Project by Project

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – Finished reading the 45 page paper. Wow. This was an amazing resource to find. Here’s a nugget, the kake-obi, that’s the red sash worn across the shoulders (I had used green in the first version) is used as an indicator that the woman was essentially warding off taboos. It says to everyone, this person has gone through the appropriate purification rituals. So I’ll need to make a red one to be accurate.

A bright red sash tied At the back to guard against Loss of purity

A powerful talisman For the travelling pilgrim

Also, there is an upcoming (virtual) inter-kingdom war, Bardic War. I have volunteered myself for the A&S warpoint. I don’t know that I’ll be chosen, only 12 are, and this is from the East and her allies, so there’s no guarantee I’ll make the team, but it definitely felt like the proper thing to do as Consort’s A&S Champion. This means it’s time to get moving on the physical part of the project. What is now the kosode will be altered with different sleeves and a shortened hem to make it a proper asetori. I have exactly the right amount of barely cream coloured silk taffeta to make the actual kosode. The hitoe needs it’s sleeves altered to remove the extra half panel as I can not back that up with research. I’ll need to make the red kake-obi and possibly a few himo (narrow ties) so that I’m not using scraps of fabric to hold my garments closed. I’ll use linen to make the kyohan (shin protectors). The last thing will be to take a new set of pictures. I intend to finish all of this by May 1. May 8 is the deadline.

And the great news from a trip to the fabric store, I was able to purchase the red silk I need for the kake-obi and also managed to get 7 yards of a light silk taffeta in white for my summer hitoe.

Saishi Class- I think the next step for this class is to organize my notes and see what I actually have. I’ll probably be able to hone a second round of research after that assessment.

Kumihimo – I’ve finished the second cord! I kept a 3 inch piece for my weaving journal.

Two bundles of maroon and light grey cord, tied around the middle, sitting on a small light grey drawstring bag

Japanese Lessons – I’ve finished the first of four sections.

Training – I’m off training for a little while. I injured myself, or aggravated an old injury. It will take a bit of time to recover properly, and then I’ll be back at it.

Injury feels like Having one’s wings clipped after Just learning to fly

Failure is part of success Sometimes you have to be still

1000 Tanka – Current count at 396.

Champion – And in other poetry news, I’ve announced the challenge to the kingdom to encourage everyone to try their hand at some poetry for the month of April. I’m looking forward to the lovely things people will write.

Petals fall like snow Littering the ground in shades Of bright pink and white

Oh plum, the first to blossom, Could you stay a while longer?

And the Meet the Champions Panel is now available on YouTube!

Playing Catch Up

3/10

The tama for the second round of cord for my Laurel have been wound.

Took my first Japanese lesson today.

3/20

And then I stopped keeping track. And I didn’t post at the one week mark. Sigh. I am still working on things. Let’s try a project based approach for the rest of this post so we can get caught up.

Kumihimo – I now have half of the second cord for my Laurel complete. I hope to have it finished by the end of the month so I can send it off in time for the anniversary of my belting in April. Explanation of belting: the day that I became an apprentice. Apprentices wear green belts. I was presented with a fan, not a belt, because belts aren’t very visible with what I usually wear. Unfortunately, my apprentice fan was lost during Gulfnado. That still makes me very sad. And I still need to make a new green fan. I draw some comfort knowing that my proposed device (which has been sent off for approval and registration) honors my apprentice fan and my Laurel. On a fan vert a escallop argent, or a white scallop shell on a green fan. My Laurel has a white scallop shell on her device.

Saishi Class – I’ve read through a paper comparing Korean and Japanese hairstyles and have been able to glean a bit of information from it. I still need to transfer the notes to my class notes document. The paper made some interesting points on the magical beliefs concerning hair and delineated the influence of China on both the Korean peninsula and the Japanese islands.

Language – I’m studying Japanese every day. I’ve learned some hiragana, and my vocabulary is growing. I’m delighted that I’ve started to develop an ear for the language, and my pronunciation is improving.

Training – I’m also exercising every day with an eye toward fighting in the SCA. There’s a quote from Miyamoto Musashi that helps me focus, “You can only fight the way you practice.” Now. I will be quite honest that training to fight is not at all something a respectable kuge (court noble) woman would do. But it’s an element of the SCA that I have always been drawn to, and if we’re being brutally honest, I want to do ALL THE THINGS.

1000 Tanka – This project brings me so much joy. I’ve been writing poetry, specifically tanka every day for almost 5 months. Current count is 374. I’m still on track to finish on time.

There is no shame in Small steps along the journey The path is the same

Whether the footfalls are fast Or not is of no matter

A&S Champion – Oh, yes, this is it’s own project now. I have a deep desire to do the best job I possibly can (in all things, but especially this public facing position). I see part of my job as inspiring the people of the East Kingdom to explore the arts and sciences. To that end, I have devised a challenge. April is poetry month. I am inviting the East to try writing poems. I will post a prompt each day, and people can respond to that prompt with a poem that may or may not be inspired by the provided word if they feel so inclined. It ties in nicely to two events that are upcoming, the Laurel Challenge and Exhibition (at least one of the challenges is for poetry) and Bardic War. I’m already receiving support/encouragement from the MOAS office. It is my hope that people will use the opportunity to explore poetry appropriate to their persona.

The video of the panel I was part of has not yet been uploaded to the East Kingdom YouTube Channel. Once it is, I’ll share the link.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – I’m slowly taking in the paper I found. Fascinating information. Once I finish it and then read it again, I’ll have quite a bit to say about it. I just want to absorb it and then figure out how it can improve my documentation and deepen my understanding of what it was like to be a Heian noblewoman. It’s also exciting to learn new things about this outfit without the pressure of perfection and a deadline. Ok, so maybe there’s a little pressure, but just a touch.

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.

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.

Jan 15 2021

Well, I have one project coming up, some kumihimo for my Laurel. That’s all I’ve settled on so far. Currently awaiting details.

Spending extra time In quiet contemplation Of the next best step

Enjoying inspiration In the possibilities

Finished in No Time

I really thought the flat braid would take a little longer to complete. I knew I’d finish it today, but I thought it would have taken another couple hours. Sometimes it’s pleasant to be wrong.

It finished out at 78 inches, so will need cutting down. You may notice that it looks a little bit like a shoelace.

A bundle of flat woven braid folded in half repeatedly The braid texture is similar to flat shoelace braid.
Finished flat braid

The components for the hat are now complete.

I need to fold over the top edge of the mushi no tareginu and stitch it. The kazari-himo (deocrative cords) need to be tidied up in length, though I could simply tie them up…

Next is whether or not to cut the slits to weave the flat braid through the “curtains.” I’m torn on this. As much as the idea of experimental archeology excites me, I’m just not convinced I have quite enough research to move forward. Research, ha! I have one highly zoomed in photo. I have no idea how it is secured on either end. I know something was woven through though, at least in this example. All of the other images have no indication of a flat braid, or anything for that matter, woven through. But they are all slightly later period (past 1200 or so).

After that difficult decision, the mushi no tareginu and kazari-himo will be attached to the hat. I’ll consult a Chinese decorative knot book and tie up the cords in the large loops shown in the Costume Museum image.

I’m going to sit on most of that though and let the question about the flat braid percolate. Maybe I’ll see if I can find any other images…

I’m currently satisfied with my progress.

Tomorrow is kososde day.

Beginning the Flat Braid

8 tama are wound.

The math said I would need 100 inch strands to get 70 inches of braided cord. I only need 64 inches. I did the math twice more to be sure. And I still erred on the side of caution and set the sawhorses at 110 inches apart. I would rather cut the cord down than find I’m short of the mark.

I’m still a little conflicted about weaving this cord through the mushi no tareginu (hat curtains). Making those slits in the finished fabric wigs me out possibly more than the first snip into expensive fabric because these panels are now complete. If I mess them up, I have to start over, and I don’t have the time or money to do that.

Enough thinking. Now, we weave!

And there are early results.

A white braided cord runs top to bottom, bisecting the image. The cord is an 8 strand flat braid.
8 strand flat braid.

It’s a little too narrow. Only 1/4 inch, I had wanted 3/8. I wanted to increase the threads per strand as I was afraid it would be too narrow, but I did not have enough silk (or anything else for that matter). It doesn’t have the exact chevron pattern from the blown up image. It is however, the best I can do without further research. 17 inches and counting…