Blog Archive

Monday, August 24, 2009

Various and sundry

Hello, all ye faithful readers (all two of you, or whatever).

I have a personal motto that Pennsic, the massive camping event I went to a couple of weeks back, isn't over until you've gotten all the dirt out from under your toenails. While this sounds icky, it's actually pretty accurate, because it usually takes that long to put the camping gear away, do all the accumulated laundry, and otherwise recover from the vacation that was supposed to be helping you recover from life.

Man, I love Pennsic. I had forgotten how much; the last time I went was two or three years ago. I took all kinds of classes, learned nifty historical things, and fed my troubling obsession with colored string. I learned something called stick-weaving, another embroidery technique, bought some yarn for no good reason, and some filament or "flat" silk thread to go with the new embroidery technique. Luckily I don't have any projects to use it on just now. I also painted a bedsheet-sized banner as a tongue-in-cheek response to an award a friend was recently given.

Any banner that has "The Man, The Myth, The Legend" across the top is a good banner.

***

Speaking of embroidery, the project I've been working on all this time is still progressing. About the most exciting development is that I got thoroughly sick of gray and brown tree trunks and treated myself to some rust (I know, try not to be too scandalized) for the sleeves of the lady figure. I know how boring neutral tones can get, and I thought it would be smart to get them out of the way first, but they're driving me so batty that I don't want to pick up the needle and do them. 'Specially the tree trunks, because the shading there isn't straightforward the way I expect it to be everywhere else.

Okay, the design is of a woman and child in medieval dress, standing between two trees. The whole look of the thing is meant to resemble a medieval manuscript, and I'm using a medieval technique called opus anglicanum to work it. Mostly this means everything is done in split stitch except the outlines, and I get to use different colors for shading. The shading had me worried, so I finally traced a copy of the design, and then sat down with a pencil and went over the gowns until I had a good range of lights and darks. Then I outlined every section where there was an obvious difference between the tones - so now I have a shading map that pretty neatly tells me where to put which color to get the results I'm after.

The tree trunks don't work that way. I'm basically winging it with two shades of brown and two of gray. They're skinny enough that it shouldn't take me much longer to finish them - I'm on the second one now - but they're still bugging me, and they're boring anyway.

The only other colors I have completed right now are white, cream, and a very light yellow, so the rust is actually the snazziest thing going right now. Plus the sleeves are a teeny area to work, so they make a nice diversion that won't keep me off the tree trunks for too long.

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Beloved Husband took a hedge-trimmer and helped demolish massive amounts of Stupid Prairie Grass. Another thing I learned from Pennsic is a medieval way to prep the ground for gardening: It's this nifty period weed killer called scalding hot water. Now that the grass is mowed almost to the ground, I'm going to go back through, trim it as close as I can, and then use our tea maker/hot pot to boil up a few liters at a time and go cook me some unwanted plant life.

Yes, prairie grass can be lovely. But you need to make up your mind whether you're doing a prairie grass sort of landscape, or a flower garden, and then keep the damn grass out of the flower beds.

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Classes resumed at the local university today. I have to quote my friend Ned, who always liked to say that "it's a lovely campus - shame about all the students." Not only have several thousand freshmen arrived who've never driven in this city before, there are a few hundred students from abroad who have likely never driven in this country before. Campus will be an interesting place to GO NOWHERE NEAR for a few weeks, until things settle down a bit.

***

On the other hand, all those students make for lots of potential henna clients. I'm still at the Farmer's Market, will be at Global Fest in two weeks, hope to get in at Octoberfest in the early part of the month, and now I've got a classified ad running in the campus newspaper. Now I just need to get my booking "brochure" up here and run a few hundred more business cards, and I ought to be good to go.

Odd, I certainly don't feel like I've been this busy.
Cheers, y'all.

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