Where to Buy Swords?
One thing I have been asked quite a few times is where to buy swords at? Well that will depend on what you are intending for them. Some people just want a decorative sword while others want one that can actually be used. Lets take a look at the differences to help you decide which type of sword to buy
If you are going to be just using it for a decoration then your best bang for the buck is to look into buying a sword replica. The sword replicas are going to be cheaper than a functional sword. The reason they are cheaper is because of the difference in construction. If you buy a replica sword you are going to get a blade that is stainless steel. Stainless steel has the benifet of not rusting, but due to the chromium content the stainless steel would be brittler than a sword made of a carbon alloy. Another difference is the blade on a replica sword is usually stamped out of a single piece of metal. The greatly reduces the processing time. This also changes the balance of the sword, making the sword rather unweildly
These will cost considerably more. The swords are generally forged by a blacksmith which adds to the cost. Also they will be made of carbon steel which is far more durable than the stainless steel, but they are not as rust resistance. This means that greater care will need to be taken in the upkeep of your sword. These swords also have a full tang. The tang is the part of the sword that is inside the hilt. In a real sword the tang is part of the blade, whereas a replica sword this may be screwed in. The reason for the full tang is when you hit something the hilt takes a lot of the shock and you do not want to swing your sword only to see your blade go flying off. If you do not believe me, take at look at this.
What else to get
When you purchase your sword there is a few things you might want to look at getting. Depending on how you plan to use the sword will depend on which one you meed. If you plan on wearing the sword you will need to make sure you have some sword of harness to attach the sword too as well as a scabbard. If you are going to just display the sword you might just need some sort of rack. One thing I would get is a cleaning to kit to keep your sword in pristine shape for years to come.
Vendors with Swords to Buy
Swords at Amazon There are a lot of movie prop/replica sword here. (Affiliate Link) Swords.com has a large ammount of various swords. They range from the replicas to battle ready They6 specialize in Japanese Swords, but do carry a lot of Historical Western and Fantasy Swords. (Affiliate Link)
Lastly I would like to point out that with any weapon, care should be taken in the use of it. And remember what you see on tv, movies, and in books may not be what actually happens when you use your sword. So consider yourself warned.
In Memory of Owain Phyfe
It is with sad new that on September 5th, 2012 I learned Owain Phyfe passed on. He is survived by his wife Lady Paula, his sons, and all the people whose lives he touched with his music. He will be greatly missed. Owain had a passion for music that was sung during the medieval and renaissance times. You could always hear him playing the greatest hits of the 13th, 14th, and 15th century. I have also noticed that when you would hear is voice there was always a wine tasting or some other event concerning wine nearby. My first memory of Owain Phyfe was at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in 2010. This was my first festival and I really did not know what to make of it. I was walking down the road towards the wine tasting and I could hear this hauntingly beautiful male voice singing. Over the next few visits to the faire I would always stop by to listen to him for a while. In 2011 I was able to get on the cast of the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, where I was the gardener to the Baron. I went by the name Harry Sodder (The Gardener for You Know Who). During this time I was able to mingle with the cast a little bit more and get to know them. It was during this time I was able to get a pair of wine tasting tickets. The wine tastings are hosted by a good friend of Owain, Jamie Haeuser. It was during this wine tasting, which I highly recommend, that I was able to get my first concert with Owain Phyfe, and got a lot of great wine. I really enjoyed the concert not only because of the great music, but Owain explained a lot of the songs. We got to know where they came from and what they were about. I learned the back story of “We Be Soldiers Three” Twice more I was blessed with seeing two other concerts in which he performed. It was during these concerts that I was introduced by Owain to a non-profit group called RESCU Foundation. This is the Renaissance Entertainers Services and Crafters United. This is a foundation that accepts donation and help other renaissance performers with pertinent medical bills. Owain was actively seeking donations to help others and I think I ended up giving him what I had in my pockets, which was like $10. So in honor of my friend Owain Phyfe I added a new widget to my site. This widget is for the RESCU Foundation.
As everyone knows, hurricane Issac has caused massive damage to people in Louisiana. It has also caused substantial damage to both the Renaissance Festival site and merchants who have invested in our festival. We have had a lot of folks that have asked if there is any way they can help the festival and the merchants that have lost equipment that they stored in their booths. We have set up a PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org so people can make donations to help us make things a bit better for people who need to replace equipment or make repairs so their booth can be ready for opening this fall. After we finish our damage assessment we will provide applications for assistance to merchants with substantial damages so they can request assistance if needed. We will also make applications available to our local cast and crew who may be in need of immediate assistance. Once the site dries out we will be posting more information on cleanup days to help get the site ready for this fall. We have more than eight weeks before we open, and that is enough time to take care of everything just in time for opening!
Flood@LARF.ORG is the PayPal account set up for donations. Thank you for your support!
Ravellenic Games is born from the ashes of the Ravellympics
In one of my earlier posts, I discussed the USOC sending a cease and desist letter to Ravelry over the term Ravelympics. The mods of the group that went by THE TERM THAT SHALL NO LONGER BE USED IN PUBLIC have chosen to change the name to the Ravellenic Games. Apparently the Greek Muses seem to agree as suddenly there was candy in my hand! Hmmm diet, shmiet. If you are handed candy magically, you cannot say “I’m on a diet.” So eat it I did. New teams have been formed and the Ravellenic Game Village has been updated. Some of the more amusing names that were bandied about in the group: The-we-REALIZE-we-didn’t-practice-running-swimming-diving-gymnastics-for-our-entire-life Games, Unified Stitchers Observance Celebration aka USOC, and my personal fave, Raveldacted. There is one thing I don’t get though, okay more than one but they all combine to make one thing. Correct me if I am wrong, but the Olympics are an international thing, right? So how in the heck did the UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE manage to trademark the word Ol****C? Sorry I am afraid to type the word for fear of an unlicensed law clerk sending me a cease and desist letter. Not to mention they did not trademark the word until 1978. The Games That Shall Not Be Named were in place long before that. In conclusion, the decision was made by those who have more power than me, to change the name of the Ravelympics 2012 to the Ravellenic Games 2012. Not sure if anyone else felt this need, but I did save some of those patterns to my computer. I have an insane urge to start making them even if I don’t know how to knit. I might have learned for the Ravelympics 2012. However, with the USOC completely discounting crafts I enjoy, I’m not sure I will ever learn with the exception of those patterns.
Oh wow do I have some great news to share with you guys!!! We have been approved as part of the Phat Fiber sampler box. If you don’t know anything about this, go to www.phatfiber.com and read all about it and sign up to be notified when they go on sale. We will begin contributing in July. In fact, I had an idea for the theme tonight and have decided to do the dying for it tomorrow. I cannot wait. We will also be offering some discount codes and such for both the secret site and those people lucky enough to get a box. I got my first one this weekend. I can’t wait for it to get here. We will be working on the dying of the fibers and offer larger items of the sampler items in the stores but not until the boxes have gone on sale. I
Wool to Yarn: An Introduction to Carding Wool
In my first post called What is Carding I briefly went over the process of carding wool. In that post I went briefly over the tools I used while I demonstrated how to card wool at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival (LARF.) where I assumed the character of a journeyman weaver. I also was recently asked to re-assume that role again for the 2012 season for the Louisiana Renaissance Festival where I will be portraying a journeyman weaver creating his masterpiece before a master weaver, Lady Freida Leyland. As a result I have decided to expand on that post
Introduction to Carding Wool
What is carding wool exactly? Well carding wool actually does two different things. One, it is a process in which a person takes one or more locks of fiber and uses either a flick carder or hand carder to loosen the individual strands of fiber from the lock. Or at least that is what an encyclopedia might say. I think taking a closer look at the actual process will help you understand the question better.
First off we will need to take a look at the equipment that is being used. Then once we know what the tools of the trade in carding wool, we can look at how to actually card wool and the different ways I have came across to do this in the next few post.
Types of Carding Brushes
Flick carders are the smallest of the wool carding tools. Flick carders can have a rectangular head, square head, and honestly you can probably take any sort of shape you want and make a flick carder our of it, though it might not work as well. A flick carder is generally used by itself to open up a one or two locks of fiber at a time. This is accomplished by means of placing something over your leg like leather (to protect your leg) and then starting from the bottom of the lock, using a tapping or brushing motion and moving your way up as you go. The flick carder will remove vegetable matter (VM).
Hand carders are the next size up from a flick carder. In fact the hand carders look like an over sized flick carder, but there are some differences. When you use hand carders you will be using two carding paddles. Once hand carder will generally be held stationary while the other hand carder is moved over it. The purpose of the hand carder is to take several locks of wool and align them to create a rolag. The rolag when made properly will be light and fluffy and easy to spin
Now wool combs look a lot different than carding tools, in fact wool combs were used before hand carders. The wool combs almost look like something out of a horror movie.. Wool comb have metal tines sticking out that are used to hold the wool while another wool comb is used to rake through the wool locks and open the locks up. It has been theorized that wool combs were modeled after a human hand. When you think about using your fingers to break apart locks you can somewhat see this. Wool combs also serve another great purpose, the combs help separate the long fiber from the short fibers. The longer fibers can then be used to make worsted yarn, and the short fibers can then be carded to create woolen yarn.
Doffer brushes are generally used to clean the other carding tools. They do look a lot like the flick carder but doffer brushes generally have less teeth per inch. This helps the tines of the doffer brush get down closer to the carding cloth and remove the fiber that is remaining on the carding tools.
Drum carders are the newest type of carding tool on the market. The first iteration of the drum carder was invented in 1748, by Lewis Paul of Birmingham, England. The drum carder operates by using two rotating drums which has a carding cloth attached. The first drum, which is the smaller of the two, is called the licker drum. The second drum (sometimes called a swift) takes the fiber off the licker drum.
In all the types of carders, there is one thing in common between them. They all require carding cloth. Carding Cloth is the pad with the little metal pins sticking out. The carding cloth can be attached to the hand carder, flick carder, drum carder, or doffer tool with staples. When looking at carding cloths and deciding which one is correct for the fiber you will be using, there are a few things you should know. TPI stand for teeth per square inch on the carding cloth. The TPI will let you know what types of wool the hand carder is best suited for. A general rule of thumb is the finer the fiber you are using the greater the teeth per square you will want. It should be noted that a TPI between 72 and 112 will give you the greatest range of carding wool, but it can not be guarnteed on to work on all wools. If you are planning to card fine fibers you will need to be using an extra fine carding cloth on your hand carders.
- Coarse: 48 teeth per square inch. This carding cloth is typically used for the more open fibers.
- Regular: 72 teeth per square inch. This carding cloth can be used for coarse and mid-range fibers.
- Fine: 96 teeth per square inch. Will work with most fibers, except for fine fibers.
- Extra Fine: 190 and up teeth per square inch. Can be used for Cotton, Merino, Llama, Alpaca, Cashmere, and other exotics.
Well now you should be familiar with the tools used for carding wool. In my next article called “Wool to Yarn: How to Card Wool” I will show you how to use some of the different tools shown here.
Lastly, I have included a few resources from some of our affiliates if you would like to learn more about using hand carders. I would have liked to include a link to where to buy some raw fleece, but it is hard to pin down exactly when the fleece would be available. I have found some from people on Ebay, Ravelry, and Homesteading Forums. You can also try contacting you local extension agent to see if they would know of any places to get some fleece.
Hand Carders and Flick Carders
Drum Carders at Paradise Fiber
Wool Combs at Paradise Fiber
Hand Woolcombing and Spinning: A Guide to Worsteds from the Spinning-Wheel at Paradise Fiber
Drop Spindles. What are they and how do they work?
It is assumed that the drop spindle was developed from an even older device called a hand spindle. The first instances of spinning was probably from a person rolling the fiber together on their leg. Later the fiber would be attached to a stick so you could roll a section of fiber. Then wind the thread up on the stick and start a new section of fiber. Another possibility is the fiber was attached to a rock and then let hang and someone spun the rock.
It is not known when or where the drop spindle was created. There is some evidence showing drop spindles being used to spin fiber dating all the way back to 5000 BCE. The earliest form was probably a rock tied to a thread which was then spun to produce a single thread from some sort of fiber. The rock would provide some weight to help remove some of the kinks out of the fiber.
Through history there is recorded use of some sort of spindle whether it be from art, stories, or from archaeological finds. The Egyptians used a drop spindle to make the linen wraps the mummies wore from flax. The ropes the early explorers used on their ships were woven from hemp on some sort of spindle. You can even say the drop spindle has put its twist on history.
What is a Drop Spindle
When you look at spindles you can see they are broken down into two distinct types:
- The first type is a supported spindle where the end of the spindle is supported on some sort of object, like the ground or a specially made cup.
- The second type is a gravity supported spindle which is also known as a drop spindle. On a drop spindle the drop spindle is supported by the thread it is spinning
When you break a drop spindle down into it’s core components a drop spindle is pretty simply. There is basically two parts. One is the center shaft which is basically what the drop spindle revolves around. The shaft is also used to wrap the thread after a twist has been applied to the thread. The second part is the whorl. The whorl acts as a weight to prevent the thread from kinking up. The placement of the whorl also can change the characteristics of the drop spindle. When the whorl sits up high the drop spindle spins fast and can become unbalanced a lot quicker. Now modern drop spindle have a hook or notch to the shaft to hold the thread while the drop spindle is spinning thread. When you look back at some historical documents, the hook on top was sometimes replaced with a simple knot to hold the drop spindle in place.
Types of Drop Spindle
When you look at a drop spindle you will see the center mass, which is known as the whorl located in different areas. The adjustment of the whorl can help break down the drop spindle into three different classes:
- Top Whorl
- Center Whorl
- Bottom Whorl
Top Whorl Drop Spindle
Center Whorl Drop Spindle
The center whorl drop spindles are the rarest types of drop spindle and are usually region specific spindles. For instance the Akha Spindle which is used in Tibet. There is also the Turkish drop spindle as well as the Navajo drop spindle. Those types of drop spindles will be covered in a later article
Bottom Whorl Drop Spindle
Finally we come to the bottom whorl drop spindle, these are the workhorses of the drop spindle. In this style the whorl is located towards the bottom. This helps by giving you the lowest center of gravity, which leads to a very stable spindle. This type of drop spindle is also used to produce a thicker thread, which in turn lets the spinning spin a lot more thread before having to remove the thread. This type of drop spindle was thought to have originated in the middle ages. The bottom whorl drop spindle will spin slower than the top whorl drop spindle, this is due to where the spinning usually grasp the drop spindle to spin it. On a top whorl drop spindle the spinner will usually grab the drop spindle where the shaft is very narrow. Whereas on a bottom whorl drop spindle, the spinner will usually start the spindle spinning from the whorl. The reason the difference in speeds is because when you grab the smaller shaft to spin it will make a few revolutions before you release it. Whereas the bottom whorl might only be rotated one or two times.
If you would like to learn to use a drop spindle here is a starter set to look at
A good book to read that has been recommended to me by several people is
One last book that I came across recently that has a lot of good information is
sat in front of the weavers shed at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival (LARF.) I could be seen taking handfuls of raw wool and turning them into what looked like a big fluffy ball. When I was asked what I was doing I would reply “I am carding the wool.” Which would almost always, lead to the next question I would get asked. “What is carding”? Well the short form of the answer is you take a lock of wool, run it across some form of sorting device which then removes the tangles and get the fiber going in the same direction. In practice it is a little harder than that.
I guess the first step to answering the question “What is Carding?” is to look at some of the materials you will be using. The first thing we need to look at is the wool. Recently we did a historic re-enactment of how spinning was done in the 16th century at the Louisiana Science Fiction and Costume Convention. We demonstrated how to spin wool on a spinning wheel, how to use a loom, and how to card wool. The wool we used came from a specific breed of sheep called a Gulf Coast. The wool came from a friend who is on cast at the LARF. She has quite a few sheep and we were able to procure the fleece from one of them. In this form the wool does not really look as if much thread can come from the lock. Sort of looks like a matt of hair you might find on a dog, but out of this can come quite a bit of thread once the spinning process is done
So now that we got the raw material to process the next thing you will need is something called a carding paddle. Actually you will need two, one for each hand. If you are wondering what they look like I have added a picture below of the carding paddles I used. They are a set from John Day Woodworking. As you can see in the picture the hand carders look a lot like the brushes you use for pets. Well they are very close. If you look at the metal teeth you will see they are angled where the typical pet brush has metal teeth that are straight as you can somewhat see in this picture of a flick carder.
Next question you might be asking is what is the difference between a hand carder and a flick carder. Well for hand carders you usually use two paddles and for a flick carder you normally use it by itself. On a flick carder you put the lock of wool in the carder and then flick the carder up to where you open the lock of wool up a little. Can you use a hand carder as a flick carder? Yes you can, but the flick carder is smaller and easier to work with
As you can see the teeth are all angled a certain way. This is to help straighten the wool out when it is carded, the teeth will hook into the wool and help pull the strands apart from each other. So how do you card wool? Well you need to place a little washed wool in between the two carding paddle and you pull them apart. It will take multiple passes to get the wool in a good enough state where most of the fibers inside the wool are pulled apart enough to create a rolag, which can then be used to spin a thread of wool on either a drop spindle or a spinning wheel.
So now you know the answer to the question “What is Carding.” If you have any further questions feel free to contact us for help. If you do plan on carding your own wool you might want to make sure you have a pretty decent amount carded before you begin spinning. Depending on how fast you spin, it is possible to card for a few hours and only have an hour or so of spinning. Personally, I have more fun carding for some reason. I guess it was because I could directly interact with the children when we do the demonstration. I really enjoy watching their faces when they get to touch the locks and even let some of them help card the wool.