Friday, 25 May 2018

iPads and Other Artifacts: Cataloguing

An excerpt from my novel, where Brook and Elgin catalogue artifacts from the old world.


Elgin walked next to Brook down the path towards the collection house. The first thing they checked was the snares along the path. Nothing. They moved on to the house itself and Elgin checked the pear trees growing beside the porch. She pursed her lips, the buds were not growing as well as last year.

When they had first woken from the end, Brook and Elgin had found themselves very near this spot. The sun was a harsh and blinding white light that made their eyes sore just by being in its direct path. Plants that grew in the meadows wilted within a few days, but the ones hidden in the shade, where the two girls had hidden too, they grew and grew to abnormal sizes. They learned from the gardening books Elgin collected that some fruits and berries were nearly three times the size they were meant to be. The sunlight affected humans in strange ways too, many people who never hid from the sun and left their skin in its sight too long developed black spots that expanded across their bodies. Most who had these on their skin usually died within a few months, the rest didn't last a year.

Brook and the crew, as they grew in number, learned to layer their clothing, stay in the shadows during the hottest parts of the day. None of them had found any of the black marks on them yet, and the cases reported in town had had a drastic drop since last summer. With the drop in marked skin, the larger plant life also began to return to normal, but not just that, it began to stop growing in many places too. Elgin worried that with the sun fading to its old brightness, and the auroras getting dimmer, the earth was reverting to the form it had when the end happened. And since the cause was still a mystery to them, it was possible that a return to normal would start another apocalyptic event.

"Hey, we'll be okay." Brook said as she unlocked the door of the house. "We've still got plenty of other sources of food."

"Aye, but the townies will nae be pleased if they find oot we're running low. Farmers feed cities, ken?"

"Farmers feed cities." Brook repeated the phrase they had adopted after seeing it stuck to the back of an old earth pick-up truck.

The collection house was separated into two sections. The front two rooms were all the newspaper articles saved by Argyle and Aberdeen for their project, and books for research and reference of the old earth. The back and the upstairs was filled with boxes and shelves of objects that Brook had deemed worthy to go in her collection. All up the staircase were boxes with more objects that were yet to be catalogued in her system of binders. Now that the radio watch schedule was in place, she would have more time to dedicate to the work, plus get a hand from the others that helped in the house.

"Since we're here and all." She had said to Elgin, who wholeheartedly agreed. They sometimes thought about how they had known each other in the old earth, since Elgin sounded so different from anyone they had yet met in the new one. They guessed that she and Brook had been workers at what the old world called a Museum. Perhaps that was how they knew each other. The comfort they both gained from categorizing and describing all the artifacts, and then ordering them into material, function, or age was hard to describe to any of the others in the crew.

“Where do you want to start? Archives or Artifacts?” Brook gestured to the rooms that each collection started in.

“Ah'll do archives, it's been awhile since I read anything new.” Elgin grinned and gave Brooks elbow a flick. Brook laughed and mimed shoving the smaller woman into the right hand room. She marveled at their size difference again, realizing that as tall as Sherman was compared to her, at least a full head over her, that was how much taller she was than Elgin. A wave of gratitude swept over her for her friends.

“Hey.” She stopped Elgin just before the other woman was fully in the room. “I never thanked you, for standing up for know, with Sherman.”

Elgin tilted her head and gave her a quizzical look. “And ye don't have tae. I ken yae would do the same for me. That's what crew mates do for each other.” She turned without another word and went to sit at the desk stacked with books yet to be catalogued.

Brook smiled and scoffed, turning to grab a box off the staircase. She carried it down the hall and into the room with her old desk. She pulled on the stained lab coat, not for practical reasons really, but for the feeling it gave her, the feeling of the old earth. She then lit the few candles that gave the room the burst of light it needed in order to write by and pulled on the old gloves. She then sat and pulled the first object from the box. It was a picture frame made of glass and mirrors, with two little wooden designs glued on either side of the photo. Brook studied the couple that stood out clearly, even if they were only in black and white. It was a marriage photo. The crew had learned a few things about marriage; since a few of them had been wearing matching rings, all on the left hand, all on the fourth finger. Research had to be done. In the findings it seemed that women almost always wore a white dress, and men a black suit. The photograph confirmed this, although the dress seemed a very different style from other, coloured photos she had seen, and the suit the man wore had two long pieces hanging down the back as well as a round, tall hat clutched in his hand. She flipped the frame over and was happily surprised to see writing there. It read: 'Pieter and Hinke, Dokkum, Friesland. 1953'

Brook crossed the room with frame in hand to a map she had tacked to the far wall. She spent some minutes studying it, looking for this 'Friesland' place. But it didn't seem to be anywhere. Not in Canada, or the rest of the world. Perhaps it was a province of a country. Brook gave up and went back to describing the piece. She gave it the title of 'married couple – Friesland' hoping that by writing that, someone else might remember something about the place when they read the records.


As the morning wore on, she finished the items in the box. A few glass jars, a candlestick, an old electronic tablet, a small, carved figurine of a girl with no face and wire wings kneeling with her hands pressed together. As the old clock in the hall chimed twelve, she rubbed her eyes and stretched. Time to head back. She removed the lab coat and gloves, blew out the candles, and moved out into the hall to wind the clock.

Elgin was deep in concentration, staring into a book so intently that Brook doubted she had heard the clock. She knew the feeling. “You can take it back with you, you know.” Brook leaned against the doorway as Elgin gave a start and looked up from the pages.

“That time already? Ah'm just gettin' in tae it.” She stuck a scrap piece of paper into the page she had left off at and did her own stretch.

“Finding anything good?”

“Aye, it's a work of fiction I believe, but the way they tugs at my memory tae be sure.” Elgin stroked the gold lettering on the cover.

“What's it called?” Brook stepped forward to read the title. “Kidnapped. By Robert Louis Stevenson. Huh, I think I picked that up down in the other town.” The other town being the one at the other end of the escarpment, like two castles on two hills, the crew liked to imagine they were feuding towns that each thought they were better than the other. Personally Brook liked the one further away to Ancaster. It seemed like it had more of a cozy feeling, before the end.

“Ah'll have to see if we have any more books from him.” Elgin placed the book carefully in her pack. She slung it over her shoulder and nodded at Brook. “Let's get going, Ah've got gardening to do!”

Monday, 6 March 2017

Blog Link Up, Beautiful People: Brook County

Well hey there hey folks! It's been a while hasn't it? I've been recently motivated to jump back on the blogging bandwagon, thanks to the constant updating of one of my good friends and my growing guilt at not also updating...thanks Becca :P

Anyway, let's start off fresh with a Beautiful People link up and a fresh face! I've recently started a new story that's usually way out of my comfort zone, but I've been loving the world building so far! Meet Brook: a woman awakened in a post apocalyptic world having no memory of how or why the end happened. Now her and a small group of like-minded survivors are starting from the stone age and trying to figure out both how to live in this new world, and how the old one was taken from them.

1. What’s their favourite book/movie/play/etc.? 

 Brook is sometimes known in her group as "The Collector". when not out hunting for food, you can easily find her in the nearby deserted town looking for artifacts of the old world. Her and another woman in the crew, Dres, discovered the local library early on and have combed its shelves often ever since. I can't say she has a favourite single book, but geography and history themed books have definitely been read lovingly over the past four years. 

2. Is there anything they regret doing?

 She is pretty mad at her pre-end self for not putting some form of ID on her at the time when it happened. But of course, all of her crew mates have a similar story. They've all taken names from the street or road sign they were closest to when they woke up. Brook's full name is Glanbrook County. The only person in the crew who is pretty sure he has the right name is Joldersma, but only because he took his name from a mailbox outside a destroyed house. Brook's main goal is to follow her gut instincts and hope they one day bring her to a house with her name in it and pictures of her face. 

3. If they were sick or wounded, who would take care of them and how?

 There's a few women in the crew who have pretty strong maternal instincts, but Brook would trust Dres or Clyde the most for wounds, Ford for sickness. 

4. Is there an object they can’t bear to part with and why?

Brook woke up in the basics for a Canadian spring, jeans, shirt and sweater, coat and woolen hat. the one thing of note that she had on was a silver ring with a celtic design of a buckle. She's not sure of the meaning, but because of the tan line around it, she guessed her old world self had worn it often if not all the time. She keeps it on a chain around her neck now, to lessen the risk of loosing it.

5. What are 5 ways to win their heart (or friendship)?

 Be useful, peaceful, smart, have eagerness, and a love of nature.

 6. Describe a typical outfit for them from top to bottom.

 Woolen hat, black or brown hoodie under a brown coat, green pants or jeans, hiking boots. sometimes knee pads when she's hunting. backpack and crossbow or old rifle slung over a shoulder. ski goggles in winter to help with the snow glare.

 7. What’s their favorite type of weather?

 Late spring or fall. Just after a heavy rainfall, when there's a bit of fog and the forest floor is soft and quiet for stalking prey.

 8. What’s the worst fight they’ve ever been in?

 Near the beginning of the new world, when the crew tried to live in the buildings in town, there was a lot of fighting between crews over food and survival gear, and many were killed. They found their group, although smart tactically, were not the best at implementing offensive plans. So they went deep into the forest and set up a defensive position there instead.
9. What names or nicknames have they been called throughout their life?

 Again, the main one is Collector, but it is more of a job title than anything, some of the guys in the crew like to call her "Hoarder", but not when she has something they need. Due to her ability to move comparatively quietly through the woods, unlike most of the others, they also jokingly call her "Twinkle Toes".
10. What makes their heart feel alive?

Being in the woods alone mostly. Finding clues from the time before, and hanging out with the crew when they're all getting along.  

Head on over to Paper Fury to check out more Beautiful People blog links!

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

That's Sew Medieval: Chainmail Coif

I've recently finished a side-project that has taken me about 10 months to complete! hooray for me! Obviously it was a lot less work than that, but all the lengthened breaks I took from working on it added up. Altogether I've calculated that it took between 18-25 hours to finish.

I don't have too many construction photos of the coif (you'd think I'd have learned by now), so I'll try to explain to the best of my memory how this came about.

I started with triangles. 15 rings wide at the top and 15 rows long, tapering down to one ring at the bottom. I made 7 of these triangles and connected them all together at the point with a single ring to make the top of the coif. From there it was a simple matter of making rows hanging down for 6 out of the 7 triangle ends.

I continued down until I reached the back of my neck and the edge of my shoulders. Now it was time for the chin-piece!

Once I had made up a rectangle 25 rings wide and 12 long, I attached it to the coif. I found that the top row sagged quite a bit, so I added a suede string to tighten it up, and then continued to thread it trough the edge of the opening.
This is Vlad, my head on a stick.

The next step was to add the shoulder guard. I got busy making two tapered rectangles at 60 rings wide each at the top and tapering down to 50 rings. This means that they were 11 rows long. Once finished, I attached it together and then began attaching it to the coif upside down, so that the row of 100 (two rows of 50) was now at the top and the wider row of 120 was at the bottom. I ended up being about 7 rings short (don't ask me how that happened :P) so had to add a rectangle 7 wide by 11 long.

Here's the finished piece, hood up. I found that the opening for my face was a little tight, but I might play with the string holding it to the chin piece and see if that's the problem. Otherwise it looks really neat just resting at the back, and sits on my shoulders quite comfortably with the weight well spread out. Now I just need to make a padded coif for underneath, for as you could probably guess, it gets caught in hair a bit :P

 Here's a bonus show with my fur capelet!

On to the full chainmail tunic! should only take me another year or two!

Thanks for reading and as always,

Keep Calm and Drink Tea

-Miss Esther

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

That's Sew Cosplay: Star Wars Rey's Resistance Outfit

Okay. So confession time...I love the new Star Wars movie...I saw it three times in theaters. And when I realized the immediate fashion for people was to cosplay as one of the lead characters, Rey, in her desert outfit. I knew I was destined to make her other outfit. The Resistance outfit that gets less than 10 minutes of screen-time.

Okay so there's not a whole lot of pictures online yet...but hey, that's why I saw the film three times right! once to get inspired, twice to check out the outfit, and a third to study the details.
Here's the drawings I did of the outfit after the viewings:

Here's all the pieces of the main vest pinned together:

 and with the shoulder pads, there are four pieces of half moon shapes and once I sewed all the lines down until I got to about 2 inches away and then stuffed each channel with batting. I then finished sewing the channels.

Here's the finished vest:

Next I made the kapris, These were a challenge, and my first pair of pants ever! I don't have many pictures of these by themselves, but i based the pattern on one of my regular pairs of kapris. The knees pads were done the same way as the shoulder pads, and then it was on to the shirt and gloves!
Just a quick test of the movement and fit of the vest, shirt and pants.
the gloves were made out of the same grey wool as the vest, and the elbow pads were again done the same way as the shoulders and knees. the arm wraps were made from the pants material (some sort of grey polyester) and just wrapped around my arm in the picture below, I'm hoping to sew them together with the gloves just for ease.
They need a bit of weathering and detailing around the edges yet.
aaaaannnd real quick, I also made Rey's staff thanks to a great tutorial on instructables!

Anyway. That's I got for now!

Thanks for reading!

-Miss Esther

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

That's Sew 18th Century: Robe a la Turque

Well hey there he strangers! It sure has been a while!
Life has been pretty hectic since I last posted anything, I've now moved, had adventures, done some crafting, and mostly just settled in. I figured it was time (with a little prodding from a friend) to start up blogging again.

I figure I'll start where I pretty much left off - sewing a Robe a la Turque.
I've wanted to do one for a good long while, but also wanted to find the perfect inspiration for it. I was gifted by a museum volunteer a load(26 feet!) of orange silk taffeta. whoooweee! Soon after, I stumbled across this portrait on Pinterest:

Perfection, right?

My next step was to find some white silk to match and begin on the petticoat. As usual, I made it like I make all my petticoats, which you can see in my first tutorial.
Here's the finished piece, including the orange silk hem along the bottom. (that was a struggle!)

Next came the back panel. obviously I couldn't tell what kind of back the one in the portrait had, so a bit of research and advice and improving led to the choice to make an en fourreau back panel. They are really pretty after all! In hindsight I wish I had made the panel and the bottom part of the skirt one piece, but the orange silk was made in such a way that every 50 inches or so had a seam, so there would have been one in there somewhere anyway.

Orange and white front panels next!

 I had to then hem the whit panels in more orange, changing the pattern a bit from the painting here and just going with a straight design like on a Zone Front gown. I then added a button to the top, a button hole, and eyelets and hooks down the white front.

This is what it looked like after adding the over sleeves (still had to get the white sleeves underneath and the lacey bits). at this point I wasn't very happy with the spread of the dress out back, so I added a couple of panels to each side to make it wider, I then hemmed the entire outer skirt with white silk (never again!).

This is me trying it on for a test, with a necklace to match. you can see the inner sleeves are still just pinned to the outer ones. I also found that the shoulder pieces sat a bit awkwardly, so I had to tighten them up as well.

The final step was to add a bit of flare, (and to really show off the Robe a la Turque influence) by adding a silver-grey sash with a blingy buckle. snazzy!

And voila! finished! It took a lot longer then expected, but I got it done just in time for Halloween, where my Museum had a Victorian costume party/murder mystery. I went dressed as a Victorian lady dressed as an 18th century lady. Or at least, that's how I justified my costume choice. Plus, its orange! perfect for Halloween!

Thanks for reading!!

The dress in action on Halloween, please ignore the Victorian hairstyle!

The cast of the Murder Mystery night! Big skirts for EVERYONE!

As always, Keep Calm and Drink Tea.
-Miss Esther

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Roll For Survival: Rocky Waters

It's true I do a lot of fantasy and historical writing, mostly for fun, for myself, and never really intended for publishing (of course, one can always dream.), but modern writing and blogging is something I find difficult to do. That being said, I will be availing you lovely readers of my best efforts and thoughts, on occasion. These sort of postings will be under the title 'Roll for Survival', a nod to my gaming life in Dungeons and Dragons. I hope you will enjoy this first effort, Rocky Waters.

I recently went camping along one of the Great Lakes in Ontario, and of course, what do you do when you're camped beside a lake? You go to the beach. Naturally. Only, this Provincial Park had what some would call a sticky situation. The park was torn between letting nature run its course and grow a natural Eco-system that had been denied the shores all around it, or follow suit and make way for pristine beaches covered in white sand like everyone else (beaches that are, not surprisingly, rated some of the top in North America.). The park compromised with a small public beach at one end of the park, and natural growth along the rest, but with a bike path that followed their watery territory around the point for the more adventurous campers.

Here's the thing about myself and my family. We aren't what you'd call "extroverts". Not all of us anyway. So when my sister and I turned up at the public beach on a hot Saturday afternoon and found it swamped with the non-adventurous campers...well, It didn't take us long to turn around and head back to the safety and quiet of our campsite. But not before my sister had "tested the waters" as it were. Her comments on the man-made beach were disappointing, while the sand was nice above the water level, she found that under it, there was only mud. slimy and gungy and totally not what sand should have been like.

The next day my dad and I, the super-introverts, decided to try the shoreline bike trail and see if we could find anything further afield. So far our efforts had yielded results less than ideal for my sisters, I heard things like "The rocks here are too big." "Too small." "There's no sand." and "It's gross here." I thought surely if I tried hard enough, I could find something for them. While they drove off to the town of the pristine beaches and sea of umbrellas, we set off down an ill-used trail in search of gold.

We found it.
The path diverted once or twice, and when we finally picked a small opening in the trees, we were met with a gorgeous site. An empty beach. Sure there was rocks on the beach, there was pebbles and stones and sand of all sizes. But the water was clear, you could easily walk over the flat stones in the water until you got deeper, where it turned to gravel. Better than mud right? There was even a boulder or two where one could reenact the famous scene from The Little Mermaid (while my dad's back was turned, obviously.).

After a relaxing and undisturbed swim, I walked along the water line, looking down at the rocks my sisters so hated. It was because of these stones that this beach was deserted. No one wanted to come here because there were ugly, annoying stones. But upon closer inspection, I realized something incredibly about these lake stones. Out of the water, they were just round, grey balls, worn smooth by time and waves, but the minute the waves washed over them, it was like a secret ingredient was added to their composition. What were once dull and grey became vibrant colours, the deepest greens, brightest oranges, and shimmering blacks. I found myself picking up ordinary rocks and tossing them in a pool of water just to see what they really looked like. What their true colours were (Yes, Cyndi Lauper pun SO intended).

Is it possible that, maybe we as people are just the same? Is it possible that we all see each other as dull, boring blobs. "She's too big" "Too small" "Not good enough". Perhaps the reason we find it so easy to look at someone and think we know who they are is because all we see is the grey rock. What would happen if you went up to someone and added that special ingredient? What if you found out that boy wants to write movie soundtracks and his eyes light up when he talks about composing. What if you asked that girl what her dream job would be and she tells you with a determined smile she wants to be a mountain climber. Sometimes its scary, the thought of diving in to what we can only hope is our calling, our career pool. but in the end, it's always worth it. You gained experience and added a little more shine to your stone. Sometimes, under great stress, a stone is cracked open. But that's okay too! Have you ever seen a quartz stone's outer rim? It's the most ordinary thing in the world. But the inside is a masterpiece.

Everyone is capable of being great at something, and we're all able to shine without dulling those around us. All we need to do is learn to share in our secret ingredient. To ride out the rocky waters together. And if you look hard enough, you can find the gold in anyone.

Never be afraid to show your true colours!


Miss Esther

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

That's Sew 18th Century: Common Caraco

It's been a while since I dived into the deep end of the 18th century! But I've played with my fantasy stuff and kept an ongoing chainmaille project on the side for when my sewing gets dull, and decided to jump back into the good old stuff!

I realized a while ago that I had been making a lot of clothes for very fancy times, upper class types and such, with the exception of the Jacobean caraco jacket and quilted petticoat, which was more middle class. I needed to make myself a quick little lower class outfit in case I ever got around to actually reenacting. So I headed off to Len's Mills with the promise that I was only going to buy the cheap stuff. Wool, cotton, or possibly broadcloth.

I found simple red and yellow cotton yardages in the discount bin! Score! and set to work making a shorter petticoat with the red, and a caraco jacket with the mustard yellow.

The pattern pieces were copied from Costume Close-Up, the best Christmas present ever, and measured to my size. I may have put too much extra on for seam allowance, as the finished product looks a bit big on me.

As you can see, the jacket is made up of four parts to each side. The back panel, the front, the shoulder strap, and the button panel (which is flipped onto its lining side for some reason in the pic.). I used a khaki coloured cotton for the lining of the jacket.

Here is the back of the jacket once all the main parts were sewn together. The sleeves are also copied from Costume Close-Up, and just tacked on to show what it will look like.
And the front as well!
 The best days of summer were coming soon, and there was no way I was spending them sewing indoors! Here's my perfect spot!

The finished outfit with hat and fichu. you can tell the jacket is slightly too big for me, so another project for me is getting it taken in! next up I'm back to the fancy stuff and making a Robe a la Turque! Updates to come!

Until them,
Keep Calm and Drink Tea!
        -Miss Esther