Monday, July 31, 2006


Crafts, Continued Pt 3

So I finished the dirk, except for the end nut (which I will make myself) and the butt plate (which will see some decorative carving):

Not bad at all. Next time I do this, I'll make the grooves deeper, and carve in wooden "studs" at the intersections between knots. The nut isn't quite centered, so when I file down a castle nut from soft steel or iron, I'll try to hide that fact by leaving the tang offset in the nut itself. That might be tricky.

I'll also eventually carve knotwork into the fork and knife handles, seen above.

Here's what the dirk looked like before I started modifying it:

Here's the waistcoat, as it currently is. All in all, a pretty good first attempt. I think it bookended very well, especially for a total novice at tailoring.

The pockets are a problem. They were designed for a longer waistcoat, one that went to the upper (or even mid-) thigh. I moved them up higher, since this waistcoat goes to the top of the hip bone (for wearing with a belted plaid), but I should have shrunk them at the same time. The current pockets bunch up inside the waistcoat, and the flaps could stand to be less swept, and about 1" less wide. So I'm reducing the size of the pockets by a substantial amount on the inside, and will make new, smaller flaps. I might even line up the tartan pattern between the pocket and the front this time. I also moved the pockets too close to the front button line, but there's nothing I can do about that now.

Then, I'll finish up the front button holes and try it on all buttoned up. Once it's on me, I'll decide if I want to trim the bottom in front so it's more level, or leave the V-dip on it.

Once I'm happy, I'll turn in stitch up the arm holes, and put in eyelets on the back seam for the lacing, and around the arm holes for detachable sleeves.


Xmas Walk pictures 2005

I finally got pictures from the 2005 Scottish Christmas Walk in Old Town Alexandria. As fellow reenactors Gerry and Susan were bar-hopping after the event, we noticed that a photography studio was taking free pictures of parade participants. So we eagerly took them up on the offer!

Click on the thumbnail for the bigger version.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


Crafts, Continued

The dirk handle is coming along:

Very nice, if I must say so myself! Just 4 more Triskelion patterns to go on the haunches (one on this side, three on the other). The wood burning tool really did wonders to cover up my weaknesses as a carver. I also completed the replacement chape for the scabbard, and began cutting out the butt plate for the dirk handle.

Monday, July 17, 2006


Crafts and Clothes

The music front proceeds as usual. The only interesting tidbit is that everyone in band has tapped the reed seats on our chanters with a 12-24 tap. The screw threads allow for extremely precise adjustments to tuning. Why didn't someone think of this a decade (or more) ago?

I'll probably also be using a tap soon to make my own end nut for the dirk. I need to find me a length of soft steel or iron, drill it, tap it, and file it into a castle shape. I've marked out the brass for the endplate, but it'll require something better than a Dremel tool to cut, I think. I also cut and shaped the brass for the chape on the end of the scabbard (to replace the one I lost at Marietta Mansion), but I think I'll redo it. It's going to be hard to solder. And how do you solder brass anyway? I'm waiting on a woodburning tool to go forward with the handle, and it should arrive in a couple of days. The hot-knife tool on a soldering iron didn't get nearly hot enough to score the wood. But the dirk should easily be done before Ligonier.

I've also finally begun making my short waistcoat, for wear with the belted plaid. The biggest hurdle was making sure the tartan pattern on the front and back pieces was symmetric! I found that I had to pin it every few inches in either axis to make sure the top and bottom fabric lined up. Once this was done, it went very quickly. I have the front and back, and their lining, already cut out. All that's left are the pocket interiors and flaps, and the interfacing. I have an enormous amount of this particular fabric left. I'll probably make another longer waistcoat (for wear with a philabeg), detatchable sleeves (for both), and a tailored philabeg out of this fabric. Making the pockets looks a bit easier than I'd thought; it's the buttonholes that scare me. But fellow reenactor Gerry has a buttonholing machine, I'll probably use that to simplify things. I think there's a really good chance I'll have the waistcoat done by Ligonier too. If all goes well, I'll be doing my shortcoat this winter, in time for the Christmas Walk, and then I can give Gerry back the waistcoat and coat I've been borrowing for a year and a half!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Long Time, No Post

Well, it's been kinda crazy around here, hence no posting.

On solo pipes, I'm looking at MSR sets; my competition one for next year will probably be Charles Edward Hope Vere/Susan MacDonald/Colonel MacDonald, but I'm learning others to develop my acumen in the idiom. I really need to spend some time with piobaireachd again, though.

In the pipe band, we've had our ups and downs. Some busy weeks for gigs. When we're together, we sound great. When we're not... But we all have new chanter reeds, and they sound fantastic. So if we can get our acts together for competition, we'll really do well, I think.

On fiddle, I finished my semester with Elke, and am on break. I'm spending my time going through Gow and Marshall, through session and Country Dance tunes, and looking at Irish tunes once again. Rosemary got me to start going to a weekly Irish session in Arlington, and I'm having a lot of fun. It's very informal (and untraditional) - use of sheet music is encouraged.

With the Devil's Tailors, we're all on break while Rosemary is out on vacation and Chris is dealing with some possibly good changes to his family situation. We finished up our Potomac Overlook Park gigs without being able to schedule three of us there at one time. Over the hiatus, I'm going to try to start recording fiddle tracks for our tunes on ProTools.

The reenacting is going well - had a great (if sweltering) time at the Potomac Celtic Festival, and brought some period rabbit stew to the mix. My Murdoch pistol now has a touch-hole drilled, and I will soon begin tailoring my own waskit, so I can give Gerry's back. On top of that, I've finally begun the conversion process of my dirk to a more correct 18th century pattern. Here's how the handle looks after one day's work:

Not bad, eh?

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