A few months ago, I was once again elected to the position of Arts and Sciences Minister of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands. this position used to have a few pieces of regalia associated with it, but most of them have been lost since the last time I was minister. I decided a new belt favor was first on the list.
The fabric is a navy cotton twill I bought online. The populace badge is one of the embroidered patches I had made a few years ago. The A&S badge is machine embroidery designed by me and applied with my embroidery machine.
I have added the first new page to the non-blog portion of my web site in quite some time. I can’t even remember for sure what the last one was. In any case, this new page is a showcase for all of the “VP3”-format embroidery stitch pattern files I have created over the past several years. I received a request for some of them, and thought I would make the whole collection available to the Internet. Most of them are SCA-related, but there are a bunch of pop-culture and media-related designs at the bottom.
I use a piece of digitizing software called Embird to create these patterns, and the images are all exports of the 3D simulation of the eventual embroidery. Embird is a good value, and I have not had too much trouble figuring out its features. The files it produces work so reliably that I have not even tried embroidering some of these patterns. The fun is in designing and creating them.
Anyway, please read the text at the top of that page if you want to use any of those files.
Last week, we attended the “Armistice” event up at Cooper’s Lake Campground. Informally called “Pretendsic”, this was the event that the campground decided to run on their own after the SCA’s Pennsic War was cancelled again. It was a much smaller and informal version of a war, with no organized battles and many fewer classes. We did not even camp up there most nights, and brought all our own food. We spent a lot of time in camp braiding, and I completed these four braids.
All four braids were made using kute-uchi hand-loop braiding. The two inner braids are Mitake-gumi 10-loop rectangular braids, both using a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop. The two outer braids are Maru-genji-gumi 16-loop round braids. The inner of the two uses a single ply of acrylic yarn for each loop, and the outer uses two plies of cotton crochet thread for each loop. To keep the loops together in bundles for the 2-ply braid, I used rope kute handles. These were all braided while seated on a bench, and I used my toes to beat the stitches if the braids were too long for manual tightening.
At the most recent dyeing activity, one of our friends brought a few articles of finished clothing that she’d purchased inexpensively, specifically for the fun of shibori dyeing it in indigo. When you make up a couple of big pots of indigo dye, you might as well use them for as much as you can. They really don’t keep, and there’s so much dye in there that you can normally toss in some experiments at the end just to see how they come out.
Her experiments came out so awesome that I decided to copy her method. The online stores that sell the dye also carry a broad line of prepared for dyeing (PFD) garments, but I hate buying clothes mail order. I have plenty of simple sewing patterns, though.
I used white muslin fabric to make two shirts. One uses a sweatshirt pattern, and the other uses the beloved pajama top pattern. No buttons on the pajama top yet, because they would only interfere with the dye. I finished all the cut edges with serging, but did all the top stitching with cotton thread. The cotton thread will take up dye, but the polyester serging will not. The serging is all hidden inside, though.
Somebody is running a dyeing day next month, so now I am ready for fun.
A few weeks ago, Sharon hosted an indigo dyeing activity at our home. Some people came over and we spent all day dunking fabric in dye pots. I did some small test pieces for various techniques, but I also twisted up some big pieces of silk broadcloth, and then I made this kosode from that fabric.
It looks kind of like an accident in a bleach factory, but closer up the indigo patterns are very organic and Rorshach-inkblot fascinating.
One of the martial activities in the SCA is called “Thrown Weapons”. Participants throw handled metal weapons such as axes and knives at fixed targets for scores. If you can achieve certain scores during a timed exercise, you qualify for different ranks. These belt favors are meant to be given to those participants who have achieved the required skill levels. The background color of each favor denotes the rank: black for Thrower (0-29 points), blue for Verfur (30-59 points), purple for Caster (60-79 points), green for Huntsman (80-99 points), and red for Marksman (100-120 points).
Each is machine embroidered on cotton twill fabric. The favors are about 7.5 inches wide and 18 inches long, meant to be doubled over a belt. The badge is 3.5 inches in diameter. The fabric is doubled over into a kind of bag, inside which valuables or authorization cards can be stored. I made six of each rank, thirty in all. Even though the machine did all the hard work, there was still a bunch f work setting things up, switching threads, and completing the favors. It took me a while.
Like many people, this winter was pretty bad for me. The isolation at home, the chaotic election, the violent attempt to overthrow a democratically elected government… I realize things were even worse for people who actually got sick, but the rest of us still had a lot to deal with. To help fight the depression, I bought one of those full spectrum lamps to at least help combat the winter blahs that are caused by lack of sunlight during the Winter. I think it helped, even if it was just the feeling that I was trying something new.
I bought a small-ish, flat-panel light that I could mount on the wall over my desk, or place off to the side on a table. It works great, and has a timer function so that I can chunk out my work day. The only problem is that its modern aesthetic clashes with my rustic Japanese decor preferences. So, I made a cedar “shoji” frame to disguise the lamp.
I can’t show you what it looks like with the light on, because the lamp is so bright that you wouldn’t be able to see anything else in the photo besides the glowing rectangle. I am thinking of adding some kumiko lattice-work to the frame opening, but kumiko are so trendy right now that I don’t know if I can bring myself to do that. Honestly, if one more person responds to me saying “I do some Japanese-style woodworking.” with “Have you tried kumiko?” I may stop discussing woodworking entirely.
I started a new job back in September, while the office was completely closed. I about reached the end of my work-from-home productivity rope this Spring, so I appealed to my boss to be allowed to start coming in to the office. It’s been a good move, productivity-wise, as I am able to focus on work much better when I am not in the same room with so much of my crafting equipment and materials.
One thing I was really missing about my home office though, was the ability to work while standing. At home, I had started putting the cedar stepstool up on the craftsman endtable, and using that assembly as a standing desk for my work laptop. In the office, I’m using a desktop computer with a full keyboard, and the stepstool is not wide enough to accommodate that and a mouse.
Luckily, I still had some finished pine shelves from the old house in the garage. I cut one of them up into pieces, joined the pieces with dowels and glue, reinforced the joins with some metal right-angle brackets, finished the cut ends of the pieces, and now I have a standing desk for work without having to appeal to the furniture gatekeepers for an expensive motorized desk.