Applesies #9

(Originally published Feb 10, 2015)

United Chicken Runs is weave #9 and while I wanted to do #8, I saw this one and went…oooo!

SO, again, while I can’t disclose the threading because it’s *in the book* (which, if you are still reading my blog with interest, you should *totally buy*!), I will explain the turning sequence.

Cards 1-3 and 16-18 need to turn forward all the way through…or switch to turning backwards after it gets too twisted up.
While that’s going on, cards 4-15 will turn back for six turns.
Then 1-3 forward, 4-7 will turn back, 8-11 forward, 12-15 back, 16-18 forward for two turns.
1-3 forward, 4-5 back, 6-13 forward, 14-15 back, 16-18 forward for two turns.
Then mirror…
1-5 forward, 6-13 back, 14-18 forward for two turns.
1-7 forward, 8-15 back, 16-18 forward for two turns.
All forward for 6 turns.

That’s the whole turning sequence!

3 1/2 yards finished.

Applesies #8

(Originally published Feb 15, 2015)

Took a step back (or turned a page back) and started Applesies #8 while visiting with my delightful MIL on Valentine’s Day.  Hubby and his dad went out to the movies, and the ladies stayed behind…I didn’t have any need to see Jupiter Ascending.  This one is called Fine Crooked Knees with Small Applesies.  Maybe it loses something in the translation from Finnish.  I liked the color combination from the sample in the book so much that I decided to copy it…although I used Navy blue instead of black, but otherwise it’s the same.

The turning sequence is as follows:
* with cards A-D on the top, cards 1-9 back, 10-14 forward (x 3)
* all cards back one quarter-turn
* cards 1-5 forward, 6-14 back (x 3)
* cards 1-5 back, 6-14 forward (x 3)
* all cards forward one quarter-turn
* cards 1-9 forward, 10-14 back (x 3)

Now, if you want to have lovely, tidy edges, you could turn cards 1, 2, 13, 14 forward always, then reverse direction when it gets over-twisted.

Applesies #10: Diamond Applesies

(Originally published Feb 17, 2015)

This is one of those patterns that I will need to follow the pattern, step by step, all the way to the end.  This is not an easy repeating pattern that can be memorized…at least by me.  It’s the last of the “easy” patterns…I’m thinking this probably should have been included in the next section.

I had a lot of difficulty choosing colors for this one, but finally settled on navy blue with a blue-grey background and a border of red and rust-orange.

So once you warp up your loom, you will start rotating your cards starting from the BC position.  Your cards will be facing right.

Cards 1-3 and 20-22 will always be turning forward.
Turning sequence is:
First:  1-3 F; 4 B; 5-6 F; 7-9 B; 10-13 F; 14-16 B; 17-18 F; 19 B; 20-22 F
Second:  1-5 F; 6-8 B; 9-14 F; 15-17 B; 18-22 F
Third:  1-4 F; 5-6 B; 7-16 F; 17-18 B; 19-22 F
Fourth:  1-3 F; 4-5 B; 6-17 F; 18-19 B; 20-22 F
Fifth:  1-3 F; 4 B; 5-6 F; 7-16 B; 17-18 F; 19 B; 20-22 F
Sixth:  1-5 F; 6-17 B; 18-22 F
Seventh:  1-4 F; 5-18 B; 19-22 F
Eighth:  1-3 F; 4-19 B; 20-22 F
Ninth:  1-3 F; 4-19 B; 20-22 F
Tenth:  All forward
Eleventh:  All forward
Twelfth:  1-3 F; 4 B; 5-18 F; 19 B; 20-22 F
Thirteenth:  1-3 F; 4-5 B; 6-17 F; 18-19 B; 20-22 F
Fourteenth:  1-4 F; 5-6 B; 7-16 F; 17-18 B; 19-22 F
Fifteenth:  1-5 F; 6-17 B; 18-22 F
Sixteenth:  1-3 F; 4 B; 5-6 F; 7-16 B; 17-18 F19 B; 20-22 F
Seventeenth:  1-3 F; 4-5 B; 6-8 F; 9-14 B; 15-17 F; 18-19 B; 20-22 F
Eighteenth:  1-4 F; 5-6 B; 7-9 F; 10-13 B; 14-16 F; 17-18 B; 19-22 F

See what I mean?  I can’t memorize this.  I was told that you look at the pattern and that will tell you how to turn the cards…it’s a lovely pattern…it’s just going to take some extra time.

The back is EXTRA cool!

Weaving & Recuperating

(Originally published March 13, 2015)

It’s been a little while since I did any posts, so I guess I have some catching up to do!

Most recently, I did a commission piece for my old friend, Don Miguel.  He’s constructing a new Elizabethan outfit and wanted a little something to add to the garment–something hand made by a friend is always better than factory made by a stranger.

This is a 2 yard piece and I hope to get it to him soon!

After finishing up a couple quilt projects and helping the middle kid with Girl Scout cookie sales, I started this very tiny, delicate trim from Applesies and Fox Noses.  This one is called “Bee Feet” and will be 4 yards long when complete.  It’s made from size 10 perle cotton–the kind you can get by the spool at any craft store (Michael’s, Joann’s, etc.).  I ended up using 2 spools of each color for the 16 cards.  The weaving itself is only 1/2″ wide, is very silky and flexible.  This will be great for trim for a tunic.

I have a great desire to work on some beads or some spinning on my new wheel…and of course, I’m laid up with an infection on my leg.  I’m supposed to keep my leg elevated and I’m taking some serious antibiotics and anti-inflammatories, and it’s difficult to do any kind of arts with my feet up.  Knitting…but I’m not really feeling like knitting, and keeping a pattern nearby…never mind.  I’ll blog and check Facebook.

Hopefully I’ll be back to normal in a few days.

Spring Posting

(Originally posted on the old-old blog on 22 April 2015; edited for current relevance)

The Easter-to-June part of the year is always supremely hectic with Tourney Season ramping up and the school year winding down.  A few things I’ve done in that time…

I bought a spinning wheel, a Lendrum single treadle, and finally started in ernest to wash the fleece given to me by HL Godith from her flock.  It was shorn several years ago and I have been happily turning fluffy stuff into yarn over the past few weeks.

The last spool of white is not pictured…it was on the wheel.  I unspooled the pink, got it wet, and am blocking it now (by hanging a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade on it), so I can start spinning spool #7.  After that, I’ll have to skein up the spools so I can spin some more.  All this spun yarn is destined to become a piece of cloth to be made into a garment–my first sheep-to-shawl project (not that it’ll be a shawl, but some wearable garment, probably an overtunic.

For the Perfectly Period Feast in An Tir, I made this ensemble (left) for the 1470s era Italian Renaissance Feast.  Pictured with me is my bestie, Aenor, who was running as my Sister-Baroness for our Barony.  We wouldn’t have been the first girl-girl pairing, but the first in our Kingdom.  Not only was this an exciting prospect for us, but for Inspirational Equality.  Not that we’re in that kind of relationship–we are both very happily involved with our respective men (who, I swear, must have been separated at birth!).  Unfortunately, the vote did not go in our favor and we are currently focused on our arts and service to the Kingdom.

Exciting times!

Lampworkers Guild Stuff & Lampwork 101

Here are the finished sets of beads for the Lampworker’s Guild to be given as gifts to various Royals at Pennsic.  I will need to mail these to the appropriate person soon…

While I was making beads, I got a little silly and made this little bee.

I also tested a few combinations for fun and to see if some colors were happy working with one another.  Green and yellow is very tricky.

These were sets that I was putting together for largesse, however, due to the Lampworker’s Guild needing more beads made, they got re-allocated to that project.  Just means I need to make MORE BEADS!

I’m looking forward to teaching my beginner’s class in a couple weeks!  I think it’s going to be very popular and my co-teacher and I are going to have to try to get many people to work the torches, and hopefully they’ll be able to make at least one bead each.  In a conversation tonight, I thought I’d put a little bit of my Beginner’s Lampwork information here for you to peruse.

Equipment:  Here’s a list of the things you will need to start bead making.

1.  Blue tank of propane.  Not only is it portable and clean, but it also is the right size for clamping down.  If you have the know-how, you can also refill these from the propane tank on your BBQ…
2.  Hot Head torch.  This piece is necessary for melting the glass at the right temperature.  Craft torches and things you get at those home hardware places will burn your glass and turn it grey and gross looking.
3.  3″ C-clamp
4.  6″ L bracket
5.  3″ hose clamp (the circle thing)
6. SAFETY GLASSES (most bead makers will recommend tinted lenses to save your eyes from damage staring at the bright flame)
7.  Flathead screwdriver
8.  A cookie sheet with a lip on it.
9.  Pliers
10.  Lighter (I recommend a long lighter–the kind you use to light your BBQ)

11.  1 gallon bucket.  An ice cream bucket is the perfect size.  Just what you needed–an excuse to buy a bucket of ice cream!  Go ahead…eat it while you read.
12.  Fine grain vermiculite.  Found in your local garden department.  You can get a small bag of it and share it between a couple lampworkers.
13.  Bead release.  This jar of goodness will keep the glass from sticking to the metal rods.  I recommend the Frantz Bead Separator; it runs $7 or $8 for a 4 oz. jar which will help you make several hundred beads.  It’s also flame-dry or air dry; some air-dry types will pop if you put it into the flame when it’s still damp, which means you have to scrape it off and re-dip.  (Also, you will have to add a bit of water from time to time–it tends to get really thick or completely dried out.)
14.  Mandrils.  These are the metal rods that you need to dip into the Bead Separator.  I would start with small ones, like 1/16″.
15.  Glass rods.  It’s VERY important that you get glass that has the same COE (coefficient of expansion) or you will end up with broken and cracked beads.  Most lampworkers use 104 COE.

It seems like an extensive list, but a lot of it is little things that you might even have kicking around your garage.  The rest you can mail order or pick up at your local hardware store.

Where to order glass and torch heads:  They’re located in Shelton, WA, will pack up your order quickly and bubble wrap the heck out of it!  If you have questions or concerns, they get back to you fast to help you.  I can’t say enough nice things about them! is another company my husband ordered from a couple times.  They’re also a good place, but I haven’t worked with them myself, so I recommend Frantz. 🙂

If you are looking for heraldic colors to make beads, here are some part numbers for glass that I have found to work really well (they’re also all 104 COE, so you’ll KNOW that it’s right!):
White 591204
Black Tuxedo 511872
Red Dark Effetre 591436
Yellow Lemon Medium 591408
Green Grass 591216 (although this can be hit-and-miss with other colors–work with lower temperatures to make sure it doesn’t bleed into others, and/or use a blob of clear between layers)
Blue Lapis Cobalt Pastel 591246
Purple — this is a tricky one…there really isn’t a *good* purple, but you can get pretty good results from Grape Ape 511654 or Thai Orchid 511632
Clear:  591004

Other part numbers to look for:
Hot Head:  110137

Mandrels:  1/16″ 324316 or 3/32″ 324332
Fusion Bead Separator:  332104
Graphite Paddle (a shaping tool):  301212 or 301302
Marvers, Probes, Picks and Rakes:  other tools you can search for that can help you make fun shapes and manipulate glass.  This is for the 201 class, however…  You can pick up a cheap set of dental tools that you can start with–just remember that the metal has to stay cool or the glass will stick to it.
You can find videos on YouTube on how to make glass beads.

Midwife Apron

Originally posted Sep 4, 2015

15th Century Apron - Eme's Compendium: 15th Century Apron - Eme's Compendium

This simple apron looked ideal for the messy, clumsy person I am.  I routinely ruin shirts by dripping and spattering all over them–usually something oily that never comes out–and I have realized the great importance of aprons.  I have a couple at home that I usually forget to use while making spaghetti and frying hamburger.  While camping, I get distressed trying to figure out how to prevent similar accidents from ruining my garb.

Aprons that tie at the waist are just not enough to protect my clothes.  Most people wouldn’t find this to be the case since most people are a lot taller than me.  The spatter zone is just below the waistline.  For me, however, the waistline is often below the cooking surface, so the apron serves only to wipe my hands after washing, or perhaps to aid in picking up hot things.  What I needed was something that extended higher than my waist.

I began doing searches and I found quite a few images of these types of aprons:

More of the odd "midwife" apron from a Saxon lineage book. Das Sächsische Stammbuch' [subtitled as:] 'Sammlung von Bildnissen sächsischer Fürsten, mit gereimtem Text; aus der Zeit von 1500 - 1546' is available online from the State University Library in Dresden: More of the odd "midwife" apron from a Saxon lineage book. Das Sächsische Stammbuch' [subtitled as:] 'Sammlung von Bildnissen sächsischer Fürsten, mit gereimtem Text; aus der Zeit von 1500 - 1546' is available online from the State University Library in Dresden

Das Sächsische Stammbuch’ [subtitled as:] ‘Sammlung von Bildnissen sächsischer Fürsten, mit gereimtem Text; aus der Zeit von 1500 – 1546’ is available online from the State University Library in Dresden

Apron. Late Middle Ages on the upper Rhine. I've made this apron for myself for event camping.: Apron. Late Middle Ages on the upper Rhine. I've made this apron for myself for event camping.

(Note only said:  Late Middle Ages on the upper Rhine)

Zwei Wunder aus der Kindheit des hl. Nikolaus Hans Traut Nurnberg, Ende 15.Jhr BNM-Munich Inv.NR MA 2789: Zwei Wunder aus der Kindheit des hl. Nikolaus Hans Traut Nurnberg, Ende 15.Jhr BNM-Munich Inv.NR MA 2789

Zwei Wunder aus der Kindheit des hl. Nikolaus Hans Traut Nurnberg, Ende 15.Jhr BNM-Munich Inv.NR MA 2789

c 1488 Century Apron, Detail of the birth of Mary. - Eme's Compendium: c 1488 Century Apron, Detail of the birth of Mary. - Eme's Compendium

15th Century Apron - Eme's Compendium... back view: 15th Century Apron - Eme's Compendium... back view

What I realized, after doing a little reading and observing similarities between images, is that all the women wearing these aprons are attending a woman giving birth.  Yep.  Midwife aprons.

Geburt Mariens Dieses Bild: 000400 Kunstwerk: Temperamalerei-Holz ; Einrichtung sakral ; Flügelaltar ; Frueauf Rueland der Jüngere Dokumentation: 1488 ; 1488 ; Wels ; Österreich ; Oberösterreich ; Stadtmuseum: Geburt Mariens Dieses Bild: 000400 Kunstwerk: Temperamalerei-Holz ; Einrichtung sakral ; Flügelaltar ; Frueauf Rueland der Jüngere Dokumentation: 1488 ; 1488 ; Wels ; Österreich ; Oberösterreich ; Stadtmuseum

Geburt Mariens Dieses Bild: 000078 Kunstwerk: Temperamalerei-Holz ; Einrichtung sakral ; Flügelaltar ; Meister von Mariapfarr ; Salzburg Dokumentation: 1495 ; 1505 ; Mariapfarr ; Österreich ; Salzburg ; Pfarrkirche: Geburt Mariens Dieses Bild: 000078 Kunstwerk: Temperamalerei-Holz ; Einrichtung sakral ; Flügelaltar ; Meister von Mariapfarr ; Salzburg Dokumentation: 1495 ; 1505 ; Mariapfarr ; Österreich ; Salzburg ; Pfarrkirche

Well, when you have a need…you make it work.

This is a terrible selfie…I can’t take full-body selfies.  I don’t have a full-length mirror or ridiculously long arms, so the bathroom mirror will have to do.  After doing some experimentation, I found that the width of fabric was not quite loose enough around my ample hips. I tried using just rectangles to add girth, but it just didn’t look right, so I added gores to the sides.   Now it looks very similar to the images I found.

This was a fun experiment and is almost ready to wear this weekend…just a little hemming at the bottom and it’s ready to go!

So how did I construct this?  Super EASY!  I had some yardage of medium weight linen–super soft and fairly thick (some of the images look like they might have been made from a fine linen, but I used what I had lying around).

I measured from my chest–just above the Girls–down to just below my knees or mid-shin.  (Keep in mind that I’m super-short, not just regular-short, and stand a whole whopping 60″ tall), and came up with 36″ as a good length.  You should measure yourself to get a number to fit your physique.

I lopped off a yard of the fabric–36″ x 60″ (width of fabric, or “WOF”).  I cut that piece down the fold, so I had two pieces of 36″ x 30″.  These will be the front and back panels of the apron.

Recall that I said that I was having difficulty with fitting this around my hips, so I added more fabric.  If you’re a particularly thin person, you may not require this next step.  To gain that extra fullness, I cut another piece of fabric 36″ x 28″, and cut that in half to make two 36″ x 14″ rectangles.  Each of those had to be cut in half *diagonally* to make four triangles.  These will be the gores on the sides.

Assembly is pretty straight forward:  sew a gore to each side of the two panels with the *bias edge* of the triangle on the straight of grain of the apron body.

This will prevent stretching of that bias edge.  Here’s a great illustration, in case you aren’t familiar with some fabric terms:

Once you have all the gores sewn onto the apron body, you will sew the sides together.  Put front and back panels facing right sides together and sew up from the bottom about 20″.  Your measurement may vary, but it should connect together from the bottom hem to just below your hips.

Make a casing at the top of each panel and thread a lacing through the casings and tie the ends.  Then you just have to finish the seams and hem the bottom and you’re done!

2015 Arts Unframed 2 (2) 2015 Arts Unframed (2)

The Kirtle of DOOOOOOOOOM!

(Originally posted Sep 9, 2015)

OK… It’s not really doom-worthy, but it took a lot more adjustments than I thought it would in the end.

I was over at a Lorenzia’s place for an open house sewing day and was surprised with gifts of “door prizes!”  She had some linen that she bought and it was much darker than she thought, so she passed it on to me because I said I could probably use it for something.  That’s quite a nice gift!  It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to turn it into a kirtle.

I dug around for quite some time, poking around all the nooks and crannies and cupboards and boxes and buckets…and finally gave up looking for my pattern that I made earlier this summer for the Perfectly Period Feast.  I grabbed my old kirtle and drew up a new pattern based on that one, hoping that the measurements came out OK.  I laid it out and cut out the linen and sewed it together.  Then I took it in where it was extra loose and baggy, and while it still fits a bit loosely, it’s flattering and is quite comfortable.

Normally those wide scoop neck garments cause the shoulder straps to just slip down but this one didn’t.  The sleeves I made help immensely with that.  I was really surprised!  I had to make the sleeve pattern to fit the opening, which did not follow all the whoopy-sloopy patterns that you see for Elizabethan sleeve-making; they wouldn’t have fit the opening at all.  I just cut fabric like you would a t-shirt (90 degrees out from the dress), but trimmed it to fit the curve of the opening.  I can easily move and raise my arms and hug people, and it’s snug enough that it keeps the shoulder straps up, which would normally slide down *constantly* off of my slopey shoulders.  I do have to shorten the skirt in the front just a little–the fabric has stretched a little from hanging and there’s a little bit in the front that I keep stepping on.

I wore it to Crown this weekend and hoped to get a photo in it, but apparently I am elusive when it comes to photography equipment.  I always seem to be just a couple feet to the left or right of where the group shot is taken.  No idea why that is.  The only one I’ve seen so far is this one…and I’m in the shadows…and I’m not wearing the blue dress.

I did get my hubby to take a photo before I left for camping, so here it is:

He was sitting comfortably on the couch and didn’t want to get up, so you get the awkward angle and all the coats and things in the background.  I did get some feedback from a costume Laurel who said, “the kirtle looked great–especially the fit of the flare around the hips. From a distance when I saw you in the kitchen tent while I was standing at the edge of the eric, it really had the “just stepped out of a manuscript painting” feel.”

I admit it…I swooned at that comment!

Camping in cooler weather has given me cause to revisit my wardrobe and make a short list of things I need to make or remember to bring next time:

  • Hood (liripipe or other)
  • Tall socks (left my wool socks at home…dang it)
  • Sleeping cap
  • Surcoat (my grey and blue coat has gone on walkabout, but I need to make one that covers the v-neck anyway)
  • Another St. Brigitta cap (Aenor borrowed mine, and I think it fits her better!)

I also made a short list of things I want to add to my encampment, but will have to overhaul my bins and boxes to make sure it all fits and is collapsible.  Some of them include:

  • Wardrobe rack & dresser (nightstand?  Plastic drawers?)
  • Washstand and mirror
  • Kitchen stand/prep area (I have one that’s fairly modern–I have never packed it for SCA use, but I will in the future!)
  • Storage system for breakables (goblets, mugs, pitcher, etc.)  Maybe thick padded drawstring bags?
  • More rugs for the floor
  • Cloak hooks on center pole
  • Privacy curtain indoors
  • Propane oven….ooooo!  Fresh bread, pasties, meat pies…
  • Brazier.  I have one that folds up, but it’s kind of a pain in the butt, rusted, and very dirty to put away.

So I guess that’s my to-do list for the winter!

How to Run a Camp Kitchen

(Originally posted Sep 15, 2015)

or…Keeping the Wolves at Bay

The final camping event of the season has come and gone (for me, anyway), and now am taking some time to reflect on some of the happenings and thinking about how to prepare better for next year.  I’ve been camping for 25+ years, usually just cooking for myself or sharing a kitchen with my small family or a couple friends.  However, my household and the group I usually camp with is growing with the addition of new friends (and a couple kids), so like many growing households, we need to take notes on how things should be done while cooking for larger groups…or not.

Earlier this tourney season, I had a *Very Bad Experience* with a shared kitchen.  I was very happy to receive an offer to buy into a kitchen, which would require my help with cooking and cleaning, but greatly reduce the amount of things I needed to pack and prepare.  This seemed like a great alternative to hours of set up and cooking all my own meals.  However, at this event there are many things that went wrong–so comically wrong–that has made me wary of buying into a camp kitchen ever again.  While I’d love to share the whole grizzly tale with you, I do not find that it would benefit anyone by naming names (or dates or locations).  However, it does lend to beginning a list of parameters and tips for running a successful kitchen so we can all avoid these problems in the future.  You can parse some of the errors of the *Very Bad Experience* from the points I make forthwith.

These methods and tips can be helpful for running any size kitchen, whether it’s two people sharing food, or a sizable household, or even a kitchen serving the Royals and all of their Retinue.  It’s all a matter of scale.

To begin, there are at least four different groups involved in any kitchen that we’re talking about here.  The manager of the kitchen for the duration of the event, I’ll call the Lead.  Under the Lead are Head Chefs (could be one, if it’s a small kitchen or if there is only one person who is an adequate cook, or perhaps a few of them taking charge of various meals, which can be especially helpful for large kitchens).  These people will be the ones in charge of preparing each meal.  Anyone actively working in the kitchen is the Crew.  And there are those who buy into the plan, who may or may not be working in the kitchen at all; I’ll call these people the Patrons.

  1. As the Lead, your duties include meal planning with the chefs, shopping (or delegating that assignment), creating the work schedule, and collecting payment.  The Lead should also choose who will be the Head Chefs of each meal, preferably people you know well enough to understand their abilities, personalities, and leadership qualities.   Once you get on site, your job is to make sure the teams report in, that they all get a tour of the kitchen so they know where everything is, go over the final menu, ensure that things start on time and run smoothly, and fix problems as they arise.

Meal Planning is a complex issue.

  1. Be sure that you have your portions correct.  One loaf of bread is not going to make enough French toast to feed 20 hungry people.
  2. Test all recipes to be sure that it will come out as you want and that you have all the ingredients on your shopping list.
  3. If you are cooking for people with allergies & intolerances, be sure to communicate with those people to be sure you don’t have an issue with cross-contamination.  Don’t cook or prep the allergens on the same surface as the food that they can eat.  Illness and anaphylaxis are not good ways to spend an event weekend.
  4. Besides allergies, some patrons may have other dietary needs, such as avoiding red meat or sugar.  Adjusting menus can make patrons happy, but that doesn’t mean that the one vegetarian will dictate the menu for everyone else–it means that while everyone else is having roast beef and turkey sandwiches at lunch, they will have egg salad or peanut butter.
    • TIP:  Just like the lone vegetarian, don’t let YOUR dietary quirks dictate what everyone else eats; ask your Patrons for feedback.  Not everyone will want to eat low-fat, gluten-free, sugar-free rice cakes with organic garlic goat cheese…especially if it dramatically increases the cost of the meal plan.
  5. Similarly, if you are cooking for children, be sure to have simple, familiar fare to keep the young ones comfortable and pleasant to be around.
  6. Publish the menu well in advance so any problems can be identified before the shopping trip.
    • TIP:  Set up a Facebook page for that kitchen and invite Patrons to join the discussion.
    • Keeping a simple menu will minimize prep and the risk of ruining the food, keeps the patrons happy (especially kids!) and keeps the costs lower.
  7. The Lead should NOT cook every meal all weekend (or two weeks…).  In fact, ideally, the Lead, especially in a large kitchen, should not cook at all.  DELEGATE RESPONSIBILITY!
  8. Head Chefs and Crew need to divide up the responsibilities for prep, cooking, and clean up.  Make sure that the work assignments are communicated ahead of time and posted somewhere in the kitchen.
  9. For a large kitchen, I recommend having at least three Head Chefs:
    • Breakfast Chef: that early-riser who is annoyingly chipper and organized in the wee hours of the morning, even before coffee is served.
    • The Lunch Head Chef…or perhaps would be more appropriately called a Lunch Captain.  This is something that a less experienced (or terrible) cook that wants to help out somehow and can be safely relied upon to lay out lunch meat, cheese, condiments, and bread. Perhaps also mix up lemonade and iced tea.  If this is a Royal kitchen, this may also include making up plates to be delivered to the Royals, wherever they might be (in a meeting, watching the tourney, etc.)
    • A Dinner Chef and Crew can take on the big evening meal.  This chef will have to be very flexible to accommodate the fluctuations of schedules that always occur at events.  If you’re cooking for sitting Royalty, this is doubly true!  Make sure that food is hot and ready when they are.  Check with their staff to get the timing right.
  10. The Head Chef will report on time for prep and round up their Crew to assist.  Assign tasks to your Crew based on their abilities (a 5 minute team meeting can accomplish this), and accept help when offered.
  11. Trust your Crew to know what they’re doing, and be mindful of tasks that can be done to keep the crew busy.
    • TIP:  DON’T BE THE EVERYMAN!  Trying to do it all will only leave you tired, grumpy, and could drive away your Patrons (especially if your attention is diverted from your job and you burn the meal).  Designate one person to help with all the odd requests–the lemonade needs mixing; someone wants to borrow the lighter; someone else needs paper towels.  This is not the job of the Lead or the Head Chef.  Your team knows where it is, let them find it.  Worst case:  TELL them where it is and they’ll get it.  Stay focused on your task.
  12. The Lead and set up crew should arrive early on site.  The kitchen and all its food products should be there well before the first meal is to be served.  If you plan on providing dinner on set up night (Friday), be there when site opens, set up the kitchen first, and make the food available for the Patrons as they arrive on site.  Bring a crew to set up your sleeping quarters, if necessary.
    • TIP:  Set up night should be kept simple; try having soup and bread or another heat-and-serve meal instead of something complex.  Either way, it requires minimal kitchen use, can be prepared in advance and just warmed up on site and can be left to simmer while you set up your own camp (supervised by a member of your crew, of course).  As Patrons roll in, they can pop in for a quick bite when they arrive or during a break in their own set up.
  13. Make sure that there is a backup plan.  If the Chuck Wagon blows a tire, who will feed your Patrons until you can get there?  If you are running late, be sure to communicate with others who are already on site so they can spread the word.
    • TIP:  Be sure someone else in the household has a stove and Emergency Rations to feed people should you not be there in time.  Alternatively, be ready to reimburse everyone for a missed meal.  Don’t forget to apologize for being absent.  There may well be several people who counted on that food to be there and now they will have to source a meal from somewhere else, either through begging or buying.  Since food merchants are becoming more scarce, begging from friends may be more likely, or even leaving site.
  14. Post serving times so your Patrons know when to stop by for meals, and your Crew will know when to report to work.  Be mindful of your Patrons’ needs!  Is one of your Patrons part of the morning herald team? Helping at gate late at night and in need of a midnight snack?  Or a member of Retinue or Royalty?  Having a schedule and sticking to it will avoid confusion and heartache.
    1. Breakfast should be *served* at least 30 minutes to an hour before the day’s first meeting, which is usually 8 a.m.  That means getting things ready at 6:30 or 7:00 a.m. and having food ready by 7:00-7:30.  At the very least, hot beverages (tea, hot chocolate, apple cider and coffee), fruit and some kind of bread product (muffins, bagels, etc.) should be available for those who have to grab-n-go before the normal breakfast hour.
    2. Lunch can be do-it-yourself sandwiches with all the condiments out for an hour or so midday, or make sure your Patrons know where to find all the meats, sides, and condiments for self-service.
    3. Dinner times may have to be flexible depending on court times or other activities.
      • TIP:  Posting mealtimes, again, is vitally important, especially if there’s a change in court schedules or other activities.  This posting board can include menus and ingredient lists, serving times, Crew assignments and schedules, as well as personal messages for each other. Communicate to your Chefs, Crew and Patrons so they know the plan!
  15. Cleanliness and Wash Stations
    1. All chefs should have food handler’s permits (if it were my kitchen, I would require it…but I’m a stickler for that sort of thing), and any crew handling food should get one or be familiar with the basics.
    2. NO smoking–not even those electronic smoking devices–in the kitchen.  Ever.  Seriously.  Ever.  While the e-smoking devices are not technically “smoke”, it’s one more thing to distract you from your duties and an unclean object that you handle in between food.  Take care of your nicotine habits before and after work, not during.
    3. Have a wash basin and hand soap (not just hand sanitizer goo) available for all Chefs, Crew and Patrons to use before touching any food.  We’re camping in a cow field, people.  Let’s keep things reasonably civilized.
    4. You must have a garbage can (or two) to scrape leftovers into and wash station available after meals.  Pots and pans (and anything SUPER dirty) washed last.  A rubber scraper can help get most of the chunks off before going into the wash basin.
    5. Cover the garbage and take bags to the dumpster as each bag fills to keep away flies, yellowjackets, and hungry carnivores.  Yes, we’re probably safe, but you know there are wild animals–notably bears, coyotes and cougars–not too far away, and they can easily smell those leftovers!
  16. Provide snacks, sides, and late-night nibbles for those who might need to fill in a little around the edges.
  17. Many hands make light work.  Everyone should work their shift and stay until it’s done and clean.

Frigga the Loom

Originally posted Sep 26, 2015

Warp Weighted Loom:

I decided to build a warp-weighted loom a couple years ago.  I consulted a BUNCH of web sites (and Pinterest) and looked for sources (books) that I could look to, but most of the books I could find on warp-weighted looms is dated from before 1980.

Barber, Elizabeth Wayland.  Women’s Work:  The First 20,000 Years. W. W. Norton & Company; 1995.
Broudy, Eric. The Book of Looms.  Brown University Press, 1979.
Broholm, H.C. and Hald, Margarethe. Costume in the Bronze Age in Denmark. Arnold Busck, 1940.
Hoffman, Marta. The Warp Weighted Loom. Robin and Russ Handweavers, 1974.
Trychkare, Tre. The Viking. Carver and Co., 1966.

Yeah.  I looked for the Hoffman book, just out of curiosity, but the cheapest I can find is a used copy for $133 ($195 for a hard copy).  Not happening on my budget.  I’ll have to see if I can get a copy on inter-library loan.  There appear to be a couple of newer magazine articles, so I’ll seek those out as well.

There are a lot of web sites with some research (most based on the sources above) plus looking at extant pieces and experimenting with building their own.  There are differences with all of them, so other than the basic structure, there is a lot of room for experimentation and setting things up so it’ll work for the weaver.  I still need to do a little more research on weaving in general–I’ve only done inkle and card weaving, but this seems to be just like a giant inkle loom.  There are possibilities for doing multiple sheds, although the first couple of projects will be 2-shed only.

The other thing to keep in mind with this is that it is meant to be taken apart for transport to events.  None of the joints are glued or permanently attached.

Identifying the parts of the loom are the first step to being able to build it.

Warp weighted loom 1777 Loom with warp and kljåstein character of Sæmundur Magnusson Holm, minister in Copenhagen 1777. Iceland.:

  1.  Upright
  2. Crotches
  3. Top stabilizing rod
  4. Warp beam
  5. Tensioner
  6. Warp threads
  7. Heddle rod
  8. More heddle rods
  9. Heddle Rod Support
  10. There are two things that are numbered 10…one is what looks like another heddle rod, the other is the finished weaving wrapped around the warp beam.
  11. Can’t find a number 11.
  12. Can’t find a number 12 either
  13. Warp weights
  14. Bundles of warps
  15. Chain stitched string to separate warp threads

(skipping 16-21)

22. Sword for beating

This was my process to building the prototype:

frigga 11

Take two 2 x 4s–I would recommend using two hard wood boards for a “finished” look, although Hemlock or Douglas Fir is certainly more economical and lighter for transport…I grabbed two boards from the rafters, only to realize later that the darker board was, in fact, cedar.  Low light in the garage…Whoops!

I was looking at several sets of directions in the process.  The first set said that I should cut two 2 x 4s to 7 feet long (84″).  Other directions said keep the 2 x 4s at 8 feet long and use a stool to reach when weaving (which I would likely need for the 7′ tall uprights as well).  To that I said, “What?!  Oh, heck no!”  I’m clumsy enough that I would likely fall off a stool, and being only 5 feet tall, I’d need a rather TALL stool for something 8 feet tall.  Or maybe some stilts.  I don’t need to risk injury on a super-size loom designed for a tall man.  At the time, I left it at the 7′ measurement, but later on, as I will explain in a minute, I decided that I really didn’t need to make it much taller than me.

Next, you take those 24″ pieces that you cut off and make the “crotches”, seen in the above image.  These are the pieces that the top beam rests in while you weave.  It needs to be deep and wide enough for the rod to rest in, and taper down on the end so it can be screwed into the wood.  Some directions suggest that you make it vaguely “S” shaped.  Vague, indeed.  Seems mostly stylistic, although the thinner end at the bottom makes it easier to attach to the boards with long screws.  These were shaped using the band saw…I love that toy!  The bottom of the crotch is 16″ down from the top of the upright leaving room for the top stabilizing rod.

.Frigga 3

The next step was creating the shed rod, which is the cross bar that sits about knee height made from a 1″ x 3″ board.  This rod separates the front and back warp yarns; the back yarns go over the front, and the front yarns go over the back.  It’ll all make sense later….  The top beam I bought is 5′ long, which determined the minimum width of the frame, but it also needed some overhang.  4″ on each side seemed adequate, so I cut the shed rod 52″.  I drilled one hole through and secured it with a bolt and wing nut.  I attached it right in the middle, then realized that it created a pivot point.  I added a second bolt at the top, but they’re still a little close.  I should put another one near the bottom and leave the center hole empty…next time, don’t drill the middle hole.

As I mentioned earlier, I attached a top stabilizing rod above the crotches.  Some of the looms I’ve seen don’t have them, but it also appeared that the warp beams were very robust, but narrower where it fitted into the crotches, creating its own stability.  For this project, however, I thought it was necessary to anchor it.  This was also cut to 52″ and bolted in…just one bolt at each end, attached with wing nuts for easy assembly.  Initially, I had the wing nuts to the back, like in this image, but the bolts were very long and scratching the walls, so I turned them around to the front.

Frigga 2

The heddle rod supports were shaped from scraps in the bin, I think cut from leftover 1″ x 3″ pieces.  They are about 8-10″ long and roughly Y shaped.  I used the band saw again to shape this piece.  I drilled a hole into the end and into the frame and used a piece of dowel to mount it onto the frame.  These, likewise, can be easily removed for transport.

The heddle rod was the next piece.  The plans I was following called for 7/8″ dowels, which I looked for at the hardware store, but they only had 4-foot lengths…I needed 5 feet.  I realized that these don’t need to be particularly heavy or strong, and I just happened to have 3/4″ sticks that are more than long enough (leftover from the yurt project).  More scavenging means more money savings for the prototype project!

For the warp beam, where you attach the selvage band, I bought a piece of 2″ doweling.  In some of the old-school looms I saw, like the one pictured above, the selvage band is sewn right onto a very large beam.  In other images, it’s sewn into a bar that is somehow attached to the beam.  I decided to attach a thin piece of wood into the dowel to sew the weaving onto.

Referring back to the Saami/Norwegian video of Mary Mikalsen Trollvik who was demonstrating how to set up the loom, she is weaving on a loom where the warp beam is at her head level.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense.  Anything out of reach is just silly, so it was at this point that I decided that the top beam needed to be sitting at about 62″ instead of a ridiculous 78″.  I disassembled it and cut it to size.  Now she feels right.

Here she is, standing up!  Maybe it seems weird, but at this point, she was starting to feel alive!  She even told me her name.  Frigga, named after the Norse Goddess of weaving and wisdom.  There were a few more steps to complete my girl, but it was wintertime and it was just a few degrees above freezing in the garage, so this project was put on hold until warmer days.

Fast forward several months…

The Saami weaver, Mary Mikalsen Trollvik, started with a woven band with weft threads that become the warp threads of a woven piece.  I had a bunch of Fisherman’s wool that was given to me and this seemed like a great project to use that yarn.  I wove the selvage band, just the same way as Ms. Trollvik, and tied it onto a thin piece of wood–about 1/4″ thick and almost as long as the width between the uprights.  At first, I had just tied it onto the dowel, but eventually, I put a couple screws into it to keep it from sliding around.

Then I set it up in January 2015 at Ursulmas and worked on the set up for several hours over the weekend, in between making beads for passers-by.  By the end of the weekend, it was still no where near ready to weave on.

Frigga 8

One of the things I hadn’t figured out was weights for the warp-weighted part.  Ms. Trollvik and other Saami weavers use oblong rocks to weigh down the warp.  Coming up with easy to transport weights was a bit more time consuming (I was still working on them up until the day before the Arts Unframed event). I needed it to be the right weight, easy to take off of the loom during transport, and not too heavy overall.  Extant weights ranged from 1/2 lb. to 5 lbs.  In my research, other weavers said that they have used 1/2 lb to 1-pound bags of sand or gravel for weights instead of clay circles or rocks.  Some even used water bottles.  I decided to go with bags of gravel–easy to make, easy to add or subtract weight as needed, and cheap.

I started making muslin bags with 5″ x 12″ pieces of fabric, folded long ways to make 2 1/2″ x 12″ tubes with an opening in the middle.  I filled them with 1/2 lb. of pea gravel, evenly distributed into both ends, and hung it over the knotted lengths of yarn.  I was planning on leaving it open, but decided rather than end up having gravel spilling everywhere during transport, I sewed them closed.  I can always open it up and adjust as necessary.

Frigga 9

Heddles were made from Maysville cotton warp.  I thought this would be ideal since it would be less likely to get caught up in the wool fibers.  The warp yarns are from “natural” color wool yarn that a friend was giving away.  She got it from somewhere else and is allergic to wool and thought I’d get some use out of it.  Why, yes I can!!

So finally, at the end of September, nearly a year after starting this project, I took the loom to the Arts Unframed event in the Barony of Wyewood.  It took 3/4 of the day, but I got it up and running!  I had to chain stitch the strings (two chains, front and back), bundle the warp to make half as many bundles, and then put the heddles back on.

Here it is all set up and ready to weave!  You’ll now see that the back warps come forward through the heddles, then back behind the shed rod.  The front warps lay down on the front of the shed rod.  As you pull the heddle rod forward, the back warps come forward; you throw the weft, beat it into place, then put the heddle rod back.  The back warps will hang behind and you can throw the weft again and beat.

While I didn’t get a lot done on the weaving (only about 2″), it broke down easily into three long pieces and a box of rocks (weights).  It took about 10 minutes to take it apart and wrap it up in a sheet.  It looks like a mummy, which makes sense since it was secured in this fashion by an Egyptologist.

When I got it home, it set up again in less than 10 minutes.  I LOVE IT!  This makes it easily transportable and I look forward to taking it to events like Ursulmas or even an outdoor event in the summer (weather permitting).

You note that the warp is darker than the weft…I ran out of the natural yarn and had to switch to the white yarn.  I don’t know how many skeins I’ll need, and since Fred Meyer doesn’t appear to carry the yarn anymore, I may have to source more online, if need be.  The blue yarn, just so you know, is the same Fisherman’s yarn that I dunked into a Kool Aid dye.  Yep.  Kool Aid!

My plan is to (very soon) obtain some wood in a more natural and rustic state to make a loom that looks a little more like this:

an ICELANDIC LOOM for the Norse Encampment -Daily Life in the Viking Age circa 1000 AD at Vinland. The Viking Encampment living history prog...:

I hope you enjoyed reading about my venture into building a warp weighted loom!  If you are inspired to build your own, please send me a picture of your finished product!