Snowy Challenge

I do more handwork than just SCA handwork (although precious little these days), but one place I still indulge is with a bit of lace knitting. (A few eyelets in 16th century knitting does not lace make, alas.) I know I will need ornaments for a lace exchange coming up this winter, and decided to make a well loved and favourite knitted snowflake pattern. (You can find it on Ravelry, of course. It is not a beginner pattern. It is fussy and requires a certain confidence in your stitch manipulation that takes some time to have. Not hard, per se, but requires some deftness.)

I’ve made it before in size 10 (aka super normal run of the mill available everywhere size) crochet cotton. This time I used size 30 and 2mm needles, as I wanted something smaller. Which was fine, it’s a perfectly nice snowflake, but still a bit big. So I got out the size 100 cotton and the 1 mm needles and then we fell into crazytown. I’ve been ‘accused’ of using sewing thread to knit with in the past, so I included it for scale in the picture of the threads. (Sorry that the thinner threads are hard to see, photography is not amongst my skills.)

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See? Totally bigger than sewing thread!

Knitting with size 100 thread is a stunning pain in the tush, and I loved every second of it. It’s thinner than anything I’ve knit with before, and I am going to say that a tiny fussy lace snowflake was a spectacularly stupid place to try it first, save that I love that little pattern and it’s short, so it was worth it. The two snowflakes are exactly the same pattern, with exactly the same number of stitches, only the thread and needle size is different.

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Now I just need to decide if I’m going to give both of them away, or if I’m going to keep one of them for myself!


I have been bitten by the weaving bug something fierce, which considering quite how many non-weaving things are on the project to-do list is a little distressing. (Some of this might be productive procrastination from the to-do list.)

I had help from a friend getting the warp on, it was a mess (note to self.. learn how to not make a mess of the warp getting it from warping mill to loom.), but we got there.


I snapped threads all over the place (vintage wool singles. It happens), and the first snapped warp thread I thought I was going to cry. I clung to my beginner book instructions and followed each step as if I was doing CPR and a life depended on my skills. (Fortunately, this was not actually the case.)

By the end of the warp, a snapped thread was a brief grumble, and a quick repair and back in business. My tension is a little wonky, and sometimes my beat isn’t even. Some of that will come out in wet finishing, and some of that will live forever as a ‘this is a beginner piece’ memento.

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Now, I have the weaving all done, and the ends woven in. It needs a bath, and hemming, and to be made into leg wraps for my best beloved. It feels good to finish a big challenging project again. Now I need to hurry though the to do list, so I can do more weaving!


Queen’s Prize Tourney, for those who don’t obsessively follow A&S events in every kingdom. A novice tourney in that only those with an Orion or no A&S award may enter and they require a sponsor to do so. The sponsor must have a Crucible (Grant level A&S award) or a Laurel and provides a token prize, as well as mentorship on the project.. however that looks. The prize (almost always) goes to someone who is not their sponsoree, which basically means this is a glorious Oprah Winfrey style of prize giving. (You get a prize! And You get a prize! And YOU get a prize!) The prizes are not supposed to be epic, they are a ‘hey, thanks for coming out’ little something.

Failures are welcome. Unfinished pieces are welcome. Pieces that you have gotten stuck on and need advice on are welcome. Masterpieces that you are super stoked and proud of are welcome.

The ‘judging’ is face to face and is specifically less about critique and more about discussion and coaching and generally becomes a glorious geekfest between the artisan and the three or so people who are knowledgable in that field. (or at least interested.. anyone can judge and many entrants are also judges.. myself included.) There are no scores. There’s no judge form where you have to come up with something to say about the details of the piece. You get to spend half an hour or so discussing what they loved, what went wrong (in some cases, what went horribly horribly wrong), and next steps. Sometimes folks want and need a lot of direction on next steps, sometimes we all just get to be super stoked on where the project is going next.

And yet, so many of us stress about it. Is our work good enough? Are people going to politely smile and privately think ‘goodness, I really thought his skills were better than that’? Are the judges going to be mean? What am I going to say for a whole /half hour/!? Is it perfect? It’s awful and no one is going to tell us that it’s awful.


Reminder literally taped to my work monitor.

It is brutally hard to tell the brain weasels that whatever you’ve got, at whatever stage its at, is alright to peek out. It’s your creation, it’s part of you and letting others into the process, which is often more failure than success, is HARD. It’s making yourself vulnerable. It’s admitting that you’re not good at something (or for some people, it’s admitting that you ARE good at something).


Samples pack small.

My naalbinding samples and I will be at QPT tomorrow. Little bits of things, with wonky parts and tension that can’t figure out if its coming or going, and a whole section that is starting to look pretty good, dammit! Like most people there, it’ll have a hidden side order of vulnerability and humility tucked under the documentation, peeking out warily. It’ll get showered with advice and love and creative energy from all sides, and it will be glorious. And I’ll even get a prize.


I have plenty of it, although it’s not polite or fashionable (especially as a woman) to admit it. Mine generally comes in the assumption that I can put string in its place. That in a battle between string and me, I will win. Be it in weaving it, or braiding it, or knitting it.. no matter what, I will triumph.

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Weaving after the initial fight.

And I will, eventually. I have with everything so far (There are things I am not as skilled at. There are things I don’t enjoy, but I get the basics eventually). Every time, however, I forget how hard the trip to get to the basics was.

I’m trying to work on my naalbinding for QPT, and my arrogance is biting me in the tush. I learned the very bare basics at Pennsic, and decided that of COURSE it was string, it’d be a walk in the park to get something done that I was happy to show at QPT.

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Before I made a mess of it.

Ha! The universe is laughing its arse off at me for that one. It’s a struggle for every stitch, and my QPT entry might yet be a smouldering heap of charred wool after a fit of pique. I’m quite sure that regular servings of humble pie are good for me at the very least!