Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Still Need Minions

Careening closer and closer to Military History Fest. Still many things to do. Still no minions. Where are my minions?!?  Having finally read "Girl Genius", I'd also be interested in Jaegers. 

Speaking of strong backs and weak minds, its a good thing Robin is coming to Military History Fest, as Ron slipped on ice at the bottom of the front steps Monday morning, fell, and is stiff and sore. 

I went through inventory last week, and determined that I really only need to make one (1) pouch (medium vertical soft, in black). I decided I could live without making any. I could also use to finish a few things that are partly or mostly done, but I don't think that's happening either. Yay for Stoopid Amounts of stock.

Do need to make belts, and even made a list of what we need to make. Hardware ordered on Friday, I have hopes that it will be in today. I could cut strips for 3 of the 4 colors we need, but have I? No.

4th color of leather, havana (dark brown) is on order. Second time ordering from a tannery. The first time, on January 2nd or 3rd, the leather didn't go out for several days, but all my suppliers had been hard to get hold of to order, so I thought it could be post-holiday rush.

But, being paranoid, I asked when the leather would ship when I ordered a week-ish ago (I forget if it was Tuesday or Wednesday). Well, the leather would need to dry (which implies they're shipping pretty much straight off the production line, not from a warehouse), hopefully it would go out last week. Checked the bank account today, charge is pending. Which may mean it didn't go out until today. Eep. 

It's only coming from Pennsylvania, so it could still arrive this week. Even if it arrives Friday night, because UPS doesn't come until late afternoon, I could still have belts for Saturday and Sunday. But arrival today or tomorrow would be less nerve-wracking, thankyouverymuch.

On the design front, I got the handout of Publications deadlines, etc. put together for the Windycon kickoff meeting, and started a similar one for MuseCon. 

Managed to squoosh the MuseCon grid to one page, thanks to the magic of a compressed font, and rather against expectations. Minor fiddling about with what is where may occur, but at this point the hard parts are done.

I think I've got all the fonts and paragraph styles figured out for this year's MuseCon book. This is not an insignificant achievement.

Adobe is pushing their new software licensing model, the "Creative Cloud"/monthly subscription fee, pretty hard. You can still buy a lump-sum license, but for some software (Lightroom being the one I noticed), there are features that you don't get. The "Creative Cloud" licensing also gets you rolling incremental updates. I'll natter more about that in another post, though, this one is long enough. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Moving Right Along

I've removed the Ayreton Carnivale SCA event from the list of tentative events, as it seems to have morphed into a dance event in the last couple/few years, and there is no mention of merchants on the (minimal) web page for the event. February will be busy enough without it.

Last night we pried graphics out of the overall artwork the WindyCon flyer is based on, for use on the WindyCon website. 

Monday I worked a not-quite-Seekrit project related to a farther-future WindyCon. I'll probably consult with commission-er of project tonight. 

The MuseCon schedule grid goes live at Capricon, which starts two weeks from tomorrow. Now, considering that we also have Military History Fest between now and Capricon, that leaves me this weekend to create a print version of the grid and hopefully even a booklet or something with class descriptions. 

And only this weekend to maybe make more belt satchels and little tabbed pouches and stuff for Military History Fest. Erm. 

Yeah, good times.

Ron and I helped lay out (literally, I drew lines!) and populate the MuseCon grid on Saturday night. Considering that this was post-event, and would therefore most unequivocally require checking, I did not make any attempt whatsoever to remember anything, not even the bits I'm doing. 

Which reminds me, it would be cool if we could make Mama Snake up by Capricon. No, that's all I'm going to tell you about it. All will become clear eventually.

Last year's MuseCon program book pushed the limits of saddle stitch (fold and staple-ish) binding, and I don't think we're going to get any smaller this year, so the plan is to go to a spiral-wire binding. This means no nice continuous center spread for the Saturday grid. Saturday will have to go on two (facing) pages.

I have been doing the grid with rooms on the X-axis, and times on the Y-axis. Since splitting up Saturday at time breaks makes more sense than splitting the rooms across two pages, my plan is to reverse things, putting rooms on the X-axis and times on the Y.

Hmm. Thinking about it, I suspect I may end up putting Saturday on not two, but three pages. Which is Ok, because in addition to a page for Friday and a page for Sunday, we'll also have a page for drop-in things, which we'll have more of than just blinkies this year. But a page of the MuseCon book is only half a sheet of letter-size paper, so six pages is 3 sides of paper. So I'd have a side of paper free, and we could still do a schedule flyer, with two sheets. Or make a jumbo flyer folded cleverly up on 11 x 17. 

I probably should start figuring out my layout tonight, even if I don't have the full data to populate it - I already know how many rooms and what what our time slots are (same as last year), so if I can get that layout figured out, filling in the words should be the easy part.


I think I better get some Minions.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Catching Up

Now that I have a few functional brain cells again, let's try catching up.

Wednesday I cut strips for belts. Lots of them. Pippin kept trying to help, in the sense of "helping" being "sitting on the leather behind me" and then "making his disapproving dog face when I made him move". 

By the time I got home Thursday Ron and Robin had put hardware on the belts. Yay! We then went to Red Robin for dinner, stopped at the grocery store so Robin had food for the weekend, then came home and tempted fate by doing some laundry and going to bed.

Friday morning started out with panic when I realized that I'd made our hotel reservation at the site (the Illini Union) for Saturday and Sunday nights, not Friday and Saturday, and they were full up for Friday. Fortunately, there was space at another motel nearby. That excitement over, we packed personal stuff, I got all the new pouches tagged and into the inventory listing (without figuring out costs), packed Otter stuff, and packed the truck and trailer.

We left home sometime around noon, plus or minus a half hour or so. The trip down was windy, the Cracker Barrel in Tinley Park was slow and the food almost cold, and the trip otherwise uneventful.

Arrived at the site at 7:30, when the room opened, and found no merchant coordinator. Another pair of merchants were there, and from the sketch we'd been e-mailed we managed to find our spots. For a while, because I had the sketch handy, I got to play merchant coordinator. Which is how I found out there were more problems with the room layout than the traffic flow issues we'd already seen on the room layout. Then the real coordinator arrived and things didn't get any better. 

First up, 4' and 5' aisles are not wide enough.  Second, there was no provision for rational traffic flow. Unless drunken lab mice are the new standard for "rational".  Spaces were not as expected. Most of it boiled down, IMO, to trying to cram as many merchants as possible in, instead of laying out the space then saying "done" when it was full.

Our particular issues started with having to move a foot to the west. Fortunately, I didn't have any tablecloths going across two tables, and belts weren't up yet, so it was annoying but not difficult. We thought we were going to have access to three sides of our spot. We did, but not the three sides we planned, which didn't become obvious until we were halfway set up. To deal with that we had to move a table from one end of our space to the other. Fortunately, that table was mostly empty at that point. Ideally we'd have flipped the whole layout 180 degrees, but when we discovered that issue Xap already had most of the belts out, so we called it too much work. 

The layout worked in the end. Business was good, up a bit from last year. Ron got good parking spots for both the truck and trailer (last year he was able to park the trailer at the building, but had to park the truck a few blocks away).  Tasty lunch was obtained from the food court in the building, although the crepe place was out of bananas, so I only had Nutella in my crepe (simply tragic). Xap was recognized by someone who appreciates good sushi by the sushi chef, and fed accordingly. A customer paid us for sewing a button on with yummy yummy meat snacks. The fighting was predictably NOISY. 

We didn't escape from our fellow merchants unscathed. We were next to people selling fabric. Some very nice scarlet red wool followed us home to become a Girl-Genius Jaeger-esqe steampunkish outfit. I'll natter more about that on my personal blog. Soonish.

Feast was at 7 pm, at a different site, so that's when the room closed. We retired to our room, ate pizza, and worked on the MuseCon grid.

We were told last week that we could tear down Sunday morning between 10 and noon. Saturday afternoon we double-checked that this was still true. Sunday morning we arrived at the room about 9 am (because it's not being paranoid when event organization is, um, lacking), and waited around for the room to open, which happened just about 10:00 for a regional fighter practice.

The person in charge of the fighter practice didn't know merchants had been told they could tear down Sunday morning. See paranthetical note above. Most of the other merchants had torn down Saturday night, so it was only us and Calontir Trim, and there weren't so many fighters that it became an issue by the time we were out of the room, about an hour after we started packing up.

The trip home was uneventful. Pippin very noisily told us how mean we were for leaving him, then proceeded to punish Ron and I by ignoring us and being Robin's buddy for a little while. We were wondering how he'd react, as he's my dog, and I haven't disappeared for more than a long-ish day before. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

New Hardware Displays

Wow, that's a fairly crummy picture of Robin with the new hardware displays. Click to embiggen . . . although it looks better small. 

The little light-colored tabs sticking out have the prices written on them. There is some organization, they pretty much go from the largest (width-wise) hardware on the bottom of the strap on the left, get bigger going up and moving over to the right-hand strap. For any given width the buckles are below the dees, mostly - there was one dee that got out of order, and there's a one-inch buckle to add to the top of the narrower strap.

As expected, got nothing to speak of done last night. Did finish the last hanging pouch today at lunchtime. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mondays, Bleah

What fool said they were going to try to get something done last night? Oh yeah, me.  I should know better than to try to make plans to accomplish things on Mondays. Even when I should, because I have a meeting tonight.

Sorry, didn't get pictures of the new hardware displays, or even get hanging sorted on them. 

Nor did I make belts. This morning Ron fetched the belts for the order we get yesterday from the trailer, so they did get packed and mailed out. Note to self, add those belts to list of what I need to make.

Also discovered that you can't do media mail (for something else) postage on-line, you have to take it to the Post Office. Grumble. Maybe tomorrow on the way home I'll take care of that. 

On the good side, the lace I ordered arrived yesterday, before I ran out of black. 

Waffling between taking a half-day or full day off Friday for prep and travel for Maidens. Leaning toward a full day, for sanity's sake. See above about last night and tonight. Related to that is waiting to find out what's up at work with training tentatively scheduled for the week between Military History Fest and Capricon.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Things Accomplished, Mostly

Big pile of sporrans, belt satchels, and little tabbed pouches done. A couple still left in the dining room, which probably won't be done for Maidens, nor will the leather satchels.

6 out of 7 "hanging" hard pouches are done, the last one is down to lacing about halfway around (an hour's work or less).

Swivels sewn onto 3 of the 6 tails yesterday, quit when my hands got tired.

Saturday evening and Sunday morning we made new hardware displays, for all the buckles and dees, which includes (changeable) tabs with prices for each. It was a slow, tedious process, but needed to be done. I'll try to get pictures tonight. Still need to finish them off, by figuring out how we're going to hang them up.

Got leather from new supplier. I got a side of a golden brown, which is a little darker than what I've been getting, but I think will be fine. I also got two bellies in black and two in brown, and a set of samples of all their leather.

The hardware display used up one of the brown bellies, and a strip out of the other. This is not a problem, making the displays let us find out how it cuts and splits in thickness (nicely), and it was also very inexpensive leather (but good quality).

Went to the local Leather Factory store Saturday morning. The intention was to make a commando shopping run just for some chicago screws to make the hardware displays. Fail on that front, but we've had worse fails.

Need to make belts for Maidens, and I got an Etsy order this morning for colors I'm going to be making anyway. I suppose I could go out to The Grinch, dig out the belts for the order, then make replacements. There are arguments for going that route, or for just making and sending out new belts, we'll see what we end up doing.

Need to get the new pouches tagged, and all the new stuff into inventory.  Before Friday. Whee!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Getting Better, Still Productive

Getting over whatever Ron and I had. Not sure if Robin has/had it, but suspect so.

Wednesday and Thursday I ordered leather; some more leather, thread, and other odds and ends; lace; and rotary latches. Friday I stayed home again, and spent a good half the day doing work-work, succeeded in not dropping my book in the tub when I repeatedly dozed off, and got nothing Otter-ish done. I didn't even open the package from the fur supplier to pet the new tails.

I did open the tails on Saturday, after having Robin fetch a Rubbermaid bin to stow them (and finished pouches) in. Pippin demonstrated the wisdom of that precaution by wanting to be very helpful.

Saturday afternoon and yesterday I worked on all the sporrans, little tabbed pouches, and belt satchels. I've got, IIRC, 14 of them almost-almost done, needing just the half of the latches or stud that go on the flap. Two more bright blue ones I think I'm going to do the final top-stitching on in bright blue; that and latches/studs are all that's left on those. That leaves two leather satchels from the cutting-out binge, and one weekend between now and Maidens.

OTOH, I also need to make a new hardware display (or two), hand-sew swivels on tails, get all the new stuff tagged and into inventory, and I keep meaning to update the price list from a spreadsheet to a nice e-book document.  And bracers. We need more bracers. So, not sure if I'll do the satchels or not. Leaning toward doing them, though.

I was going to get Ron's help on the hardware display yesterday, but he scampered off to do not-Otter things, and when he got home I was ready to be done for the day. Both Saturday and Sunday I was also distracted a bit by a MuseCon thing.

Although I'm feeling better in general, I'm still tired today. Woke up for a call of nature in the wee hours, and was awake for an hour or more. Once kinda nice thing about being sick was that when I went to bed I'd fall asleep almost instantly, and sleep soundly, so I suppose not-sleeping is a sign of getting better. Or sleeping in too late yesterday morning. Or maybe just too many covers.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Sick, Tired, and Productive

If I'm not too sick, I can be fairly productive. This weekend, for example. 

Last week Ron was suffering from being very tired, sore throat, and spiking fevers, with some bonus digestive upset. I think it's flu. And it's still hanging on for him. 

Sunday I think I was starting to live in Denial (not just a river in Egypt!). But I wasn't feeling too bad, and got the seven hanging hard pouches ready to lace the fronts on (final step, see last week's blog entry), and finished two of them.
Monday I got up and got ready and tried to go to work. And my digestive system said no, I was not getting out of range of the bathroom. After changing to scroungy clothes I moped out to the dining room.

I started with my prototype for a small satchel. Which looks shockingly like . . . a soft leather purse! What a surprise. And then there's the fact that I put the back and back pocket on inside-out, so when you turn the bag so the seams are on the inside, the suedy side of the back and flap are out, and the pocket is on the outside. Ron says its a fashionable feature, not a bug, and I should put the binding on the flap and say I meant to do that.  :)

I was a little discouraged, so I started doing fiddly bits (belt loops, hems, etc.) on the belt satchels and sporrans to be sewn in black, because I was pretty sure I wouldn't mess those up. And when I finished all those fiddly bits, I started in on the fiddly bits on the ones to be done in brown, and little tabbed pouches.

By the time I finished, all the sporrans, belt satchels, and little tabbed pouches had all the fiddly bits done, including little ticky-marks at centers to make lining pieces up easier. Not an insignificant amount of work. That's something like 17 pouches ready to be assembled. There's two weekends between now and Maidens, I think we can probably get most of them done, maybe all of them, and maybe the two satchels, too.

Then Ron took me out for a very boring but yummy broiled burger (no cheese, no mayo, just grilled meat on a bun, as demanded by my tummy). On the way to GFS I had a massive sneezing fit, and when I finished I had a sore throat and had no energy. Apparently I sneezed myself sick, and spent the rest of the day pretty much as a lump.

Yesterday morning I reconciled belt inventory with the count Xap did at the last event, decided what leather to order from where, and ordered some more tails.

About mid-day I wandered out to the dining room, wandered back to the living room with some forgotten black soft-ish leather in hand, and got Robin's help cutting strips the right width for the small square soft-ish pouches we need more of. I ended up cutting out seven of them. And getting them all ready to lace up.

Ron pointed out that the reason I could do all these things is that they don't require lots of energy - mostly I sit in one chair or the other, at the sewing machine or one of the two workbenches. Most of the work is with my hands, and its pretty much autopilot for me. And it keeps me awake - any time the last couple-three days I stopped working on stuff I crashed. 

And I think that's enough rambling natter for now.