Thursday, May 31, 2012

Thursday Legend Post #3 -- Snow White and Rose Red

We all think we know the story of Snow White, but who's this Rose Red character? That's what I thought when I was browsing through Pinterest the other day in search of pictures to pin to my Lore board, and I came across the picture you see on the right here.

Curious much? I managed to save the research until I could actually write a blog post about it. But only just.

As it turns out, the story of Snow White and Rose Red is is by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. Odd pair, the Grimm Brothers. This story of theirs is no less odd than some of their other ones. A little difficult to decipher, but it has some interesting elements to it.

First of all, there are the characters. An old widow is introduced first. She has two rose trees planted on either side of the front door to her cottage, one white and one red. It is after these rose trees that she named her two daughters. Enter our main characters!

She had two children who were like the two rose-trees, and one was called Snow White and the other was called Rose Red. They were as good and happy, as busy and cheerful, as ever two children in the world were, only Snow White was more quiet and gentle than Rose Red. Rose Red liked better to run about the meadows and fields seeking flowers and catching butterflies; but Snow White sat at home with her mother, and helped her with her house-work, or read to her when there was nothing to do.

The personalities of these two are very interesting opposites. Opposites are always fun in characters. If you use your imagination, you can see the front of the cottage on a sunny day, the roses in full bloom. The widow is tending to the flowers, while Rose Red is chasing a brilliantly colored butterfly all over the lawn, and Snow White is quite happily sitting in the grass intent upon the pages of her book. See? There goes the butterfly, right by Snow White, and... Over both sisters go! Just because the fairy tale says they were good and happy doesn't mean they never had their little disagreements.

There is a long description of how good these sisters are; how they were protected by their guardian angel, how animals loved them and feared them not, and how theirmother never worried about them because they always stayed out of trouble. Particular notice is made of their loyalty to each other, which reminded me of my little sisters because they are exactly the same way towards each other.

...and when Snow-white said, "We will not leave each other." Rose-red answered, "Never so long as we live."

So cute. ^.^ Okay, so now we're introduced to another key character. One winter night, out of nowhere, a bear shows up at their door. But not just any bear..... This one talks.

But the bear began to speak and said, "Do not be afraid, I will do you no harm! I am half-frozen and only want to warm myself a little beside you."
"Poor bear," said the mother. "Lie down by the fire, only take care that you do not burn your coat." Then she cried, "Snow-white, Rose-red, come out,the bear will do you no harm,he means well."

Now the story's started to get a little od, as I'm sure you've noticed. But hey, fairy tales are weird. This bear stays with the threesome for the whole winter, coming every evening and staying overnight, and the two girls grow very fond of him. Unfortunately, that summer, he must leave. He has a treasure, he says, that he is trying to guard from an evil dwarf who wants to steal it from him.

Now for the very last character, the dwarf. If there is a villain in this story, it is this ill tempered, ungrateful, greedy dwarf. He's also incredibly clumsy, which is kind of amusing in a villain. Twice he gets his beard caught, and once he's almost carried off by an eagle. Each time, Snow White and Rose Red happen along and free him, and each time the dwarf hurls insults at them, storming off thanklessly with a sack of gold, pearls, or precious stones on his shoulder.

The girls came just in time; they held him fast and tried to free his beard fromthe line, but all in vain, beard and line were entangled fast together. Nothing was left but to bringout the scissors and cut the beard, whereby a small part of it was lost.
When the dwarf saw that he screamed out, "Is that civil,you toad-stool, to disfigure one's face? Was it not enough to clip off the end ofmy beard? Now you have to cut off the best part of it. I cannot let myself be seen by my people. I wish you had been made to run the soles off your shoes!" Then he took out a sack of pearls which lay in the rushes, and without saying a word more he dragged it away and disappeared behind a stone.

Of course, the two sisters do not get angry, but assist the dwarf in spite of his irksome temperament. So far it appears Snow Whiteand Rose Red are good examples of compassion. They learned this from their mother, obviously, who first showed compassion to the freezing cold bear. Now her daughters are showing they learned this virtue well by aiding the annoying dwarf in spite of his insulting manners. As with all fairy tales, the sisters' virtue is rewared. As the girls are returning from running errandsfortheirmother at the market -- having by now saved the dwarf three times -- they come across the dwarf rifling through the sack of precious jewels....

"Why do you stand gaping there?" cried the dwarf, and his ashen-grey face became copper-red with rage. He was going on with his bad words when a loud growling was heard, and a black bear came trotting towards them out of the forest.The dwarf sprang up in a fright, but he could not get to his cave,for the bear was already close. Then in the dread of his heart he cried, "Dear Mr. Bear, spare me, I will give you all my treasures; look, the beautiful jewels lying there! Grant memy life; what do you want with such a slender little fellow as I? You would not feel me between your teeth. Come, take these two wicked girls, they are tender morsels for you, fat as young quails; for mercy's sake eat them!" The bear took no heed of his words, but gave the wicked creature a single blow with his paw, and he did not move again.

Quite a showdown, eh? Not exactly a sword duel, but hey, it worked. Now here's the reward.

The girls had run away, but the bear called to them, "Snow-white and Rose-red, do not be afraid; wait. I will come with you." Then they knew his voice and waited, and when he came up to them suddenly his bearskin fell off, and he stood there a handsome man, clothed all in gold. "I am a King's son," he said. "And I was bewitched by that wicked dwarf,who had stolen my treasure; I have had to run about the forest as a savage bear until I was freed by his death. Now he has got his well-deserved punishment."
Snow-white was married to him, and Rose-red to his brother, and they divided between them the great treasurewhich the dwarf had gathered together in his cave. The old mother lived peacefully and happily with her children for many years.She took the two rose-trees with her, and they stood before her window,and ever year they bore the most beautiful roses,white and red.
[All exerpts taken from]

Happily ever after! I love how the two girls took care of their mother after they married. It's so sweet.

Now, if you think about it, that prince wouldn't have been so keen to marry Snow White, or let his brother marry Rose Red, if the girls had been as ill tempered as that dwarf. But instead they learned compassion from their mother, applied it in real life, and were rewarded for it even though they did not do it because they were expecting a reward. They were obedient to children, even though the story seems to indicate that Snow White and Rose Red were older, at least old enough to be married.

 As I mentioned before, it's rather an odd story, but cute in its own way. I think it would be a fascinating tale to try and rework in one's own words, for sure. The potential of the characters is definitely there.

Well, this turned out to be much longer than I expected. Hopefully you found the story of Snow White and Rose Red interesting to explore.

Dia duit,

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's eleven thirty at night, and my puppy, Gypsy, is at the vet overnight. My room is very lonesome. I keep looking over to her crate in the corner out of habit to see her, but she's not there. It's really sad....

I missed writing on my blog, so I figured I'd come on here and say something profound or at the very least interesting. So far in five sentences, I've failed to do either. Since tomorrow is Legend Post day, I can't write about folklore, and music is on Friday.

I was considering doing a post on weapons every Monday or Tuesday. I live a somewhat busy life -- eight younger siblings and a novel to write, doncha know -- so I don't want to pressure myself too much. A hairstyle tutorial, and a photo shoot of Percy's new medieval outfit I bought him for his birthday are in order, but neither of those solve my problem for what to write now.

Okay, I need to make this article actually worth something for those of you who read my blog. So I'll post this:

For the Greatest Good

Our order is under attack.

But this is not a fight for survival.

This is a fight for truth,

For freedom,

For hope.

These immortal values withstand time and test,

Proving one to be the most complex,

The most mysterious,

The most powerful among them all.

This is a fight for love.

This is the title and motto thingy I typed up for an skype role play that Dana and I have been doing recently. I'm pretty sure y'all are smart enough to know that the reference to love in the motto thingy is not in any way related to romance.

Just making sure.

The game has been fascinating, and I'm considering posting bits and pieces of it now and then on my blog, if Dana doesn't mind.

So yeah, this was a pretty lame blog post. But it's late, and I was feeling guilty about neglecting my blog, even though I am due to do a post both tomorrow and tomorrow's tomorrow.

It's late. That's my only excuse.

I'll shut up and go to bed now.

Dia duit,

Friday, May 25, 2012

Follow the Sound of Steel

I've been attempting to research European Martial Arts (swordfighting; specifically, Italian longsword) and today I looked up videos on youtube. After searching for a little while, and finally typing in "Fiore di Liberi", I got a result. Here's the video. It shows forms, how they work in actual practice, and then some sparring near the end. It's not an instructional video, but I found it helpful and intriguing in getitng the general idea of what proper swordfighting looks like. And by 'proper' I mean pretty much anything that's better than the blind hacking we do in the backyard with our PVC swords.

Maybe I should have a designated Medieval sword/swordfighting day. Hm....

Dia duit,

Friday Music Post #3

You know, one of these times I'm going to forget which number I'm on. I'm terrible with numbers.

Anyway, today is a double feature because of my brilliant indecision. I've posted two inspiring, heroic songs, and figured it was time for a little variety. But then I found another really cool inspiring, heroic song! Instead of being patient and picking one over the other, I decided, what the world? Just post both of them.

The first one is called The Swashbuckler and Fair Maiden, by Future World Music. This one is daring, energetic, and cocky right from the start, with a little section in there that I would assume represents the maiden that is enchanting before the song's explosive climax.

Okay, so here's the one that I originally intended to post. Unlike the Swashbuckler and Fair Maiden, Battle for Honor by SelecTracks has a more serious feel to it. There is a determined beat, inspiring melody, with an undertone of tension that suggest our brave heroes may not make it out alive, but a choir overlay that seems to reveal a sliver of hope for survival if they hurry.

Today is also Percy's birthday. Happy birthday, brother!

Dia duit,

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thursday Legend Post #2 -- Excalibur's Sheath

One of my brothers, Joseph Armstrong, has always loved the legend of King Arthur, and wants to write his own version of the story someday. However, he's always had a slight dislike for King Arthur's use of the magic sheath that didn't allow him to be killed in battle. "That's cheating," He'd say.

So, finally, I decided to look it up. Let's see what the real deal is with this magic sheath.

Now as they rode thus through the forest together, Merlin said to the King: "Lord, which wouldst thou rather have, Excalibur, or the sheath that holds him?" To which King Arthur replied, "Ten thousand times would I rather have Excalibur than his sheath." "In that thou art wrong, my Lord," said Merlin, "for let me tell thee, that though Excalibur is of so great a temper that he may cut in twain either a feather or a bar of iron, yet is his sheath of such a sort that he who wears it can suffer no wound in battle, neither may he lose a single drop of blood. In witness whereof, thou mayst remember that, in thy late battle with King Pellinore, thou didst suffer no wound, neither didst thou lose any blood."

Okay, so my brother's right. So far it looks like the legend version of a video game cheat code. So....does that make King Arthur a cowardly cheat, now?

Then King Arthur directed a countenance of great displeasure upon his companion and he said, "Now, Merlin, I do declare that thou hast taken from me the entire glory of that battle which I have lately fought. For what credit may there be to any knight who fights his enemy by means of enchantment such as thou tellest me of? And, indeed, I am minded to take this glorious sword back to that magic lake and to cast it therein where it belongeth; for I believe that a knight should fight by means of his own strength, and not by means of magic."

Score! King Arthur isn't a cheat afterall! I must say Arthur's response made me grin. Certainly he is no coward.

But wait, he keeps the sheath in the end. Wha?

"My Lord," said Merlin, "assuredly thou art entirely right in what thou holdest. But thou must bear in mind that thou art not as an ordinary errant knight, but that thou art a King, and that thy life belongeth not unto thee, but unto thy people. Accordingly thou hast no right to imperil it, but shouldst do all that lieth in thy power for to preserve it. Wherefore thou shouldst keep that sword so that it may safeguard thy life."

Ah, the wise Merlin speaks. Surely his powers lie in sagacity rather than magic. Very truly he reminds the great king that his life does not belong solely to himself, but that he must first think of the good of his people before he throws himself into danger. He reminds King Arthur of restraint, and self control; imperiling his own life, no matter how gloriously, will do the people he's sworn to protect no benefit at all. Thus, he says, "keep that sword."

You're up, Arthur.

Then King Arthur meditated that saying for a long while in silence; and when he spake it was in this wise: "Merlin, thou art right in what thou sayest, and, for the sake of my people, I will keep both Excalibur for to fight for them, and likewise his sheath for to preserve my life for their sake. Ne'theless, I will never use him again saving in serious battle." And King Arthur held to that saying, so that thereafter he did no battle in sport excepting with lance and a-horseback.
[All exerpts taken from]

Well, what better reply could you ask for? Arthur keeps Excalibur, the life guarding sheath, and his courageous and noble character all together. He withstands my scrutiny, and I am most satisfied. I may yet revisit his legend in another area sometime. We'll see how he holds up then, but for now, King Arthur requires no remolding, for him in his legend has yet to disappoint.

Dia duit,

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hot Stuff

Gotta love Pinterest. I was searching around for something suitably epic and sword related to pin to either my Land Between Time board or my Lore board, and I stumbled upon this video of A Different Spin's Fire Swordfight.

Aside from being just plain cool to watch, I found it even more interesting when I could discern some of the fighting stances they used. I've been reading through a book called Sword in Two Hands: A Full Color Modern Training Guide Base on the Fior de Battaglia of Fiore dei Liberi. It's a fascinating book and while I don't pretend to be any sort of expert at all on the subject, it's nice to have a little understanding as opposed to none.

 I'm reminded of this book because in that choreographed fight I recognized some of the guards (stances) they used from having read about them. For instance, the rooftop guard, the full irongate, the plow guard, and one of my favorites, the ox guard, were all shown briefly in the above video. Pretty neat!

By the way..... doing your own slo-mo in a real fight? Yeah. Bad idea. Looks awesome for entertainment, though.

Fighting with flaming swords = epic. Just sayin'.

Dia duit,

Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Music Post #2

Honorable Objective by Epic Score is one of my absolute favorite songs. It combines action, emotion, and valor all in one with a compelling rhythmn and adventurous choir.

Dia duit,

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Thursday Legend Post #1 -- Paladins

I've always known Paladin was a word, somewhat in reference to warfare, but I've never really known what it meant. So I looked it up on my (awesome) little electronic dictionary.

Pal-a-din. >n. historical
~Any of the twelve peers of Charlemagne's court, of whom the count palatine was the chief.
~A knight renowned for heroism and chivalry.
     Late 16th cent.: from French paladin, from Italian paladino, from Latin palatinus '(officer) of the palace.'

Fascinating! I had to know more. I searched and found a website called, and read about the legendary Twelve Peers of Charlemagne.

"The Twelve Peers were Charlemagne's elite paladins or knights - the corps d'elite. The Twelve Peers were sort of like Arthur's Knights of the Round Table.
According to all tales, Roland was the leader of the Twelve Peers. Roland was the Charlemagne's best paladin, as well as the king's nephew.
Each paladin was a formidable warrior. And each peer has a companion to fight alongside him. Roland had Oliver as his companion. So in the time of battle they fought in pair. It is not so much to defend each back, as to kill as many of their enemies, matching the prowess of their companion. For a knight or paladin, courage and glory are paramount to them."
[Read full article here.)

Another website I found had this to say about Charlemagne's Paladins:

In medieval European legend, (medieval relating to the Middle Ages in Europe, a period from about A . D . 500 to 1500 ) the paladins were 12 brave knights who were loyal followers of Charlemagne, the king of the Franks and founder of the Holy Roman Empire. The name paladin —from a word meaning a person attached to the court—implies that the knights may have resided at the royal palace.
The paladins appear primarily in a series of legends surrounding Charlemagne, his adventures, and the history of the Frankish kingdom. Many were said to play important roles in the Crusades and battles against the Muslims. Among the most famous works in which some of the paladins appear is the Chanson de Roland (Song of Roland), a French poem written in the 1000s. A number of paladins also appear in Italian legends, though under slightly different names.
Perhaps the most famous paladin was Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne and main character in the Chanson de Roland. The other paladins included Roland's cousin, Rinaldo of Montalban; Namo, the duke of Bavaria; Salomon, the king of Brittany; Astolpho, an English duke; Fierambras, son of the king of Spain; Turpin, an archbishop; Ogier, a Danish prince; Florismart, a friend of Roland; Malagig, a magician; Olivier, a close friend of Roland; and Ganelon, a Frankish count who eventually betrayed the other paladins and became their enemy."

So now I'm very excited. A whole new legend I never knew about! Just like King Arthur and his Round Table Knights, the Twelve Peers -- whatever truth lies in their story -- inspired storytellers' imaginations. As a storyteller myself, I can say that my imagination is most definitely inspired. I'm totally going to have to tell the others about this...
Comment if you have anything to share about Charlemagne's Twelve Peers/Paladins. I love to learn!

Dia duit,

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Introducing Lynn MacDonald

Lynn in the dress she sewed.

Say hello to Lynn, beloved younger sister to Dana MacDonald. That is her in the picture, and that is also a dress she sewed. A far cry from my rather patchy attempts...

Lynn MacDonald is our seamstress. She just recently got a sewing machine, and has, from what Dana has told me, been sewing up a costume storm. I have numerous pictures of that purple dress, and of the various cloaks she's made, plus I'm told there are more outfits that haven't been photographed, even.

Lynn in the Red Riding Hood cloak
she sewed.

As you can see, she's quite talented. I think coupons and gift cards to fabric stores will make excellent birthday/Christmas presents, hm?
I spoke with Lynn and got the names of the patterns she used for the dress, and the cloaks.

For the dress she used Simplicity 4940 Misses Costume.
For the cloak she used Simplicity 9887 Unisex Costume Hooded Capes.

Lynn in the very first cloak she sewed.
Not too expensive, either. $9 bucks for the cape pattern, and $10 for the dress. Right now Lynn is working on numerous cloaks, and also a tunic that came with the cape pattern. I demanded pictures of the finished product, and expect to be satisfied promptly. Rather bossy, aren't I? Hm.

I'll have Lynn write out some sewing tips in a later post, for those who enjoy costuming.

Dia duit,

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

From Percy's Forge -- PVC Broadsword Pt. 2

Okey-doke, here's part two to making a PVC Broadsword. It's been 24hrs., and your sword has set completely. So now what?

Duct tape time!

~Silver duct tape
~Colored duct tape (purple, red, pink, green, blue.... whatever color you want/can find.)
~Batting tape


Step One -- The Tip

Snip an approximately two inch long strip of duct tape from the roll, and stick it to the end of the blade sectio of your sword. Percy has a specific way of taping the caps on the sword, and it's used for all four of the caps on the sword, so remember it.

Step Two -- The Blade Pt. 1

For the blade you'll use strips of duct tape that are approximately six inches in length. Start at the tip, taping around the edges of the cap as seen below.

Now you'll duct tape along the blade, working your way downwards towards the crossguard. Percy overlaps the duct tape a little bit, as well.

Percy's Tip: "In order to have a smoother blade, all of the parts of the sword where the duct tape will be wrinkly should be done before the area is covered. Those places are around the four way connector and the end caps. Afterwards, you can go over the wrinkled parts."

Accidental wrinkles in the duct tape can also be covered over with duct tape, not just the ones that result from taping the parts of the sword that are at odd angles. In the end, you'll have three layers of duct tape along the blade (not the cap), so you have a little leeway there.

Step Three -- Middle Crossguard
As you can see, Percy gets most of the way down the blade, then pauses to start the crossguard. The crossguard is the part that gets the most wrinkled duct tape because of all the angles. Percy's managed to figure out how to keep the wrinkles to a minimum, as mentioned above, so make sure you follow his advice and duct tape all the angles first so that you can cover as much wrinkled duct tape with the duct tape that will be used on the smoother areas. It's a little difficult to explain, but if you give it a shot, it makes a little more sense.

For the middle of the crossguard, you use two inch strip of duct tape and stick it lengthwise against the center of the four way connector. Press it into all the grooves, then get out your knife. Make a slit in each of the corners. This will make the duct tape lay as flat as possible.

Do this on both the front and the back. Afterwards, use slightly smaller strips to cover the corner sides. You will not cut these.

Step Four -- Blade Pt. 2 and Crossguard

Now at this point you'll finish the rest of the blade, staring beneath the middle section of the crossguard you just did. After that, you'll proceed to duct tape both caps on either side of the crossguard in the same way you duct taped the cap on the tip of the blade.

As you can see, you cap the ends, and also cover the end of the four way connector in duct tape first, and then wrap the middle. The left half of the crossguard is finished, and the right is only missing the final middle strip. See the order there?

Step Five -- The Hilt

Colored duct tape time! Take the color you've chosen and cap the end of the hilt with it. This will be your gem. After that, tape the rest of the way down the hilt with silver.

Percy's Tip: "I find that after a time, the jewel will get partially scraped away, revealing the white PVC pipe underneath. For this reason I like to double the colored duct tape for the jewel."

Obviously, this can be done for all of the caps, if you so wish.

Okay, for the next step, you are going to need the batting tape. If you've ever seen the handle of a baseball bat, you know exactly what you're meant to do. Wind the tape from the gem end of the hilt -- starting right under the cap -- all the way up to the four way connector.

Step Six -- The Blade Pt. 3

Finally! Almost done. This is where those two extra layers of duct tape on the blade come in. Using the silver duct tape, cut a strip that runs the length of the blade, starting beneath the cap on the tip of the blade and running all the way to the four way connector. You'll need four strips -- one for each side, twice. Run it once, then run another strip exactly opposite it. This will cover the blade around as well as along. Then tape the blade again, except this time, tape it so that the crease where the two strips you just taped meet runs along the center of the strips you're putting on.

That's it! You're done.

That's an awful picture, but it was all I had time to take before we came inside. It was beginning to get dark by the time Percy finished, as we started a little late in the afternoon. This sword is called Creator of Worlds, and was crafted by Percy to be given to Siani Delaney, or PenWielder, to the PenKnights.

I still have yet one more post to do on the subject of PVC Pipe swords. Percy has two other types of swords he makes, and also some minor customizations he does during the taping process that I'll include. For now, I'm done.

Dia duit,

Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Green Medieval Dress

Me in my green dress
I always knew that I would not be able to make a well tailored medieval dress for myself, so I began to search around for a place that sold medieval dresses for a reasonable price. That's when I lighted upon a website called Armstreet.

"ArmStreet dresses are one of the best Middle Ages costumes you ever seen. It's not a blowing our own horn, just fact. Some of them are based on well-known medieval patterns and realized in style which looks beautiful in modern world, most of our dresses are made of natural fabrics, in particular of natural flax linen.
All our costume's patterns are self-designed, you can find a lot of imitators in internet, but only here you can get original costume in custom-size and custom color."  ~ Taken from the website

Armstreet is located in, of all places, the Ukraine. 'Twas rather confusing at first to recieve a package several weeks after ordering the dress from somewhere in Europe. I had managed to catch a sale on the site, getting The Medieval Fantasy Dress Tunic Costume for $80 instead of the now advertised $109. I typed in my measurements, and placed the order.

A couple weeks later, the package arrives. It seems a little small, and I wonder whether or not it's really the dress I'd been waiting for for so long. Lo and behold, when I open it, there it is, tightly and neatly folded to fit inside the little package. The above picture doesn't do the dress much justice; it's a wonderful outfit.

Here's the website description of the dress:
"This severe 100% natural medieval cotton black dress has long narrow sleeves with numerous authentic silver-coloured buttons and silvery great quality trims and is very modest yet at the same time so beautiful! Lacing allows making light size adjustments easily. It is at once apparent that the dress is medieval, from the 13th – 14th century. So it is completely unimportant whether such dress-pattern existed in real history or was just our designer’s phantom of the imagination. The fact that we clearly conceive what time and historical period this garb reproduces to us is much more important. The attire will suit both for the young lady from any medieval European country and for the heroine from the fantasy story. One picture is worth thousand words, so just have a look."

I ordered it in green instead of black, obviously, and I love the color. It's a much richer color in real life than in the picture above (we don't have a very expensive camera). The dress itself is not too long, has a balanced train, a nice flow to the skirt, and the material is durable, yet soft. It feels very practical and not costume-y. I had been worried about the fit -- it being custom tailored and all -- but I shouldn't have. The fit is as near perfect as it could get. It's not tight enough to be impolite, but it's not loose enough to look like a bag rather than a dress.

Overall, I love it. I don't get many chances to wear the dress, but it's always worth it when I do, and I'm glad I paid what I did for it. I haven't tried any of the other Armstreet dresses since I don't actually have a million dollars just lying around, but judging by the quality of the one I did buy, which happens to be one of the cheapest ones on the site, I'm sure the rest of their products are top notch. Armstreet is on the slightly pricier side of things, however, but I can definitely see why.

Since the one picture I have of the dress isn't the best, I may post some more pictures this August or late June after the OYAN Summer Workshops my brothers and I are attending with some of the other PenKnights.

Dia duit,

Maybe it's just because I've lived in Germany, but I noticed the tell-tale grammar nuances in each of the paragraphs I took from the Armstreet website that show that the writer's first language was not English. It's very distinctly second-language phrasing. Fascinating....

Friday, May 11, 2012

Penny's Dabbles -- The Guinevere Dress

I'm lazy when it comes to making costumes. Taking the time and thought to sit down and sew a complex, beautiful medieval gown with all the trimmings is never high on my to do list. I'm an author, I have novels to write. Lots of them!

So I am very happy when I find simple costume patterns. This is such a pattern. I found this pattern on Pinterest (<3), and it's called the Guinevere Dress. It's a slightly persnickety, requiring some custom tweaking here and there, but it's an awesomely fast project for when you need to whip out a medieval gown really fast. Here's the Pattern:

Design by CharterMagic on DeviantArt

So far I have made two of these dres-- wait, no, three. One I made for my sister and I to share, one I made for my best friend, Siani Delaney, and one I made for my five year old little sister. The red one in the picture above is the one I made for Siani, modelled by one of my little sisters. As you can see, I didn't cut the sleeves as is shown in the pattern, although for the one I made for my sister and I, I did. It works both ways.

The tricky part is making sure everything stays even. That's really the only key thing in this pattern. Keep everything lined up the right way as much as possible, and you're set! Fabric that hangs loose is best, and it's loads of fun to coordinate fabric color with waistband color. Did you know silver looks great with red, and gold goes well with blue? Usually people do it the other way around. Just a thought.

As I said before, this isn't the fanciest, most accurate costume, but it is definitely fast and looks pretty good afterwards, as well. Have fun and give me links to pictures if you decide to make a Guinevere Dress!

Dia duit,

From Percy's Forge -- PVC Pipe Broadsword Pt. 1

I guess I should introduce Percy, first. Percival Drake is my younger brother by a couple years, and has a particular interest in creating practical, useable weapons for our 'games'. Lately we've discovered PVC Pipe swords. For the past few weeks, Percy's been making enough swords to arm a battillion. Since we absolutely adore theses swords, I figured I'd make a tutorial for them.

First of all, they're proving to be extremely durable. Me, Percy, and my other brother, Ben Fletcher, who's younger than both Percy and I, have been dueling with our own respective PVC weapons for a while now. They've held up very well, and believe me, Percy and Ben don't pull punches when it comes to fighting with swords, especially with each other. PVC works far better than wood does because of the slight flexibility that will absorb the shock of impacts and not dent, shatter, or snap. Obviously these things aren't invincible, but we have yet to find out how to break them in combat. If/when we do, I'll be sure to post and say how it happened.

Okay, so here are the tools and materials needed to make a PVC Pipe Broadsword.

~One 53" (or more) length of Charlotte Pipe 3/4" PVC
~Four PVC Pipe caps
~One four way connector
~Cement, and cement primer
(You also need silver duct tape, black duct tape, and batting tape, but the process that includes those will be covered in a later post.)

~Hack saw
~Measuring tape
~Permanent marker

Step One
Measuring and Marking

The dimensions for a Broadsword are thus:
Blade: 3'
Hilt: 9.5"
Crossguard: 9"

First, measure from one end of the PVC to three feet down its length, and make a mark with the marker. This will be the blade.

Now, starting from the mark you just made, measure out 9.5" for the hilt.
The crossguard is a little trickier to explain. Each half of the crossguard will be 4" in length, so you can either measure four and four, or else measure eight, and just make a mark at the halfway mark, however you want to do it. Now, I'm not that good at math, but I do know that four plus four equels eight and not nine. So why does the dimensions have the crossguard at nine inches? Well, the four way connector used to attach both halves of the crossguard to the rest of the sword adds about an inch. Eight plus one is nine. Aha!

Step Two

The next step is easy. Hacksaw! Now, here's a tip from Percy... Do not saw beginning from the middle and working your way down. That will make it much harder for you. Begin from the end, and saw on every line you marked out on the PVC. Don't try to saw the crossguard in half after you've cut it out. Attempt to cut as straight as possible.

Because we do not have a very good hack saw, Percy had to use the wood saw you see pictured in the first photo after starting with the little red pipsqueak pictured here. Another tip? Get a good hack saw.

Step Three
Capping and Priming

 Time to stick it all together! Here we have all the pieces that you've cut out, plus the four way connector, and the caps. There's the blade on the far right, then the hilt and the connector, then the caps, and then the two halves of the crossguard.

First of all, put the caps on the end of each of your sword pieces.

Once you've done that, get your cement primer out and put primer on the inside rim of each hole in the four way connector...

.....and around the outside rim of each of the non-capped ends of the blade, hilt, and crossguard halves.

Step Four

Let the primer dry (which takes about five or so minutes), and then get out the cement. The cement is going to go on each place where you put primer, but this time instead of applying the cement all at once, you'll do each section one at a time. Percy does it in this order: crossguard half, crossguard half, hilt, blade. Cover the inside hole of the four way connector on the proper side (depending on which section you're doing), then apply cement to the outside of the respective section, then insert the section into the connector. Make sure you get the section all the way into the connector, tapping it on the ground if you have to. Do the same thing for every section until youv'e gotten them all in, and try not to drip cement everywhere.

Step Five

Now you have a lovely almost finished broadsword. This is the end of Pt. 1. The cement holding your new weapon together must be left to set for 24 hrs. Leave it somewhere where your little siblings won't be tempted to give it a go and either whack something important, or pull the sword apart before the cement takes hold. That would be bad. Yeah.

Percy's going to duct tape bind one of my sisters' swords tonight, and I'll take pictures of it, so Pt.2 should be up soon. Forge away!

Dia duit,

Friday Music Post #1

I adore music. Music is awesome. It sets the mood for any atmosphere needed. Every Friday I'll post trailer music or an OST track here on my blog. I just decided. This one I found is on the epic side of things that I might use for one of our slideshows.

Dia duit,

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Introducing Dana MacDonald

One of the Lords of our humble realm, Dana MacDonald. Normally one would bow and give proper salutations and blessings, but seeing as it would be rather odd of you to wave at the computer screen, we'll skip that. (By the way, yes, that's him in the picture.)

Dana and I share a measure of admiration and enthusiasm for celtic -- especially Scottish -- culture and style. So when he informed me that he'd recieved his kilt outfit in the mail, I immediately demanded pictures. I must say I'm very impressed, and quite pleased. Kudos to any guy who can, and does, wear a kilt unashamedly. You have excellent taste because, quite frankly, kilts are awesome.

This outfit is hopefully going to be used in an LARPG the PenKnights have planned called Lore. Dana plays the character Beowulf in it,. Doing a passable Scottish accent, and with the PVC claymore my brother is going to make him, the whole get up will be legend worthy. Definitely going to take pictures...

From what Dana's told me, the quality of the outfit is excellent. He ordered it from a website called YourDressMaker, and seems quite happy with the outcome. I've had tabs on this website for some time, as it has a tartan dress that I want to purchase from them someday, and overall it looks to be a fairly good source for medieval and rennaissance costuming. Their prices, compared to other medieval costuming sites and even Armstreet (where I purchased my green medieval dress), appear reasonable, as well.

It's late, so I shall turn in to bed now. Tomorrow I exact revenge on my brother for impaling me with my own sword...

Dia duit,

Not The Most Heroic Entrance

Well, first post on my new blog, and it's certainly not the most heroic. I have sticks and leaves in my hair because, rather embarrasingly, I was downed by my opponent and stabbed by my own sword earlier today. A failed attempt on my end to wrest the weapon out of my enemy's hand that resulted in my being thwarted by a grappling move that landed me, as I've said, flat on my back on the forest floor.

Ah well. There's always next time.

At any rate, my name is Penny, or Lady Kearney, if you wish. I'm not particularly more interesting than any other person who blogs, in fact I'm really just odd more than anything else, but there may be some other odd people out there who share similar interests as I do.

It's difficult to say exactly what this blog is going to be about. As evidenced by the title, I love swords and dislike wearing shoes. My imagination is exspansive, and while most of it is occupied writing novels, it sometimes spills over into real life. That's the best way to explain it, really. This is the bucket that catches my spilt imagination.

For example, the sword in question that ran me through -- my sword -- is actually made out of PVC pipe and duct tape. I own a medieval dress I bought on sale at Armstreet, and I dabble out rather pathetically in makeshift costuming. All of these things find their way into my life, and often times, my friends and family and I will have all out invisible (or visible, depending on whether we've brought the armory) weapons battles, or short live action role playing games, which we call Imagination Games. All these things are what will be discussed on this blog. Tutorials for the awesome weapons we've discovered how to make, some easy (and some hard) costume patterns, discourses on some of the Imagination Games we've played and what we've found works rule wise, and more than likely some history, sword fighting techniques we learn (which are based off of European Martial Arts), and lots of pictures. More than likely some mention of things related to the novels I'm writing will seep in here, as well.

Like I said, odd. Hopefully some people will find it at the very least amusing. It sounds a little trite, when everything's all written out, but half the reason I enjoy playing out medieval games and battles is because of the valor and honor concepts that go with the genre of legend and myth. Heroes are heroes for a reason. That will most definitely seep in.

Dia duit,