bookmark_borderMini Oseberg Loom

A while back, a friend and fellow fiber artist asked me if I could make a tabletop-sized “Oseberg Loom” that she could use in displays and demonstrations. An Oseberg Loom is a medieval style of loom for weaving narrow bands, and it is often used for tablet weaving (aka: card weaving). My friend is an experienced and enthusiastic tablet weaver who often displays work at SCA events.

I started looking around on the Internet, and found that a “real” Oseberg loom is about 2 meters long and about a meter tall. (Thanks, Ulf!) Now I understood why my friend wanted a “mini” version. Drawings enabled me to scale the pieces down, and get to work in wood.

Mini Oseberg Loom in Pine

My completed mini-loom is about 21 inches long and 12 inches tall. It is made of pine, with a blonde shellac finish. The feet join to the horizontal beam with dovetails, the stretcher bar joins to the verticals with a pinned through-mortise, and the verticals attach to the base with long screws. I thought about using more joinery, but I realized that screws would be more rigid, more durable, and much easier. The screws also make it possible to disassemble the loom if necessary for travel or repairs. There is no glue, though the shellac may of course make the pieces stick to each other..

I was able to do almost all of the cutting on the band saw, except for some of the detail work. The beveling on the base pieces (and the rounding on the verticals) was done using a router. I have a small router table that uses a handheld trim router, which is very handy for this kind of small project. The through mortises were drilled and then squared up with a chisel.

bookmark_borderRichard Serra’s “Carnegie”

Last week, I read in the news of the death of Richard Serra, the sculptor who created the steel slab artwork “Carnegie” that is out in front of the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh’s Oakland neighborhood. I’ve been contemplating this sculpture for decades now, so I cannot deny that it and its creator have had some influence on my life.

Photo courtesy of

Personally, I think Serra’s work in general is brimming with impact. It not only invites interaction, but often demands your involvement. Whether as a pillar, wall, or passage; his art intrudes physically into your life, and can be circumnavigated, entered, and traversed.

From the outside, “Carnegie” appears to support the sky, treelike. It invites you to enter and collaborate with it from the inside. You can gaze upward at the now distant sky, clap to experience its echoing hollowness, and sing to attempt to discover its resonances.

Farewell, Richard Serra.

bookmark_borderJinmaku no Hara

For Pennsic, the Japanese-themed group we camp with, “Clan Yama Kaminari”, surrounds the camp with camp curtains called “jinmaku“. We typically refer to these as “windscreens”. Our camp is large, and these things don’t last forever, so we typically need to make one or two dozen new jinmaku every year to swap in for faded or otherwise damaged ones. Some time ago, I made some others to serve as personal curtains, or advertising banners for the Barony and Kingdom. For her birthday, I made my sweetie a couple of personal jinmaku.

Jinmaku in white over green
Jinmaku in white over purple

When we make them for camp, we make them in a “black over red” configuration. When I asked Hara Shonagon what colors she would want for personal jinmaku (without my committing to making them), she responded probably white/green or white/purple. Since she seemed undecided, I made one of each.

These are just cotton/poly fabric with webbing tabs at the top for hanging. I did put a lot of sewing into each one. Each has proper flat-felled seams for the top/bottom join, and a real hem at the top. The ones we make for clan spend most of the year locked up in a storage trailer, and only get used at Pennsic. We can use these whenever we want.

bookmark_border“Not Forever but for Now”, by Chuck Palahniuk

In an afterword, Chuck Palahniuk reveals that the story of this novel is meant to be an exploration of addiction and addictive behavior. While not as absorbing as some of Palahniuk’s other novels, I feel this one succeeds in its goal.

Unreliable narrators are par for the course in in Palahniuk’s works, and this novel is no exception. My favorites of his novels have narrators who are not unreliable because they are liars, but because they are honestly ignorant. In Fight Club, the narrator is ignorant of the true identity of Tyler Durden and his own feelings towards Marla. In Diary, the narrator has no idea what is really going on. In Rant, which is presented as a series of interviews, almost none of the speakers have the full picture and can only describe the parts they have personally witnessed.

In Not Forever but for Now, the narrator is unreliable for every reason imaginable. There are things he does not want to tell you. There are things he has not been told. There are things he has been told that are lies. There are things he has been told that are terrible truths. There are things he has just never noticed. The narrator is unreliable like a fish is wet. He is unreliable because “unreliable” is the nature of his environment.

If the nature of a story is that the main character goes through some kind of change, then in order for this narrator to change his entire environment must be unraveled and rebuilt. Every terrible truth must be told. Every lie must be exposed. Every villain must be defeated. Every addiction must be broken. The fish must learn to live in the desert.

I got through this novel still not being sure what was real in the narrator’s world and what was not. If this novel is about addiction, he has succeeded in kicking most of his bad habits, but it’s possible his essential nature has not changed. It’s possible that this was his true nature the whole time, and it has merely been allowed to surface. If so, it has had to fight its way up through such a sea of unreliability that it has been somewhat damaged. One set of addictions has been exchanged for another, and the narrator is still unreliable.

It is a disquieting tale, which is also par for the course in Palahniuk’s novels. Also, it has 68 chapters. Not nice.

bookmark_borderDifferent Double-Hira

Following up on the previous double-hira, which expanded the 8-strand flat braid to 16 strands by having 8 groups of 2 instead of 4 groups of 2, I decided to try the braid with 4 groups of 4. Here’s what the pattern looks like:

16-Strand “Double Hira” Gumi A

Note the asymmetrical first move. Here is what the braid looks like:

Double-Hira Gumi A in black and gold silk

I really like the look of this braid. Interestingly, the braid is much thicker along one edge than along the other. I just love the look of those zig-zag chevrons, and the stitches come out really tight.

I didn’t post a pattern for the previous double-hira, so here it is, for comparison:

16-Strand “Double Hira” Gumi B

It sure looks more confusing, but it’s the same moves, just with more groups.

bookmark_borderDouble-Hira Braid

So, if you remember my posting from about a year ago, sometimes I experiment with 8-strand braids that I have never tried a 16-strand “doubling” of. I was really happy with my doubling of the yatsu-se gumi, but for some reason I never thought to try a doubling of the 8-strand version of the shige-uchi braid (which is not really a shigeuchi at all) until now. Here is the pattern for the 8-strand braid:

If you expand the setup to 16 strands (with 8 groups of 2 instead of just 4 groups of 2) but keep the asymmetrical first move, the braid open up what would have been a naiki gumi round hollow braid into a wide, flat braid with a single layer plain weave,

16-strand flat braid in black and gold silk

I suppose this should be called the hira ju-roku gumi or “flat 16″ braid. The width of this braid varies due to variations in tension, but it averages about 5/8” (about 15mm) wide, which is very wide for a marudai braid. Mine came out very loose, but that may have been a function of the marudai I was using. For a braid this wide, I really should have used a marudai with a deeper “well” and a wider hole in the middle of the mirror. Anyway, the looseness makes this braid very soft and flexible.

bookmark_borderElectric Andon

I have made quite a few wooden frame lanterns, called andon in Japanese, but most of them were designed around battery-powered lights of one kind or another. The battery-powered LED lights look great, but they are not nearly as bright as regular electric bulbs run off AC power. So, since our camp at Pennsic has AC power at least most of the time, I decided to make some new andon around high output (1000 lumen) LED bulbs.

Three Electric Andon

These are the first three I made, hanging in the shourou. Look at how bright they are! I bought some black appliance cords at the Lowes, then spliced outdoor light sockets onto the ends. The cords are probably overkill electrically, but they come with molded plugs already on one end and stripped wires at the other. Perfect for projects. The lantern actually hangs from the fixture.

Here’s the one I made as a present for Sharon. This cord is a little longer than the others to enable this specific hanging arrangement. There is a switched outlet right at the base of the windows next to the front door.

bookmark_borderMusic Post 2023

Finally getting around to my annual post of all the music I bought during the year. Much of the year was concerned with catching up on the output of old friends The Orb, and Eric Johnson. The Orb and Sigur Ros released new albums, so there’s that.

The Orb

  • No Sounds Are Out of Bounds (2018)
  • The Abolition of the Royal Familia (2020)
  • Guillotine Remixes (The Abolition of the Royal Familia) (2021)
  • Prism (2023)

Eric Johnson

  • EJ Vol. II (2019)
  • The Book of Making (2021)
  • Yesterday Meets Today (2022)

Sigur Ros

  • Atta (2023)

Not a lot of music purchases overall. I should get into some new bands. Old friends Zombi are releasing a new album in a couple of months. That should be fun.

bookmark_borderWhite Kosode 2023

With the Pandemic lightening up enough for the SCA to start having regular events once again, I decided to restart some of my garb-making activities. The last new white under-kosode I made was way back in 2020. Anyway, I finished this kosode back in mid-December. It is entirely white linen, some very nice white linen I purchased at Pennsic 50.

Kosode from white linen

There’s nothing much special to this kosode, other than it conforms a little better to what we now think a kosode should be. The sleeves are almost entirely attached to the body. The overlaps are still “old-style”, but I’ll work on that for the next one.