Where have I been? In Pune, but now home in the US for a brief visit. What have I been doing? Mostly wallowing in ennui. For whatever reason, I have not been motivated to do much, not working on projects, researching, or writing here.
I can report that aside from the transoceanic trip, we did do one major thing. We hosted a “happy hour” party for 25 of The Resident Male’s coworkers, holding it at the apartment. I did all of the prep and cooking. I made samosas, falafel, hummus, guacamole, and Chinese scallion pancakes (adding some minced hot peppers to the scallions). I also improvised a mixed olive salad, and paneer with a Thai-style peanut sauce. Everyone had a good time, and using consumption as a barometer – the snacks were well received. The scallion pancakes in particular were prime, and a do-again, for sure!
There is some minimal progress on my latest shawl. I test-knit a new MMarioKnits product, but others were far speedier than me. Most of the corrections I found were posted by others, and my finished project was not completed in time for photography for the cover of the pattern. The main reason for this was a major lace disaster. While photographing the piece, I managed to drop upwards of 90 stitches, and needed to ravel back to a solid point and re-knit. After coming in so slowly for completion, I decided to punt the official as-written, minimal bind-off treatment, and add a knit-on lace edging. I selected a simple one from Sharon Miller’s Heirloom Knitting, picked both for complimenting the lines of the shawl’s main motifs, and for being a multiple of 12 rows, and began. I’m about two-thirds of the way around my circumference, and hope to be done soon.
However, just because I’ve been a slouching, IPad/browser game playing slacker, doesn’t mean the rest of the world stands still.
I’ve said before that I get an enormous kick out of seeing what people do with the patterns and designs I post. Occasionally, folk write to me to ask questions, or send me photos. Other times, I track links to my pages back to the point of origin. If I stumble across something I ask the owner if I can repost their work here, with links or attributions as they desire. Here are the products of two people who sent me pix of their stitching this month.
Elaine from Australia delighted me with these two projects that include filling motifs from Ensamplario Atlantio:
Both were presents for friends. I’m not sure which one I like more – the piece for the Kiwi audiophile, or the one for the Lovecraft aficionado.
Meanwhile, Jordana in New York used two of the Ensamplario designs for the cover of a charming two-sided needle case. Here are her photos of the work in progress, and the finished item:
Well done to Elaine and Jordana! Special thanks to both of them for making my day!
I was wandering through the free-for-public-use pictures collection recently opened up by the National Archive of the Netherlands, looking for interesting photos of needlework or knitting. “Merklap” is the Dutch word for sampler. Using it, I stumbled across these:
Clicking on each image above will bring you to the original archive site, complete with a very useful zoom feature for close inspection.
Now, from what I understand from the captions, these three unusual counted thread pieces were stitched by Her Majesty, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, consort to King Frederick IX of Denmark. The archives captions says that the three samplers bear images relevant to her life with her parents, King Gustav VI of Sweden, and Princess Margaret of Connaught, and the photos were collected in 1954 (One of the pieces bears a date of 11 November 1952.)
Queen Ingrid was born in 1910 and died in 2000. Reading through the bio snips available, she was an early feminist and thoroughly remarkable woman, widely respected for personal courage and support of the Danish people during the German occupation of Denmark during World War II.
Historical context aside, just look at those motifs! Worked in double running or back stitch, with the background done in cross stitch, the items shown are full of exquisite detail. That horse in the center of the second sampler is on my list for regraphing, for sure. I love the humor, the juxtaposition of high heraldry and honors with the totally mundane.
The first sampler bears Swedish heraldry (the three crowns), and honors her parents. The other two seem to be about her own life and interests, with her seal, and images of her education, sports and leisure activities; and pursuits including art, biology, horticulture (she redid many formal gardens), geology, and antiquities. How can you not be charmed by a Queen who stitches a box of spaghetti, fishing lures, a pilot’s wings, Canasta cards, and a cabin in the woods?
In short, Ingrid may have been a highly influential and important person, but these pieces now offered up to the public make an instant connection to her as an individual with curiosity, energy, and humor. I’ll seek out some better books on her life and times. And I’ll think of her the next time I have spaghetti with a salad, with candy canes (polka grisar) for dessert.
A semi-quiet weekend here at String.
First, progress on my Dragon Stole, which I’ve modded to include the central undine from its pattern’s ultimate ancestor:
Mods include the star above the beastie’s eye, the large flower in front of it, and beginning of the mermaid at the right.
You can see that my spool of Valley Yarns Tencel 8/2 has been barely diminished by all this knitting. The tencel is quite easy to work with, a bit slippery compared to cotton (which for me is a good thing), but less slippery than rayon. It doesn’t roll back on itself to kink, even coming off the cone. Being about half done at this point, I estimate that my cone, claimed by Webs to have 3360 yards on it, will be ample for 8-10 shawls of this size. At around $25 for the cone, I’d rate it as a very good buy. Aside – if you’re budget challenged or packing for an extended stay somewhere, consider taking up lace knitting. Lace offers the most knitting satisfaction per dollar invested on materials, and per square inch of suitcase space.
Then, coincident with the Indian nation’s Republic Day, Younger Daughter’s school had their annual field day – a morning of track and field events pitting the Indus International School’s various houses against each other. Phoenix, Orion, Hercules, and Pegasus have vied all year for points in academics, debating, deportment, and sporting events, just like at Hogwarts. Field day is the culmination of the annual competition.
Assignment to the houses appears to be pretty arbitrary, no sorting hat here. Younger Daughter was shuffled off to Hercules on the whim of the admitting administrator. Hercules took first place in the day’s marching. Here they are, behind their blue flag:
Perhaps the most fun of the day was the kids vs. faculty tug of war, where (no surprise) the myrmidons of the massed houses triumphed over their long-suffering teachers. Younger Daughter’s sense of triumph is palpable:
Phoenix house won the 2012 house trophy. I hear the kids are already plotting new domination strategies for 2013.
You guessed it! More Motley:
The framing in charcoal is now complete, and I’m more than half way done with the edging. I looked through all the books that I haven’t shipped ahead, and various on-line sources, hunting for an edging that looked right. I wanted something not too lacy, with design elements that echoed the zig-zag of the center, but that was not just a duplicate of that simple point pattern. I didn’t find anything I liked in particular, so I tossed all of it into my cranial Cuisinart, and came up with my own. It’s very simple, and likely as not, I’m not the first to hit on it. Still, I like the look, and it’s quick to knit. Two evenings has marched me around almost three sides. Eventually I’ll be posting the pattern for this, including how to miter it for a neat 90-degree corner.
I’m happy with how Motely is turning out. It has a certain folkloric, rustic look. I’m sure however that I’ll think less of it once I begin working in all those ends.
On the Knowledge Base and Beginners
I’ve been having an enjoyable comments-chat with Nila. She asked a couple of questions I answered in my last post, then she posted a hint of her own. She was surprised that as a (relative) beginner, she could add onto the common knowledge pile. I think she needn’t be surprised.
Knitting, like many crafts, is simultaneously ancient and evolving. Bright people take up needles and learn. Some, infested with the how-why bug, look at their lessons with fresh perspectives, and bring insights of their own. Yes, sometimes in a limited environment their insights are rediscoveries, but that does not make those insights less valuable.
A hundred years ago, grafting sock toes was a revolutionary new technique. As late as 60 years ago slip-slip-knit instead of K1-slip one- pass slip stitch over was not universally known (reading lace instructions from books printed before the 50s turns up far more of the latter than the former). Using two circulars as giant DPNs and the using one giant circular (aka Magic Loop) are relatively new tricks, gaining wide popularity only in the last 12 years or so.
We have inherited a huge, shared tool chest of techniques, from anonymous and named innovators over the past 500 or so years of knitting history. But that doesn’t mean that the inherited ways are the ONLY ways or the ONLY CORRECT ways to produce pieces.
My point is even in a limited craft like knitting, there is a wealth of alternatives that can be pursued, and even today, a steady stream of healthy innovation. There are only so many ways to form a flat sequential multiple loop based fabric, and only so many ways to manipulate or deform stitches, yet even within those bounds, EVERYONE – beginner, intermediate, or advanced knitter – has the potential to have that flash of insight, to see some new technique or method; one that saves time, effort, money, or aggravation, or that leads to a new method of expression. Beginners can bring unspoiled eyes to annoyances more experienced knitters take in stride. More advanced knitters can blend techniques and come up with alternate ways to get things done. And everyone can cross-pollinate – bringing in inspiration, methods, and concepts from experiences outside the world of knitting.
I encourage you to try something new, to think on other or better ways to do something, or to add to your own personal toolsets with the goal of gaining inspiration through broadening your own skills. You never know – an “Aha! moment” could strike at any time, and the next inventor could well be you!
Back from visiting Florida, my mom and sister (plus her family). We had a great time, feted like royalty on progress. Special thanks to all, especially my mom, and to Chef Terry who pulled out all the stops for the holiday meal.
Sitting and chatting with mom did allow Motley to grow. In order to keep color distribution even, I have been adding to both ends:
I’ve got some snippets of hers now in there, too. I’m about two thirds of the way through the center rectangle, and am very pleased at how it’s turning out.
Muffattees (Fingerless Mittens)
Also, while we were there my two nieces expressed a desire for fingerless mittens. I’m not quite sure why they’d need such a thing in Florida, but teenage fashion whims (when reasonable) can be indulged. Especially when they are a quick knit.
For the first pair, I’m using the Reading Mitts pattern from Susie Rogers, available on Ravelry:
I’m about a third of the way through the other mitt of this pair. I’m still looking for a slightly different but equally interesting design for pair #2. Although I love luxe yarns, I’m no materials snob. The yarn for this one quite humble. It’s a very soft Red Heart acrylic worsted with a subtle shiny mylar thread running through it. Called Shimmer, it does, just a tiny bit, and has a very pleasing almost cashmere-like softness, which will feel nice on the hands. I chose a washable yarn because even in black, mitts get dirty quickly. The yarn is a bit splitty, but I’m happy with the result.
For the pattern, I knit the smallest size. With this yarn on US #5s, it’s plenty big enough (the medium was too big for me and I’ve got gorilla paws). The only modification I did to the pattern was to use a provisional cast-on, then knit the cast on stitches along with the live stitches to fuse the picot hem, just before the decrease row that sets count for the cuff pattern. That ended up adding one row of width to the edging before the first purl row of the cuff. Not noticeable. Also users should note that the lace pattern is set up for an even number of stitches, but two of the three sizes as presented yield an odd number in circumference after the decrease row. Just ignore the extra stitch and work it plain – on this item no one will ever notice. Finally, the method for picking up the thumb benefits from casting on two rather than one stitch on the side facing the mitt’s body. Even so, I advise leaving a nice long tail when you join the yarn to make the thumb. The excess will come in handy to close up the rather large gap at the “thumb crotch”.
This pattern is a sweet little project for a last-minute gift. Mitt #1 took two evenings. Mitt #2 bodes to take less, in part because I don’t need to start, then rip back the medium size.
Modifications – Vintage Yarn Chart Rehab
I know that lots of folks who visit here are looking for my chart of vintage needle sizes, historical yarns as plotted against gauge and modern needle sizes (with a few modern yarn recommendations). That chart was ported over in the Great Blog Migration, but arrived in less than readable condition. I’ve ironed it out now. To minimize confusion, I’ve modded the original post from 2005, rather than reproduce it here. But I’m opening it up again for additions. If you run across a pre 1930s pattern that calls for a specific yarn and vintage needle size, and you have made a successful modern substitution, toss a comment onto that page listing the original needle size and yarn specified, plus your modern substitutions. I’ll add them to that chart.
Apologies for calling my mom’s companion, Honeybun, a mutt. Mom would classify her as a “designer dog” – a mix of Maltese and Yorkshire Terrier, sometimes referred to as a Mookie. But I needed the alliteration, and as long as I toss the toy or scratch behind the ears, I don’t think Honeybun would mind:
She’s a cute little bundle of fluff, and a very good apartment pal.
I have sent off our second shipment of household goods. With luck they’ll arrive at the apartment in Pune, India by the end of November. The flat is furnished, so there was no need to send furniture, but it’s a spare and barren space. The Resident Male is fixing that, but it will take time.
In shipment #1 we sent pots and pans, some linens, a TV, and other items of immediate need. This second shipment is mostly clothing for Younger Daughter and me, plus linens for more beds, some bits of kitchenware that we forgot before, and most important of all – Survival Boxes. Younger Daughter and I each got one.
What’s a Survival Box? It’s a box full of the hobby, reading, or idle time amusement things intended for maintaining familiarity and sanity far away from home, where supplies might be difficult to come by. That’s not to say that we wouldn’t be able to find hobby things at our destination, but I rather suspect that selection and proximity will both be limited.
Younger Daughter packed painting and sketching supplies, including paints, pens, and paper. Also some selected books, and crochet yarn and hooks, along with a book on intro amigurumi (Japanese inspired small soft toys, usually knitted or crocheted).
What was in my box? Really – you have to ask?
In all truth, packing the thing was the hardest move task to date. What to take and what to leave behind? On one hand, I want to have a variety of things to do because I work on stuff at whim. It’s hard to predict flights of whimsy for the 18 months to come. On the other hand, there’s no point bringing a ton of stuff because whatever I bring, I have to schlep back.
Here’s what I settled on:
1. My unfinished North Truro Counterpane. It’s about 40% done right now, destined to be queen bed size when completed:
The pattern is here, if you’re interested.
2. My giant green sampler. I packed the frame stand, but not the sampler and stretcher frame. I’m still working on (albeit slowly) and it will accompany me in person.
3. Lace yarn. I’ve got a huge hank of black merino lace yarn, plus a big spool of hunter green, some blue, and some accent threads that go well with the hunter. Not sure what I’ll do with them yet, but I am bringing my copy of the Sharon Miller Princess Shawl, just in case I want to attempt an impossible project in an unconventional color.
4. Extra ground cloth and threads. I rounded up my stashed bits of cotton and linen even weave. They range from 26 to 50 threads per inch. I’m bringing white and black DMC linen floss, plus a pile of red, black and green cotton floss. Just in case inspiration strikes. I don’t have a stash of silk floss and didn’t buy any because of everything that I use, that’s the most likely thing to be available in India.
5. Sock yarns. About four pairs worth. The best in my stash, including some hand-dyed, and a ball of (near) solid Zauberball in deep emerald.
6. Lots of knitting needles, holders, embroidery needles, a pair of sewing shears, a couple of hand-hoops, my magnet board folder (thanks Kathryn!), my swift and ball winder (absolute necessity with the lace yarns) and other notions.
7. The stitching kit I picked up at Winterthur, to make a reproduction of the Sarah Collins sampler. Still not sure if I’ll do this myself, but it’s a self-contained project and easy to transport. Compared to the stuff I usually do it doesn’t look like it will take very long to stitch up.
8. Selected reference books. I can’t bring my whole library, but I did pack a few big-bang-for-the-volume pieces – my Duchrow trilogy, a German knitting stitch treasury, and TNCM. Plus some others on a thumb drive.
With the exception of a couple of balls of sock yarn and the accent threads, this is all from my stash, accumulated over the years. Which is why we have these hoards in the first place. Right?
Given a trip for up to two years away from home, to a place where distraction would be appreciated and supplies might be hard to get, what would YOU pack?
Welcome to the flood of folks directed here by the generosity of Mary Colbert, over at Needle ‘n Thread! She blogged about Ensamplario Atlantio, and the visitor count here ballooned from about 70 per day to over 5,000.
Given the large number of new folk, I thought I’d make a general re-introduction of myself and the site.
My name is Kim Brody Salazar. I’ve been knocking around the web since it first crawled up from the primordial pre-Internet seas. Professionally, I’m a proposal manager specializing in engineering and high-tech. I escape from project pursuit deadlines into needlework, SF, good cooking, and halfhearted attempts at domesticity. Past passions include the Society for Creative Anachronism. I rarely attend SCA events these days, but is still home to many of my closest friends; and Aikido. I am abetted in these efforts by Elder and Younger Daughters, and by The Resident Male, the husband whose programming ingenuity was responsible for the plumbing behind wiseNeedle. As a family we are currently preparing for an extended sojourn in India, where he is now working.
I’ve done many types of needlework, but my favorite stitching techniques remain the counted styles – especially from the great Modelbook Era (1520s-1650s). I adore blackwork in all its manifestations, and strapwork (the long strip patterns found on household and body linens).
I’ve also played with several forms of needle lace and crewel, but in the days that pre-dated photo blogs.
I am an avid though haphazard researcher, drafting up historical patterns from artifact and early book sources. I’ve put together several pamphlets of these designs. The most recent complete book was The New Carolingian Modelbook: Counted Designs from Before 1600. It was published for an SCA audience, but to my great surprise was discovered by the stitching community at large. I won’t go into the details, but TNCM is now out of print. I am working on a sequel, which I hope to have out soon via a print on demand or self-publication service. The Second Carolingian Modelbook: More Designs from Historical Sources will not duplicate the designs in my earlier book.
Along the way, just for fun and to refine the methods I wanted to use for T2CM, I drafted up Ensamplario Atlantio. It’s a collection of filling designs for inhabited blackwork, along with quite a few that have stand-alone or strip application. I’ve released it for free as a series of PDFs, along with other free embroidery patterns, here.
I also knit and crochet. I’ve done a bit of amateur design, and have had several of patterns published by Classic Elite, KnitNet, and Schaefer Yarns. I ran the wiseNeedle knitting info website (in various incarnations) from 1995 until just earlier this year. wiseNeedle featured an extensive needlework advice board, plus the glossary and patterns now here, along with a huge database of user-contributed non-sponsored yarn reviews. The yarn review database was salvaged by Nimblestix. Please feel free to consult to it and add to it over there. I also release knitting patterns for free here on String.
In terms of technique, I tend to favor texture knitting over stranded colorwork (although I like them both). I especially like lace knitting, and mining the 16th century sources and late 19th/early 20th century knitting publications for designs elements, which I toss into the creative Cuisinart.
That pretty much sums up my approach to all needle arts. I love the intricacy of many traditional styles, but I am not all that interested in producing stitch-literal reproductions. Instead I prefer to add to my design vocabulary to produce new works. Some of these I hope that – if they were to be TARDIS-transported back through time – would be accepted as just another piece in the target style, without being a dead-on copy of an extant artifact. Others are more playful, taking designs intended for one needlework medium and using it in another, or sneaking in incongruities just for fun. If you’re a needlework purist, I’m sure I’ll ruffle your feathers, and we’ll have lively debate. This is a good thing, because it will expand both our horizons.
I also do not believe the common line that modern needleworkers have no skill or patience for large, intricate projects. I find the dumbed-down tone of most mass market stitching, crochet and knitting books to be patronizing and demeaning. If passion and interest are there, no skill curve is too steep to climb, and there’s no reason to set the bar of attainment artificially low. Steps up are good, but too many instructors top out on the lower plateaus, never expecting their students to advance beyond threshold skills, or offering up the higher levels as anything other than impossible high bars that we today can never achieve.
Time can be found for whatever you want to do or whatever skill you want to perfect, even if (like me) it’s only 15 minutes here or there. Needlework is like music or the martial arts – practice is required, there are no instant skills or guaranteed outcome. But like any training pursuit, the act of committing to the training hones the mind and the character, and teaches far more than the mechanics of the skill itself. I encourage everyone to set high goals for themselves. It’s the reaching that makes it worthwhile, whether or not the goal is grasped. I may never reach mine, but I’m sure having fun on the journey up.
In any case – enough rambling. Welcome to my new readers and any long-lost friends!
As you can probably tell by the off-the-end-of-the pier style of my knitting and stitching projects here, not everything is fully swatched, graphed out, or perfectly planned before it’s realized. This may horrify some readers, but it’s the way I think. I prefer to learn on the fly, and don’t mind ripping back or starting again. For me, exploration is more fun than final product.
Case in point – the latest Wingspan. Let’s critique this thing to shreds:
Things I like:
- The basic Wingspan pattern
- The larger needle size/gauge for this particular yarn
- Using dice to determine hole size and placement
Things I don’t like:
- The color progression of this particular yarn
- This yarn in garter stitch
- The overall (near) finished look
- The combo of color, stitch and technique is too busy
One thing that made the last two Wingspans so dramatic was the long and gradual shading of the Zauberball Crazy. This was achieved by Zauberball’s dual strand ragg plies each cycling independently through their color ranges. In this full strand as opposed to ply-dyed yarn, color change is abrupt and the colors themselves are high-contrast. Speckles of the next color dot each block. (Now I remember starting socks with this ball, and not liking them either). The holes look less like airy bubbles, and more like the savaging of a demented moth army. And the eyelets, which work nicely in stockinette, look sloppy in garter stitch.
In total, I was Not Pleased. So this has been totally ripped back. I may play a bit with other stitches and this yarn, but in spite of it being a looonnnnngggg repeat, I am not confident that it’s right for a garter stitch Wingspan. However, the technique of placing eyelets in a fabric using a randomizing device to determine placement is still gnawing at me, as is thinking about other possible Wingspan variants. As a single project, this is a failure, but as a learning experience, it was valuable.
In other news, I’ve added to our house arsenal:
It’s a Korean-made sickle, sharp and sturdy. Similar ones have been used in Japan for centuries. They often figure in Anime, Samurai (and gangster) movies, both in their agricultural context and as weapons. We are close-in suburban here at String Central, and not out in the land of gentrified sprawl, so why do we need such a thing?
I cut the patches on the side and front of the house each fall, just after they bloom but before they scatter seed. I don’t want to be responsible for colonizing the neighborhood with the stuff, and I don’t want it to sit looking forlorn and frowzy through the winter. To date I’ve been clipping each stalk with a pruner, but that’s painful and time consuming. I am hoping that this tool will allow a swifter handful by handful harvest.
For those concerned with possible waste – I strip the leaves off the stems and re-use the stalks to build my bean trellis each spring. The leaves go to town composting. I also post about availability of (free) plant stakes each year on the local mailing list, and put them out on the curb for other gardeners to take.
The quick side trip to knitting is being just as quick as I thought. Here’s Wingspan (Angel Variant), finished and blocking out on some rubber mats on my dining room table:
(Yet another traditional blurry String photo, taken at dawn.)
The colors are a bit red-shifted, but you get the idea. A prismatic bat wing. I do confess that I would have had a little bit left over at the end had I finished off where the pattern said to stop – after point #8. But the color change in it was among the nicest in the ball, so I kept going, using every bit of the precious Zauberball Crazy, and finishing off with some leftover red sock yarn from my stash. I’m pleased with it, and as soon as it’s dry and I can darn in the ends, I’ll be rocketing it off to Elder Daughter. Unless she declines because she wants the fun of knitting her own.
Wingspan #2 is now on the needles. Younger daughter requested the darker color ball. She also asked that her scarf be narrower, with lots more holes. So I’m playing with the concept. Instead of one row of eyelets to close out each point segment, I’m working eyelets every 6th row; and I’m making them larger by doing them as S2-K1-PSSO center double decreases, followed by double yarn overs.
Some fudging is going on, all on the fly, to make a garter border around the growing point ends, and to fit the eyelet progression into the short row edge shaping. Just enough (in combo with watching the colors change) to keep my interest.
<begin curmudgeonly rant>
In other news, we ran away for a bit of fun this weekend. Younger Daughter, her pal and I went to King Richards’ Fair in Carver, MA – the local renfaire. The kids dressed up and had a great time, being new to small stage jugglers, acrobats, and general comedic banter.
I will say that I was less impressed. For all of the staff’s efforts, the charm of the thing is largely gone when compared to my memories of eight or so years ago. There was only one artisan working in the compound – a fellow doing lamp work glass. I missed seeing more of that – the leatherworkers, the folk at the forge, and the like.
The mounted “jousts” were the only things there that were free.
Younger daughter was camera wrangler, so it’s no surprise that our pix are all of the horses. The show we saw started with tilts at target and rings, and ended with lance to lance on horseback. It was highly staged (which we didn’t mind, given the risk of injury if the combat were more real), and fun to watch.
From the start, I was mildly miffed. Although I brought cash with me, I was annoyed that in none of their ads or websites anywhere is the fact that the faire is cash-only listed. I heard more than one attendee retreat from the ticket window, to drive back to town to find a bank rather than use the exorbitant fee ATM machine at the gate.
Once you’ve paid your $27 per person, inside the faire you’ll find that everything costs money. Food is on a ticket system, sold in $5.00 blocks of tickets only. They’re 50 cents each, although (again) this isn’t posted anywhere. A bottle of water is seven tickets ($3.50), a child’s plate of chicken fingers and fries is 17 tickets ($8.50), a sausage on a roll is 19 ($9.50). And the prices of foodstuffs are arranged so that it’s difficult to not have a few tickets left over that you can’t redeem. I saw one guy hassled by staff when he tried to sell his leftover four tickets to another visitor.
All rides, attractions, or other events (again except for the horse-related arena stuff) come with an additional fee. $2.00 for the maze. $4.00 for archery, $3.00 for a kiddie ride, and so on. It would be easy to go with two kids and without eating a thing, spend $100 on top of admission just in an hour of walking around. It’s clear that even the small stage performers are largely paid by passing the hat. They did deliver amusing, well rehearsed performances that we did enjoy. I did feel sorry for them and pony up, but again – you’re opening your wallet for everything other than breathing.
I was also disappointed at the large number of adults who seemed to be there in order to drink while walking around. This was a holiday weekend, and the Faire’s opening weekend. I expected to see more renfest geek kids – herds of teens in costume; and families with children over stroller age (strollers are difficult to push on the uneven ground). But about three quarters of the crowd were adults in their late 20s through 30s, wandering around in advanced states of tipsy. Not what I expected.
On the merchants – based on the prices, I assume that the Faire charges steep rents for those kiosks and stalls. What I saw was very pricey. Lots of stuff catering to folk dressing for the next renfest, of course, which I did expect. $75. light cotton elastic waist skirts I could make out of a remnant for under $5.00. $300 wench bodices. $150 capes. $100 pewter cups. $75 leather notebook covers. There was some jewelry and toys in the $15-30 range, but you had to hunt for it.
Again, I will say that the kids had fun. I did too in spite of being annoyed, and for that I thank the individual small-stage performers. They made the day. But the Faire as a whole has gotten more expensive and cheesier than I remember.
We won’t be going again.
Here are some more words and terms I’ve stumbled across during my India-migration preparations. Again – I point these out not because they are laughable or substandard, but because they are new to me, and illustrate the fact that English while common bridge among many speakers, can befuddle as well as unite. Please note that my sample is skewed to the sensational, because most of my sources are newspapers.
Here are three from local news coverage that all have to do with social action. There’s probably nuance or hierarchy of severity here that I’m missing. I’m inferring definition from context, and I don’t have tons of data points to figure out finer shades of meaning. Please chime in with corrections if you have them.
Bandobast – I love the sound of this one. From the usage it appears to be an ad-hoc group pursuing a common purpose, especially a grass-roots one, as opposed to that of a standing organization. There appears to be a nuance of self-organization, individual action, and spontaneity to a bandobast. A group of volunteers picking up litter after an arts festival or handing out water to marathon runners might be considered to be bandobasts. But not all bandobast actions are benign.
Morcha – A morcha seems to be used when a group of people self-organizes to pursue a specific social or political agenda. Although I see traffic-blocking street protests referred to using “bandobast,” “morcha” seems to be used more for organized actions we’d call labor strikes or work slowdowns. I’m unsure if the Occupy Movement’s actions in various US cities this year past would be considered bandobasts or morchas.
Bandh – This appears to be a major form of organized protest – a universal strike, in which the entire population of a region stays home, eschewing all work, school, commerce, or travel. It’s a powerful tool of civil protest. I’ve found through further reading that it has been banned, although calls for bandh actions are still made.
And some more general terms:
Godown – From context, seems to be a storage facility or warehouse district. I’ve seen some articles that use ‘godown’ to refer to industrial buildings of indistinct past use but large size, now repurposed to serve civic needs.
Octroi – I know this one from Medieval history. In historical usage, it’s a tax, levied on the goods moved between states; not exactly a customs duty, it’s more like a custody transfer tax. In the India context I’m unsure if this is a commercial tax, paid by corporations and possibly by municipal entities, although I think it is – as opposed to a direct tax paid by individuals. (That’s not to say that costs aren’t trickled down.)
Corporators – the closest I can figure is that these are local representatives. In the US, depending on the type of local governance and size of the local area, these might be ward representatives, town meeting or city council members. I am unsure if Corporators are appointed or elected. More reading is warranted.
Scheme – this is a nuance difference in usage. In the Indian newspapers, scheme appears to be used as a synonym for plan. For example, municipal corporations (city governance organizations) can have schemes for handling various civic challenges. However in the US, a scheme would have a sinister connotation, with an undertone of illicit secrecy. It’s a word used in the US more to designate the plans of evildoers and malcontents, than it is used to describe honest and forthright actions taken to benefit others.
I’ll keep on posting these from time to time, to entertain and edify. Perhaps some future expat will find these posts useful.