Poetry and Progress

3/3

Hinamatsuri! It’s Girl’s Day! The third day of the third month is considered auspicious. The festival was previously known as Momo no Sekku, or peach festival. During the Heian period, the third day of the third month would line up more closely with the 8th of April or so. Peaches would be in bloom, hence the festival to celebrate spring’s arrival/the changing of the seasons.

I spent the later part of the evening reading a thin volume, Stephen Turnbull’s Samurai Women 1184-1877. I stopped halfway through to give myself something nice to read tomorrow. One of the most interesting things has to do with the hard numerical representation of women warriors. At one dig site, 35 of the 105 sets of remains were female and 2 other digs reported similar numbers. That’s one third of the total! Female samurai warriors were much more common than the overtly male lens of history would suggest. I’m somehow not surprised. I’m going to use this detail during my class while discussing kogai. Everybody had to do their hair.

3/4

Fighting against sleep To read another story Calligraphy blurs

The silent roar of a yawn Brings tears to my weary eyes

3/5

Today is my Laurel’s birthday. I wrote a silly pair of poems for her:

A celebration Of the birth of my Sensei Wielder of needles

Manipulator of cloth her service a cherished gift.

She sews, she bakes, she’ll Poke you with a rapier – Her wit just as sharp

Such a talent with numbers And she helps to guide my art.

3/6

It is not enough to desire to be a thing courage is required

the choice to do what must be done each day without failing.

In my research today I came across a number of articles that I find fascinating, along with a book. I may buy the book. I’ve downloaded the articles already, including one really lovely 45 page article about Heian noblewomen taking pilgrimages to shrines and temples. I’m over the moon excited about that one. I’m sure I’ll find extensive information to inform my interpretation of the travelling outfit.

3/7

Sifting through ideas Catching stray thoughts in my hands

Watching daydreams pass Attempting to inhabit A better version of me

Today I attended a Carriage Symposium. It was exclusively European carriages and modes of conveyance, which was a little disappointing. The last class of the day was about driving oxen, and that was at least relevant to my studies. Noblewomen in the Heian period would sometimes be transported in ox-drawn carriages. It’s specifically these carriages that women would hang their sleeves out of, to the point that some women attached larger sleeves to one side of their gowns. Sei Shonagon, of Pillow Book fame, self-proclaimed fashion maven and Heian courtier, thought this practice made ladies look lopsided and ugly.

3/8

I bought the book. It’s an e-pub, so I got it instantly via download. It’s The Search for the Beautiful Woman_ A Cultural History of Japanese and Chinese Beauty. I have a lot of reading to do.

Finished the first of the 2 cords I’m making for my Laurel’s gown. It came out to just a smidge over 6 yards. Embroidery floss starts out at 8.75 yards, so the take up was fairly small. I’m excited to be halfway done with this project.

a bundle of marron and grey spiraled braided cord sitting on a darker grey painted wood slat background

I received a note today from the C3 team. I was expecting a small token, maybe a little pewter casting as a memento for winning my division. I was wrong. The note informed me that everyone was receiving hand-made persona specific items, but not me. They said they were not familiar enough with my culture to make something so have instead decided to present me with a generous gift-card to Mood Fabrics in New York. I’m astonished, absolutely floored, and very excited. I’ve never ordered from Mood before! I’ll probably use the gift toward buying some silk for either a white hitoe or red nagabakama (extra long very full trousers).

3/9

I exchanged poetry, tanka, with a friend today. It was the first time someone responded to one of my poems with one of their own and I was absolutely thrilled. Made. My. Day. We went back and forth twice. It was an unexpected and delightful experience. Exchanging poetry was one of the major ways that Heian aristocracy communicated their true feelings to one another.

I’m more than one third of the way to 1000 Tanka. Current count 343.

Champion

2/17

The embroidery floss for my Apprentice Project arrived!

I was inspired to write a poem today that left the muse feeling a little overwhelmed. This makes me chuckle. I made her blush. Hard. If not that, what else is poetry good for? This one highly inspired poem led to several others, which was a relief. I’ve had to exert more effort into my poems in the past week or so, and was left wondering what I was doing wrong after having days where I wrote a dozen or so tanka. That first poem:

A star that outshines The Four Beauties of China With each brilliant smile

Mischief and intelligence Inhabit you, sweet Goddess

The count currently stands at 275 tanka.

Stop the presses! I just saw the announcement on Facebook! I took my division in the Calontir Clothing Challenge! I won Historically Focused Beginner. My partner says to enjoy it because I never get to call myself a beginner again. And he’s absolutely right.

2/18

I received a confirmation email yesterday evening that I didn’t actually read until today. I typically only check my email once each day. It confirms winning the Historically Focused Beginner division of C3, asks for my address so I can receive a token, asks if I would like my raw scores, and provided me with my judge’s feedback. It feels real after that email and reading what my judge had to say.

Wow. I won an inter-kingdom competition AND was a finalist in my kingdom’s premier A&S competition with my travelling outfit. I’m thrilled!

My judge was thorough with my entry, though I did not provided complete information. You see, I forgot to include my documentation. My judge came here and found my documentation and read it and this blog. I’m floored. None of that was included in my judging though, that was all about the pictures. My judge gave me insightful feedback and offered an invitation to engage with them outside of the competition. It will take me a day or so to respond appropriately.

2/19

I got my scoresheet back for C3. I got a perfect score. Plus bonus points. I’m beside myself.

2/20

The headpins I’m using for the center pivot of the sensu for Tomodachi. I’ve never made a folding fan before and I’m excited about trying.

2/21

East Kingdom Court has happened and I can finally say it! I was selected as His Majesty Alberic’s Champion of Arts and Sciences (Consort’s Champion in waiting)! I am deeply honored to have been chosen. Here’s the video. You can skip to 1:23:30 to get straight to the announcement, His Majesty Alberic selects His Champion (me) second. Please explore the art created by the Sovereign’s Champion of A&S.

Amongst the congratulatory comments on Facebook came a question about Japanese jewelry, specifically hair ornaments. Before I knew it, I had been invited to teach a class on it in June. So we have another project to add to the list. I’ll have to do quite a bit of research on the topic to prepare. I’ll probably center the conversation around hair ornaments.

I was also instructed by the current Sovereign’s Champion of A&S to bask in it for a little while. She’s a wise woman, and I think I’ll heed her advice.

And I’m delighted that a friend of mine might be interested in making a set of Japanese garb for herself. She’s also excited about my large literary project.

2/22

I meant to post last night but was a bit carried off in the moment. I found myself a little discombobulated today.

Mind in a jumble A lack of concentration Wanting a next step

Deep breath and a cup of tea, Now set to organizing (288)

So I reviewed the list I made of projects and added the class to the mix. I spent some time searching about for a white board to use as a project board and came up empty. While I would prefer to have what I can not currently find, I will make do with a notepad. I’m thinking of spending about an hour each day on each project until I’m working against a deadline. Ethereal Seamstress is the first thing with hard deadlines, so most of March will be dedicated to that project. Having written everything out I’m also now aware that the weaving journal project is barely a project, more a system of recordkeeping that will only need updating. So the project count with that subtraction and the addition of the class remains steady at 7. And I don’t intend to add any more until I finish something.

I made some initial progress on the hair ornament class and wound all the tama for weaving the first of the two cords for my Laurel.

Finally. An Update!

It’s been almost a month, one day shy of it.

I’ve been a little consumed with the results of Crown’s A&S Champions. It was amazing on January 24th to have my travelling outfit place in the top 5 (based on rubric) making me a finalist!

On January 28th the five finalists met with Their Royal Majesties over zoom. We were called in individually to answer 4 questions that we were given a few days prior. Here’s the poem I wrote on January 25th in the first hours of the day having only found out about being a finalist hours before:

Sitting with my tea Contemplating four questions And how to answer

Drawing inspiration from The depths of my heart to share

On January 29th I got my rubric back. I scored a 6 in one of the categories! Most of my scores were 4/5, and I had two 3s. If you’d like to look at the rubric to have a better idea of what I’m going on about, check it out! I’ll likely post my filled in rubric on the page I’m creating to hold the pictures and documentation in an easy to access location.

On February 4, the five finalists met with TRMs together via zoom for a court recording session. There They announced Their selections for Champions. But for that information you’re going to have to wait. TRMs did it in such a way as to allow the Kingdom to be surprised by the announcement. So yeah, I know, I’m just not telling. The announcement will be made in court on February 21. Here’s the link for the East Kingdom’s YouTube page so you can tune in!

In other news, I’ve several projects in the works right now. Let’s see…

(One) I’m weaving cord (yay for more kumihimo on the marudai!) for my Laurel. Maitresse Alysia is making a lovely gown in maroon and grey. This apprentice is using cotton embroidery floss to make an eight strand round braid. It’s being used for lacing the gown closed and for the points used to tie on the sleeves. Of course I was silly and forgot to take a picture of the sample cord I wove before I sent it off. Oops. The great news is that I received word today that the cord colors match! That means the sample can be used, if necessary. I’ve ordered the floss I need online (hooray for not having to go to a store!) and will start weaving when the floss comes. I’m making two full length cords, using one skein of floss per tama. The floss starts off at nine yards, so the finished cord should be about four and a half yards long when finished.

(Two) At the suggestion of my partner, I’ll also be starting a weaving “journal”. This is a physical notebook that I will keep a snippet of finished cord in with all the information needed to replicate the cord should I ever choose or need to.

(Three) I’m currently in the midst of a project that you, dear reader, are somewhat already aware of. If you recall, I decided to continue writing tanka after the November Tanka Challenge ended. I’ve kept it up, writing not just one, but several poems every day. Why? Well, I decided that I want to write 1000 tanka in a year. I used November 1, 2020 as my start date, so I have until October 31, 2021 to accomplish my goal. Current count stands at 241. I’m writing minimum four poems every day in order to reach the goal on time.

(Four) I actually have more work to do on the travelling outfit. Yes, really. As thrilled as I was to finish it on time for Crown’s A&S, and as amazing as the reception has been to it, I’m dissatisfied. If you’ve been following along you know that the travelling outfit is not actually complete. I found out at the end of November, halfway through C3, that I wasn’t working with a complete picture. I was introduced to a new source and discovered I had not included all the bits for the full travelling outfit. And I had done a few things wrong. I need to rework the skin-layer garment, previously called a kosode. It is more properly called an asetori and is the precursor to the juban. Though it was likely called something else in the Heian period. Mine needs the side seams taken in, the hem taken up nearly a foot, and the sleeves remade from the standard kosode style to a tubular style. The hitoe needs the extra half panel width removed from the sleeves and roll hemming of the sleeve ends and overlap panel edges. I need to make an actual kosode and a pair of shin protectors to round out the ensemble.

(Five) I have a literary project that I put on the back burner for C3/Crown’s A&S. I really want to pick it back up, and need to work out how I make it a priority. It’s a complex project with several interconnected facets and a strict timetable once it goes “live”. This project will take a little over a year to complete and requires more than one full day of time per week, so it’s a big deal to get it moving.

(Six) I need to make the garments necessary for full karaginu mo. This is what I should wear for court. Because I already have a beautiful uwagi, it behooves me to choose a kasane (color combination) that looks good with my brand new light gold uwagi, though I do have the pieces for a white uwagi already roughly cut out. I’d like to pick a kasane that is appropriate for special occasions/all seasons. The current front runner is either ura koki suo deep maroon linings, in which all 5 ginu or robes/gowns have a dark maroon face and maroon lining or suo no nioi scent of sappanwood (nioi is a term that refers to fragrance in the way that a fragrance becomes stronger or softer depending on how close you are to the source) in which there are two gowns of light maroon, two of maroon, and one of dark maroon on the bottom. Both combinations would sit atop the blue-green hitoe that I have recently made. However, the local store where I can purchase silk taffeta at $10/yard seems to carry mostly shades of gold, which I can totally use during the fall-winter season. Doubly cool, The colours in the maroon kasane and the gold kasane combine with one or two yellow gowns to make other kasane…but I’ll probably have to shell out a bit of cash for the silks I need, and I need to be really careful about how much I spend on silk. My budget will keep this project in check for a long time. Sewing isn’t likely to start until after I’ve finished the sewing for the travelling outfit corrections and additions. I’ll slowly purchase silk as I can to make this project happen. Lucky for me, I have a red karaginu from a gifted set of robes and the silk brocade I need to make another one in yellow.

(Seven) I’ve a burgeoning project with a friend of mine. We’ve entered into an A&S competition called Ethereal Seamstress. It’s a month long competition running February 27 – March 27 very similar to the Calontir Clothing Challenge in that it’s creating an outfit with accessories from the skin out. Tomodachi (translates to “friend” in Japanese, I’ll use this to refer to my partner in this project) and I are in the planning stage currently. We have an outfit chosen to emulate and decided to hand sew it all. It’s a late Muromachi (1336-1573) ensemble once again from the Costume Museum in Kyoto. She is reading up on the mountain of information I’ve laid at her feet. I’m brushing up on the same material as it’s not my usual period. (Everybody knows I’m a Heian girl.) It will be a tremendous challenge. We have discussed keeping on with the project if for any reason we end up stepping away from the competition. This will be the first step for her in building an alternate Japanese persona and I’m thrilled to help.

And speaking of the Calontir Clothing Challenge, I did get everything turned in on time for that. I “officially” completed the challenge. Judging is happening through the end of this week. Perhaps I’ll take my division! I do know that someone judging it is impressed with it. I was attending a virtual event and there was some talk about C3 and how wonderful the entries were (they really are, you should check them out). A Lady stated that she was judging the Heian travelling outfit and was very impressed. I couldn’t stop smiling for hours after hearing that.

Finally, a little housekeeping. How often should you expect a new blogpost? Good question. Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ll update after doing any significant work on a project. With as many irons in the fire as I currently have, there should be fairly regular updates, once a week, at a minimum, I should think.

Technology Snafus

I turned in a video. It’s not the video I wanted but it’s better than no video. I hope.

The photo shoot went really well. I got great pictures, some specifically were meant to lay over parts of the video so when I talk about the hitoe, and picture of me in the hitoe is on screen. But there were shenanigans and the files didn’t transfer properly and for just a little while, I had lost all the great photos. And all of the video I had shot of the entire project.

I almost discorporated.

It wasn’t too long before I had all the files back and was speeding right along with the editing. And then … I discovered the base clip had sound so low it may as well not be there. Boosting the gain did nothing. I checked the source clip, a little low, but the audio was there. Another long while trying to get everything to work, restarting the program and the video project from scratch. And I eventually had to give up. Nothing worked.

I tried to edit the video on my phone. Yeah, I needed hours of tutorial for that. So I did what I could and turned in what I have, the base clip. It’s hell of unpolished, just one take of my script. Has one flub. The beginning and end are trash because I couldn’t even manage to figure out how to trim the video. I hope it is better than nothing.

So that’s it, that’s everything, Crown’s A&S is all over but the judging. Next week I meet with my three judges and at least one shadow judge for assessment. The week after that I meet with Their Majesties for judging (I think). And then at some point after that I’ll find out how I scored and if I made the finals. Making the finals would be amazing.

Calontir Clothing Challenge has until the 31st. So I’m going to absolutely take the next couple of days off and get some things done that I’ve been neglecting for 3 1/2 months. And maybe plan a birthday party for myself. All I need to do for C3 is upload pictures and fill in a few forms and that will be all over but the judging.

Here on this blog I need to create a gallery page for this project. And I may try again at some point to remake the short video with the cool image overlays and two inserted video snippets. It was meant to be 4ish minutes of awesome. We’ll see.

Today has been my most prolific tanka day yet. 7. This one brought a smile to its recipient:

Haunting melody A refrain of languid notes Swirling in my mind

A bow drawn across heartstrings Crescendo of emotion

Another Day Off

Mostly. I finished editing the script. I’ll film in the morning.

Once I have all the pictures taken and the video shot (and edited and turned in) I’ll clean up the project remnants that are all over the place.

So the question becomes, do I revamp the inaccuracies in the project so it’s ready to go when it is time to wear it, or pack it away to work on something else? There won’t be any SCA events that I can wear it to until at least June, let’s be honest, large gatherings of people probably won’t happen this year either. So there is time. I also intend to make a couple other items to round out the outfit appropriately. But no hard deadlines. I’m kind of done with deadlines for a while. Maybe the alterations and new items can be my small sewing projects that exist to be worked on while watching television.

Having completed  A great task I find myself Wanting something new

The focus of adventure And thrill of exploration

But there is this dark gold dragon brocade that is begging to be a hitatare kamishimo. That’s a men’s outfit with matching top and bottom. And there’s a yellow chrysanthemum brocade that needs to be turned into a karaginu that’s a “Chinese jacket” worn as the top most layer in karaginu mo or formal court ensemble for ladies. I also happen to have the fabric already cut out for a white uwagi too…so many projects!

I also need to decide how to wrap up daily blogging. It’s been a wonderful exercise, but without an active project, I don’t have much to say. I could simply post my tanka.

There is a large project I set aside in order to complete the travelling outfit, and I am eager to pick that back up.

But two priorities are learning Japanese and getting into fighting shape. I’d like to fight in the SCA, so it’s time to get serious about it which means training every day. At least learning to count in Japanese will be easy as I count blows on my pell (a training dummy).

Lots of things to ponder as I wrap up the travelling outfit project for now.

A Day Off – Sort Of

I woke up and wanted to take the day off. I haven’t had a full day off since Thanksgiving, and I was rushed off my feet cooking for that. So I took the day off. Mostly.

I emailed my Laurel so she has the same information my judges do.

I pulled out the ginu to iron them, even though I was taking the day off. Don’t worry, no ironing happened. I realized that I did not feel comfortable wearing ginu that are meant for the fourth lunar month, May. No, not even for a video so I’d look super pretty. I try to keep my depiction of a Heian noblewoman as authentic as I can make it, and no self-respecting court lady would wear thin robes for summer in winter. So I’ll shoot the video tomorrow in just the travelling outfit sans hat.

I did start looking over my script for the video and found I didn’t quite like it, so I’ve been tweaking that.

It’s not really a day off, but it’s the slowest I’ve had in a month. Feels really weird not to sew.

My brush flies again As I write another poem For another day

An opportunity to Share words with the world once more

Entered!

Exhale with relief The great task is at its end Time for some small rest

A whirlwind of silk and words Packaged up in an email

It’s done! I sent in the required things and have received confirmation that everything is in order. I’m over the moon about it. It’s a really big accomplishment, and I’m extraordinarily proud of getting this done on time and well.

Would you like to read my documentation? Just click on documentation and you’ll be whisked away to a public google document. It’s not short. 11 pages. And it has pictures! And I suppose you would like to see at least one picture of the completed outfit, right?

While I am officially entered and submitted, and could call Crowns A&S done, I still want to do the optional video. So tomorrow I’m putting everything back on, one layer at a time to take a few pictures for the Calontir Clothing Challenge. Then I’m going to slip the uwagi off, untie the hitoe and put on a set of robes, called ginu, then put the uwagi back on. Once I’m properly dressed, I’ll take a few photos and then film the little script I have written up. After that, it’s all about the editing.

Oops. I guess that means I need to get those ginu pressed…

Home Stretch

Complete save one sleeve I step back and admire it Could I be more pleased?

The flaws quickly forgotten As its beauty melts my stress.

I finished it! The uwagi is complete!

I’d love to take some time to celebrate, but that has to wait until everything is turned in.

I’ve returned to the hat for it’s final assembly. First I removed the old veil panel. I’m currently trimming the kazari-himo or decorative cords to the same length.

Once I’ve finished that (I’ve got one left) I have to contemplate how I’m actually slitting the veil panels to weave the cords through. I think I’m going to go with exactly what I can see in that zoomed in photo, a central outlet so the cords hang down the center of the veil panel and a slit to allow both cords to pass to the back of the veil at the seams of the panels. The majority of the time the cords are encased within the channel created by the stitched down overlap.

After cords are adjusted, I’ll stitch the entire completed veil and cord assembly to the hat. Crud, A curved needle would make that a whole lot easier. I don’t think I have one…yeah, I looked, no dice. I may heat up a needle and take some tools to it and shape my own curved needle. I’ve done it once before. That 15 minutes or less spent making that needle bent will save me twice that time. Yup. I guess that’s a thing I’ll do after finishing that cord.

Once the mushi no tareginu or veil panels are attached it’s all over but the pictures. I’m getting dressed and taking pictures as early as I can to give more time for finalizing submission materials. Crown’s A&S is only accepting 3 images, so I’ve planned out the 3 shots I want. My partner is going to play photog. We have plans for shooting both outside and inside and choosing the best. I’ll grab some extra stuff and some video as well.

After going over the documentation one more time, I’ll upload everything and send it off.

Here’s a cool bit, they’re giving us a couple extra days for the optional video! This means I can shoot my video on Monday and then have two days to edit it. I’m super stoked about the extra time, my video will be so much better than if I had rushed it tomorrow with the other materials.

Uwagi Final Touches

Let’s make some more progress on this list.

I have a lot to do today in order to finish this project. The goal is to get the uwagi completely finished so I can finish the hat tomorrow morning and take pictures in the afternoon. If things get dicey, I have Sunday as a back up day, but I really would prefer to leave Sunday for a final polish of documentation and making sure everything gets turned in. The deadline is 11:59pm Sunday for all materials to be turned in.

The deadline looms large And imposing, challenging This one to meet it.

Head down and back to work, there Is no time to spare today.

Time to make some tea and get to stitching.

First up, top stitch the entire edge. This took 5 hours.

Next, sleeves. I’m doing this start to finish one sleeve at a time starting with the right sleeve. This is a process. Before starting, I double checked the direction of the brocade and matched the sleeve to the body. Then I moved to the actual attaching steps. First I pressed the back edge of the sleeve, the body side, to it’s final position in topstitching in both the lining and fashion fabric. Sounds like a weird thing to start with, but this is best done before the sleeve is actually attached to the garment. Next I attach the sleeve lining to the body lining and stitch it on. The upper/outer fabric sleeve is then attached to the body. Once it’s all stitched on, I flip the outer over the lining and fuss with everything, lining it all up in prep for the next step. This took 3 hours.

Pinning the right sleeve. This took about an hour and a half.

Top stitch right sleeve. I’ve got another 45 minutes on this and I’ll have a completed sleeve. That means the other sleeve will take about 5 hours, so I guess it’ll be finished tomorrow.