Gratitude

2/23

Today I received tokens in the mail for my participation in A&S Champs. They’re gorgeous.

Work on my potential class continues. The information is rather limited by my lack of Japanese.

2/24

Received the wood for the ribs of the fan.

After weaving through the Baronial Craft Night, I now have several feet of cording complete. It’s nice to have tangible work.

I think I may have already hit the language barrier in the hair ornament research. I’ll need to reach out to the Facebook group to see if anyone knows more. And I still don’t have anything from a museum with actual dates.

I have a meeting with the Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences on Friday and there will be a live Meet the Champions panel on March 14 via zoom.

2/25

More weaving and researching hair ornaments.

2/26

A gauzy veil of Clouds obscure the wondrous sight Of a cold snow moon

Ascending she sheds the haze And illuminates the night

My meeting today was lovely. I have a greater understanding of the work I will be doing as Champion and feel much more comfortable in my new role. I’m looking forward to working with the MOAS office this next year, and beyond.

2/27

Show me loyalty Like the plum of Dazaifu Who took up her roots

And flew to her master in Exile. May she ever bloom.

Legend has it that the great plum at Dazaifu Tenmangu, a temple dedicated to the deified Sugawara no Michizane, Tenjin-sama, kami of scholarship, missed its master so much when he was exiled that it gathered its roots and flew from Heian-kyo (modern Kyoto) to Michizane in exile in Dazaifu. The plum, named Tobiume, still stands on the temple grounds and should be in bloom right now.

2/28

In the reflection Of the moon on Lake Biwa Murasaki dreams

Transported beyond rocky Shores the Tale starts to unfold

Another poem inspired by legend. Murasaki Shikibu, the author of the Tale of Genji, is said to have started writing the tale while at Ishiyama Temple after seeing the reflection of the moon in Lake Biwa. Many painters have captured the moment, here is one from Tosa Mitsuoki:

It is said that Murasaki’s hand was guided by Kannon, the Japanese Bodhisattva (Buddhist goddess) of mercy, while writing the Tale. Murasaki had gone to Ishiyama-dera after the death of her husband. Kannon is said to aid those in distress, and I can not imagine being more distressed than losing the father of your child and your station in one fell swoop.

3/1

I am disappointed with my progress over the past week. I’m fairly certain that I’m dealing with some let down over Ethereal Seamstress. We have not had our supplies arrive in enough time to actually complete the ensemble for the contest. I’m sending the official withdrawal this week. Maybe it won’t hurt as much a little later.

I’m continuing to make slow progress on both the cord for my Laurel and the Hair Ornament class. And I remain pleased with my progress toward 1000 Tanka.

Tomorrow the MOAS (Ministry of Arts and Sciences) will be releasing a series of challenges for the Laurel’s Challenge and Exhibition. I’m hoping to find a lovely challenge to meet. This contest is being held in May. I’m hoping one of my several projects will work. Fingers crossed!

3/2

What new distraction Can be discovered today Though things need doing

Procrastination tempts me But determination wins

Determination is paying dividends today. I’ve spent the day scouring museums, and managed to do a search that led me to the MET. There I found a large collection of kogai, A kogai is a hairdressing tool that is part of a sword mounting. The long slender implement is carried in a slot on the obverse of a katana scabbard, often with a matching kozuka (handle of a by-knife) in a slot on the reverse.. These kogai are all part of sword fittings called mitokoromono and some of them are within SCA period (pre 1600). And the most intriguing part about it to me, these are sword accessories. Meaning they were to be carried by samurai. Now samurai is closer to a caste than a job, so of course there are samurai women, and many samurai women carried swords and fought alongside their male counterparts, but the majority of sword carrying types would be male. Fascinating.

This mitokoromono set has a kozuka, knife handle, 2 minuki, grip ornaments and the kogai (bottom).

I’m delighted to have found something tangible for my class, and now feel like I will in fact be able to pull off a decent presentation in June. I had been a little discouraged after searching through almost 2000 images yesterday and only finding a comb box. Now I have a variety of comb and cosmetics boxes and several images of kogai. I have yet to find any extant Heian period hair ornaments, they may not exist, but I will keep looking.

I’ve made a list of the challenges (for the Laurel’s Challenge and Exhibition) that I may be interested in, and I’ve started to work out what I can do for them that is in line with my existing projects. I’ll need to decide and sign up no later than April 18, and the date for turning things in is May 16. You can read the list of challenges here.

Weaving continues.

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.

A New Year

2/10

Received the shipping notification for the embroidery floss for the new kumihimo project.

Got a little bit of info for Ethereal Seamstress. We’ll need to come up with a login for the required twice weekly updates, so we set up a joint email account for it.

2/11

Doing more reading and studying for the Ethereal Seamstress competition. Still trying to wrap my head around wide body small sleeve as outlined by Lady Oribe in her class documents. It’s really simple enough, I just don’t really like it. I prefer the open front, voluminous o-sode sleeves to those of a small opening kosode. Yup, I’m a Heian girl.

While doing that reading, I discovered that the shin protectors for the travelling outfit should be called kyahan or habaki. I was already familiar with kyahan, but the word had escaped me.

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplating of what was meant as the skin-layer (juban/asetori) of my travelling outfit. I’ve come to realize that the collar is also wrong, though I’m not sure that I’m willing to fix it. I’m debating fixing the garment to be right vs fixing it to be a kosode and making a linen skin-layer. It’s probably best to have a silk and a linen asetori. I’ll want several to take to longer events/wars. More underwear! And more thinking…

And of course, all that thinking about how my garb is constructed is making me seriously contemplate rebuilding ALL of my existing garb to be more appropriate/use more period construction techniques. One of the pieces has never even been worn…

Officially 1/4 of the way through to 1000 tanka! I’ve written enough that I now only need to write 3 tanka each day to meet the goal.

2/12

The Year of the Ox The Lunar New Year a time Of celebration.

May your ambitions bear out As promotions in your rank.

Happy Lunar New Year! During the Heian period this was a time of gifts and promotions in rank. Matsu gasane or pine tree layering, shades of maroon over shades of green, is a favored kasane or color combination for the occasion for court ladies’ ensembles. The pairing of maroon over green would be handsome for men’s attire.

A color bar divided into segments vertically. The left-most segment is double the thickness of the other 5. Left to right the colors are Scarlet red, pale light green, light green, green, light maroon, maroon.
Left to right, kurenai for the hitoe; for the gInu: yoi awaii moegi, awaii moegi, moegi, asaki suo, suo

2/13

We received emails from Ethereal Seamstress with login information and basic instructions for how to appropriately tag the updates/posts. The contest requires twice weekly updates and these are being handled via blogposts.

2/14

Logged in to the ES contest site and set the password. Spent some time reading up on fan construction.

2/15

Ordered the wood strips and head pins for the sensu (folding fan) I’m making for Tomodachi for Ethereal Seamstress. I’ll use gold wrapping paper for the first prototype, then maybe get better/different paper.

The embroidery floss for my weaving project should arrive tomorrow.

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.