Threads of the Pattern

Archive for the ‘Toss Up Tuesday’ Category

So, I have an interest in blacksmiths. I will admit that Perrin Aybara is top of my list of fictional characters that I’m in love with. I’m sure 75% of it, is that blacksmiths are like the green beret of making things, and I enjoy watching a project come together. Probably the rest of it is the fact that they, by way of their profession, naturally seem to be in control of themselves and the world around them. I guess in an era of impulse control issues, someone who is the antithesis of that type of behavior is attractive to me.

So at the library today I didn’t have anything specific I was looking for, so I wandered and did random searches on the computer. (Am I the only one who misses a proper card catalog, by the way? It seemed so much more straight forward than trying to find a computer and navigating the website, especially since my library is part of a network and any books you find may or may not be at that branch. Anyway.) One of the searches I did was for “blacksmith” under fiction.

Collars and midriff shirts: totally practical smithing wear.

Happily, one of the books on the first page was “Black Blade Blues” by J.A. Pitts. The description reads thusly:

“Sarah Beauhall is a young woman who has loved fire and the lure of the forge all her life. She is now living her dream as a blacksmith, by day creating works that are practical and fanciful, and working nights as a props manager for low-budget movies to pay the bills.

When Sarah’s favorite sword is broken on the set of a new movie, it sends the director into fits, and Sarah agrees to repair the blade to avoid reshooting scenes. One of the extras – who claims to be an actual dwarf – shows up at her forge and offers to help Sarah with her destiny.

That’s when things start to get weird. Could the sword really be magic, as he claims? Are dragons really living among us as shape-shifters, and are evil power brokers controlling our world? And why would he think that Sarah would be willing to kill a Portland investment banker just because he says that the guy is one of those supposed creatures?

She refused to believe…and then one of the dragons makes its move. Suddenly, what was unthinkable becomes all too real.

And Sarah will have to decide if she can reject what is safe and become the heroine that is needed to save her world.”

The short blurb that was on the library’s computer also mentioned that Sarah is a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I was intrigued.

As it was pouring out, I waited in the car and started the book before going in to my next errand. (Amusingly, I was waiting for it to stop raining so I could go buy a gallon of water. Lol) I’m now seven chapters in.

Not only has the SCA been mentioned a couple of times, but also Renn Faires, conventions, and the like. So we’ll have to play the “Was this written by a SCAdian?” game while I read the book. Obviously this is an author who has heard of these things, and has a passing knowledge (enough so far to know that SCAdians don’t use real swords, anyway), but we will have to see!

Aside from looking for the things that had initially captured my interest, I have to say that I can tell this is going to be a quick read. Not that it’s short. Just shy of four hundred pages, it’s a decently sized book, but the writing style is easy to follow, and so I’ll probably fly through it. The characters so far have been introduced smoothly and reasonably, and I don’t really have any questions about the plot. Except, perhaps, which group Black Briar is associated with, since Sarah seems to be involved in everything nerdy in order to sell her swords.

I’m loving that the main character is a female blacksmith. That just tickles me. Especially since it was written by a male author. I am kind of missing the apron in the cover art, but I guess I can forgive that. What’s the leather collar for though? I’m pretty sure that won’t protect her from anything a forge might throw at her.

Perhaps it will become apparent as I continue reading.

Want to read it? Click here to go through the author’s page: I’m not sure if he gets some kind of kickback if you buy it through their website, but it couldn’t hurt!

I don’t know you, Paulette the cashier, but the threads of our lives have briefly touched.

As a side note, I found this receipt in the book after I got it home. I’m always interested in what people use for bookmarks, and what those things might say about them. Looks like this person was travelling while reading, and bought a newspaper and a bottle of water at LAX back in July. Neat!



This fabric, a deep red silk, is going to become a lovely formal 13th century Mongolian noblewoman’s robe. (del, as they’re called natively)

I’m basing my choice off this image and (many) others like it:


Red seems to be the most common color for the formal overrobes the women wore, and as you can see above, they were big on embroidery, but not always. I have not yet decided if I will embroider mine or not. I think that will depend on how the winter goes, project-wise.

 I’m basing the cutting on a couple of different pieces.

©Gold, Silk, White and Blue Porcelain; p58-59

 and this diagram for cutting a Han Chinese Banbi:

I’m using the linked image as a sort of pattern. Obviously, the actual Mongolian piece has cuffs attached, which I will be adding. I was largely looking for direction in shaping the sleeves.  the rest of the del (the body) I’ve done before, and is pretty much the same no matter who was wearing it, so it should be pretty straight forward.

When I am finished, there will also be a pair of slippers and that fantastic hat with the feather sticking up out of the top!



This summer has been absolutely insane. We launched the blog, I took to babysitting my niece, the kids were home from school, and we had lots of awesome visits from family and friends. As such, I just couldnt find the time to post, and Rosie, bless her heart, jumped in with both feet and rocked it, 100%! I sat down during a particularly terrible day and began to compose an I hate post and then stopped. And really thought about it. Sometimes, I am the biggest, grumpiest ass on the planet. I hate everything, from my stupid hair to my aching back, from the grass in my yard to whatever is on the television at that time. But more often then not, I love my hectic life, my loud family and my crazy kids. So, rather than rant about all things suckish, I made this list instead.

10 Things I love about the Summer!

10. I get to sleep in during the summer. Some days, it may only be til 7:45, but everyday is better when I wake up after 6am. Sometimes I wish I would have appreciated the art of sleeping in when I still could. Getting up with a Middle Schooler sucks. Or multiple Middle Schoolers, as of this year.

9. Mowing my Lawn is rad. Yes…I am one of those freaks that loves to mow. I put on my ipod, blare whatever music I feel like listening to without worrying about the lyrics (Eminem, I’m lookin at you, dude) and enjoy 4 hours of quiet mommy time. Our mower broke no less than 4 times in 2 months, and I was reaaaaally grateful for it once we got the problem worked out. And not just because my lawn was starting to look like the grasslands exhibit at the zoo.

8. I was born to lounge by the pool. I can’t swim. If my plane went down over the Atlantic (or Pacific, or Lake Erie, or the Creek in my town…) I’d be a dead duck, because I never learned to swim. Nevertheless, I very much enjoy taking my kids out to the pool and lounging out on the deck. I read a book or a magazine, soak up some vitamin d and enjoy life. Pool days are good days.

7. I can go to the library every day. We usually keep it to once a week, but the kids have such a great time, playing with the other kids in the children’s section, looking for new books and selecting movies. This year, my oldest has ventured into the young adult section and has devoured about half of it. My youngest has discovered non fiction movies about tornadoes, lightning and everything else that happens to be on his mind that week and my middle child is quickly decimating the comic/ graphic novel section of the children’s library.

6. Cold weather makes me cranky. Even when our air conditioning isn’t working, I would rather be drenched in sweat than huddling under blankets in three layers of sweat pants. Summer gives me warmth! I know…why don’t I live somewhere with perpetual summer? Because my family is -here-. 🙂

5. Impromptu everything! Kids want to have a sleepover? Sure, it’s summer! Swimming til 9? Ok! Disney movie marathon while turning the living room into a blanket covered wonderland? Why not? Its summer!

4.Fairs,Fairs,Fairs! This year our kids participated in 4H for the first time, which made Fair Week in our home county even more crazy,nerve-wracking,annoying,headachey fun! We got to be a part of the whole thing, as well as enjoy other parts of the fair, namely the food, the games and the other events. We also enjoy Farm Days, which is hosted by a tractor club in the neighboring county (please comment if you, too enjoy the thrills of the children’s pedal pull!) and visiting the other fairs in the counties surrounding us. Rose has been trying to get us to the irish festival near her place for the last 3 years, too. Ok, we’re fair junkies. Admittance is the first step in recovery, right?

3.Crafting inspiration! In the winter, I tend to stick to crochet and knitting, mostly because yarn is warm and I don’t have to move too much…but in the summer, I always tend to want to make stuff. Paint, wood, fabric, you name it, I want to use it to make -something-! I currently have a bag full of wine corks waiting for craft time, and a boatload of Pinterest pins to go through.

2. I miss my mother in law during the school year. Yes, I believe Rose and I might be the only two ladies in the world that love their mother-in-law! We moved away from mine 5 years ago, and since then summer has been the highlight of everyone’s year, because it is the time when the Grammy comes to visit! The kids love to take their Grammy to whatever place or restaurant or new store we found since her last visit, their dad loves to spend time with his mom and I love our down and dirty death match Skip-Bo games. This year was especially awesome because my niece came with her!

1. My family is awesome. We went out to dinner a few weeks ago, and as I as looking around the table, I actually got teary! We were hands down the loudest bunch there, and probably 45% of the conversation at any given time was totally inappropriate for public, but there we were, 3 generations from all sides of both my husband’s and my family, throwing fortune cookies at each other, laughing hysterically over everything sharing food and chopsticks and old stories, being a family. In the winter, we are all busy, being students and workers and mommies and whatever. Those things don’t go away in the summer, but it makes it much easier for us to put aside all that stuff and just be us for a while.


So, that’s my list. And I gotta tell you, I felt loads better after writing it! I guess there’s something to be said after all for turning negative energy into positive! What are some of your favorite things about summer? Or is winter your favorite season?


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