Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Silver Linings

Let me tell you a tale of woe... of sorts.

At the start of this year, what seemed like a minor laptop repair turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg; my laptop died and had to be replaced. While I had the rainy-day funds to cover the replacement, this same fund was my travelling fund, so various events, such as going to the Crown Tournament in April in Depedene under Wychwood had to be cancelled.

I was rather miffed about this.

Time passed. I started thinking a lot about the money I was putting aside for a spinning wheel since I got bitten by the bug almost two and half years ago, and thinking dammit, maybe it's about time I got it. Only to have the exchange rates change significantly and with the goalposts moved, resign myself to saving a bit more birthday money.

Cue more dramatic sighing.

Now this was where a very dear friend of mine stepped in. This lady is lovely, clever, and utterly ebil. Once she knows what you like, she takes great pleasure in tormenting you with links to things you can't possibly afford (I've lost count of the number of castles for sale I've viewed now thanks to her). But for all that, her unparalleled skills on escudo-bay, or e-bay to the layperson, more than make up for the ebil.

I mentioned this exchange rate frustration to her, and she took to escudo-bay on a mission. A few styles were considered and rejected until she came across one perfect example. With accessories. 

 Barely used and all for half the price of a new wheel. Collection only, but on the way to Crown tournament, which she and her husband were still going to. Now, if I'd still been going to the event, the wheel would not have fit in the car with them on the way back. Not that I'm really one to believe in destiny, but it's hard not to think that this spinning wheel wasn't meant for me. And Suzie, having personally inspected the wheel, is inclined to agree.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

A&S Champion of Lough Devnaree

Continuing with posts of activities from last year, and one which really shouldn't wait much longer, is that of the A&S competition from the Champions of Lough Devnaree event. 

This was my first proper A&S competition entry at this event (a previous last minute entry of a re-created necklace with portrait inspiration does not proper documentation make), and the theme chosen by the previous winner, Lady Agnes des Illes, was "Paradise".

Initially, I wasn't quite sure where to start with this one, but I browsed Wikipedia a bit and eventually came across a reference to the land of Cockaigne, or Cloud Cuckoo Land as it is known in modern terms. Using this page and reference as my springboard, I found repeated reference to small honey cakes sold at fairs being the origin of the phrase. An A&S entry about research and baking? Sounds ideal for me!

I chose to make three types of cakes from period recipes; gingerbread from a 15th century recipe, a simple Lebkuchen recipe, not having the moulds for anything but a simple recipe, and a perhaps slightly less period Elizabethan almond cake recipe, because I just adore almonds.

Cakes made, I delivered them up for the competition and waited anxiously for the judges to judge, trying not to watch them all the while. I'm not sure I'm really able for the waiting. It's the anxiety that keeps me from entering in more competitions I'm sure.

Results weren't announced until feast was over, and it was difficult to eat on top of that many butterflies. My thanks to Lady Sela for enduring my steel grip as I waited for the winner to be announced.... and I won! I was so utterly delighted!

I asked Lady Agnes to go through the comments on my scoring afterwards, and I can see where I failed to take into consideration the strength of modern spices compared to what would have been used in period (except for the gingerbread. I think that may have been a personal taste thing, as it was perfect for me). And my referencing is a bit rusty. But both very workable-on things. 

Next year's CoLD is due to be held in early September, and I get to keep the staff of office and the title of A&S Champion of Lough Devnaree until then. I've restrained myself from carrying around the staff too much though, given how I almost knocked someone over in the first half hour of holding it... *ahem*

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Drachenwald A&S Exchange - Received

I've now obtained permission, and have updated my previous post with the name of the recipient of my A&S gift. And having made my gift for the exchange, you may wonder what it is that I received.

My gift was made by Lady Ameline de Leeuwe; two beautiful hand dyed skeins of merino fibre for spinning. Yes, I've taken two pictures here, the one on the left with flash, but it's necessary to show off the wealth of colours in the fleece. The linen bag to hold the fleece and my spindle, is embroidered with yarn that was itself spun and hand dyed! The stitches are so soft and even it's almost impossible to stop stroking them.

Thanks to an outbreak of Real Life, it actually took me a week after I'd received my gift to take pictures to share on the Drachenwald A&S exchange group, but I actually started spinning with it right away. It's coming together so lovely and fine, I don't think I've been able to spin this evenly before. Just goes to show the quality of the product ;)