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Four man sword lock

 Here's the first picture of Southern Star longsword.


I know we'll often have different numbers of dancers, so I'm working on sword locks for different numbers of dancers.  This is a sword lock for four (in fact the only possible lock for four - anything else would fall apart).

You can see two more photos (including a six man lock) on the Southern Star Longsword website along with pictures of longsword dancers in Lingdale, Yorkshire in the 1960s.

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Southern Star Longsword

 One of the things I've wanted to do for the last few years is to start a longsword dance group.

A couple of weeks ago, I realised that if I didn't do it soon, I'd get too old to be able to do it at all.

So, I've taken the plunge. Southern Star Longsword will meet at our local library on Monday evenings.

I'd write more, but I'm knee deep in sorting out insurance, publicity, bank account, etc.

Even if the team doesn't get enough members to be viable, all these things still need to be done.

And, I also know from experience (getting Anonymous Morris started) that if you have the faith to do all these things and publicise and dance at every possible opportunity, then the odds are greatly increased that you will get your team off the ground.

I'm also on the committee for next year's Wimborne Minster Folk Festival, so getting seriously busy with that as well.

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Musing on writers and accuracy of research

I grew up on Robert Heinlein and a few other writers.

Heinlein, to a kid with a developing interest in science and the stars was wonderful.  His science was as accurate as was possible at the time his books were written.  His characters wrestled with how much mass they could fit on a spaceship without wrecking the acceleration, they had to consider inertia, trajectories and all sorts of stuff that invovled real science and real math.

I trusted him.  (Even at that age, I think I was aware that his stories with Martian canals were written at a time when Martian canals were believed to exist)  He never let me down.  I absorbed knowledge from his novels, and that was something I came to like.

I want novels both to entertain and inform.

(I remember in later years, being amazingly pleased by a couple of novels by Desmond Bagley that had really good geology and weather science in them)

And that is why I really HATE it when a novelist lies to me.  To me, it is incumbent on a writer to get their facts correct. I hate it in fan writing, even more in pro writing.

I know fan writers who take enormous pains to get facts correct. They will do research on dates, living conditions, language, etc.

And there are some professional writers who don't.

A friend of mine commented a couple of days ago about a romace writer who had bobcats and lynx in Regency England and it reminded me of a romance I read recently in which the Regency heroine kept a tank of lobsters.

I've kept fish myself.  I have no idea at all how a character living a long way from the sea (and thus unable to refill the tank with fresh sea water) would be able to keep the water clean (no electricty to power a filter pump).  She can't refill with fresh water because keeping the salinity correct is a problem even for modern marine tanks.  Also, how is she going to seal the tank?  What waterproof sealants exist in the Regency period that aren't toxic to marine life?

For a tank large enough to keep lobsters, she's  also going to need strong plate glass, not easy to come by in remote parts of Scotland.  You'd probably have to have it made specially and then transported without breakages along poor quality roads in a waggon.

except, of course, you couldn't get plate glass back then...  The processes to manufacture flat glass weren't around until the late 1840s and the early versions were very expensive.  Regency windows were made of little square panes of glass, roughly 15cm across.

So, I won't read anything by that writer again.

It's not just annoyance with things that are wrong, it's about suspension of disbelief.  If I catch a writer in an error or two, I stop believeing in the story.  If I no longer believe in the background, how can I believe in the characters?

I like reading Georgette Heyer and Patrick O'Brien, though both can be hard work on occasion.  Neither of them take any prisoners.  If you aren't prepared to work with a dictionary in hand, you'll miss a lot of the nuances.  (You can survive without, but it's more interesting with).  Both use language that is often missing from the dictionary on my Kindle -it really is a horribly basic dictionary - but it manages around 50% of the terms that I look up in Heyer.  I don't have O'Brien on Kindle, but luckily I do have A Sea of Words which is an incredibly useful guide/dictionary to his naval books (far more useful than online dictionaries and Google).

I've read both on occasion without any reference works to hand and enjoyed them, but the enjoyment is enhanced for me if I look up terms like barouche and sheer-hulk.  I get a better mental picture of the world in whch the characters live and how they interact with it.  I also learn some real history in the process.

Although I enjoy fantasy novels, they'll never be the staple of my reading.  They can only teach you about their own internal world and that knowledge doesn't carry over.

Fantasy can be easier for some writers - the background is invented   (though I can still be really annoyed by fantasy writers who break their own internal rules) and just as hard for others.  I like fantasy writers who want their world to work as a complete organism, and that can actually require a fair bit of research.  eg. The techniques for bulding a timber frame house will be exactly the same whether your world has dragons or not.

So, I'm a reserach junkie, and I like reading books by other research junkies - but they must still have strong characterisation and a good plot.  (Actually, thinking about two recent books I've enjoyed, I can be happy with a fairly simple storyline if the rest is good.)


 This video shows how to do double-faced tablet weaving. It's a harder to learn technique, but very versatile once you've mastered it.

You may want to click on the closed caption box if the sound is poor.  I've done a full set of subtitles.

I wasn't clear enough in the video about the card-turning sequence. Each 'square' on your chart requires two turns of the cards in the SAME direction - with a pass of the shuttle for each turn. Thus, there is an ongoing 2 forward, 2 backwards turning sequence throughout the weaving. This has the advantage of greatly reducing the amount of twist building up in the warp threads.

Here's my new shuttle that Alex Holden made for me.  I thought it was very good value for £10 including postage.  (I'm happy to supply his contact details if you want your  own) You may notice in the video that I've adapted my weaving style, now I have shuttle and beater combined in one.

Here's the pattern I used for my space invaders hat band; (the bottom two on the left were the ones I chose, but you could use any combination)

and here's how it came out:

Single threaded version above - alternately threaded version below

I'm very pleased with the result.

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Double faced tablet weaving coming soon

 I've done the video, but the sound quality (as always) is very poor, so I'm adding subtitles. It's a slow process, but I'm half way through.

When I finally get there, you'll be able to weave anything from space invaders to alphabets (provided you buy/design the pattern you desire).

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Funding Circle

Kudos to Funding Circle.

They've improved their system for withdrawing money so that it's much easier to use. As part of the change, you now get an email saying how much you've withdrawn and when.

Unfortunately, for a British company, the message gave you dates in American format 7/6/16 rather than 6/7/16, which is very confusing for some dates.

I wrote in pointing this out, and five days later, they are now sending out dates in British format.  A fast response, and a good one.

BTW, if anyone wants to invest in Funding Circle, (a peer to peer lending business), the average rate of return is 6%, it's dead  easy to withdraw small sums at any time and not too difficult to withdraw larger sums if you need them.

They're currently repeating their offer of £50 for new investors who invest over £1000 before the end of August.  You get £50 and I get £50 for the referral.  If interested, just ask me for a referral.  (Two LJ friends have taken up the offer in the past, and both have been happy with the results.)

I've been with them a couple of years now and find it a flexible way of investing my money.  A big plus for me is that the money is all invested in British businesses.

Rather less kudos to Worcester Funeral Services who have finally returned my mother-in-law's wedding ring two and a half months after she was cremated.  
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Morris men in WW1

 An excellent (and surprisingly accurate for a newspaper article on morris) piece about the morris demonstration team of the English Folk Dance Society who fought in the Battle of the Somme, and mostly died there.

I'd come across some of the names before.

George Butterworth can be seen dancing in one of these clips form 1912  (and you may also note the existence of women like Maud Karpeles dancing at this date.)

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 Igenlode is a member of the BFI, and just noticed that this month's program includes a showing of "Stocker's Copper" at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank (Saturday 9th July) -- being prominently billed as "starring Gareth Thomas".


Stocker's Copper is well worth seeing.  This is the part that really got Gareth established in TV. 

He plays a Welsh policeman transferred to Cornwall during a clay miners strike.  The script is based on historical events.

As a Welshman, he is naturally  sympathetic to the Cornish miners, but as a policeman in a special unit and proud of his job, he is pulled in two directions.

He is billeted with a  Cornish family and gets very close to them in spite of their initial resentment at having him foisted on them.

As the strike draws on, the situation starts to deteriorate and the mine owners demand action.

This is well written drama, set at in 1913, a time when most people would never travel beyond the area they grew up in.   Communities were close and outsiders viewed with suspicion.

It's one of Gareth's best TV roles, he's young, handsome and working with a really good cast.

Here's the first part on YouTube (and parts 2 and 3 are also on You Tube - the picture quality isn't brilliant, so if you can see if at the NFT, then go for it!)
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Amazon refund

 If you recall my problem with a book I recently bought on Amazon, here's how it worked out.

I filed an A-Z complaint - I think it was Aralias who suggested that - and I just got a full refund from Amazon of  £2.81.

I strongly suspect that Amazon are aware of this firm's 'no return postage' policy and tacitly allow it.  I imaging most customers give up early on in the process and either pay the postage or accept the crappy book.  But if you stick to your rights under the Amazon policy, you do eventually get your refund.

It probably helps that I regularly buy from Amazon and post positive feedback for the many good sellers there, so I clearly wasn't just trying it on.

It was a lot of effort for a refund that small, but I take a real dislike to people who try to con me.  Maybe it will make them describe their books a bit more accurately in future.... This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.

Another tablet weave

 CAB completed here first weave.

She cheerfully confesses that the first set of vertical stripes were an accident, but nicely mirrored them at the end, so you'd never know.

She mentioned that her back was aching a bit. There are several ways of helping with this.  One is to anchor the weaving to a clamp on the table rather than your waist.  It gives you less control over the tension, but does mean you aren't looking down so much.

If the far end of the weaving is higher than your waist, even up to head height, this definitely helps as you don't have to bend over so much.  Also, consider ways of starting the actual weaving several inches away from your waist so that you don't have to look down so far. 

I'll do a future post on tablet weaving looms.  I haven't tried on yet, but I'm thinking about it. There are two main styles, neither is terribly expensive and both are fairly easy for anyone with a bit of woodworking skill to make themselves.

(I'm working on  a 'double-faced' tablet weave this week.  I'm trying to get past the initial  mistakes before I post anything about it.)

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Judith Proctor


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