The Inexorable Mouths of Snails

foot-as-mouth disease

New Reader Notice
historical costume, medieval, sca
Hello to any new folks who have come by to see what I have to offer! You will find that this is a strange mix of a personal journal and a blog. A great deal of my early thoughts on costuming and craft stuff does percolate through here, but a lot of what I say here is friends only or private. All of my costuming info is public, and will be duplicated, eventually on my public blog. Please feel free to friend me, read for a bit, comment if you like, and if we seem to be doing well as a acquaintances, I might friend you back.

If you are looking for my costuming handouts, they are freely available for download at Scribd, and I have a lot of additional content elsewhere. Please see the links list for where you can find my public web content.

Social networking: I'd be honored if you'd follow me on google+ , blogger, Scribd or twitter. I'm going to be adding more handouts and updating old ones, as well as bringing all my old sites' various content over to the blog and updating it, so that would be the best way to find out what's new.

Regarding Facebook: While I am on facebook, I try to keep that personal, for keeping up with IRL friends and family. If you do find me on facebook, I may not accept your request unless I have a good idea of who you are. My twitter is much more public, so I'll be posting costume and other public stuff there.

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NOTE TO SPAMMERS: Do not bother. All comments to this post made by anyone not already on my friends list are screened. They will be deleted without being read or clicked by anyone, and you will be reported. Furthermore, this post is dated in the future, and doesn't show up in my friends' reading lists. Nothing to see here, keep moving.

Teaser: Saffron, a shawl for leaving the Maiden House
The pattern I've been working on for over a year, a screen-accurate copy of the red shawl worn by Saffron in Our Mrs Reynolds, is nearly ready! Watch this blog for updates regarding the release.

Thanks go out to my volunteer tech editor and the brave test knitters in the BigDamnKnitters group at Ravelry.

This pattern will be a free PDF download, available through Ravelry and my document shelf at Scribd. I will make announcements here, on twitter, at my public blog, and on Ravelry.

From a conversation somewhere else
I said this about the classic SF I devoured when I was very young, and I think it makes sense and wanted to share it here:

"... I loved SF as a kid, and I still do. However, those female characters in the earlier stories? I never wanted to be them. I wanted to be the hero. I wanted to fly the ship, fight the aliens, explore the planets, translate the alien texts, get lost in the sands of Mars. The female characters were not the heroes. They added depth to stories for boys. They paved the way for female characters who got to be heroes. But they were not the heroes."

Guess who we were talking about?

Saffron's shawl, part 5: finally some progress
dress diary
A wonderful friend gave me my own set of the DVDs. Between that, and our dvd player and tv, I have an updated list of things I've observed about the shawl. A lot of this post is aggregated from a couple of posts on the thread over at BDK on Ravelry.

I had little success the last time (I have a whole card full of photos that really don’t give me much info), and having the DVD set (I had it on my DVR which isn’t really HD) and an okay little DVD player with digital upconvert and a really good ZOOM made a huge difference. I also put a fresh projector bulb in my digital projector tv, and that helped a lot.

I took a whole bunch of photos with my phone, because, of course, the battery was dead in BOTH decent cameras. Between fiddling with brightness/contrast on the tv and saturation on the phone, I got a couple of really decent shots of the back of the shawl. For blurry phone pictures of highly zoomed almost pixelated paused DVD video.. Argh.
I’ve spent hours pausing and zooming and inspecting the still images of the first 15-20 minutes of the ep and I’m pretty sure of several things about it.

  • it is for sure a top-down traditional (starts from the center of the long edge) mitred triangle
  • it has a double-eyelet border knit on or into the long edge
  • the pattern is a vertical open-chevrons-in-stripes pattern, with repeats of three chevrons and a wider solid chevron marking the ends of the repeats
  • there is a solid “stripe” between the chevron motifs that is 2-4 stitches wide
  • the chevrons point down and echo the border points
  • the openwork chevrons are made with 7 eyelets, with one at the point
  • the angle of the pattern when viewed from the back is not 45 degrees, so it’s probably a slightly shaped triangle/butterfly if laid out flat
  • it has a knitted on bottom border that is in pattern (the points of the border line up with the points of the chevron motifs creating an illusion that the border is not knit on)
  • there appear to be 15 21 points, including the three points of the triangle
  • that means there are 15 21 tassels or fringes (since there are so few, I am calling them tassels)
  • the tassels are tied on and appear to be made with 2 or 3 strands doubled over, and the length is not equal (or they are very worn and have attenuated and been torn over time)
  • it is made with a large singleply (like lamb’s pride worsted) or a very smooth/worn multi-ply
  • it is probably a wool or wool blend yarn, because the shawl looks like it has fulled a little bit due to age/wear or possibly deliberately during washing/blocking to stabilize the pattern (since it is so large)

I’ve ordered 2 different wool yarns from Webs to make the shawl. One of them is bound to be a better fit than the other: Nashua Handkints Creative Focus Chunky in Copper Carmine and Nashua Handkints Creative Focus Worsted in Brick.

Hope this makes things that I think I’m seeing clearer, I scanned some of my notes (not nearly all, just the most relevant ones).

Overview of my notes:

This is the scarf I made for the firefly-themed swap I was in recently, and which really helped with working out the borders and she spacing of the motifs:

Here’s an incomplete (doesn’t include the foundation row that the two halves point out from - it’s grafted in the middle) chart for the scarf above:

and rough charted notes from making the scarf (NOT the shawl!) for the corner of the sideways worked border (purl rows aren’t shown):

SO, that's where we are at this point.

ETA: Got the shawl charted. Took HOURS. Even using a spreadsheet program. The border is different than the scarf border, the shawl has a 1 stitch line between chevrons, I am not writing out the instructions until I have worked any bugs out of the chart, and I'm not quite sure how the double eyelet band is going to work as I have it currently charted, but we have a workable, testable pattern chart! WooHoo!

Shawl, still in progress
Swatching has been happening. I've been through a bout a half dozen yarns, first to get the pattern worked out, then I lost all my notes and found them, and the last while I've swatched in three different yarns to try and figure out gauge and likely best yarn for the project. So far, it sucks, a lot. I've been second-guessing myself left and right.

I spent a lot of time snapping photos of the screen tonight while pausing the HD broadcast and now I think it might be made with a 1-ply worsted, like Noro or Lamb's Pride. Fnarr. It would certainly block better than acrylic, and I really really hate knitting with acrylic.

So I need to drop 25 bucks on enough yarn (no, I can't afford Noro, so it's going to be Lamb's Pride, which I used to crochet with a lot and don't hate) to try to swatch something that will work right in pattern AND look right when blocked, with the dense spots and open spots. Hmmm. Maybe Malabrigo Merino Worsted Semi-Solid, in Sealing Wax. Good yardage/cost and colors.

Also, while I have a lace pattern that knits up correctly top-down, and I have a YoSaffBridge scarf pattern written in that stitch, I ALSO have one that knits up correctly bottom-up and I think it'll be more straightforward to knit the triangular shawl as a bottom-up thing. Maybe. I'm not sure.

*tears out hair*

No Witty Title
Thought for the day: If you know a little girl who loves science, buy her a labcoat and don't let her give up on it.

So, there's this book.
It was written by the man who wasn't actually my grandfather, and finished before he passed away. His wife, the lady who isn't actually my Grandmother, but might as well be, has gotten it published, and I was asked to build a website to help promote it.

The book is called Heaven's Pavement, and it's about WWII. It's a pretty powerful story. I'm still reading it, because I get so little time to read with the chaos of life anymore, and because some bits of it are intense enough to make me need to pause for a moment. Also, I think there is an element of not wanting to let the story be over.

The website I worked on is here: It's been live for almost 2 weeks.

It's pretty much done, but this is why I abandoned my blog and any serious posting anywhere since, oh, September. I was coding and pushing pixels back and forth and trying my best to make it worthwhile. Being asked to do such a thing for someone you love is both an honor and a labor, because the worst critic is often yourself.

Some genuine compliments on the site were communicated to me today. I think I've done okay. I hope so.

ETA: GAH. Cut and paste fail, discovered days later via casual mouseover. I feel like an idiot combined with an asshole now. Awesome. Fixed now, as if anyone will know.

Writer's Block: Who's your daddy?
What famous person from history would you have liked to have as a parent, and why?

I already have niche-famous parents, and friends with real-famous parents. I think I'm happy with the ones I have, because fame is no gift. Famous parents are still just parents, except that the "----------'s daughter/son" bit sticks with you and isn't just from your family and their friends.

Now, would I have loved to have been mentored by a well-known or lesser known gifted person? YES. I have a list a mile long of who I might have wanted to meet/study with. None of those people would have been good parents to me. Teachers =/= parents.

Also, if the real question is which wealthy people I would have wanted to have as parents, it's not money that matters to a child, it is love and interaction.

Too weird. Too weird. Too weird.
Unexpected crossover of the day - Something*Positive/Curious George. REALLY.

I am watching an episode of Curious George (I didn't turn off the tv after the kids went to school) in which George carries around, then eats, a pink, melty, ice cream sculpture that looks EXACTLY like ChooChooBear. At the end of it everyone is eating big lumps of pink choochoobear icecream while the head smiles away on a plate.


I'm afraid.

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Pillars of the Earth
So, watching it. Late, as usual.

Hrm. Not nearly as "OMG! SO ACCURATE!" as everyone had been raving about.

Now, it's a good story, of course, just as the Cadfael books/television series are (they are vastly different stories). The costuming is ... okay. It's not quite The Dirt Ages, but there are all kinds of "WUT?!?" moments. There's an equal amount of Random Burlap and Silly Court Clothes, and some bizarre hair, and the Mandatory Vaguely Hippie-Dreadlock Witchy person. At least it's not so heavy on the Giant Blanket Stitches like the costumes in Cadfael, or TOO heavy on the Dirt Ages aesthetic.

It seems like a decent story, I'll give it a chance, but I dread seeing clothes made after this series.

ETA: Looking at the costumes again, I think it's the idea that everyone below Baronial level was unable to have their clothes hemmed that makes me go "gah!" I hate the Ragged Raw Edges look. Almost more than the Giant Blanket Stitch look.

Saffron's Shawl part 3
Okay, if anyone tried that swatch with me last night, they most likely came to the same conclusions:

1) Design is WAY too small. Might be good for a mini version, but SO not for the real thing.
2) Rib separating the stripes was FAR TOO WIDE. it needs to be maybe 4 stitches wide.
3) I need to proofread.

So, I got about halfway through the swatch last night, thought all these things, made a grumpy face and frogged back to the eyelet border. Then I had a Moment of Inspiration and just played around with the yarn for a bit. I'm going to wing a full repeat, while making notes, and then I'll put together a one-width scarf pattern for those who want it, just to tide folks over until I can produce a pattern that makes sense.

At this point I'm thinking it's a double YO (that's purled/knit on the ws row, not treated as a single stitch), because I tried that last night with good effect. It looks almost exactly right. BUT... I haven't done a whole repeat yet, and I don't know if it's shallow enough or wide enough.

what I got out of the swatching process so far, though, is a better idea of what I need to do to reproduce the stitch pattern used in the shawl.

I have some spinning to do, so it's time to get off the computer :)

Saffron's Shawl part 2
dress diary
Huston, we have Swatching!

Right now I'm only concerned with recreating the pattern on the straight grain and testing my theory on the border. If you want to knit along with the crazy woman, here's my test swatch pattern #1:

There are a total of seven eyelets in each openwork chevron, and the scale is VERY large, given the size of the strands you can see between them. I have two theories on this: larger needle than would normally be used for the size of yarn used, OR double YO that are treated as single YO in the next row. I'm thinking full size it's sport or worsted on fat needles. I have some 11s and some really fat ones that I can try for actual size with after I figure out the pattern. For the moment, though, I'm swatching for structure.

I'm making two swatches, and one will have a simple yarn/needle size discrepancy (fingering and size 9 needles) and the other will be sock yarn, 9 needles and double YO.

Swatch one:

This has two full repeats of the chevron pattern, straight grain, so that I can figure out how deep to make the solid chevron between open repeats. it starts with the double-eyelet foundation row like the shawl.

Using fingering yarn sock yarn, cast on 31 sts on a size 9 needle.
Purl all sts first row and every odd row.
Row 2: K2, (YO,K2tog) 13 times, YO, K2.
Row 4: K2, (YO,K2tog) 13 times, YO, K2.
Row 6: Knit all sts.
Row 8: K4, *SSK, YO, K5, YO, K2tog*, K5, repeat *to*, K4
Row 10: K5, *SSK, YO, K3, YO, K2tog*, K7, repeat *to*, K5
Row 12: K6, *SSK, YO, K1, YO, K2tog*, K9, repeat *to*, K6
Row 14: K4, *SSK, YO, K1, SSK, YO, K2, YO, K2tog*, K5, repeat *to*, K4
Row 16: Repeat row 10
Row 17: Repeat row 12
Row 18: Repeat row 14
Row 20: Repeat row 10
Row 22: Repeat row 12
Row 24: Repeat row 14
Row 26: K7, SSK, YO, K13, SSK, YO, K7
Row 28: Knit all sts (not sure about this row - may be too much for the solid chevron!)
Even numbered rows 30-50: repeat rows 8-26
Row 52: Knit all sts
Bind off, wash and block with pins. I think it might block out to a non-rectangular shape.

ETA: It may be a flattened version of this, too, with double YOs and 2x as many stitches width, but I haven't charted that yet.

Writer's Block: If I were president ...
What would you do if you were president or prime minister for a day?

Seriously? Nothing much. A temporary secretary hardly has time to learn how to do things in a day. Nothing worth mentioning can get done in government in less than a few weeks.

Presidents and Prime Ministers merely GUIDE the governments they administrate. They have limited direct power. It's like steering a hot air balloon, not driving a car.

You must be thinking of Dictators, or Emperors, or Kings. Those whose power is supposed to be absolute.

Saffron's Shawl part 1
So, I've got this wild hair ... to redact the shawl worn by the character who uses the alias Saffron in the "Our Mrs Reynolds" episode of Firefly.

Things I've figured out, so far:

Definitely knitted. some variation on Triple Chevron Lace (one version, another version). Most likely a top-down knit, from the stitch pattern. Scale suggests it either uses big needles or multiple YO to make the big eyelets in the openwork chevrons.

There is a 2-5 stitch rib between the vertical pattern repeats (on the "up" points), but no rib on the "down" points.

I think there are 15 tassels, but there may be as many as 17. I have to figure out how many repeats are in the shawl. Each vertical repeat = one tassel.

It has an edging/foundation of two rows of eyelets, possibly all the way around the shawl. I have to get crazy with the remotes and the zoom to be sure, but it looks like there are either two rows of eyelets OR a partial pattern repeat at the bottom (two chevrons instead of three).

Likewise, I need to examine the shots of the shawl to see if anything suggests a center rib, because right now I am thinking not. Even though it would make sense with this pattern. Hmmm.

Possibly not a pure triangle, just going on the stitch pattern and how it fits into the pure-triangle sketch I have made. Need to make another.

This promises to take ages, BTW. Suggestions welcome for what you see in the shawl, if you have any ideas!

Handouts are up at Scribd
historical costume, medieval, sca
I decided to just put them up, since it is so much easier to manage them over at Scribd.

Here is the widget from Scribd with an auto-updating list:

ETA ARGH. It's invisible. Awesome. It's not blocked by adblock, I checked (really, lj? Why are you trying to sell houses to me?). Hang on.

Until I get this worked out, here's the direct link to my Scribd profile:

ETA again. Deleted the widget. It uses javascript, and Scribd doesn't have any other option for linking to the set of handouts. I'm annoyed at both sites now! Yay!

Resurrecting the Bliaut Project
historical costume, medieval, sca
So, today I am putting out a call for questions regarding bliauts, handout requests (a few are available online, but I have to mail or fileshare the rest), etc.

If anyone needs or wants copies of my handouts (these are the same ones from KWCS a few years back), pleasego download from (free, may ask you to register) or convince me to post them at Scribd (I have an account and have not yet posted anything). If you have the handouts and want to pick my brains for stuff not in them, please ask!

Direct links to the pages:
Introduction to 12th century Western European Clothing for Women and Men
Serpentine Braids or Straight as a Scabbard: Women's Court Hairdressing in 12th Century Europe

I have a couple more that are not yet online, and one that is a handout version of the Adventures In Dagging project, done for a workshop. I will hunt those up and mail out copies on request.

I am also considering reworking my old "bliaut handout" into a more updated version, with the cheats (shortcuts in girdle making, mostly) as a separate section. Any interest?

I am duplicating this post over at my blog, so if you subscribe to it as well as here, ask in one place or I might get confused ;)

Writer's Block: $10,000 and Some Change
How would you change the world with $10,000?

Fund starting a self-sustaining gardening cooperative in an empty lot.

Gack. 2012.

Just saw this, thanks to netflix.

It. Is. SO. BAD.

Also: Rip off of When Worlds Collide. With practically zero character development and some of the shittiest science I have ever seen in a disaster movie.

Finally, formulaic. The President goes down with the country. The crazy guy leaps into the volcano. Airplanes are volcano and building proof, LA slides into the sea with barely a gas explosion, and and and.


Finally, here's the kicker:

The end of the world will solve global warming!

Excuse me, I need to go hurl.

I cannot be silent any more!
In fandom, it is "canon" NOT "cannon." ARGH.

Unless you are firing cannonballs at something. And only then.

That is all.


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