Posts Tagged ‘Pennsic’

Meet Haruni

Here she is. In all her lacy, Pennsic knitting glory. I give you, Haruni.
Pattern: Haruni (Ravelry Link)
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Iris Heather (2 skeins, 462 yards)
Needles: 3.75mm straights but I had to switch to a circular by Chart B.

I love this shawl. No really, I love this shawl. It was a big stressor to begin with. There were constant reports on Ravelry of people running out of yarn at the very end. When I ordered my yarn at the beginning of the year, the pattern was new enough that such problems had not surfaced yet, so I just ordered the two balls the pattern required, and it went into the stash. It was not until right before Pennsic when I re-read the page that I saw the designer had upped the yarn requirements in response to people running out of yarn; she upped the requirement to 20 yards more than I had.

To add to my stress, I had originally planned to knit this shawl on 3.75mm needles instead of the 3.5 mm needles recommended by the pattern. Why? Because I am a tight knitter. Really tight. I generally have to go up a needle size in most patterns because I knit so tightly. So, you would assume that between realizing the yarn I had might not be enough as the pattern was written, and the added yarn that would be used by going up a needle size, that I would alter my plans and drop back to a 3.5mm needle to play it safe, right?

Not me. I played the knitter’s version of Russian Roulette. I ordered this yarn 8 months ago. There was no way on earth I could get any more yarn in this exact dye lot, so it was do or die. I knew I would either suffer epic defeat or come out with the knitting goddesses smiling on me. I cast-on on 3.75 mm needles and made sure I kept my typically tight gauge. When I got to the last purl row before the crochet cast-off, I was sweating it; there was not at ton of yarn left in my lap and I didn’t know how much would be used up in the cast-off. I even gave serious consideration to skipping that last purl row and casting off on the last knitted row of the pattern. But I pulled up my big girl panties and went for it. This whole shawl had been do or die from the get-go, and I finished the last purl row, crocheted myself into a cast-off, and viola, was left with a bit of yarn left over.
It is beautiful and I don’t mind saying so. I will not be humble about this. I made this. Every last stitch was my effort and I am proud to say I have the skills to work such beauty. It will be a Christmas gift for Anna-Jean, my mother in law, who I hope will find it beautiful as well.

So even though I was not at Pennsic long enough to be in tons of pictures, I did make it into a few, and the first picture I saw of myself actually startled me. Let me demonstrate to you why, as I post a picture taken of me at Pennsic 2009, next to the one taken on Sunday, August 8th.
Melisent in 2009
Melisent in 2010
The picture from 2009, where I am wearing the pink Roman garb, horrified me last year. I was already in the throes of contemplating gastric bypass, but that picture was so shocking and upsetting to me that it helped solidify my decision. I mean, I knew I was big. I knew at that Pennsic that moving around had gotten painful and challenging. I knew I was barely able to armour up, and I only made it into one battle last year because my armour fit so poorly and my endurance was such that walking from our camp to our dayshade exhausted me. I just had not seen through the lense of a camera just how awful I really looked. I was so ashamed of what I had become and that photo brought me to tears.

I am sure my campmates grew sick of hearing about it this year, but I kept thanking God I had gone through with my surgery at Pennsic this year. I was able to be active, I was able to work very hard, and I was able to roam around Pennsic, walk back up the hill to camp, and then back down the hill and back around Pennsic as much as I desired too. I was not limited by my horribly painful feet and ankles. I was not winded walking up the slopes. I didn’t leave the war feeling over-taxed and injured (though I am having a problem with my back).

I came home and weighed in 7 pounds less than when I had left for Pennsic, at a nice 171 pounds. I was probably about 270 last Pennsic. Officially, I am 3 pounds from having lost 100 pounds total. I feel so incredibly blessed to have had this opportunity and I really feel like I have been given my life back.

Gastric bypass is not for everyone; it is a challenge and it is life altering, both in good and bad ways. I am so very very thankful that it was for me and that I have had such success thus far.

Next up: it’s time to rebuild my armour and get back into it.



The sun beat down on her dark, uncovered hair. Her nostrils flared at the familiar scent of dew drying on grass combining with the smell of sweat, leather, and oil. Standing among hundreds of other men, all waiting for the cannon to sound and a battle to begin, she accepted the momentary lull and took a knee to confer with her God.

Our Father, who art in heaven…

She prayed for strength in her sword arm. She prayed for steadiness in her shield arm. She prayed for fleetness in her booted feet. She prayed for the safety of her compatriots and for her opponents to fall before her. She called upon St. Joan for ferocity and fearlessness in the battle to come.

After she made the sign of the cross, she pulled her helmet onto her head and as she rose, she became aware of the hum of the soldiers around her. Leather armour creaked as it grew taut in the heat. Steel-covered knees clanked together. Five hundred paces away, she knew the red army was in the same state of pre-battle tension. A faint smile crossed her lips as she knew they shared the same desires she had; to overcome the army across the field, to win glory and honor, and to return to their camps in safety. They were no different, the two armies, except for the colors they bore and the side of the field they took.

The commander repeated orders he had given moments before to make sure everyone had the plan, but she knew the drill. It was almost always the same. Shift left, target a specific unit, smash up their lines, kill what you can, and regroup. The targeted unit might change, but little else ever did. She also knew if she survived the first crash into the enemy, she would likely survive the battle.

Orders were given to dress the lines. Falling into her place, she eyed the men to her left and right; two other shieldmen, and a left-hander on her left. She liked that. Years before, her best friend had been a lefty and they often fought side by side, like two sides of the same warrior. Putting aside ancient memories, she checked all her straps as she waited for the final count. Half way across the field would not be the place to realize she had forgotten to buckle her cuisses or discover her shield strap was splitting. She felt the slightest tremor in her fingers as anticipation, anxiety, and adrenaline rolled through her. The waiting was the hardest part and the littlest things like the sweat rolling between her shoulder blades and the drums of the enemy became incredibly distracting. The sound of the cannon almost always startled her. Though her feet never failed to start moving, her mind always felt like it was trying to catch up after the sound of the cannon.

Waiting and waiting still. She looked across the field at the shieldwall they were targeting and picked out one in particular she intended to smash into with all the momentum she could build on the charge. Her grip tightened on her sword as she zeroed in on her target. Her last thought was she hoped her prey survived long enough for her to take him down when the cannon sounded and the joyous tumult of battle engulfed her.


In roughly 2 hours, I will hopefully be on the road to Pennsic.

For a combination of reasons, I am not quite as excited as I have been in previous years, but that’s okay, and I really, really, need this vacation. Rather than my normal “war” vacation, I am looking at it as a knitting, spinning, shopping, and visiting vacation.

So here is my Pennsic Shawl.
Meet Haruni. The yarn is Knit Picks Palette, color is Iris Heather. I cast on this morning because Pennsic does officially open today, but I won’t get there until after 1 a.m., and will spend many hours driving, not knitting. My theoretical goal is to start and finish Haruni while I am on vacation. Don’t laugh.

I am not really sure how I feel about Haruni, yet, even though I am only on the 23rd row. It may not be the pattern but the yarn that gives me pause. I have been knitting with so much of my own handspun lately, that a soft, very lightly plied commercial yarn just looks and feels strange in my hands. I am sure that it will block out very nicely, and honestly, all top-down triangular shawls start out with the same sort of rumpled look, but right now, I cannot find any definition in the stitch pattern.

Speaking of handspun…
That is a relatively miniscule quantity of cobalt blue lace weight I have given up on. I bought the roving MANY Pennsics ago and over the years, the roving has felted and gotten more and more difficult to spin, so I plied what I had, and skeined it as it is. What shall become of it? Who can say.

Then there is this:
That is the delicious handpainted roving from JenyaLoves. It is soft and cushy in spite of my best efforts to overspin it. I tend to really overspin my yarns on my spinning wheel, and so I have committed to spinning this yarn on a spindle. I want a very soft, plush yarn to make a very comforting shawl from.

So that is it then. When I get back and settled, I will post pictures of whatever fiber-haul there is and hopefully, a completed shawl (or close to).

Have a great week.

Pennsic Panic

I had pictures for you, and I left them uploaded at home and on Facebook, totally unreachable from work.

So, it is that magical time of year called Pennsic Prep at the Manor by the High Bridge. The only thing magical about it is how spending a week outdoors can motivate me to achieve efficiency levels not seen at any other time of the year.

I have sewn my heart out in the past 8 days. I have made a very nice early 12th century bliaut for Byram, two cyclases and a mantle for a new guy in our camp, ironed nearly 100 yards of clothing of my own, and taken in 8 or 9 dresses for myself. I also rolled and sewed an edge for my new wimple and will likely get to work on its matching veil sometime this week, or it will simply have to come with me to Pennsic and be a War Project.

Now I have been going to Pennsic for almost a decade and you would think I would know by now to start my Pennsic Prep about the middle of June, but it never fails that I don’t start until the middle of July, and then we shift gears from Pennsic Prep into Pennsic Panic. I hit the Pennsic Panic button over the weekend, but since finishing and delivering all the new garb, I have been able to dial it back a bit.

That means I shifted from sewing to painting. I am currently helping Byram get his new shield painted; a task I very much relished yesterday as I was wielding a paintbrush and not a needle. Once I hit the wall on painting, I cooked for 7; also an easy task as it did not involve tiny little stitches. After eating and getting the girl child in the bath, I indulged in spindle spinning and after that…playing stupid little computer games until the wee hours of the night. It was blissful to not have to be doing Pennsic projects.

My reprieve is temporary. Tonight, it is my greatest wish to cut out a piece of pre-gessoed canvas and line draw my heraldry on them, in hopes of getting it painted before I leave for Pennsic on Friday afternoon. I have been in the SCA a few month short of 10 years, and I have yet to own something bigger than 4×8 with my arms painted on it. It is high time the encampment I help fund, organize, run, and invest hours of man power (never mind emotional energy) into is decorated in some way with my colors.

In case are curious:
So Friday, at 5:01 p.m., I am out of here, out of Richmond, out of the MidAtlantic, and off to the western edge of Pennsylvania for a week of vacation with some 10,000 other SCAdians. Seeing as I am only going for Peace Week this year, I will not have any structured activities like I have in a normal year. No battles. No courts. No pre-planned bardics. I am not quite sure what I will do with my week, but I suspect much of it will be spent in a hammock with knitting in my hands.

I have been trying to come up with good Pennsic knitting projects. I plan to take the beer socks and hope to finish them at the War. I am also about half way done with the Peacock and Leaves scarf, and I have finally reunited yarn, needles, pattern, beads, and crochet hook, all in one place, so I can work on it again, but I am not entirely sure that using tiny beads and a tiny crochet hook that can easily be lost in camp is totally a good idea. There are a LOT of parts and pieces to knitting that particular project. I should take my Sienna Cardigan and finish it, but the idea of a wool sweater laying in my lap in my non-climate controlled environment does not seem like a good plan either.

More socks? I do need to rip back and start over my failed Jaywalker socks (when she says the pattern doesn’t have much give, she was NOT kidding). I decided to only knit the pattern from the ankle up, and even increasing from the 72 stitches in the foot to the 76 in the leg, the sock was too tight to pull over my heel, much less my poor mother’s, for whom the socks were intended. She has rheumatoid arthritis, so there is just no way I can knit that pattern large enough to accommodate her swollen and painful ankles. I am hunting for another really good looking pattern that looks amazing with a great self-striping yarn; something that is not just ribs or stockinette.

I intend to knit the Leyburn socks out of a relatively busy yarn I have for my Grandmother. Those could work.

The real problem is that I am not generally in a sock kind of mood. I am deeply in a lace mood. I have long planned to knit Haruni, which is a shawl named from the Tolkien elven language, which seems strangely appropriate given the adventure I am going on. I bought the appropriate yarn back in January. It is just a matter of collecting the needles, yarn, and fifteen page (!!!) pattern all into one place. No beads or anything to have to drag with me.

So many choices and so little time. Then, there is the question of do I pack my spinning wheel or not? There should be space. There will be gobs of delicious wool to buy in the Merchants. My spindle is definitely going, and since I have broken two spindles in the past year, I intend to purchase a new spindle from The Spanish Peacock. I never get to participate in the Tour de Fleece because it always falls in the middle of the aforementioned Pennsic Prep, but this year, I have at least tried to do a little spinning when not neck deep in various lengths of linen and wool fabric.

Here is what is on the spindle currently. Four ounces of this delicious merino in various shades of blue purchased from Jenya Loves who was awesome to work with. She even pardoned me when I thought I had submitted my payment late on a Friday afternoon and it apparently didn’t go through. She was very polite about it and understanding.

In only 4 days, I will be up at my summer “home” where the temperatures are running 15-20 degrees cooler than they have been here in the River City. I cannot wait. Pennsic is calling.