Too Many Projects?

Well, I think I’ve gotten myself into it this time…

I’ve added projects to my list. I know I wasn’t supposed to, but, well, you see…

Bardic War – This is two-fold. (1) I volunteered for the A&S war point and need to reformat my existing documentation into the preferred format, I think I’ve mentioned this… (2) I was asked to also perform some period original poetry. This will be a live zoom event in May. I’m already super nervous. I don’t enjoy performing, but I felt it my responsibility as a Champion to do what I could. SO… Because tanka are quite short, I thought it best to compose a conversation between lovers and perform three to four poems in a back and forth. I have three tanka and my verbal documentation written so far. That may be it. I may have composed the right things. I need to perform the poems for friends via video and get feedback.

Laurels’ Challenge – There are a number of these that I would like to meet. I have to send an email by this evening to put myself in for the challenges I’m interested in answering. Most of these tie in to existing or already completed projects. That is not to say that it will be easy or not take very much time, because it will be difficult to meet all of the challenges and it will definitely take a good amount of time to do so.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – The asetori is sitting, languishing, as I decide whether to take the side seams in or not and whether to redo the collar. The side seams may not be necessary, but the collar is wrong and will never lay quite right as it is now. I still hate the idea of ripping things out of this garment. With Pennsic officially postponed for another year, I will not have to have it ready for that war point. So there is at least that.

Champion – Poetry Month: more than 50 poet participants and 250 poems so far. It’s eating up more of my emotional energy than I had anticipated. Still very worth it. I had the suggestion come in this week to collect the poems for an East Kingdom wiki page. It will be a lot of work to do, but if my poets are interested, I’ll do it. This would be an after May project though. I’m trying not to add too much to my already overflowing plate…

1000 Tanka – I hit 500 and wrote this to celebrate:

Five hundred tanka Written in less than six months Halfway to the end

And now to repeat the work And write the next five hundred

Language – Today I will hit my second “milestone” in the program (Rosetta Stone).

Samurai Training – Professional help has been enlisted for my injury recovery and I keep adding exercises back as able. I’m going to attempt running again this week…

Saishi Class – I added a period source for the class, a comment from Sei Shonagon’s Pillow Book from the First Day, or New Year celebrations. “This is the day when members of the nobility who live outside the Palace arrive in their magnificently decorated carriages to admire the blue horses. As the carriages are drawn over the ground-beam of the Central Gate, there is always a tremendous bump, and the heads of the women passengers are knocked together; the combs fall out of their hair, and may be smashed to pieces if the owners are not careful. I enjoy the way everyone laughs when this happens.”

I also found a reference about a guard who was poorly powdered and added that to the Heian cosmetics research I have also started. I found some wonderful tidbits in articles, including a 97 page Master’s Thesis by Rebekah S Hunter entitled Aesthetics of Womanhood of Heian Japan. I’m looking forward to diving in to it at some point soon. I have a feeling I’ll be able to add information to a number of my research projects and classes that are in the works. After all, what’s the point in learning something if you’re not going to share it?

Teasing Out Progress

I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve gotten much accomplished this week. I know I did a lot, but… I helped a friend everyday for more than a week which ate a good chunk of time, and I’m working on a special project that has eaten up quite a bit more. Eventually I’ll be able to share that project, but it will be a couple of months. I’ll say it again, I need to buckle down, do more, and make my projects even more of a priority. I have a lot to do, and I want to get as many things done as possible while I still have the “free time” of being unemployed. I make no apologies for the sarcasm. I would much rather be making theater happen than trying to figure out how to pivot to a different career.

The end is coming And I try to be prepared To do more with less

My industry still slumbers And I’m left empty handed

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – The to-be asetori is now sleeveless. It’s taking longer than expected to pick out all the stitching as I was sewing with much higher stitches per inch than necessary. It also took several days of courage gathering before I was willing to start. This garment was my very first fully hand-sewn one, and it was hard to start ripping out seams I worked so hard on. Of course, I realize this now, days later. Hindsight. It should be easier to “fix” garments moving forward. The good news is one of the sleeves was cut on the selvage edge so I won’t have to hem the cuffs.

Saishi Class – Trying to wrap my head around these notes. I feel the need to reread the paper on historic hairstyles, I may have missed something, and I definitely didn’t take good enough notes as I can’t find any in my main document.

Language – Japanese lessons continue apace. I’ve almost gotten all of the hiragana down, just a handful more cards in my flash-card deck to learn. My pronunciation is getting better, and I think I’m ready to start watching television programs in Japanese. I was also given a link to a resource that provides Nara era poetry, line by line in the original and transliterated into romaji. I’m looking forward to digging into that.

Training – This is frustrating. My hip seemed to improve, but that may have been a result of halting the high intensity workout. I was able to walk just over 2 miles yesterday. Tomorrow I get to line up physical therapy. Fun.

1000 Tanka – I’ve started writing 4 or more tanka each day again as I’m sharing poems in 4 places daily. Current count is 473.

It is not a choice,  With sunlight comes the shadows Yin balanced by Yang

The trick is in maintaining A delicate harmony

Champion – My Poetry Month Challenge is going very well. I’ve had 34 participant poets and they’ve written a combined 149 poems as of yesterday. I’m thrilled with it. There are a handful of poets who have posted each day of the challenge so far. I’m quite tempted to make up some small tokens of appreciation for them, but I don’t know what. A special thank you message will have to suffice unless I come up with something I can make 6 or so copies of. I’ve also been sitting in on the recognition recordings for court. It’s lovely to see people get recognized for their hard work and contributions. And I’ve been able to wear a gifted set of robes. They were given to me almost 3 years ago, so it’s really nice to be able to wear them for the first time, even if no one other than myself and my partner get to see them. (I don’t know if I’ll be visible at all when the recording sessions are edited for court as I am just in the “gallery”). I intend to do a photo shoot wearing them at some point. The difference in weight between these airy silk robes and the linen and cotton of my war robes (the robes I wear at SCA War events that I can drag in the mud) is astonishing. The silk feels like nothing, and the others just feel SO heavy.

Wearing silk robes and having made historically accurate robes along with refolding a number of my war robes has gotten me thinking about how I want to proceed in what I wear to events. I’m not happy with my old war robes, most of which are well over 10 years old at this point. The cut is slightly wrong, the fabric is absolutely wrong…and I don’t know quite how I feel about wearing them again. I do need robes to wear to wars, but it feels so awful to wear things that are wrong and then have to explain that while very pretty, my outfit isn’t right/historically accurate. I need advice. I think I’ll ask my Laurel. Lots to think about while I continue working on other projects.

I’ve added a page to this website for my scribal projects and I’m working on a page dedicated to the Travelling Outfit that I hope to finish by the end of the month, we’ll see as I have a number of things I’d like to finish by the end of this month…

Progress on Projects

I’m enjoying this format of posting on a project by project basis.

Travelling Outfit 2.0 – I’ve hesitated in this. I’m finding it a little difficult to begin taking the sleeves off the to be asetori.

Champion – The poetry challenge for April has begun! And it’s going really well. People are posting poems and I’ve received a lot of positive feedback. It’s lovely. I also started attending the recording sessions for court. It was fun and I look forward to attending as many as are available!

Saishi Class – I’ve started to organize the notes into an outline. The structure of the class is starting to shape up, and I’m happy with what I have for an opening.

1000 Tanka – Current count 423.

Sometimes I wonder What I’ve gotten myself in And if I’ll get out

Sometimes projects feel too big It takes courage to finish

Training – Still recuperating. The PT seems to be working and I’m hoping to ease back into it soon.

Japanese Lessons – I’m learning more everyday. I can reliably count to 12 and I can read close to 100 hiragana characters.

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.