Tuesday, 19 October 2010


Since I'll be in a string of out-of-office-events from tomorrow on, today will be partly dedicated to organising myself (read: prepare the different outings) and trying not to forget anything (read: write a bunch of lists). Plus print out some other stuff, backup the computer, iron a blouse for the OEGUF conference in Vienna, and pack some work stuff together to take with me.

And since I'll be up and away, this means a blogging break - regular blogging will resume on November 3. Sorry for the long break!

Monday, 18 October 2010

Sprint to the stopover.

 I'm still working hard on all the different bits and pieces for Hartenstein, including getting enough things prepared that I can take sewing work with me when I'm out of office from Wednesday on to the end of October. Which means that I am doing extra-long hours currently - which for me always means that I need something to relax with, and that is usually books, films and, since last year, knitting.

So here's what is currently happening (at least some of it):

Sleeves are getting sewn in and fitted to the Lady's blue dress...

... the man's mi-parti hood in yellow and blue is getting dagges cut and edge-finished with beeswax...

... and to relax, I'm knitting leg warmers in Kauni rainbow-coloured wool.

As usual, I'm knitting two at the same time, which saves all the hassle of counting and writing down the counts, and I'm just past the knee. The leg warmers are fully fitted, because I have rather pronounced leg muscles, and that makes for a lot of shape and circumference, and I even have to increase rather generously for longer socks, let alone leg warmers.

I like the colour scheme and the long, slow changes of colour very much, and I think it's also nice that the two pieces start at a different place in the colour sequence. (Also makes two-at-once knitting dead easy, what with the different colours and so.)
That said, I'm most probably not going to buy that wool ever again: The colour repeats have a different length, so I'm ending up with green knees on both legwarmers. I can live with that, though - what really irks me is the quality of the yarn itself. The yarn is very irregularly spun and quite badly plied at times, changing from the thickness I would have expected to very, very thin plies - more like sewing-thread thickness at the thinnest bits. Were it my own hand-spun wool, I'd be quite ashamed of it, and it makes me rather fearful how long the material will hold up to being used as an item of clothing. And actually, I'm wondering why I never heard about that quality deficiency before - I heard that Kauni can have lots of knots, but so irregularly spun yarn?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Sewing work,

Since there's not so much foam-filling work left to do now on the two figures, I can concentrate more on my sewing work now - and I'm really looking forward to make bright yellow hose for the man, and a mi-parti yellow and blue hood.

I've also done a few first test-prototypes of the chess figures to see how to treat them to get a good finish and good colours - either red and white or dark and white, I have not decided that yet. But for now - until the test pieces have dried out completely - I'll just focus on the fabric stuff...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Nothing new here...

... just more of the same work: Filling in the figures, attaching arms and legs, and preparing for the garment cutting and things.

And while I'm working, you can share the Ohrwurm that I had all day yesterday. An Ohrwurm is a piece or snippet of music that gets stuck in your head and you hear it over and over again - which might be annoying if you only know a very short snippet. (By the way, the literal translation - earworm - seems to make its way into English language.)
Fortunately for me, yesterday's Ohrwurm was more than a snippet, I didn't mind it at all, and I made things even better by finding this karaoke-subtitled version of it on Youtube:


Wednesday, 13 October 2010


The two plastered folks in our conservatory are coming along nicely - and they should better, since I spent yesterday and Monday both almost exclusively working on them.

Here's a current snapshot of how they are looking:

Isn't that a nice decoration for a table? Bit space-consuming, maybe, but well...
One of the four arms is already attached, and the upper torsos are both mostly filled, too. What remains is attaching the other three arms and reassembling, filling and finagling a coupling into the male's legs, as well as filling the female's legs. And, of course, making the two heads for the two folks and finally closing the seams and open parts with plaster and, after that has all dried out, giving both figures a coat of varnish for protection. But a good part has been done, and now I can take measurements off the almost-finished lady and start cutting her dress and overdress. And if all goes well today, I'll get the male's legs mostly together so that I can cut his hose tomorrow.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010


I'm not only working on the figurines, I have also now all I need for getting started on the garments - which means fabric. Nice, beautiful woolen fabric, plant-dyed to perfection.

That's indigo blue and madder red...

... and weld yellow and cochineal pink.

Spotless. Beautiful. I'm in awe.

Now to finish the two figurines far enough that I can start cutting garments from those masterpieces...

Monday, 11 October 2010

Quod erat demonstrandum.

I finally have indubitable proof for a theory that must have existed since the beginning of humanity:


 ... are much more complicated...

... than women. Really. Just count the parts.

The longtime readers among you might remember the two figurines that I made for the exhibition at Hartenstein, and there has been a second order - this time it's a man and a woman in normal, civilian dress. And yesterday, two of our friends came over and I took the plaster casts for the figurines off their bodies - a heap of work, but a lot of fun as well!

Now comes the assembly part - putting together the shell and filling it with construction foam and a wooden cross for additional strength and especially to attach the arms later on. The woman is already sitting on a table waiting for the first foaming steps - once I've finished this blog post, the glue on the wooden inner structure should have set and I can get going. Fun!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Fascination of Fire

Those of you that know me in real life will know that I have a strong fascination with fire - if I see a fire burning and have access to it, I can seldom resist from sidling up and poking a bit around in it.

So it's no wonder that I spent a good while (read: too long a while) on YouTube yesterday morning, looking at fire-making videos. I had actually thought about embedding one that shows basic firemaking in yesterday's post, but did not find one that suited my purpose. Instead, I learned that punk wood (rotted dead wood) makes wonderful tinder material, and that there is a technique called "floating hands" for using a fire drill.

There's oodles of videos about making a fire out there, but actually I always found that getting the spark to catch on the tinder material is the easy thing (just takes more patience when it's damp), and making a nest for the ember and blowing that into flame is also not really hard (might also take a bit of patience when it's damp, but we've done it successfully with half-dry grass); I found that the hard bit is to get a real fire going from the good and hot nest - and there was no video showing that. Getting a fire going from the embers is, of course, easy with the perfect materials and in nice, dry weather, with a ground and wood that is not soaked through and cold, but in my experience, that perfect setup is rarely there when I want to make a fire - so you have to use techniques that will even work in the cold and damp, and with less-than-perfectly dry wood. And that was just what I couldn't find.

Still was time well spent. And now I finally know how to mix up that scrambled egg or that pancake batter with a whisk twirled between my hands without having to stop every five seconds to bring my hands to the top of the whisk stem again.

Thursday, 7 October 2010


It's utterly amazing how many small things that would be nice to have or get done can turn up during a market/camp weekend - things like a new bag for my flint and steel, making new tinder, a bag for small woodbits and even smaller kindling to make starting the fire easier, mending a dress and mending a basket, and so on and so on. And this time around, I have actually more or less kept track of a lot of those small things, and a few of them are already taken care of as well - like refilling the tinder box, and starting work on a bag for kindling. I've even made new kindling already, since I know that I'm not so keen on getting to work with the hatchet once I'm getting hungry and cold, so if there's not tinder, hay for getting the embers started, wood and kindling readily available, I opt for buying something to eat and either going to an already burning fire or retiring into bed. And while both of these are good, nice and valid options, I'd like to have the possibility to just start a fire when I feel like it, and maybe have a nice cup of hot, freshly brewed tea while I have it running. Plus, finally starting a fire properly and all the way through felt so good at Tannenberg, after I had not done it for ages, and I found I really missed it.

We started trying to make proper, medieval-style fire years and years ago, and our first tries were more than pathetic - it would take us more than half an hour, several tries and three to four people blowing on the nest of ember, coughing in the thick, dense smoke coming out of it, and doing all kinds of things with a slight touch of desperation. And it did take a long time until we figured out the differences between starting a fire the modern way (with a lighter or a match) and starting it the old-fashioned way (with embers).

First of all, there's a huge difference in how the heat travels. Flame heat travels upwards, so if you want to light something with a flame, you light it from below and put the kindling on top. But embers work differently - they glow their way downwards and outwards from their nest of kindling. So if you want to light something with embers, placing the something on top of the ember won't work as well as placing it below them.

After that piece of insight finally found its way into my brain, it only took a medium long time for me to start realising something else: When the nest of embers and the kindling below it sit directly on the cold earth, there's a good chance that the heat from the little nest will be far from enough to counter all that cold. And the ember will die before the kindling has caught. That was when I began to start building the fireplace by placing a large-ish piece of dry wood with a flattish surface on top under the kindling and stuff - preferably a slab of wood that is already charred partly. This helps tremendously.

So my current setup is something like this: Slab of wood underneath it all; then comes the kindling in the middle of the underlying slab, set up mostly like a log cabin (two bits parallel to each other, then the next two parallel bits at a 90° angle across the previous two, and so on), but growing gradually wider towards the top. Around this small inverted-pyramid-log-cabin, I make a slighty larger log cabin setup from fuel wood that reaches as far up as the inner kindling one. This is both serving as a kind of flue to direct air and as the fuel wood to catch the starting fire. Then I catch a spark on the tinder (charred cotton cloth, usually) and place it into a smallish nest of hay with some small wood shavings and maybe a bit of birch bark in it. I fold the nest and blow on the ember until the nest has flamed up briefly once, then I put it into the inverted pyramid, place a last bit of fuel wood on top of the nest so that it stays compact and doesn't pop out again - and ideally, then I can just lean back and wait for about ten minutes to see everything erupting into a nice flaming fire. (Non-ideally, there's still some need for blowing gently but firmly on the ember nest.)

Oh, and a nice added benefit to lighting a fire with flint and steel? If there's a strong wind blowing, that might blow out your flame from a match or lighter, but it will actually save you work when doing it this way. Nifty, eh?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Chomping at the bit...

Hartenstein project is progressing, though I have not done much myself yet - but the cloth is being dyed and will soon be sent here, so I can get started with serious tailoring and sewing. I've already been told that the red, yellow and blue have all turned out very, very well, so I'm utterly excited to get my fingers on the fabric soon.

Apart from this waiting game, there's some other stuff for the project to be bought, planned, and prepared - a good way to spend the rest of the week, of which not much is left anyway, today being Wednesday already...

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Back home - and Summer Season is over.

Tannenberg usually is for me the last LH-event of the season, and since that is over now and we are back home, summer season is over.

This year's Tannenberg was a tad different from others - first of all, the old organising team has quit and used this year's event to show a new team the ropes. That also went hand in hand with a slightly different setup regarding the tent places. Then it was uncommonly warm for Tannenberg - I didn't feel cold once during the nights, and it was warm enough to just sit in a dress on Sunday. And that's the next unusual thing: we had a bit of light drizzle now and then on Friday, a bit more of drizzle on Saturday, and sunshine on Sunday - and you can probably estimate how uncommon that is for this event if I tell you that a lot of people commented Saturday's drizzle with "My, aren't we lucky with the weather!" (and that was no irony).

Apart from this, it was also a quite decimated event - many groups did not come at all due to not getting off from work, broken-down cars or a case of the 'flu, and those that did come were often much smaller than registered, like three or four people instead of seventeen. This all made this year's season finale a very laid-back and relaxed thing - and I actually followed through with my plan to have 80% holidays and just 20% work, having nice long chats with old and new acquaintances that weren't even all textile-related, sitting around our own fire or visiting our neighbours, and I even read a little in a novel I brought before going to sleep in the evenings, all things that I thoroughly enjoyed. So for me, it was a very nice and very relaxing season finale, and now I'm ready to tackle all those little chores that need to be done before putting away the things for the winter...