Category Archives: SCA

No Apologies

It sure has been a while since I last posted

I’ve been reading this general sentiment a lot lately (I think Got Medieval put it most succinctly by opening with “Let’s skip the whole “excuses for not posting more often” section…”) and get the feeling that with all this other Social Media Stuff* floating about the ether and general daily life, a lot of non-pro bloggers are finding it difficult to blog regularly. In the face of diligent, post-every-day-on-schedule blogs, any post I make seems like it must absolutely be prefaced with an apology.

Even I am getting tired of these apologies and meta-blogging. I can only image what few readers I have left must be getting sick of it.

So, let’s just stop that, shall we? No more apologies for sporadic blogging. I’m busy. You’re busy. Lives take work. Creativity takes effort. Sometimes things get done, other times they get balled up in a heap and forgotten about until you remember company’s coming over in 10 minutes and people actually can sit on that chair in the corner…

From now on, I’ll try just writing about what’s been going on, whether in my head or with my creative output. You can kindly read, choose to comment, or whatever you like. We’ll see where this takes us.

* * * * *

I have been doing absolutely no knitting whatsoever for the last 3 months. This lack has been killing me so much I’ve turned to crochet for near-instant gratification of yarn-play resulting in an FO. I’ve crocheted three sunhats, all but one of which have gone to that hidden part of the park where kids bury their sunhats because no kid ever wants to wear a sunhat, especially if it is a sunhat crocheted specially for you by your crazy mom. I miss knitting. Someday, perhaps, I’ll be able to finish a sock, or scarf…

My non-knitting does not mean I have not been buried in wool however. On these, some of the hottest days of the year, I have been almost literally swathed in wool, as I sew tunics, coats, and kirtles like the madwoman I must be. On the other hand, a friend and I discovered a magical, insane fabric warehouse that sold beautiful woolens for the ridiculous price of $4.99/yd, so hopefully we will finish all this crazy sewing in time and not just be wrapping ourselves toga-like** in all this wool. No matter what, when we’re camping this year, we will not be cold.

*Social Media Stuff can include blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. etc.
**Historical fact of the day: Roman senator’s togas were made of wool.



Filed under crafting, meta-blogging, rambling, SCA, sewing

I Has A Fleece

Eshme fleece

Everyone, meet Eshme. She’s a light grey Shetland sheep, raised in Ontario at the hobby farm of a lady I know through the SCA, and now her year’s fleece-growth is mine!

I’ve been keeping this a secret for a few weeks now, and I just picked her up on Saturday*. I’m incredibly excited to have a fleece of my own to play with, but also horribly nervous I’m going to muck up this lovely wool!

Ah well, I’m nothing if not enthusiastic, and have jumped right in to this project just as I have with my spindlemaking. On Sunday I sorted the fleece, using a technique that would probably horrify real wool sorters everywhere. I took out as many articles & library-book chapters on fleece preparation as I could, assimilated their advice, and began pulling the thing apart!

First out was a charming smoke-grey patch on one of her shoulders (I’m hoping to preserve it as the most destinctive colour varation, spinning it up separately, and then make something stranded/Fair Isle-y with the smoke-grey and the natural cream/grey/white). Then I divided the rest of it into my “scientific” categories: ‘Head Wool’, ‘Shoulders’ (the best, apparently), ‘Spine’, ‘Upper Sides’, ‘Bum’, and ‘Edges’. These were re-rolled up and packaged into whatever I could find.
Eshme fleece - sorted

Last night I began washing some, beginning with wool that comes from “lesser” parts of the fleece. Some of it I packaged into mesh bags…
mesh bags

…another load I tried just loose.
loose in the tub

When I was little, after a bath my Mom would exclaim, “kid tea!” Looking at the fleece’s wash-water, I can only think, “eww, sheep tea!”
sheep tea - bathwater

It washed up pretty well, though, in my certainly inexpert opinion! Far, far whiter than I’d have thought, though there are other bits with more-grey strands throughout, and the white is actually more of an off-white or very light grey. But look at that lock formation, those tiny crimps!
washed lock

Anyone with advice, tips, or tricks on the best way to wash/prepare the finest parts of this fleece for quality spinning, please comment/email me with your words of wisdom!

Likewise, anyone with a line of cheap/accessble hand-carders or Viking combs, well, remember what I said about jumping right in? Yeah, I kind-of don’t have any fibre prep tools, and am mostly broke… help?

*Funny side-note: at the event on Saturday one of the tourney fighters asked me, “So, were you at the Indigo last night?” — turns out he works for the publisher, and was there, all suited up and looking businessy! Small world, eh?


Filed under fibre, SCA, spinning

What Goes Around

Here’s a conversation I think Dru must be getting sick of hearing:

Me: “Hey Dru…”
Him: “Yes Em?”
Me: “There’s a SPINNING WHEEL in our livingroom!”

Spinning wheel

That’s right, folks, a spinning wheel in my very own living room! I barely can believe it, for all that I’ve had this lovely Ashford Elizabeth wheel since Saturday night.

I don’t know how to write about it and its acquisition. I want to tell you the details, and I want to make a (pseudophilosphical) point too. I suppose I haven’t yet found my authorial “voice” (but best leave that for another post, eh?).

Here’s how I came to have a spinning wheel in my livingroom (!):
On Saturday Dru and I went to an SCA event, a day of volunteer-run classes geared towards teaching the public various medieval knowledges/skills. There was a course on using hand-carders and combs, so I really wanted to go just for that, but otherwise just wanted to see some newly-joined young ladies to pass on some CDs of ballads to them. Now, for all that the flake-factor can be pretty high, there are some things about the SCA that I really love, most notably the “learning by doing” attitude, coupled with a great amount of willingness to teach/share. I slept in Sat. morning, and so missed the fiber-prep class; I ran into the instructor in the halls, and spent about 3 hours in the afternoon getting a recap/private lesson, sitting on the floor surrounded by sharp combs, handmade spindles, and bags of fleeces. (See: very open and encouraging folks here!)

That would have been enough to make my day a success, but after playing with fleeces to my heart’s content (read: got guilty about happily combing up lots of someone else’s fibre) I broke out my own spindle and went to talk with some people I know. Another woman I know peripherally was sitting with them, working on some stellar embroideries (period/natural/hand-dyed threads!). I didn’t notice it at first, being hidden behind a large embroidery frame, but this lady had a spinning wheel back there, and (of course) when I did see it I excitedly asked her to show me how it works (never having seen a wheel “in action” before). She said sure, and got it set up. She put some roving to the leader, and began spinning; I watched in fascination. After about half a minute she passed the roving over to me and treadled, and then asked, How did I get here? I confusedly answered, Our car. She asked, Was there room in it for this? I looked stupid, and maybe sputtered a bit before catching on and answering, Yes!

Now, we do have a good friend in common, and he does live nearby, about halfway between her and I. But I really do not know her, other than through the SCA. So her offer to loan me the wheel for the next two months or so really has taken me for surprise. I am amazed at her trust, at her willingness to share, at her ability to let something go to help someone who wants to learn. The rest of the day I just spewed “thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou” at her whenever I saw her: her reply was merely, “Don’t mention it.”

And the whole ride home, it was “Dru,there’s a SPINNING WHEEL in our car!”

Now the way I see things, there is a magic that surrounds fibercraft, something that encourages people to be open and free with their knowledges (and supplies!). To pass it on. Like a spinning Wheel, it turns and turns, and with each rotation helps to create something new. I want to learn; what I need comes to me. I want to teach, and so I try to put out what I can, here on this blog and in person. The Wheel of Fortune turns, bringing new experiences, granting things that are needed as they are needed, knowing that you will be its instrument in a future cycle. The fact that I have a spinning wheel on loan for the next few months from a woman that doesn’t really know me has confirmed these things for me. I hope that in some future turning I may do the same.


Filed under exchanges, SCA, spinning, spinning-wheel

Pixel-Stained TechoPeasant Day Offering

For St. Jodi and International Pixel-Stained TechoPeasant Day, it it time to share art.

Before I was a “knitter” I was considered somewhat musical, and a “bard” within the SCA. The Bardic community at large has always been so open and inviting, so full of knowledge and always ready with words of encouragement, they seem to embody the ideals behind this commemorative day. So, here are some “bardic” mp3s for you!

In honour of peasants everywhere, first I give you The Poacher’s Song. Lyrics and music by myself, recording/backing vocals/many instruments by the lovely Heather Dale.

And for the heck of it, here’s Bedlam Boys, a fine trad/folk piece recorded at the “Bardic Kitchen Party” a few years back (backing vocals/percussion by many of the Ealdormere Bardic College). The recording is rough and live, but I’m sure you can tell we were having fun!

If you feel like investigating the original albums these tracks are from, check out . I personally don’t have a full CD recorded (just a few of these “cameos”), but I know many of the wonderful artists who participate in the Amphisbaena project. For now though, the tracks above are “mine”, and I give them to you freely and gladly!

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Filed under music, oddities, rambling, SCA

A pox upon poverty!

I was in Lettuce Knit at lunchtime today, picking up goodies for my Knitters Treat Exchange package, when I discoverd that they are now carrying Socks That Rock! Curses upon the budget that constrains me!! Damnable self control: I left with not a thing for myself at all.

At least I still have my Elfine’s Socks to console me, and a not-busy afternoon. And I’m as entranced with spinning as ever, and have even made some more yarn! More on that later. For now, I’ll leave you with a picture of Arddu inspecting my weekend’s SCA-event spinning…

Arddu & handspun

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Filed under exchanges, rambling, ranting, SCA, spinning

Now with PICTURES!

For all that I may grumble about my boring perma-temp job, I have darned great co-workers. When I take a lunchbreak to go to the LYS, they don’t look at me like a weirdo: they either come along, or say “What’d ya get!?!” as soon as I’m back. And one has a cameraphone!

So without further ago, and at long last, a few pictures!!! They’re crazy-big, I don’t know how to edit them down to a reasonable size and can’t seem to choose a “show thumbnail” or somesuch option, but they’re pictures nonetheless!

Here is the state of the Bayerische WIP. Oh tiny cables, how I love you! (I know some of you are already snickering, and will no doubt be the first to refer back here when I’m only 1/3 through sock #2., but still…) Isn’t it amazing that this beautiful colour (even more beautiful in person, I assure you) comes from entirely natural dyes? This is great work-knitting: I can get through a row or two, here and there throughout the day, and feel like I’m making real progress with every tally-tick I make. It will still take a long time for me to get through this particular project, especially since I’ve decided to make mine knee-highs, but I have hope that since it is my work-knitting I’ll see it through to it’s gloriously cabled end.

Secondly, something new. Last weekend was the first time in over a year that The Dru and I went out to an SCA event. I had a really good time, both for seeing old friends and for getting a bit of a creative boost. That’s something I’ve always loved about the SCA: it’s diversity seems to provide me with nigh-on endless inspiration for new creative endeavours, and (for the most part) the people are so encouraging. Ever since Saturday I have been listening to Child ballads on my Nano, singing snippets when no-one’s listening, and have become obsessed with the notion of having a period handcraft for events.

Now yes, knitting is indeed medieval. Keep watching this space for an ultra-cool KAL/Challenge/project inspired by She Who Measures (details later). But, well, knitting certianly isn’t period for me. Also, if I’m going to knit at events, then I’m going to have a project with some research behind it, for all that I got complements on the Bayerische in the brief time I had it out. So if not knitting, then what?

Spinning. I have become obsessed with the idea of spinning! I think I’ve even dreamed about it. I’ve certianly been spending the last few days at work printing out every little how-to pamphlet on drop spindles and spinning that I can find! (And y’know, there’s really not a lot out there when compared with knitting — are knitters spoiled, or just more web-saavy and willing to share info?) Last night I even picked up some dowels at the local art supply store (and advantage of living in the OCAD district!) and dug out the little soapstone whorl I’d made at an A&S night years ago. Needless to say, this spindle is not the greatest, but I’m a cheapskate (I won’t pay $30 for a nice spindle until I know what I’m wanting out of it) and this got me one RightNow. Then I spun up what was left of the roving I’d had from my failed attempt at thrummed slippers while I watched CSI.

Today at lunch I was off to Lettuce Knit for more fibrecrack. After scoffing at their dropspindle selection (see above re: cheapskate — I’ll try out the hobby-car-wheel DYI spindle before shelling out $15+ for a spindle that hasn’t even been lathe-turned) I dove right into the big pile of Fleece Artist “slivers”. Wanna see what I got?

– 2 braids of Merino, the green and the rust: I figured if I didn’t completely screw up I could knit them together into something neat.
– 1 braid Blue Faced Leicester, the blues & purples: another 100% wool, but (I’m assuming) with different behaviours than the merino, to try to see if I can tell the difference.
– 1 braid Silk/Wool, the reds/browns/pinks, because it’s got silk! And again, to try the different behaviours of a different fibre content.

All this makes me very very happy and excited. I may muck up royally with this, but I think I’ll have fun while I’m at it!


Filed under knitting, SCA, spinning