Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Garden is Calling

It is the end of January and the seed catalogues have started arriving on mass. That means the planting season is only three months away, unless you plant indoors first then it is only two months away. With the arrival of each catalogue I feel that stirring within to go dig in the dirt. Of course I can't dig in the dirt right now so the agitation just keeps building until I am ready to explode.

It is this built up frustration that gets me in trouble in April, when the snow first starts melting and I can actually see the dirt in the garden. I always plant to early and lose half of what I plant. I should plant indoors and transplant in May, but planting indoors is a dangerous task. With twelve cats, and now a ferret, the seeds barely get above the soil before they become snacks or worse yet the tray of dirt becomes a litter pan.

I did have a small indoor greenhouse that worked okay, until the cats figured out how to get under the plastic cover. It also took up more room that I liked, especially since we don't have a lot of extra room to begin with. But beggars can't be choosers, this has become my personal motto this year, and I will have to get the greenhouse out of the garage and try it again this year.

The longer I look at the seed catalogues the more varieties of seeds I want to plant. Of course this never works out well for the garden. You can only plant so many seeds in the small space we have but every year I squeeze the rows ever tighter in an attempt to get more out of little. You know the saying about squeezing blood from turnips? It works, with a few modifications, for the garden too. You can't squeeze twelve rows out of an eight foot garden plot. You can plant them but they sure won't work well once the plants start growing.

In the meantime I am keeping myself busy with sewing, nalbinding, and weaving the garb we need for our first meeting of the SCA. I'm also spending some time trying to create the armour I need to prevent injury, and bruises, at the weekly fight practices. While these projects and activities keep my hands occupied they do nothing to still the insistent whisper in my mind that it is almost time to plant again.

Monday, January 17, 2011

First Fight Practice

We attended our first SCA activity Thursday evening, armoured fight practice. While I joined the SCA to get hands on experience with my various fibre art interests, I was also intrigued with the idea of learning to fight with sword and shield. Truthfully, I am more interested in the construction of the armour than in the actual fighting, but it is something PeterC and I can do together.

Since it was our first practise we of course had no equipment, other than personal groin protection. The SCA has a very strict rule on armour and weapon construction and that is something neither PeterC nor myself know enough about to go about constructing our own gear. So, we had to borrow armour and weapons from other members. I was lucky enough to find stuff that fit, though the helmet I borrowed was very tight around the jaw. PeterC was another story.

PeterC has a very large head. It is large enough that he has to special order his hats. Needless to say no one had a helmet big enough for him to wear. He did manage to squeeze his head into a borrowed helmet but couldn't stay in it long enough to get more than one round of fight practice in. The gorget he borrowed was also a bit tight for his neck. That means the very first items we need to get, besides knee and elbow pads, is a helm and gorget that fits him.

Since I was able to squeeze into loaner equipment I actually got to fight three or four bouts. I pretty much sucked at it. I found my self very afraid to hit my opponent at first. After much coaxing, and a little yelling, I got over that fear and took several good swings. My first bout wasn't bad, but each subsequent bout was worse and worse. By the end of the night I could barely lift my shield and when I did it was to little to late. Needless to say I got hit with head shots a lot. I've had the ringing ears and headache for the last 4 days to prove it.

In the end it was good fun and both PeterC and myself are looking forward to attending upcoming fight practises. It will be more fun when we have our own equipment and don't have to rely on loaner stuff, but until we get the materials to make our own gear we are beggars. With luck a larger helm will be there next Thursday so PeterC can enjoy the fun of being hit, instead of laughing at me stumble about like a drunk.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Finished Woven Belt

I finished PeterC's belt for his SCA outfit. The belt is woven from a wool blend roving. The embroidery, based on archaeological finds, is done in a heavy cotton 8/3 thread. The belt buckle is a brass rod bent into a D ring and the "rivets" are some decorative paper punches.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

New Adventures

I have a great number of hobbies that all revolve around ancient crafts, interpreted in my own unique way, and the techniques employed by the peoples of the past. I am fascinated by archaeological finds surrounding the early British and Anglo-Saxon peoples, and their artwork.

With all that in mind I made a decision on January 2nd that I was going to try something new this year. I decided to join the Society for Creative Anachronism, here after referred to as the SCA. If you don't know anything about the SCA here is the blurb from their own website.
The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our "Known World" consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Participants, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which may feature tournaments, arts exhibits, classes, workshops, dancing, feasts, and more. Our "royalty" hold courts at which they recognize and honor members for their contributions to the group.
I've known about the SCA for years, having been introduced to the concept some 20 years ago when I still lived in Tennessee, but I never pursued the matter. As my interests in the various textile crafts grew I found more and more of the information I needed already organized by members of the SCA. This of course peaked my interest even more. The Medieval Festivals also encouraged my interest in the SCA.

While doing some research online I found a link to the main page of the SCA and the rest is history, so to speak. I joined the organization on January 2nd, and have spent the last week researching my areas of interest, making costuming for PeterC and myself in our respective historical fashion, and getting to know the people of Harrowgate Heath through email. We haven't met anyone face to face yet, but they seem like a friendly bunch and I am looking forward to meeting a few of them at the next scheduled fight practice.

What I am really looking forward to is finding people who are masters of weaving, nalbinding, metal smithing, and wood carving. With any luck they can teach me no only better techniques but also the forms that fit with my areas of historical interests. Hooray for new adventures and new chances for learning.