Friday, June 29, 2012

Status Report & Design Rantage

First off, thank you ever so much, Google, for "no longer supporting" Opera, so not all features may be operate correctly. "Please try Chrome". Grumble.

I've made progress on the MuseCon program book, the plan is to not sleep in too late tomorrow and Sunday and work on it in the mornings, hopefully before it gets too hot, on the desktop machine. I'd like to get it done enough for proofreading this weekend.

Still haven't installed InDesign on my laptop, nor worked on the books.

Have made some progress on hand-sewing garb.

Which brings me to the Rant of the Day...

Earlier this week I was looking at reviews of Reconstructing History patterns, trying to decide if I was going to purchase one. One of the reviews said, paraphrasing from memory, that the reviewer would never buy/trust a Reconstructing History pattern because they are drawn on a computer. No supporting arguments, just that, as I understood it, computer-drawn patterns are Bad.

What the ever-loving ****?!?

I fail to comprehend. To me that's as stupid as saying that a pattern is no good because the person who drew it likes rutabagas. Totally irrelevant!

Pencil and paper is not inherently better, or worse, than a computer drawing program. They are tools. You can produce an excellent pattern, or a festering pile uselessness, with either one. I should know, I've produced both types of patterns using both methods.

Now, if the reviewer had said something like "as far as I can tell the pattern was drawn and published without testing" or "sizes other than X appear to be created by just increasing/decreasing all pieces by some percentage", I could have grokeed it. But not the case.

I also suspect that the reviewer was an anti-pattern-use draping-only snob in general. Which leads us to the rest of my rantage:

Anti-pattern snobbery: In looking at the reviews, I read a number that said, it essence, that everybody should learn draping because that's what all Victorian/Edwardian seamstresses did all the time and never ever ever used those nasty awful paper patterns. (most of the reviews were for Victorian- & Edwardian-era patterns).

Excuse me while I hack up a hairball.

I admit I haven't done extensive research, but I read. A lot. And over and over again in fiction I see references to Mother or the town seamstress using her paper patterns. Or borrowing a pattern for a dress from Mrs. So-and-so. Not draping, using patterns.

No, you couldn't go down to the dry goods store and go through the pattern books and pick out a commercial pattern in 3 different sizes in one envelope. Yes, the originals Ma Ingalls was using may have been created by draping. Or her "dressmakers' chart" Or maybe by altering/adapting/tracing an existing garment. Then they took that basic/simple draped-or-whatever pattern, traced it, and adapted the hell out of it to make new dresses and reflect the new styles - they didn't re-drape for every new outfit.

So, pattern snobs, kindly take your snobbery and stuff it where the sun doesn't shine. Yes, knowing how to adapt a basic pattern is a necessary skill for making fitted clothing, but there's nothing wrong with starting from a pattern someone else has drawn.

I did decide to buy the Reconstructing History pattern. It's for Japanese men's clothing, which I think I have figured out how to make already, so if I don't like the pattern, it won't make me crazy, and I'll know for myself if I like RH patterns - reviews seem to be either love them or hate them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Quiet Weekend

Otter Necessities-wise it was a quiet, lazy weekend. I was feeling a bit guilty about that, but Ron says I needed a break.

I did a bit of work on the MuseCon program book, but mostly I sewed. Which I suppose is related to Otter Necessities, as the sewing was garb for SCA events/costuming for conventions. Full natter over on my personal blog.

I also did some cleanup work in the dining room. I put away the new latches I got last week (re-stocking or adding the same design in antique nickel finish), now I need to get more little red bins to sort hardware the drawers in the workshop. Most of the cleanup was coralling the C-clamps which were trying to take over all the available floor space, and picking up scraps and other junk.

I realized after I last posted that it had actually been a couple of weeks since I'd heard from the person I'd e-mailed about the SCA event the same weekend as WindyCon, so e-mailed a gentle nudge. Debating how much longer to make it a more poky nudge, copying the person that was mentioned as the informational hold-up.

Haven't heard back from the fall gaming convention at CoD, either.

Yes, I know it's only the end of June, but this is really not too early for scheduling fall events. The initial deadline for WindyCon dealer apps was June 1 (everybody in by June 1 got equal consideration for tables. Apps received after get tables or wait-listed first-come/first-served).

Although I hauled paperwork up to the bedroom and sorted it last week, I still haven't done much with it. I'll probably tackle that later this week on my laptop, when it gets hot and we retreat to the air-conditioning.

While the weather is still comfortable I'll work on the MuseCon program book on the desktop machine, with lots of screen real estate. While I'm at it I should install the latest version of InDesign on my laptop, so I can work on the book on it if necessary.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Post-Event Natter & More

We figured out why I forgot the hole punches Saturday. They were in our bedroom, not the workroom. I didn't see them and apparently wasn't smart enough to remember them all by myself.

We did sell belts on Saturday - the ratio of pouches to belts was 3/2, which isn't bad. Fortunately, the person that bought a buckled belt didn't need holes in it (for someone else).

Stayed home this morning with an unhappy tummy.

Spent much of the morning poking at the Programming descriptions for the MuseCon book. They're not actually in the book yet, I'll do that once I get the last round of updates. But I have the text formatted, and did some proofreading.

Some time afternoon I decided it was time to retreat to the air conditioning, and started gathering Otter paperwork that needed to be sorted and the books caught up. Then I needed to scan some receipts. Then print out some records from Etsy, etc.

By which time it was 3:00, and the magnetic/sleepy field of the bed called to me. Zzzzzzz.

I have gotten paperwork sorted, but I forgot to bring up binder clips when I went downstairs to eat dinner, drat.

Ron, the dogs, and I are back in the comfortable room. Air-conditioning is good. At least I had the sense to go to the grocery store, in the car without AC, this morning while it was still not too hot.

E-mailed a fall gaming convention that's held at College of DuPage to see if they have their vendor information ready yet. Still waiting on a response from the SCA event that's the same weekend as WindyCon; the merchant person was waiting on an answer to a question from someone else last I heard.

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Better Event

What a difference an event site can make! Ragnarok Rampage was much better than Border Skirmish, and I think that's in large part due to the site.

Plowmen's Park is a nice little fairgrounds, so nothing was a long hike away from anything else (including indoor plumbing in relation to merchants). Merchants were, as in past years, on a main runway that went past the feast hall, pavillion where the silent auction and some classes were held, the camping area, the archery field, and the parking lot. Fencing and heavy fighting were over on the other side of the pavillion. The camping/merchant area has lots of big shady trees, which is also nice, both for us and customers.

Plowmen's Park is also only an hour and a few minutes from home. Close is good.

The weather wasn't quite as hot as the previous weekend, or else the shade and temperature effect of lots of trees was making it more comfortable. There was a breeze, but not enough to blow things away, and not nearly as much dust. All in all we were much more comfortable.

We did think it was going to be another flop sales-wise, but things picked up mid-afternoon and it turn out to be a decent day. But even when we were looking at lousy sales, it was less discouraging, just because we were more comfortable.

I think there were fewer people than were at Border Skirmish, which was a consolation when contemplating sales in the early part of the day. But, I felt like almost all of them walked by at some point, which I did not feel like at Border Skirmish, and that's part of why we did do better.

We did go out for more groceries Friday evening, and ended up with extra food, water, and Gatorade. We'd also put lots of ice in the cooler, so perishable leftovers were no big deal.

I did screw up and forget the hole punches when I was packing the tools up. I don't know how I managed that. Fortunately, it didn't turn out to be a big problem. I was going to work on my new bag, but I decided the leather strips I brought for buckles were thicker than I wanted to use. Ron and Xap got some belts braided, which just need to have rings riveted on - since we didn't have hole punches to make the holes for the rivets.

We stopped at a Cracker Barrell for dinner, and ran into the biggest annoyance, for me, of the day - too much black pepper in the roast beef/pot roast. I don't mind pepper, but this was ridiculous. And I was tired enough that I forgot to say something when I paid the bill (not to get the bill reduced, just to let management know).

Got home, Robin brought the cooler in, I bought an EP set of four songs by a group called "Red Hot Chilli Pipers" that a lady had recommended (rock and roll pipes and drums, Robin wants more, thankyouverymuch), unloaded the cooler, showers, and bed.

Yesterday we were almost but not quite slugs. We did go to the MuseCon meeting where other ConCom members helped with ideas for book cover/shirt art for both this year and next. during and after the meeting I worked on finishing a pair of kilt hose for Ron, and then wound the next batch of yarn.

Friday, June 15, 2012

More to Do...

I'm glad I looked at the website again for the event tomorrow. The lunch entrees are roasted chicken legs and mac & cheese.

Ron doesn't like chicken (or any other meat) that involves dealing with bones, and the lactose intolerance thing is not a happy pairing with mac & cheese.

Looks like we'll be going back to the grocery store tonight. And definitely taking the big white cooler . . .

Bits & Pieces

I was going to entitle this "evens and middles" as an opposite to "odds and ends", but it just didn't work. FWIW.

The new e-track and assorted other things arrived yesterday. Ron had told Robin that he would need to unload the trailer at some point in order to install it (getting it done last night or tonight is Right Out), then Xap and I had an attack of great minds thinking alike and both suggested that he install the e-track tomorrow, while the trailer is unloaded. We have battery-operated power tools, so that's the plan. Excuse me while I call Robin to make sure he's charging batteries . . .

Besides ordering e-track and fittings, I actually bought pre-made tent stakes. Modelmaker may harass me, since we have a forge and know how to use it, but at $5.50 for a 24" long 5/8" diameter stake, I decided lazy won. And wow, those are long hefty stakes! ( They don't have a full hook, but I think they have enough to use our stake-puller. I expect we'll find out tomorrow.

Still haven't made a cover/tablecloth for the big yellow road case, or done anything significant an my iPad/knitting bag, I've been working on MuseCon publications this week: the program book, and last night I did a 1/4-page ad for 2013 to run in the WorldCon program book.

Tonight I need to get some change for the cash box, and pack tools and garb. Ron already got munchies for tomorrow. Also need to remember to e-mail myself a couple spreadsheets so that I have them on my phone and iPad. And update the price list. And print out the appropriate sales tax cheat sheet and price list.

In my copious spare time (tm) . . .

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Odds & Ends

Trailer Tweaking

The trailer, it is good. But we can make it better! Ron wants to get a wheel to put on the built-in trailer jack, to make it easier to park, hitch up, yadda yadda. Installation will be exceedingly simple, as the wheel replaces the foot plate that came with the jack, a plate which is easily removed, as you're not supposed to tow the trailer with the plate attached.

So far Ron has not packed the trailer the same way twice. On Saturday he determined that he can stand the gridwall upright, so that's how it came home. The tables are also packed standing on edge, so this morning I ordered two more pieces of e-track to install higher up to tie the gridwall and tables to - they're probably ok tied only to the lower e-track, but tying them either up toward the top or better yet both high and lower is preferable. Ron really likes the e-track, it makes securing cargo simple. Along with the e-track I also ordered a few more fittings, and two more ratchet straps that hook into the e-track.

Packing Things

Maybe while Robin's at karate tomorrow I'll run up to Dick's and see what they have in not-too-expensive largish duffle/gear bags. The EZ-Up-style shade things we have came with carrier bags, but they're almost too small for the frame, roof, and walls (we're experiencing zipper failures), and get rather heavy fully loaded; and when you take the frames out (which Robin got fed up and did), they're a sub-optimal size for the canvas - about 5' long and narrow. My plan is to get a shorter bags, one for roof pieces and one for wall pieces, as we don't always use the walls. I could make a couple canvas bags, but I have more than enough things to occupy my time as it is.

More Sewing Fun

Ron's second leather kilt arrived yesterday. Specifically, a box of puzzle-pieces that will be Ron's second leather kilt arrived. I'm going to do final assembly, as I apparently have a sewing machine with more intestinal fortitude than AltKilt does. I didn't un-pack the box completely, but things appear to be labelled, pleats etc. were marked, and I have his green kilt to work from, so it really isn't fair of me to call it a puzzle. I blame Ron, he called it that first. Some of the pieces have had some of the stitching done, I need to pull everything out, lay it out, and see what exactly is done and what I'll need to do.

Return of Graphic Design

Continuing on with the "lots to do" theme, it's time to do serious work on the MuseCon program book. I have most of the content, but I do need to poke a couple departments for odds & ends. I've decided the basic layout will be the same, although I will probably change one or more of the fonts. Fortunately, I did things intelligently, so I can edit last year's paragraph styles, I don't have to start completely over from scratch.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Addendum to the Weekend Report

The post I typed up last night was not my most coherent. Sorry about that, tired blogger was tired. Here's a supplemental post, with pictures.

I meant to take pictures of the gussets being molded, but forgot. But I got pictures last night that are probably about as useful.

The picture above is a side view of the center divider piece, with the narrower front gusset on the left, and the big gusset (5" wide) on the right, which I've partly pulled open. The gussets have been glued down with rubber cement, and I'm playing with a section that's already stitched.

I'm not sure it's worth clicking this picture to embiggen, as it's out of focus. It shows the divider (opening side down) and the wide gusset, which I'm working on sewing into place (along with the narrow gusset).

I pulled up a map of Saturday's event site, and I definitely think the spread-out nature of things was part of the problem, exacerbated by the heat - people going between the fighting and the camping weren't going to be inclined to dawdle and shop as there was no shade between merchant canopies. The camping area was wooded, and hence shaded, but I'm not sure there was much free space in that area.

As I said, it was a dusty site, at least where we were. I should bring a jug of (tap) water and some rags this weekend so we can clean the dust off of merchandise. Although the weather has been dry enough that this weekend may be just as dusty.

Our attempts to keep in the shade were mostly successful. Xap and Ron made it mostly un-burned, my face got pink, and only one upper arm got toasted. I made the mistake of wearing a t-shirt with shorter sleeves than I usually wear under a sari, so I got burned a bit when the sun snuck up behind me and got the pasty-white flesh that's usually covered. Below my usual sleeve-line is fine. I've been burned worse.

I should have brought more water. The amount I brought would have been fine for an indoor fall/winter/spring event, not for outdoors on a hot day. I also didn't bring much to eat, not realizing (I didn't look at the site layout beforehand - d'oh!) how far we'd be from the building with the food. We didn't go hungry, but then again we didn't over-eat either. This weekend we'll bring a bigger cooler, more water and Gatorade (Xap dropped some off yesterday), and ice. And probably more munchies.

Hopefully Ragnorak Rampage this weekend will be better. If nothing else, Plowman's Park simply isn't as big, so it's hard not to be near traffic areas. And we've been in a more shaded area in past years. IIRC merchants are also typically close to a building with plumbing. Always a good thing.

And to wrap up, here's a couple pictures of Ron's new leather kilt from AltKilt, and the belt and sporran we made Sunday morning to go with it. I expect we'll be making a blue belt and blue and black sporran to go with the other kilt, when it arrives with the leftover leather.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Weekend Report

Friday - Preparation Day

I'm not sure I needed to stay home Friday, but I decided I wanted to, and so I did.

I got most of the garb packed, and most of the tools packed, and . . . printed out various bits and pieces of paper we needed to take with us. Then I mentally flailed about regarding how many belts we had and how many I thought we might need.

Which turned out to be a fruitless exercise, because we are rather low on half-cows of the harness and latigo leathers we use for belts. I only had one side of black, and decided what we needed in black wasn't particularly pressing.

Then Robin and I went out and did some errands, including buying water and pickles for Saturday.

After lunch I started a bag, similar to the one we made for Ron next weekend, for myself. I decided to make it large enough to hold a standard letter-sized piece of paper (or booklet), and to go with a landscape orientation. I also widened the large gusset from 3.5 inches to 5 inches. I cut the front, flap, and ront facing piece out of some very nice dark brown moose, and the gussets and straps are golden brown.

One of the issues with making Ron's bag was gluing the gussets in. For mine, I dampened the gussets, folded them lengthwise (once for the small gusset, accordioned-folded into fourths for the wide gusset), then shaped them - the wide gusset to the center divider, and the narrow gusset to a scrap I trimed to the right width and corner shape.

Ron got home in the early afternoon, he and Robin packed the trailer, and by mid-afternoon we were pretty much ready to go.

Then a few minutes before six I realized I hadn't been to the bank. I made it in time.


The site was a county fairgrounds in Elkhorn, WI. Things were spread way way out - feast hall way over to the left, camping off the front right, and the fencing and fighting off to the left front. Some of the field in front of us appeared to be roped off for fighting, but nobody used those areas.

Weather-wise, it was hot and windy. And the site was dusty. We spent the morning chasing things that got blown off the table, Xap and I saved a garage tent that had lost 3 of the 4 legs on one side of disaster; and we spent all day chasing the shade from the back of our space to the front.

In the morning we got new prices on merchandise, a process made slightly more complicated by the wind. Then I worked on my bag, Ron and Xap each did the braiding on a belt in the afternoon.

We definitely need more hard pouches. The post-CodCon plan was to mold fronts, but that fell through.

Sales were not great, both Ron and I had expected better. I heard someone I know, who's wife has been a merchant, remarking to someone else about the spread-out nature of the site being against us. I think that was a correct asessment. We were kind of on the way to the fighting, but not really. I don't think we spent more in gas and food than we took in, but close. We'd have been better off to stay home.

We got home to find the first of the two leather kilts Ron had ordered from AltKilt had arrived. Green with a black waistband, front apron, and trim. Very very nice.

Then showers, as we were feeling filthy, and to bed.


This morning Ron made a belt to go with his kilt, so he could wear it to "Avenue Q" this afternoon (the belt he wears with his other kilts is too wide for the loops on the new one). He covered a belt blank with leftover green leather, with a bright silver buckle and loop set. It looks really nice.

We'd been planning to make a matching sporran, originally thinking it could wait, as his black sporran would look ok. But a green one would look soooo much better. So we made that this morning, too, with a black gusset and binding on the flap, and an antique nickel latch. It looks really nice. I'll get Ron to forward the pictures to me.

This morning we also started some leather soaking to mold for pouch fronts, and were going to mold it tonight, but we pooped out. It should keep until tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Necessary Evil

Back on April 17th I posted about how I'd realized that I need to do a price increase.

I finally drove myself to work on that this week. Yeah, "denial" is not just a river in Egypt.

Tuesday I brought the new pouches out to the living room to work on getting them into inventory, which meant I needed to figure out how much they cost to make, so I could set prices on them. That led to me finally starting to figure the new costs for other things. I considered putting it off another week, but there's likely to be a fair number of people at both SCA events this month, and it could lead to awkward questions if people noticed the price increases between this weekend and next.

I was originally thinking that I could figure new costs for some items and come up with a percent increase to apply to everything. My one previous price increase was a blanket 10% to everything.

Not so much. I ended up cloning my cost computation spreadsheet and plugging the new leather/lace/hardware costs in for almost everything (the exceptions are typically one-offs and retired things), then plugging the resulting new costs into another spreadsheet, along with the old price and various number-crunchings.

Some of the newer items, like the "hanging" pouches and steampunk-ish items, aren't going up at all, or very little. The same is mostly true for some of the more labor-intensive things, because I was already charging more than X times materials to account for the difficulty of making them, so the bump in material cost made less difference in their prices.

I've decided to leave most belts where they are for now. Belt sales have been low lately, and I'm kind of afraid of raising prices. I think we're better off getting more (hopefully) sales at a bit lower profit margin. Also, raising prices on belts is simpler than for pouches, since I don't tag belts - I just have to update the price list appropriately.

Pouches are going up anywhere from 10 to 30 percent, which sounds alarming but translates to $2.50-$7.50 for most belt pouches. My least expensive basic pouches will be going up from $17.50 to $20.

Where the numbers really get ugly are in bracers (armguards, fancy very wide cuffs), and some of the book covers - in some cases over 60%. I think in part I'd initially under-priced bracers, and now I'm correcting. We'd been waffling about making more bracers, this is probably going to make us waffle some more.

There's a couple pouch styles I've stopped making, so they'll go on "sale" by virtue of not having their prices increased. Trying to think how to present this other than pretend-raising prices in order to "lower" them back to the original prices.

So, once we get set up Saturday morning, Ron, Xap, and I will be busy making new tags and putting them on pouches and other merchandise. Shop early before prices officially (ie: new tag goes on) go up!

Oh carp. I just realized that this means I need to also go in and adjust almost all the prices on Etsy, ArtFire, and our website...

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Follow Up to Previous Natter

The sewing machine is fixed. Ron put the needle in correctly. I don't wanna talk about it, but at least it was an easier fix than having to adjust the timing.

Had no brain and accomplished nothing last night.

The desktop computer is spoken for tomorrow night, so I should probably get all the new pouches, sporrans, and satchel into inventory tonight. I should probably double-check how we are for belts while I'm at it - we didn't sell (m)any at CodCon, but we've sold some on-line, and may need to make some more for this weekend and next.

Debating making myself a bag like Ron's, mostly if there's any changes I want to make for myself. I meant to see how the large pocket was for a biggish ball of yarn last night, but forgot. I'm also debating exactly what I want to use it for, and thus what pockets I might want to add. I'm also considering, um, prettier leather for the front, flap, and top facing. Some of the bison leather I have samples of would be nice, and it's the right weight, but that would mean buying more leather. I probably should at least see what we have already that would work.

Also debating if I would want a buckle on the front like we put on Ron's bag, or an extension/tab on the back or center piece to hold a strap coming from the flap. Think think, think think think...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Not-Quite Cavalry Baggage

On Friday I nattered about plans for the weekend, which involved getting ready for the SCA event next weekend, in terms of getting things into inventory, satchels, and a cover for the big red bin.

Didn't happen. I did get the housecleaning done that I also nattered about, including picking up the worst of the mess in the dining room. But then Friday night/Saturday morning Ron distracted me with making a bag that would hold an iPad, inspired by the cavalry equipment plans I was looking at a month ago and nattered about here and here (May 8th "More Horsey Things and May 9th "Picture Links" posts).

Saturday morning and early afternoon I alternated between housecleaning and coming up with a bag design. Ron had it mostly figured out, but he left some of the final dimensions up to me, and then I started messing about with other parts he thought he'd decided on.

Once we had something we both liked, I started cutting out pieces. The bag has two sections, so it has a front, divider, and back piece, with gussets between. The back extends up and has a top stiffener piece with slots for either hanging belt loops or to attach a shoulder strap to. And there's a flap that covers everything. The plan was to machine-sew everything.

Of course, you can guess by my phrasing that the plan did not survive contact with the enemy. Ron got the stiffener and flap sewed to the back, and was starting to sew the two gussets to the divider when things went to heck in a handbasket. As best we can deduce, the needle in the sewing machine bent, hit the metal throat plate, and broke. This isn't the first time we've broken a needle on the big sewing machine, but it always gets your attention.

Ron replaced the needle, re-threaded, and discovered that something was Not Right in the timing. This has happened before, and when we bought the machine we were shown the fix - wedge a screwdriver in the right spot, hand-crank it through a cycle, it goes "pop" and you're ready to go.

So not.

Ron took the housings off the main parts of the machine. There's a timing belt, but he can't see how he could have thrown it off. Nothing obviously broken.

Oh shit.

This is not a sewing machine that you can carry out to the car and drop off at the local fabric store for service. It's an industrial model. Table, motor, and head together weigh a couple/few hundred pounds. It hasn't moved since we moved into the house.

Ron kicked himself, and I pointed out that he shouldn't, he didn't do anything with the machine I haven't done.

I consulted Google, and found a place downtown that services industrial machines, has same-day service, and is open weekends, although it was after hours at that point, and we'd be busy Sunday with Robin's graduation. I called them yesterday morning, but they won't come out to Palatine. They did say that if it was just timing, we'd only have to bring the head in. Which saves some weight, and would fit in the truck if it came to that.

Back to Saturday night, we decided to carry on with hand-sewing, which continued Sunday morning and after graduation Sunday evening. And I got it done. I did the three big seams between the gussets and front/center/back, and some of the smaller fiddly sewing bits, Ron made the belt hangers, shoulder strap, and some of the other small fiddly sewing bits. Pictures at the end.

This morning I called the place where we'd bought the big sewing machine, which is in Ohio. I was hoping for suggestions on where to get service, but instead I got instructions on how to re-set the timing. Yay! There's also the question if we have the needle in wrong (it has a groove in one side), which Ron will try first since it's a simple possible fix.

When I was on-line Saturday evening I ended up on the Durkopp-Adler America web site. I didn't write down the phone number for support, so I Googled again today, and ended up on the main corporate web page, which has a "support" section, where I found out that you can download the user's manual (which we had), plus a service manual, and parts lists. At that point I already had the instructions to re-set the timing, but I was going to call and see if I could buy a service manual. Yay for on-line literature! Now we have copies of the manuals (grabbed the user's manual PDF while I was getting the other stuff) with pictures that make things clearer.

So, here's pictures of the bag. Click to embiggen.

Top view, gussets squished flattish, with belt loops attached, shoulder strap is off to the side.

Side view, squished flattish.  

At full capacity, with two iPads in the front section, and a fleece blanket in the larger section.

Side view stuffed. If you compare to the side view above, you can see that the flap is longer than the body when empty, but is a bit short at full capacity. We debated to make the flap even with the bottom at one extreme or the other, and in the end decided on something in-between.

Looking at the front with the flap flipped up, stuffed. Ron was originally thinking of making the front piece and divider the same size, I suggested making the front a bit shorter, and putting the curves in the top edges. I even went into CAD and drew the curves so that they'd echo each other neatly (preen preen).

Friday, June 1, 2012

Planning, and Other Musings

Other Musings First, Just to Keep Things Interesting

Yeah, I've been quiet. Getting ready for WisCon ate the tail end of last week, and recovery from WisCon ate most of this week. But I've made progress on the current set of giraffe cozies kilt hose for Ron.

The lighted nacho sign looked good. So did the other party signs, if I do say so myself. The party at WisCon was Sunday night, and the text listing the day on two of the signs would have meant more work than I felt like doing, so I just skipped them. I need to come up with some new, bright, general party signs, to go with the nacho, popcorn, and slushy signs. I don't know if we do enough parties that we actually need new signage to prevent people from tuning it out, but it doesn't hurt. And I enjoy it.

The plan for tomorrow is to finish some housecleaning in the morning, in anticipation of relatives visiting on Sunday for Robin's graduation.

A digression: Graduation is early afternoon on Sunday. DucKon is/was Right Out.

No, I'm not going to try to clean the dining room, it's my workshop and not neat and that's all there is to it. Well, ok, I did make sure Robin took the garbage out this week, and I'll see what I can do about corralling the scraps thread clippings, but that's about it.

Once cleaning is done, I have some choices.
  • Simplest: Put shoulder straps on the two copper-colored leather satchels that are otherwise done, and then put all the new stuff in inventory and put price tags on them.
  • Slightly More Ambitious: Sew up the two black leather satchels I have cut out, and then proceed with shoulder straps for them, plus above.
  • Alternatively: Make a covering for the big yellow tool bin, then proceed with the first point if/when I get that done.  

I had Ron and Robin wash some fabric for the bin cover, but I realized I need to dig out another piece and get it pre-washed. If that doesn't happen the cover doesn't happen. Robin has a short day today at school, I wonder if there's any chance of getting him to dig the fabric out before I get home . . . probably not. But if I get his help and get it down to the wash as soon as I get home (and keep tabs on the movements between washer and dryer), it wouldn't be impossible to do tomorrow.

Planning Events

I saw on one of the SCA e-mail lists that a website for one of the events later this year is up. I went to look, specifically at the merchant information.

Now, the thing about this event is that it's a multi-day event, to be held at a hotel. So I have certain basic expectations of information I expect to find.

Er. If you hit the "Merchants" tab, you get a list of expected merchants. That's it.

Nothing about merchant room times under the schedule tab. The list of fees lists a flat fee for merchants.

Nothing about how big spaces are, or if there's a limit on number of spaces. Nothing about merchant room hours or when merchants can start setup on Day 1 (hopefully before the merchant room opens for shopping). Nothing about overnight room security (ie: "room will be locked but yadda yadda own risk").

There was information listed on the contact page for the merchant coordinator, so I shot e-mail off asking my questions. But come *on* people, the only thing different for this event than most indoor SCA events is the question about room security at night (SCA events are typically either one-day things, or involve camping).

Maybe it's my exposure to SF conventions, where you get a nice sheet or two of information for the Dealer's Room that almost always answers all the basic questions. You assume you need to pre-reg, because the room is going to fill up, and the idea of showing up on Friday without ever having contacted anybody involved with the event, and expecting there to be space, is laughable.

Yes, there are some SCA merchants that work that way. It is getting more common to see merchant pre-reg information that says the only guaranteed reservation is a paid reservation, but the fact that they have to say that implies to me that some merchants still are pretty relaxed about pre-reg.

Personally, it makes my brain hurt.

A few years ago I wrote "The Opinionated Seamstress on Writing Event Notices", which covered a lot of this kind of thing. Can I whack people upside the head with it?

Hmm. I should go back and update that piece - when I wrote it I was still getting a lot of my event information from SCA kingdom (read: Regional) print newsletters, where space was at a premium. At that time web sites, with the ability to give your reader lots and lots of information were nowhere near as common as they are today. One update would be to say that the very-short and medium-length versions are what should be "above the fold" on your pages (and still in your newsletter ads). In my copious spare time.