Tag Archives: SCA

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Relaxation Goal Achieved

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Potrero War is an event within the middle ages re-enactment group that I participate in. We go camping at a county park east of San Diego, practically near the international border. Weather in May can be variable — hot, humid, dry, cold, breezy, raining — different every year. This year, we had *marvelous* conditions. It was cool, even slightly cold, for the first couple of days. The last day was clear and warm without being too hot. And the nights were perfect for hanging out around the camp fires.

I had joked that this year, “I don’t plan to go do ANYTHING! I want to make coffee in the morning and tend the camp fire at night. I don’t want to have to walk any further than the bathrooms or the showers.” Now, while that turned out to be the case, I didn’t mean to fall down and get hurt on Sunday night to achieve that goal (more on that in a bit).

Most enjoyable was making my own artistic decisions all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I did not sign up to teach any classes. I did not sign up to take any classes. But I wanted to just “do whatever” when I felt like it. Two of our campers bring an RV every year and they usually set up a shaded pop-up at the end of their vehicle where we hang out to do weaving and other textiles crafts. I took advantage of our home “salon” and worked on a variety of projects.

I took some time to try and improve my fledgling skills at spinning from a distaff, which means tying the unspun wool to a stick and drawing from that source to make thread. I still find it awkward to control the distaff (stick) while trying to spin, so I set that aside after a couple of practice attempts. I had some “comfort spinning” with me when I felt like not thinking too hard anymore.

One friend came by each day to have her own relaxation time in our camp. Saturday she brought a few friends with her, and I held an impromptu “what is spinning?” demo. It wasn’t hands-on, but they seemed to really enjoy watching how spinning works, plus the nature of end-to-end plying (2-ply) as well as ply-on-the-fly three-ply technique on a spindle (the “black magic” of spinning and plying).

But the bulk of my time I spent working on my Andean Backstrap Weaving projects and skills. Last year at Ply Away 2, I measured out a warp “of four pairs” but never wove on it. Having finished my “three pairs” project in April this year, the “four pairs” project was the natural next one to learn to weave with. 

I’ve come up with a seating solution for modern conveniences plus proper weaving technique. The “handle” you see clamped on to this portable table is half of a “Better Loom” from The Loomy Bin. It’s designed to be the end closest to the weaver for a warp-weight card weaving setup. But it’s perfect to be the tie-down far end for my Andean weaving setup. The table is just right to keep my weaving sword beaters from dropping, or nearby when I set them down to change the shed while weaving. 

My view while I’m “tied” to my backstrap: I’m sitting in a folding chair, working on my folding table

I spent Friday speaking out loud, talking to my weaving, trying to ensure I knew what I was doing. I was still relying on the diagrams from my classes with Abby Franquemont (her website, her FB Page), but the intention was to understand what I was doing so that I could put the diagrams away and weave like “an intelligent teenager” raised in the weaving technique. We joked that I was an “audio book” that people just listened to in the background. By the end of the weekend, the most common phrase I would say was, “Is this what I want to weave? Yes, it is, so I will!” (I would check my pattern row by row, before committing the weft threads. This helped reduce the mistakes I had to unweave, and there were PLENTY of unwoven rows all weekend.)

Here are the key weaving designs I figured out over the three days.

this pattern is called “Mayo K’enko” – the start of one “cow eye” and a “meandering path”
my very first “kutij” pattern: the “double-ended hoe” farming implement
learning to reverse my “Kutij” pattern (the “double-ended hoe”) either left-facing or right-facing and in either color
this “Kutij” variation has a “double-column” in the handle of the hoe

By the end of the event, I finished my band and felt quite accomplished.

Sunday night, I was getting ready to head over to the enclosed structure we call the “closed ramada” to perform in the Bardic concerts. We’d sent a majority of the extra chairs from our camp down to the ramada, for the performers “backstage.” My friend was using his pickup truck to ferry equipment and performers so we didn’t all have to walk.

Here’s where the mishap happened.

I’m fairly short. Many trucks are not designed for people with short legs. They are most *definitely* not designed for short legs AND slippery-soled shoes.

As I was trying to climb into the cab, the foot I had on the running board slid out from under me. The leg that was in the air came crashing down on the shin and knee against the running board. Immediately, I returned to camp and sent everyone on ahead without me. My camp mates grabbed ice for my elevated leg. And when we needed a way to secure the ice against my leg, I was amused that I could grab my newly completed woven straps, which were hanging on my belt, and tie the ice to my leg.

This is why you weave “j├íkima” straps: Because you never know when you’ll need them!

My leg is merely bruised and technicolor, and I had a lovely night around the fire with friends as we made certain to ice 20-minutes-on, 20-minutes-off for a while.

The entire weekend was extremely relaxing, and it was nice to come home NOT so exhausted that I couldn’t function.

My Sweetie took many more photos, and I have a reminder on my calendar for tomorrow night to try and edit them into an album that can be shared. More images to come later.


You can see the full album of my Andean Backstrap weaving from Potrero 2018 here: https://photos.app.goo.gl/sYV7LP4UKPcLk8It2

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Returning from Retreats

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Returning from Retreats

Vacations are strange things. I spent extraordinary energy to get ready for two weeks away from work, specifically so I could forget about my regular schedule of events. I had to set up calendars to remind my students there would be no classes. I kept two long lists for stray thoughts about what to pack for two completely different events. And then in the midst of each event, I found myself emersed in the experiences this time without regard for lots of photos and/or social media posts. These two weeks have definitely been about disconnecting from regular habits.

Great Western War (GWW XX)

…or How I spent five days in an environment centered around the middle ages, multi-tasking for a Modern Spinning event, and commuting to a camp ground from a hotel

GWW is one of “those middle ages camping things” that I have been doing for years. In the 20 years of this event, I have only missed #2 (1998, or “Great Wet War”) and came for only one day of #19 (2016). I first went on staff in 2009 and this year was the first year I wasn’t involved in *anything* on staff.

Originally, my thought was, “Hey Sweetie, let’s pack light, bring almost no gear, and just hotel this war.” Sweetie’s agreed, and then the odd planning began. 

For two people who are used to bringing tents and cooking equipment and coordinating meal plans, packing for staying in a hotel was an entirely new experience. Sure, it meant less gear to haul and an easier packing job for the car, but during the event we figured out there were some new problems. Parking was a long walk away and so at night someone had to do that walk. With my knees still giving me trouble, obviously Sweetie walked that long distance just to come get me with the car. Shopping was entirely different, since we really only needed lunches and snacks in a cooler on site.

He also ran into some confusion remembering which items to leave in a hotel or which items to take on site. “Where’s the sunscreen? Oh drat, I left it on site.” “Did I pack my phone charger and leave it in a tent? Do you have an extra charger I can borrow tonight?” But I will praise the convenience of having a bathroom right there in a hotel room.

GWW also coincides with a modern event called Spinzilla. Modern spinners compete against each other and against themselves to spin as much yarn as possible over a week. The money raised by the team’s goes to support kids education programs about textiles. Our team has decided that we try to teach as many people to spend as possible during the week. So this year I spent 22 hours in the Spinzilla booth spinning and teaching people to spin. 

Day One: Spinners and a Musician

Sacred Circles 2017

Returning from GWW meant, “do all the laundry!” and then, “pack completely different laundry for all the dancing!” I scheduled a photo shoot for the first evening of the event with my favorite photographer, but I did not make any plans for performing. My knee has still been giving me trouble, so I took it easy and honored those moments when I needed to learn by watching and listening carefully from a side-line. 

I also had the good fortune of rooming with several different friends from different parts of my dance life. A previous troupe mate came to pick me up from the airport, and she brought me sheets, blankets, a pillow, and a bath towel so I wouldn’t have to fly with them. (Yay!) My hotel roomie twice from Tribal Fest joined us, as did my photographer friend. The four of us were an excellent match, and great fun was had by all.

The course work at the event was also amazing. I seriously had to pace myself in order to do all the classes (or nearly all of them). I chose not to dance at the hafla nor in any of the shows, and this really paid off. It meant I was able to last that much longer dancing in the classes. When my knee couldn’t keep up, I sat on the edge of the short stage, and “danced” all the upper arms work for the instruction. 

And I had the good fortune to be able to be a merchant in the vending room, selling both wooden zills and handspun yarns. I was surprised how many people are interested in my yarn, but sometimes makers never fully understand how much their creations are loved. This is always encouraging to an artist.

Late night selfie after a photo shoot on the woods and along the shore of Lake Huron, at Sacred Circles 2017