leather!!!!  These are all nice size pieces of leather.  I got twelve pieces for $15 - anywhere else, this much leather would have cost at least three times that much.  At least.  Two of them are red, which is always helpful as my barony's colors are red, white, and black.  These aren't initially my favorite kind of leather scraps, which usually involve the edge pieces (I like the raw look to the edges), but a lot of them are really nice thick black leather that would be really good for making shoes.  As I'm looking to get into making shoes at some point, I grabbed them all up.  This kind of thick leather is often expensive when I can find it, so it's pretty exciting.  $15!!!  Jeez.  So cheap.  I will definitely be checking back here periodically for more special finds like this one...

A couple weeks ago I also stopped by the Fiber Expo, which is one of several yearly fairs that revolve around all things fiber-related.  I was originally looking to buy another loom, but none of the merchants had the one I wanted.  Instead, I stumbled across some beautiful sheepskins.  As I was petting them, the shop owner mentioned that one of them was for a really good price as it has a worn spot in the middle of it.  My friends who were with me were complete enablers, and I went for it.  This beauty is now sitting in the hallway in front of my bathroom.

It's so luxurious.  You can't really see the worn spot in it, but it's in there - probably about the size of one of my cats curled up.  But the rest of it is so wonderful that I don't care.  I love walking on it with my bare feet, and I even occasionally will curl up on it on the floor myself.  Surprisingly, my cats don't appear to like it.  They love the other sheepskins in the house, which are really short (they are just kind of fuzzy, with no long hairs coming off).  This one, though, they tried for a bit, and now they even walk around it on the edge of the hallway to reach the bathroom.  I did manage to snap a quick picture of Kobold after I set him on it before he bounded away, though.  ~Kel

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Stone inlaying in leather

Oooooo, guess what's in the box!!!  So excited for this.

Stones!  I bought beautiful stones from the Etsy store DNA Gems.  The owner was very prompt and kind in our correspondence before purchasing, too.  The item was listed as five green agate triangles, and I saw them and immediately thought "hey, those would make a great triforce."  Some of the stones looked somewhat yellow, so I asked the owner to send me the most yellow ones he had!  Not only did he do that wonderfully, but I asked if he could add a sixth (seeing as how I could make two triforces, then) and just adjust the price a little, and he included it for free.  :)  If you like gemstone beads, check him out!  He's also currently having a sale for 20% off everything with a purchase of at least $10 if you add the coupon FALL20 at checkout.

Aren't they gorgeous?  I'm going to inlay them into leather and make an awesome something-or-other with them.  Probably a pouch/bag of some kind.  Any ideas on what I should do with them?  For inspiration, you can always check out the ever-amazing Les Cuirs de Belfeuil - he's the one who's inspired me to try stone inlaying.  :)

I also bought these big sheepskin jasper beads.  Have I mentioned how much I love jasper?  I don't think I have.  Well, I love jasper.  So many amazing colors and patterns.  In August I found a few pieces of my favorite jasper (which I've seen called jasper wood and desert jasper).  I'll have to post some pictures of them.  Also, if I ever manage to find my rock collection (which I hope is still buried somewhere in my parent's home), I can finally have my original piece of jasper wood from my childhood... *sigh*  Anyway, these sheepskin jasper are also from DNA Gems.

Here's a few random rocks and copper pieces I bought up at Da Yoopers Tourist Trap in August, with the idea that they might be flat enough to do some inlaying.  This was before I discovered (two weeks ago!!) that I really should be looking for stone *beads* to find the large flat stones.

And the reason I discovered this?  Because an awesome bead and hand-made jewelry merchant that is always at the SCA events I go to: House of Chaos Productions!  I was wandering past their tent and saw these large, flat stones... turned out to be beads!  The holes were hidden because they run along the length of the stones, and they are perfect for what I want to do.  :)  I immediately bought strands of the two kinds they had (they had many other beads, but they were smaller).

Here's my first stone inlaying into leather!  Unlike Les Cuirs de Belfeuil, I've started with non-veg tanned leather.  For my first piece, I cut out a diamond, and placed the stone between it and another piece of leather and sewed around the stone.  I added a second ring on the inside for decoration.

That turned out pretty neat - I think the pouch is pretty awesome - but I wasn't completely satisfied with the raw edges of the leather showing by the stone.  What do you think?  On my second project, I cut the middle cross-lines in the center of the diamond (from point to point across), and then turned the triangles under and sewed them down.

It also finally occurred to me to add a quarter for sizing, rather than trying to put everything in my hand.
Here are the two next to each other.  The two pieces are the same color of leather, by the way - I need to find a better place in my house with more natural light so I don't get these shadow effects.  Actually, I need to learn a lot about how to take better pictures before I start taking pictures of my goods for the eventual Etsy store... 

That's my adventures in leather inlaying so far!  I've also been playing more with leather burning recently (pyrography), and it might work to just burn the inner edges of the diamond so the edges near the stones aren't raw.  Something to try!  I've managed some neat effects with leather pyrography recently, and I will try to post pictures soon!

Let me know if you have some awesome ideas on what I should do with a leather triforce or other stones.  :)  ~Kelly
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Monday, November 4, 2013

Rapier Peerage Thoughts

This post concerns the proposal to create a peerage for rapier in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA).  The proposal is found here:

The Board of Directors of the SCA is soliciting commentary from the membership on this proposal, and this post is my current draft of my thoughts on the rapier peerage (I may revise it slightly if others convince me to change aspects of it). Comments on the proposal are due by December 1, 2013.  I implore all people to send in their comments, please.  If you agree with anything I say here [or if you don't], PLEASE send your comment (you are free to copy and paste from my post if you want!) - the more people supporting the peerage and, I think, my thoughts on them, the better.  :)

To send comments:  Please use the title "Additional Peerage Proposal" in the Subject line.  Email comments to or mail them to SCA Inc., Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036.  Again, they are due by December 1st, so the end of this month!!

Rapier Peerage Thoughts
Birke die Jägerin
Midrealm Rapier Fighter, Pentamere Regional Rapier XO

First: I fully support having rapier fighters become peers.  It takes a lot of skill and prowess to be a top-notch fencer, and they deserve recognition.  So I think a peerage of some sort for rapier fighters should definitely occur.

Second: There is the issue of whether a fourth peerage for rapier should be created, or whether rapier fighters should be allowed to join the Order of the Chivalry/Master at Arms.  I can see the arguments either way.

Arguments in favor of joining the Chivalry/Master at Arms:
  • All of the martial arts could be together, similar to how all the service arts are under the Pelican and all of A&S are under the Laurel.
  • It recognizes that rapier and heavy are both accomplished methods of fighting for different time periods and scenarios, but both requiring similar levels of skill, leadership, dedication, and service.
  • A slightly varied proposal to clear up confusion of “what’s your white belt in?” and have us be slightly separate: Have rapier fighters join the Order of the Chivalry/Master at Arms, but with different livery.  Same title, same order, but a different livery depending on how you got the peerage (see my section on regalia later). 

Arguments in favor of creating a fourth peerage just for rapier:
  • Heavy fighting and rapier fighting, while both requiring great skill and martial prowess, have quite different cultures, in ways that A&S and service don’t have separate and distinct cultures as a whole, so it makes some amount of sense to have separate peerages.
  • You wouldn’t have to ask “what’s your white belt in?”  (Though if rapier and heavy are merged in the Chivalry with different regalia, this wouldn’t be a problem.)
  • We could have different regalia that is more fitting to the rapier community (see my section on regalia later). 

This still leaves out the question on where to put archers, equestrians, etc, if we decide to let them into the peerage in the future.  I am strongly against any plan to put rapier, archery, equestrian, etc, all in a fourth peerage separate from the Chivalry.  This smacks of “separate but equal” treatment, in which all other martial activities are considered secondary to heavy fighting, so they can all have a peerage together but heavy fighting gets its own peerage all to itself because it’s “better.”  Heavy fighting and rapier are more similar to each other than rapier is to the other martial activities, since they are the two arts that are direct combat against opponents.  This is a separate issue than the one being currently discussed, but I think it is important to consider, as I can see archery gaining enough popularity to become peerage level in the future (the others are questionable due to level of activity).  I just want to make it clear that if we do make a fourth peerage for rapier instead of allowing fencers to be knighted, that I feel it needs to be a peerage only for rapier, and not the peerage for “rapier and later maybe other martial activities.”

Third, I will address the specific points put forth for the creation of a fourth, separate, peerage for rapier.

Name and Title

Proposed: Name: Order of the Masters of Defense. This name is patterned after the London Masters of Defense, a royally charted guild of teachers of fencing in England. The name is compatible with period naming practices for secular orders and is free of conflict with currently registered items in the SCA Ordinary and Armorial as of June 2013. The title for a member of the new Order would be Master or Mistress of Defense.

My thoughts:  I love the name of the Order – Order of the Masters of Defense is pretty great.  But I really hate the idea of the title of Master or Mistress of Defense.  I understand that in the period Masters of Defense guild that Master was the highest title, but I don’t like how it smacks of “separate but equal” again.  It feels like the Chivalry gets its own title, and everything else gets to be Master/Mistress.  Plus, I really wouldn’t want to be a “Mistress of Defense” someday if I got to peerage level in rapier – frankly, it sounds too much like a dominatrix to my modern ears.  The rapier peerage is a martial peerage, and it should be given a title that is martial, similarly to the Order of the Chivalry having the martial title of Sir/Dame.

My changes:  Make the title either Provost (for both genders) or Sir/Dame, because these are more known to be martial titles.  I know there are lesser positions currently using the title Provost, but they are below Peerage and not Society-wide, and therefore can be changed by the individual Kingdoms who use them.  Sir/Dame is reserved entirely for martial arts, specifically heavy fighting, and would note rapier fighters as martial artists also (edit: this would be a great compromise between those who want one martial peerage and those who want different peerages: have the rapier peerage be separate, but all martial peerages have the same title of Sir/Dame).  The livery and order name can note us as different from heavy fighter Knights.  Or change the title to another martial title, say Knight in other languages such as Ritter.  But I really like either Provost or Sir/Dame.


Proposal: Badge: Three rapiers interlaced in pall inverted proper. This badge is intended to be representative of the various aspects of weaponry included in the new peerage.

My thoughts:  None.  This is fine.


Proposal: Regalia: White or silver livery collar with badge of the Order depended from it. This form of regalia was in fashion throughout the later part of period, roughly contemporaneous with the appearance of swords identifiable as “rapiers.” It is gender-neutral, and is intended to be easily visible on the field of combat, much like the regalia of Knights and Masters at Arms. Note that white or silver livery collars without the peerage badge pendant would not be in conflict.

My thoughts:  I have several different thoughts on this.

About the white/silver livery collar itself:  I like the idea of the livery collar.  I don’t like that we have to also have the peerage badge on it, and that a plain white or silver livery collar could mean something else.  Knights don’t need to have anything on their white belt in order for them to be seen as Knights, or Pelican proteges anything on their yellow belt.  We should give the same consideration to the rapier fighters (again with the “separate but equal” icky treatment).  If anyone is currently using a white or silver plain livery collar, that’s their individual issue to sort out, just as anyone who wants to wear a white or yellow belt but isn’t a part of those Peerages can’t.

The Purple Scarf Regalia:  Other peerages have several items of livery each:  knights have spurs, white belts, gold chains, and a sword; laurels have the laurel wreaths, medallions, and cloaks; pelicans have cloaks and medallions/symbol of pelicans.  I think the rapier community should have several different items of livery, too.  In this manner, I strongly, strongly argue that a rapier peerage needs to have a scarf, too.  A colored cord or scarf tied to the upper left arm is synonymous with rapier fighter and has long history in the rapier community (red for cadets, white for White Scarves, bronze for Bronze Rings, various other groups having their own colored scarves).  To have a rapier peerage without a scarf seems highly disrespectful to our history as a community.  To my knowledge, purple isn’t a color used widely for scarves in the rapier community, and it is a color that was associated with high nobility in period, making it perfect for a peerage award.  So I put forth that, in addition to a white/silver livery collar (with or without the badge, I say), a purple scarf on the left upper arm also be made part of the official regalia of the rapier peerage.

And that’s what I have so far.  Any thoughts?

Thanks for reading. 

~Birke die Jägerin, Midrealm Rapier Fighter and Pentamere Regional Rapier XO
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Monday, October 28, 2013

Taking things slow again: more ramblings about grief

It's amazing how little can set off grief again.  Actually, sometimes it's still weird calling it "grief," because that just brings to mind me sobbing or being pointedly sad about something to do with missing DeForest.  Grief also just plain means things that are often associated with depression: a general lack of energy, or inability to make myself do things, or an anxiety spiral in my head that leads nowhere.

I had a meeting on Friday morning.  I got a couple fewer hours of sleep, had to beat back my anxiety about not having much to say about my progress (it's always hard, because others in the lab are doing so much more, to not freak out about how small my accomplishments in the lab are), had to get myself to the office, and had to sit through a 1.5 hour meeting while trying not to make it obvious that I just didn't care what anyone else was saying at the time.  It's actually an amazing contrast from before - I used to be there, asking probing questions about things I didn't understand, making sure I knew what was going on, offering feedback, and Friday I just sat there, quietly, doodling, not wanting to ask questions because I just wanted it to all be over with and trying to suppress the shame of that.  I know I love science somewhere in me, but I also know I just need a break right now, to give it time for that love to come back and to allow me to focus on the things in my life that are bringing me joy.

And even though, objectively, this one meeting wasn't that much - before grief, it would just have been a minor "urgh" in my life, but no big deal - it's made me much slower for days now.  I meant to post to the blog on Friday again (even had a post with pictures already in it!  Just needed to add a few words!), but I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Saturday was an all day SCA event.  Sunday was a fencing demo at the library and a visit to the local fiber faire, but that only took a few hours and I thought that maybe I would post Sunday evening, but I was exhausted by 7 pm and couldn't bring myself to care.

Today, I didn't wake up until almost 1 pm, and barely have managed to feed myself today, and spend some time dinking around the internet.  I didn't feel like posting something randomly happy, so I thought I would talk about grief again.

Grief isn't just sadness, though there's a hell of a lot of that mixed in there, too.  Grief is being taken down and kicked backwards by stupid little things, and it's impossible from the outside to tell what will really hurt someone's progress and what won't, because it all has to do with a weird balance of how much internal emotional energy different things take to do.  Want to learn a little bit about how much effort it takes to do things?  Read this article on the Spoon Theory.  It does a good job of explaining one side of why some things take so much energy to accomplish.

I was talking with one of my friends today about needing a break from work (I use school and work as the same concept, because they are for me right now), and she said something I thought was great:

Me: Before [during the first year of grief], I would work until I cried and couldn't do so much, but I was crying and feeling shitty all the time, so feeling shitty at work didn't make that much of a difference. Now, I'm at the point where if I take things really, really slowly and don't do much, or just do the things which give me energy (crafting, gaming, seeing certain friends), I can actually feel somewhat okay for periods of time. School messes with that and is adding stress, and I can't cope as well with it for now. It's kind of weird that I could handle work more when everything was worse. Before, work made things worse, but things were already so bad that I didn't notice much, and in fact, sometimes things were fun at my job, so that was nice and a relief occasionally. Now, it just exhausts me and the difference in myself is much more noticeable.

Friend: It's not really very strange. Most of the time, work is routine enough that you can get into a zone. You still feel like shit, but you have enough responsibility that you can keep from crying. A lot of people will work through the first stages of grief and then need a break from work when they start healing enough to start taking an interest in the things they used to like to do. It tends to get in the way of this new step in your recovery where there's still a lot of pain, but you've healed enough to want to find fun in things and remember how to live. I'm glad you're healing enough to be open to that step - it's one of the hardest steps in the grief process. Some people never open up to that step.

She put it so well: there's still a lot of pain, but I've healed enough to want to find the fun in things and remember how to live.  That is how I've felt the last couple months - that I just need a break from everything, to just do the things I love so I can slowly build up the energy to tackle my chores and eventually be able to do my job again.  I'm doing the hard work of remembering how to live right now, and that needs to be my focus.

All of this talk about things being bad, about how I've been absent from the blog and not caring about a lot of things because of the effort of one meeting - I also want to make clear that I'm amazed at myself and my progress, too.  Because I've done a hell of a lot these last few days.  I went to an SCA event that I remember from last year as having mostly just hung out and occasionally sobbed through.  This Saturday?  I went, and I laughed a lot.  I didn't fence, but I got training done for becoming a marshal.  I made two items for my not-yet-opened Etsy shop, trying new things that I think are awesome.  Sunday: I went to a fencing demo and actually did a few passes and had a good time, and then went and bought myself a new sheepskin (oh my god it's so furry and wonderful), and then I felt like crap all evening, but I also did my first ever leatherworking with a stone inlaid.  (It's quite an adorable pouch, if I do say so myself.  I hope to take pictures soon and post them.)  

So the last few days have been in many ways harder again, and I'm having to take a lot of deep breaths and remind myself a lot to TAKE... IT... SLOW... and try to let go of anxiety.  It works in some moments, and not in others.  It's hard to remember to take each day as it comes, and to try and enjoy what I can each day.  But it's helping.  I'm meeting with a student advocate on Wednesday to discuss my options for temporarily leaving school (like a medical leave).  I'm hoping that meeting goes well.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Nerdy links day!

It's been really fun the last couple weeks, starting to save all the cool things I find on the internet in order to share them here (and not on just random posts on Facebook, though to some of my friends there these will be repeats).  I've started to save enough links to start to divvy them up by topics, so some links days might have themes!  Today's links are all to things I find awesome in a nerdy or intellectual way.  :)

The first link is to this great video that shows the science of motion beautifully.  It is posted by the Facebook group Beautiful Engineering.  It's under two minutes long, and I promise you it will mesmerize you after the first 25 seconds (which are needed to show the set-up).

For my weaving and/or historical friends - here's a post about an extant piece of tablet weaving from 13th or 14th century Estonia!  Actually, now that I'm looking around the site more, I might just need to keep reading other posts, too...

Ever wanted to know what a man's face looks like in 457 mph wind?  Well, now you can!  "Test conducted in 1946 where a human subject was exposed to blasts of air. The test was performed at NASA Langley Research Center's 8 ft High Speed Tunnel."  

I found this video from a fantastic website by Randall Monroe, the creator of the XKCD webcomic ("a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language").  The website is called What If?, and every Tuesday he answers a question from his readers about a random topic in the most scientific way possible, going through his thought process along the way.  I love reading it.  This particular video was linked to from the question "If winds reached 500 mph, would it pick up a human?"  His answer is thorough and amusing, as always.  I strongly recommend this site - though possibly not when you have a hard deadline coming up soon, because it will suck you in for a few hours.  :)

Heeheehee... this next one just makes me giggle.  You can now Rickroll someone in Klingon.

People who have toddlers in their lives and love to play D&D!  This dad made up a way to DM with your toddler.  I love this article.  It sounds like tons of fun.

This next article just blows my mind.  There are languages that exist that don't have concepts for numbers.  What??  It's just so interesting!  Go read and have your mind blown.  

This tumbler site also makes me laugh.  It's entirely about people in movies/TV/etc that don't know how to pipette correctly.  Scientist friends of mine - oh, go check out thatsnothowyoupipette for lots of laughter.  Also, if anyone is interested who doesn't know how to pipette, I will gladly point out what people are doing wrong.  Heehee.

Michigan now has a Dark Sky Park!!  How neat!  I wonder if I'll get my butt in gear to go see this sometime.  You know, like how I got my butt in gear to go camping on Lake Michigan, like I was going to do last month...

Finally, I just want to give another shout-out to my friend's Kickstarter for her movie!  If you like indie fantasy films, check it out - it's almost funded, and she would love your help.  The screenshots all look amazing (check some of them out in the Updates section of the Kickstarter, or on her Facebook Page for the film).

:)  ~Kelly
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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

More thoughts on blog updates

Meh, that's enough blog updates for today, unless I get really inspired later tonight.  What do you think so far?

I added a picture to the sidebar.  I think it's an awesome picture of me in my fencing gear.  Then again, you can't see my face, and maybe it's weird for people showing up to look for crafty things to see a picture of me holding a fencing blade.  Any thoughts?

I changed the sidebar description a little, added a link to my Pinterest boards, and updated the labels gadget to the "cloud" tags form, which I think is *much* prettier and more functional (not this stupidly long list on the side with numbers next to them).  I can't express how much I love this tagging form.  The frequency I use the tag shows up in the size of the word, which is both visually appealing and able to give information quickly (I can see what kinds of things I post about without having to do lots of searching!).  And, it's so compact - I can add as many tags as I want, and don't have to worry about that loooong list of tags cluttering up the sidebar more and more.  I could go on.  :)  Here's where I got the code.  Thank you!!

I've also been working to add tags to all my posts the last few days, so that things are easier to find!

Changes that still need to be made:
- actually add stuff to the "about me" tab (currently called Craftling Lore).  Pictures of my cats, some tidbits on projects I like to do and my skills, maybe...
- research blog headers, and make a nice header that shows off some of my crafts and what this blog is about
- make the darn top of the sidebar and top of the posts bar LINE UP.  I hate that the date doesn't have a background, so it looks like the posts start a centimeter below the sidebar.  Grr so ugly.  I probably need to switch templates in order to do this, which *might* mean that I lose all the changes I've made today.  That's annoying, but something I can fix more quickly now (especially as I know how to backup my template data).
- see if I can figure out how to fiddle with the spacing between gadgets on the sidebar.  I don't like the large gap between some of them, but couldn't find <br> in a glance through the template html, so it must be more complicated than that.
- add a "blogs I follow" list to the sidebar.  I follow a lot of blogs, and some of them really give me great ideas and a lot of joy in reading, and I think I should share that with others!

Those are all my thoughts for now.  I have a bunch of my favorite blogs who also use blogspot open in tabs, to look at for inspiration on further changes.  If you have any ideas, please leave a comment letting me know!  Thanks!  ~Kelly
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Doing some blog updates

Hi there!  I'm messing with some things on the blog layout today.  It's making me re-learn HTML that I haven't touched since running my Neopets guild all through high school (that guild was so much fun).  I haven't really been satisfied with the blog layout since I made it - it's not the prettiest thing in the world - and I'm slowly working on fixing that.  It might be a while until it's really fixed, but there's a lot of learning and tweaking to do before then, so I'm okay with that.

Anyway, I don't know how to upload photos to use on the blog if I don't put them in a post, and I don't currently have a photo site like Picasa.  I'm playing with adding an image to the sidebar.  In order to do so, I'm going to upload the image on this post, and then have the image url to use.  Does anyone have a better idea of how to get images onto the internet?

Nevermind, it just occurred to me to search how to upload photos to blogger.  Well, that's done for now.  On to the next fiddly bit to learn...  ~Kelly
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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More baby SCA clothes!

A few months ago (wow, back in April), I made a couple sets of baby/toddler SCA clothes for some dear friends of mine.  They have a young one and very little help taking care of her, so I hadn't seen them much and I was hoping to lure them out to SCA events by bribing them with clothes for the wee one.  It worked!  I saw them at two local revels this summer!

I made baby Viking garb, since it seemed the easiest - just a couple T-tunic shift dresses, and a little apron dress to go over them.  The unseen seams (side seams, etc) are all made using the sewing machine, but I hand-stitched the hems.  There are a few reasons for this: first, because I like hand stitching, and it was calming and nice to do so on something so small - very quick to see fun results!  Second, it made the simple garments that much prettier.  And finally, it's so the hems would be very easy to take out.  I deliberately made the clothes adjustable so that they would hopefully fit her for a long time.  The hems are HUGE.

First, a little apron overdress!  It's made out of a random orange fabric I have in my stash.  I have no idea what this is made of.  It feels like a synthetic.

Second, a linen underdress!  The neckline is finished with blanket stitch.  I love blanket stitch - it keeps edges from fraying so well, and it's so pretty and easy!  You can see how huge both the bottom and arm hems are.

Another underdress!  This one is a linen/rayon mix.

Finally, pictures of the wonderful girl!  The clothes are still a little large.  The neck of the tunic can be pinned with a safety pin or viking brooch, but it had to be made large to fit over her head.

Who can resist that face?  I sure can't.  :)  ~Kelly
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Monday, October 21, 2013

Struggling with questions

I've been struggling again, the last few days, about what to do with my life right now.

Gavin Aung Than over at Zen Pencils has illustrated part of a speech made by Bill Watterson.  I want you to take a moment to go read it before finishing the rest of this post.

I've been thinking over the past few years about how my ideal life would be something in which I could do something with science part time (actually lab rat research [love working with my hands at a bench], or translation into clinics, or working with STEM outreach for young people...) and be able to do my crafting/art part time.  I don't need *tons* of money.  I don't want the six figure (or near that) paychecks that could come with having a full time research position.  I can happily make do with a lot less than that.  It would mean sacrificing on some things - like having my dream home, etc - but it would be worthwhile in order to be happy and be able to spend lots of my time focusing on the things that matter to me.

I know this dream fluctuates some, depending on circumstances: for instance, I was thinking that I was willing to do a full time job in order to be able to support DeForest and give him good things in life.  I struggled with the idea that I would have to be the breadwinner in that relationship for a while, but I also wanted to be able to give him wonderful things, as he gave me wonderful things.  Being with him made me realize just how wonderful having a stay-at-home partner was.  Just him doing a couple hours every couple days - most of the grocery/goods shopping, the laundry, the dishes, cleaning the bathroom - made it so that when I came home, we could have fun together.  I did a lot of the cooking, but didn't have to do the dishes.  I swept a lot, tidied things, and occasionally vacuumed, but he did the scrubbing of the kitchen and bathroom when it was needed.  It worked out so great.  There's a part of me that would love to be that partner - that I could help support my person by doing some of the household chores, and making things for the family all the time, and making sure that people were happy.  I love making the people I love happy.

I get so many conflicting views on this from people.  Some people encourage me and say that it's completely possible, and I should work on following this.  Other people scoff and say "don't we all wish something like that?" and imply that I should grow up and live in the real world.  But I follow a lot of bloggers, and many of them are making a living by crafting and blogging, and I wonder if I could do that, too.  I wonder if there are part time positions for people who are highly trained in science and engineering.  I wonder at the idea of having a partner who would be happy to support me being happy, and then I wonder at the idea of putting part of my dream life on the idea of finding a partner who had the mix of steady paycheck and free time for me (I know they exist.  I know people in my life who have just 40 hour a week jobs that pay well and have flexibility).  I see comics and messages like the one above, and I want to shape my life to be the one I want.  My partner dies, and this is just solidifies - if life can be so short, I should live it doing the things I love and being with the people I love.  I understand buckling down for some periods of time and working hard to reach a goal - I worked my ass of in undergrad, the last two years of it very unhappily, too, to get meet my goals of having that degree.

Just... a lot of questions right now.  Grad school sucks sometimes - a lot of the time, right now.  Grief sucks the majority of the time.  Together... it's hard to figure out what the answers are, and what emotions are coming from what.  Maybe I do just need to take a break for a while, and things will start to make sense.  For a time, at least.  I do understand that these existential "what to do with my life" questions don't ever fully go away.  I'm hopefully meeting with a student advocate soon to chat about my options - a friend recommended her as being awesome and really supportive of all choices, including leaving if it's the right option for me.  I just don't know what's going on, and it's scary.

Maybe I'll go make a skirt or something now, to take my mind off of things.  First, food.  Need to eat today.  Food is good.  K.  Yep.  Getting up now.  Going to try and make today enjoyable, at least.  ~Kel
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Baby SCA Tabbard

Hi!  I've now officially been sick for over a week.  Woo.  It's not so awful anymore, thankfully, but I'm still coughing and producing more mucus than a person should be able to, ugh.  I got a lot of little things done today, though!  I made some nummy food (and took pictures, heh - I might put them up on the blog), refilled the hand soap bottle in the bathroom, and added tags to all my blog posts!  You can now find blog posts by topic on the sidebar.

A friend of mine is having a baby in December (so soon!), and I made her her first piece of baby SCA clothes.  *grin*  It is a little baby tabbard!  It's based on her clan's (household) crest.

The two sides of the tabbard are identical.  I made it entirely from fabric in my stash.  As I had very little black left and plentiful red, I lined and bound the edges with red fabric.  I marked out crenelations evenly on a piece of paper with a ruler, and then cut them out of the black fabric.  The red bottom half I left a little too long.  I laid the black crenelated edge over the red fabric, overlapping them a bit, and then used a tight zigzag stitch to sew the black crenelations down onto the red piece.  Then I used a tight zigzag with white thread to sew the star down over it, using several pins to hold the points of the star where I wanted them to be.  I made the front and back pieces identically and sewed them together at the shoulders.  Since this was so small, I figured it would be really annoying to try and turn inside-out, especially through the shoulder region.  So I sewed the lining piece to the outside wrong sides together close to the edge, and then bound the edges with bias tape I made from the same red fabric.

I also made inkle woven trim for the ties!  Instead of a white star (which would require pick-up weaving and a band that is way too thick for ties, anyway), I bound both edges in white.  Not only does this tie in all three colors of the crest, it also meant that I could use a white weft and have it blend with the edges.

If I remember correctly, here's a pattern for how I warped the trim.  The first two rows are your heddled and unheddled rows (the other four are to visualize the pattern on paper).  Start in the upper left corner as your first strand (either heddled or unheddled - doesn't matter as long as you continue to alternate throughout), and then zigzag back and forth across to the right on the first two rows.

This was a really fun and quick project to make!  Aren't baby SCA clothes adorable?  ~Kelly/Birke
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Friday, October 18, 2013

Links Day!

I really enjoy it when some of the blogs I follow do "here's what's cool on the internet" links days.  If I enjoy reading them on others' blogs, then surely some will enjoy reading them here!  I did a links day last week, and I'm going to continue them periodically.  I come across so many cool ideas, artists, products, videos, messages and more all the time.  Here are the things that my crafty, nerdy, feminist, liberal self found awesome this week on the internet.

This amazingly detailed post of how a gorgeous dragon-wrapped pot was made!

A sleeping bat knitting pattern!

A how-to on making a beautiful simple leaf crown.

A great video about the messages pointed at boys about gender issues:

Glamazons vs The Curse of the Chainmail Bikini!  It's a Kickstarter for "a campy card game take down of the visual depiction of female warriors throughout nerdy pop culture."  It looks pretty entertaining.

If you like the Game of Thrones TV adaptation (or even if you hate it, but are familiar with the TV show), you'll find this Bad Lip Reading hilarious.  I've seen it several times now and it's still making me giggle.

And last, but most importantly: A friend of mine is making a short indie fantasy film!  She's a really talented artist and made most of the costumes herself.  Her Kickstarter needs a little more help, so you should check it out!  More information, including a lot of stills from the film, are showing up on her Facebook group about the movie.

:)  ~Kelly
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

More Basketweave/Baltic Patterns and Notes

This post has more pictures of basketweave/baltic pick-up inkle weaving I have done, along with their patterns and notes of things I learned while making them.  If you want to learn more about how to do this kind of weaving, look at my how-to post!  That post also explains better how to read the patterns.

Let's jump right in, shall we?
Order of the Dragon's Heart

This weaving is based on the Midrealm award of the Dragon's Heart, which is given to those who have performed services on behalf of the Middle Kingdom above and beyond service normally expected of subjects of the Crown.  I did a pattern of inverted hearts.  Putting all the hearts facing the same direction would create floats that were too large between the hearts.  I couldn't find a pattern I was happy with at the time when doodling the hearts in other directions and adding decorative details between the hearts.  

You can see the floats on the backside of the weave on the rolled-up portion.  Also, I like how the checkerboard pattern mimics the green dragon scales of the award.
Dark green is bared threads.  Pale green is dropped threads.  Continue inverting the hearts over and over again.
I wish DeForest were here.  He had a Dragon's Heart... I would probably gift it to him, if he thought he could use it.  Miss you, love.

Award of the Purple Fret

The Award of the Purple Fret is a Midrealm award given for long and devoted service to a group, office, or kingdom.  It is the first kingdom award given for service - the Dragon's Heart is a higher level award.  I treated the purple lines of the award as all in one plane - in order to show the overlapping of the lines, the design would have had to be much bigger.  I also needed to put a small decorative element in between the frets so that the floats would not be too big on the backside of the weave.  As you can see, it worked quite well!

The thread looks a bluish in the photo - it is indeed a deep purple.
Two repetitions of the pattern.
Note:  it's not shown here, as I didn't take a picture of the ends of the weaves, but I usually start and end my weaves with a section that is plain weave (no dropped or picked-up threads).  This is to make sure I can get the tension correct.  If you don't want this, I would still recommend starting with a section that is plain weave - you can always take it out of the weave when you're finished.  If you decide to leave it in, make sure you add a similar plain weave section to the other end of your weave if you want it to have that kind of symmetry.

Celtic Pattern

This is a Celtic pattern I jotted down from looking at a random inkle woven belt on deviant art.  I would ask that if you weave this, please don't do it for profit.  I have no idea if it's an original pattern of the artist or if this is a common celtic pattern (anyone know?).  If it is their original work, I wouldn't want others to profit off of it.  I wish I had a link to the inspiration for this to post, but I've lost it.

Both sides of the pattern.  You can see the pattern starting to repeat at the bottom - the entire weave is ~3 repetitions.
One complete repetition.  Start immediately at the top again after you finish the last row.  Or be more creative and find a way to flip the design so the second repetition is flipped!

Kingdom of Artemisia

The Kingdom of Artemisia is one of the 19 Kingdoms of the Knowne World in the SCA.  It is located in Utah, Montana, southern Idaho, and western Colorado and Wyoming.  I am currently challenging myself to try and make inkle weaving patterns based on all the 19 Kingdoms (which I heard might be becoming 20 Kingdoms soon).  This is the first weave I've done with the pattern threads roughly twice the thickness of the background and weft.  I like the result!  

The far right is the front of the pattern, with the backside laying next to it going the same direction.
This was a fairly simple weave to do.  I originally thought to lengthen the yellow triangles - have them be 1, 3, 5, 3, 1 in length, not 1, 2, 3, 2, 1.  But then I was doing a lot more manipulating of the threads (picking up and dropping them) because they didn't line up with the checkerboard as well, and the results didn't look much better than the 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 triangles.  I believe this is because the yellow thread is bigger than the black, and it puffs up nicely.  So I changed it and went with the simpler 1, 2, 3, 2, 1 triangles.

Important: in order to get the flat top of the triangles, I had to pull up the 2nd and 4th threads.  After finishing each triangle, I would nudge the corner of my shuttle underneath the 2nd and 4th threads and pull them up along the flat top side of the triangle.  Looking at the pattern, you can see that I had to pick them up on that line (they would normally be on the other side of the weave).  If I didn't tug them all the way up after finishing each triangle, the top has a slight dip at the 2nd and 4th strands, because they naturally wanted to lie on the other side of the weave and lost some of their length coming through to this side.  A little tug, though, and the triangles had a flat top edge!

That's all for now.  ~Kelly/Birke
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cat photos!!!

So, I've been sick for 5 days now, with a decently nasty cold.  Most of the really bad ickiness has worn off, but I'm still stuffy and coughing and really, really tired.  All of this is to say, I've been lying around the house a lot, watching TV (almost done with the first season of Star Trek: TOS!), reading (currently re-reading a lot of Tamora Pierce books), and dinking around the internet in between forcing myself to keep myself fed and hydrated and in one piece.  When I lay down a lot, Gnome likes to sit on me and sleep.  It's adorable.  I happened to have my phone near me a couple times, so I took some pictures.  The internet clearly needs more cat pictures.  :)

First, a picture of Kobold, so he's not left out.  He likes to curl up on the sheepskin on his Papa's rocking chair.
Aw, look at that sleeping kitty.  This is Gnome, my girl.
Stretched out in the valley betwixt my lower appendages.
She turned over in her sleep and stretched out the other way.  Also, she's huge when she stretches out - she's stretching from my hips all the way to my feet. 
And she turned over again a while later.
Who can resits this little face???  My baby girl.  :)
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