About Me

Hi!  My name is Kell.  Welcome to my blog, Level 8 Craftling!  The name is based on table-top roleplaying, saying I'm a made-up creature called a "craftling." If that didn't already tell you, I'm incredibly nerdy and love making things!  On this website I mostly post about the crafty things I do.  I spend most of my time playing board games, leatherworking, weaving, sewing, playing with the Society for Creative Anachronism, and generally trying to be happy.

Clarification of Common Themes in Level 8 Craftling:

Do you take leatherworking commissions?  Yes, yes, I do!  I take anything from simple repairs to custom design work.  Please contact me and I will gladly discuss ideas and prices with you!

What is the SCA?  The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international non-profit educational organization that is devoted to research and creative re-creation of pre-1600s times.  That's a mouthful, isn't it?  Let me start over.  It's kind of like a Renaissance Festival, but even better, because you don't just get to watch everyone wear cool medieval clothes and do things like blacksmithing, leatherworking, and pattern dances, but you get to do all the things yourself!  The SCA is a huge portion of my life.  It's a community like our country hasn't seen in decades, since small-town life went out of style, where people really know each other and help each other through really hard times and celebrate through really amazing times.  It's an amalgamation of every nerdy community I can think of - if you like sci-fi/fantasy, or crafting, or gaming, it's the society for you.  I am constantly learning, and constantly surrounded by family (fictive kin), and it is truly wonderful.

What is rapier fighting?  It's a form of fencing!  SCA rapier fighting is fencing, but not like the modern fencing, except that we wear rigid face protection (usually a common fencing mask, but sometimes metal helms are used instead) and hit people with metal sticks.  SCA rapier uses swords called heavy rapiers, which are much sturdier than modern fencing blades (epees, foils, or sabers).  We don't have to fence in a line, but can move around the field in almost any manner we choose (you have to be able to stop at a moment's notice, so no cartwheels or lunges that take you off your feet).  It's much closer to the scene with the black knight in Monty Python, if you're familiar with that.  We can use multiple swords/daggers, bucklers, cloaks, parry with a free hand, etc - it's freakin' fantastic.  I started fencing in 2010 accidentally - a friend asked if I wanted to try, and I said "eh, why not?"  Then I was hitting someone with a sword and giggling maniacally, and I haven't looked back since.  And I haven't even started talking about melee combat, where we have as many as 400 fencers on a field at once, fighting to win...

Who is Birke die Jägerin?  We're one and the same!  Birke die Jägerin is my SCA name, which translates from German to mean "Birch the Huntress" and is roughly pronounced "beer-kah dee yay-gah-rin."  People in the SCA often make a persona to go along with their name.  Some people just use their regular name, and other people come up with elaborate backstories about who they were in history.  I started in the SCA with the idea that I wanted to be like Strider from Lord of the Rings - essentially, a ranger/hunter.  I'm also in love with the German language, so I knew that I wanted to be from that country.  My persona has very slowly filled out from there as I learn more about history.  I've actually never been all that interested in history, but it's impossible not to pick up things when you're in the SCA for a long time, which is pretty awesome.  This is also why my love of all things birch-related has been growing and growing.  :)  I answer to Birke almost as easily as my given name, and consider it a very real nickname, not an act I'm putting on.

Who is DeForest?  Why do you talk about grief on your blog?  It's been many years and I'm doing much better now, so it doesn't come up as often anymore.   DeForest was my boyfriend who died unexpectedly of a burst appendix in July of 2012.  There are many reasons why I talk about grief and grieving on this blog.  Part of it is simply that I post about whatever I feel like posting about, and grief has often on my mind since 2012.  It is also healing and natural to want to talk about those who have died - it's a way of holding on to them and honoring them.  Part of why I talk about grieving is that I had absolutely no clue what grieving was like before my partner died, and I think it's bad that our culture shields us from this knowledge.  I want to spread the message of what I've been through, to help let others know what it can be like.  Grief isn't simply about being sad or missing the person, though that is part of it.  It is also about losing every layer of emotional control that you have, including many that you never realized existed because you built them up in early childhood.  Grieving is a process that takes years, and is filled with exhaustion, uncontrolled emotions, feeling like you're going crazy and like you don't know where your center is anymore (that feeling that you've always associated with you-ness), and slowly trying to re-learn how to be a person again.  It's important to talk about these things - really, really important.  Because the more we talk about the hard things and how we got through them, the stronger we will be.  The more we can acknowledge how things actually are, the more honest and compassionate we will be.  If you, or anyone you know, is going through intense grief, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I am happy to talk to you, as another widow talked with me - it can be really helpful.  It's a process that takes a long time, but things do get easier.  A lot of my days are pre-grieving normal now, 4-5 years later.


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