ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
I will be headed to Pennsic on Saturday. Tomorrow I am working and Friday packing. Things will be kinda quiet for a few days.

40/2 Linen is backordered until the end of August. Irish lace yarn is backordered until January 1st. Mercerized cotton is a long story. The manufacturer has upped the minimum buy to 20 cones (500 g) of each color. That equates to $500 per color. Typically I sell 40 colors and three different thicknesses. That makes restocking a $60,000 proposition. As you can imagine that's not going to happen. My inventory turns are nowhere near that high. What I plan to do is buy natural colored cotton and dye it. That's still about $1500 a year. Yes we live in interesting times. I'll do my best to have something interesting to buy. I may even give Turkey red, a natural period dye a try.

Safe journeys and hopefully we'll see each other soon!


3 Aug 2015 10:07 pm
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
Pennsic sky

It's been pretty warm and dry. Tonight's storm passed south of us. Lots of lightning and beautiful cloud formations. The first week, peace week, was very slow. The weather was warm for the first time this year and many folk just weren't used to it. People were also slow to arrive.

Sunday was the beginning of war week. The pageantry was amazing as whole kingdoms went off to negotiate with allies to find out who was fighting who. And thus began Pennsic 44. Monday, we were awakened by Calontir, singing as they marched off to war. They are so impressive in their songs as well as their purple and gold surcoats.

Costumes By Loren

Costumes By Loren, my partner in this chaos, was not able to attend this year. Her husband has health issues. She drove out to setup and she will be out again Saturday to take down. I have been holding down the fort alone. I have friends making sure I have time to eat and get restroom breaks. Loren's clothing line is here but not her jewelry and things for children. The new layout rocks. The displays work so much better. Hoping to incorporate this into next year's setup.

Meanwhile, Ursula's de-stash is in progress. Raw silk, hand dyed cotton, novelty yarn, etc. are up for grabs.
A few things didn't happen due to lack of money or time. Items not at Pennsic can still be ordered through etsy, http://www.ursulasyarn.etsy.com using Coupon Code THANKS10 gets you a 10 % discount to make up for having to pay shipping.

Destashing at Pennsic

My wool hats found homes in the north. Many are destined to become Canadian. This one is going to one of my favorite patrons in Ansteorra. It's a woodsman's hat from the 1400s. It's the baseball cap of its day and was often worn backwards or sideways. Ansteorra has the black sun emblem on a yellow background. (Not an archery target). Since that kingdom includes Texas and Oklahoma, it's a fitting emblem.

Rocking the 1400s

Social activities abound. During peace week, I ran into many sets of old friends and had dinner or dessert with them in the marketplace. I even ran into a coworker from 1990 along with his wife. Mostly I know the merchants well and can briefly chat between customers. My new shelf brackets arrived from Rabenwald Forge. I love them! Drogo also made my lamp hangers and a few other displays. A household I associated with invited me to dinner yesterday. Divine! Both the company and the food. Today I will fall asleep to the music and gypsy rhythms of Touch the Earth's annual party. They are directly behind me. It's the one night they kick back. I have one day of resbit before Midnight Madness, the longest selling day of my year. Imagine working 15 hours straight without a break. It is grueling and worth every minute. I will see the whole known world come to my door, a magical time.

Midnight Madness

Lastly, a note of sadness for friends no longer with us. Morgen's mom died over the last year. She has an empty seat by the firepit in the encampment. Lady Margaret, who had a stroke, is neither living nor dead. We miss her so much. And dear Michael would have celebrated his 6th wedding anniversary this week. His bliss was cut short as he died a month after his wedding. Suze, his bride, honors his memory.
ursulas_alcove: 19th century engraving of a woman using a drop spindle (Default)
So what's Pennsic like?

It is much different for me than for the average SCAdian. For me, I am a merchant. In many ways, there is not much difference between living here and being at home. In fact, the first day of Pennsic the usual greeting is "Welcome home!"

As a merchant, the first few days are gruesome. We don't just setup our camp but an entire store as well. The weather factors in heavily. Friday, I loaded the van for Confluence. I setup a show in Cranberry. I drove home and loaded the van again for Pennsic. This is heavy hauling and packing. I have four floors at my house as well as a garage up the hill. Lots of walking and carrying, up and down. Saturday, I pulled in at peak check-in. I stood for an hour and a half in line. It went by quickly as there were other friends in line and we chatted as we went. But it is hard on the body. Then I checked in at the merchant trailer. It goes fairly quick. I set up the 20' x 20' first. Then loaded everything that I could fit in my truck into the pavilion. I was fortunate that I beat the storm by a half hour. I had to make two trips because I don't have a trailer. I drove an hour home and had dinner, prepped an order, did correspondence, made lists, etc.

Sunday, I wound yarn. I couldn't attach the ball winder to my table because I think my clamp is in my work bench in Michigan. So I wound 10 balls with roughly 400 yds in each by hand. I also added some product to the website. Then I loaded the van again, but I don't go to Pennsic, I have to pack down the booth at Confluence. My daughter runs the booth in Cranberry while I am running around. We load most of it into her car. The tall grid walls must go into the van with the Pennsic stuff although I don't use them. They simply are too long to fit in the car. I put Loren's overflow into the van as well. Costumes by Loren is also at Confluence. Somehow not everything goes back into her van when we hurriedly load out in pouring rain. It's ok because on this second load, I have a lot of extra space. Loren and I vend in the same booth at Pennsic. We head out to a restaurant for dinner, drenched to the skin. Afterwards, my daughter and Loren head south to my house while I go unload everything at Pennsic. This is where it gets complicated.

I have a merchant pavilion already set up. I don't have a house. Normally, I set a 14' x 14' (tent) house up out back for us to live in. I have someone, I hope, bringing me a pavilion I can use because my new one did not get purchased yet. Insert long story here. It is now 7:30 pm. I have a tent full of stuff and no where to sleep. Since my personal bed from home is now with me, there is no going back home to sleep. I scrape together enough space and lay down on the floor. The 14' tent is here for me to use (yay) but the wind is wicked, I am still damp, and another storm is coming in. No way will I set it up Sunday night in the lightening.

Monday, muscles screaming, I still have much heavy labor to do. I think the neighbor's kid is looking to earn money. This might just work to have help. I'll hire him. We start getting the tent up. Like everyone else, it does not go smoothly. The ridge pole needs to be sanded down because one leg swelled too much to fit. JP is heading to town and can get me an electric sander. With various delays, it takes a long time and I lose my helper. I get the sander, fix the poles, pound the stakes, and set up my tables and some merchandise. Long day and again I'm on my feet a lot. Rain happens on and off all day. I also set up a 10' EZ up so I could sand without being in the rain. It's Monday. I need to call a supplier and track a lost order. They sent my books to Shrewsbury, PA on the other end of the state. While I'm on the phone my pop-up decides to become a kite. It is still tethered to the ground and is flying on the rope I tied it with. At the same time, Loren arrives and needs to unload. The "house" has water all over the tarp from being rained on all day. We both sleep on the floor in the merchant booth which kind of resembles moving day. My side is mostly set up so we now have more room to walk without tripping, but there are tubs, boxes, totes and laundry baskets everywhere. We talk late into the night because we haven't seen each other in a long while.

Tuesday, the awning out front must be set up. More pounding stakes. We get the front looking nice with merchandise set out. You can buy anything you see up to this line. Slowly, the line inches closer to the back of the tent. Sales happen, booth gets set up. At 6 pm, dufus here, finally realizes she has no food and no kitchen to cook it in. I run over to the store, then set up the EZ up again with more ropes and NO side walls this time. By 8 pm, I finally got a grilled cheese sandwich in me and quit growling at anything that moved. Time for aspirin. Does the rain ever stop here? Setup at any market place across the ages must have been pretty much the same.

We are all set up. We open each day at 10. I still run the website although my daughter ships the orders. I write to clients, answer questions, I go to the store to buy groceries. I cook dinner each night, do dishes, make my bed, just like home. Except that it's Pennsic. The roof is made of canvas. Welcome back everyone!
ursulas_alcove: Robin of the hood woodcut (Rock On!)
Badge Pennsic 42

There is so much to do here! I am sitting in my tent contemplating all the possibilities. Mind you, I am a merchant with a booth to run so I have a job. However, were I here to play, I would have a very hard time figuring out what to do. There is just so much! There are classes the likes of which you can only get here. They cover history of course and culture as well, cooking and dance, music and history within the SCA. Even lectures on the names of Pennsic streets and how they change, now showing up on Google maps. I am just off Brewer Road at the moment. Last night we attended a dinner party which was lovely. The feast was sumptuous. The company divine. In addition to all that, there are battles to fight or watch, archery, concerts, plays, and all manner of pleasantries. And so many people to share ideas with. If you are bored here, you need a shrink. Seriously, get help.

My booth is Ursula's Alcove at 166 Fleet St. I am on the Serengetti in between TL Barnes, the button seller and the 96th District, cloth merchant extraordinaire. Fabric, yarn, and notions - why go anywhere else? One stop shopping for all your fiber addictions. Must dash now, time to dress eat and open the doors.

Card woven Belts
ursulas_alcove: Robin of the hood woodcut (Rock On!)
It's so exciting! Matthew Gnagy aka Master Jose has consented to do a book signing at Pennsic in my booth. He is none other than the author of Knitting Off the Axis. He started out spinning, then weaving, and then doing garment construction for high end Elizabethan couture. Some of you may remember him from Desert Torch Tailoring. Using the knowledge of garment structure, he applied that to create some new designs in his current passion, knitting. His book is filled with amazing patterns. It is available at Ursula's Alcove. Pennsic will find us once again in our normal spot, 166 Fleet St. between House Mirandola (scribes) and Tammy Barnes (the button lady). Still hammering out the details. Watch for ads in the Pennsic Independent.

Made it home safely from WW. Attendance was sadly down. It was hotter than the blazes and always features one really good lightening storm. The autocrat, I'm told, is okay. Her car was towed away after being hit by lightening. And yes she was inside. It's true that inside the car is the safest place to be. Exhaustion took me on the way home. I had to stop and sleep for a while. A few miles down the road, I saw an horrific event along side the road. An SUV pulling a small trailor had caught on fire. A deputy watched it burn. The flames were at least 10 ft high with black smoke seen for miles. And no gappers block! All that was left in the flames was an outline of the car window and floor board. It was just a ghost in red and orange with a small silouette of a trailor behind. Since Ohio was under a burn watch for a month, the deputy just watched it to make sure the fire wasn't spreading. It looked pretty self contained. Not a sight I'll soon forget.

Such a short time left to prepare for Pennsic! Weather here has been more resonable than the rest of the country. Mostly upper 80s and an afternoon shower. The last three days were hot, but it looks like that weather is not sticking around. So Pennsic will be all about the bog dress for you fashioneistas! And green is this year's color. Time for me to finish stitching mine! And on that note, back to work for me.


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