Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Pennsic Projects

The object of Pennsic preparation is to get all the stuff that must be done finished before the war, in order to spend one's Pennsic time taking classes and working on fun stuff. I didn't quite make it, but still managed to work in an adequate amount of fun stuff.

There was KNITTING! But first, there was spinning. On Wednesday, I completed all the spinning that was my Tour de Fleece goal, and cast on for the Gunnister Purse.

This is the first time I've ever knit with my own handspun, so I've stuck to it. This represents my progress at Pennsic, plus a very little bit of work on the ride home, and while watching the Olympics Saturday night.

The pouch visited the Teribus concert on Thursday, and the nice guys in the band were more than happy to pose for a picture with my knitting. You don't see much progress here - the concert was much too lively for me to sit still and knit.

Yes, that is new garb I'm wearing. I sort-of finished three new overdresses and 7 undergowns before leaving for war, and spent many hours at Pennsic putting in hems and straps. But now I'm all set for next year.

I put the loom Aaron built to good use, with a couple of tablet weaving classes. The first was "Advanced Viking Tablet Weaving," and covered double-faced patterns and metallic brocade. (Check back later for a link to the instructor's webpage.)

So far I'm only 20 rows into the pattern, but I think it's all starting to make sense. The instructor offered lots of great tips on how to not screw up (it worked the second time), and has a really nifty method of drafting her patterns in Excel.

This class was pretty much exactly what I'd like an SCA class to be. There was lots of hands-on practical stuff, and also plenty of good, solid historical information. And the instructor managed to bring an inkle loom from Vancouver, which is impressive all by itself!

My other tablet weaving class was on drafting Snartemo patterns, from the famous Phiala of the String Page. There's no yarn to show yet - this project is still at the graph paper stage. But it was so cool to finally meet Phiala that I don't need a finished project to be happy with the class. (Yep, I'm a textile groupie. I also met Master Richard Wymarc, who's done some wonderful work on German embroidery. His article was responsible for one of the first SCA-specific projects I ever did (and still use), so it was nice to be able to tell him in person how much I like his stuff.)

Then there's the ugly - my first attempt at an Islamic folded bead. My work should not reflect on the quality of the class - the technique (which I'd never figured out) is so brilliantly simple that it was all I could do to not spend the rest of the war banging myself on the head and shouting "d'oh!" I won't share it here, although it's easy enough to find now that I know what I'm looking for - but the $10 class fee was money well spent.

There were a couple of other classes that didn't yield pictures. I took a class on making gold thread and sequins, and it was a great illustration of why the new no-sign-up system for classes is such a bad idea. 40 loud people crammed into a tent where someone's trying to teach a delicate art using very expensive materials is just a recipe for ugly. But it was fun to play around with banging on 24k gold wire, and I'll probably try to do more later.

I also took a great class called "Bread for Breakfast," about steam-baked quick breads and other goodies. It's a modern camping technique, not really historical, but when you get fresh bread with no dishes to wash, who cares? The process is pretty well described on the Bakepacker webpage, although the instructor showed that you can get great results with a colander or wire basket - no fancy equipment is needed. I've been searching the kitchen stores for the perfect colander (you need one with a nice flat bottom) since I got home, and finally found one at Target. I can't wait to test it out!

Coming up next: Stuff I Bought and Other Cool Pennsic Stuff, and (I hope) a finished Gunnister pouch. We're in Illinois, moving Aaron in to his new apartment, so I'm not sure how much knitting or blogging will get done.


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