Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today was a Good Day

Just some of the velvets I fell in love with
I know I am on vacation, but I had to tell you that today was a good day.  We have been sad due to some personal news on the Brainstormer front from home for the last few days.  But today was a good day.  A full day in Venice and much of it for myself.  I bolted around the town with a hard-fought list of artisans I wanted to visit.  It is rare to find a store, find it open during the European vacation (and a Catholic holiday to boot) and then in the store to find the actual craftspeople!!  YEA!

One was a famous paper marbler and the other was one of the family owners of the last handweavers of Venitian velvets - Luigi Bevilacqua.  The person I met was their - 'me'.  The technical guy who investigates the old velvets under the microscope, figures out the patterns, sets up the looms, and all things technical.  To say we had a great discussion is a understatement!  Watch this space for more yummy discussions and pictures of how things are made.  I loved it as learned soooo much!

 


Monday, August 7, 2017

Stitch Along Going Well

So the Casket Stitch Along is going very well!  There are about sixty people using the graphs to work a casket and I have gotten to the point where I have seven out of the 18 panels done for my casket and am working on number eight right now.  This is the newest piece for the casket below.

Right Frieze for all the Casket Types
I was just searching for the pictures of all the other sides and couldn't find them on my hard disk!  So I will have to wait until this next piece is done and post all the panels that have been done for fun!

This latest panel is for two months - September and October, but as the teacher...I have to be done with it Sept 1st so I can have the graph done and up for those waiting for it.  So as I am working on two caskets at the same time - about a panel a month - I had to take it with me on vacation.

Quite a deal to figure out how to do that!  The entire right side of the casket (friezes included) are mounted on one large slate frame.  As we were getting closer to the date to leave, it was becoming obvious that I wouldn't be able to stuff four months of stitching into one and get the Frostings shipment shipped at the same time?  REALLY??  (no I don't have a legion of little mice that come out at night and stitch for me!)  Ok, my husband started insisting that I go to bed by midnight and started saying obviously dumb things like ''why can't you take that with you?'

Easily said than done.  A 26" x 18" slate frame doesn't easily travel on flights.  And this trip - well I will be in eight countries and no less than nine flights.  You can imagine the horror of being told in some small Greek airport that my frame would have to be put in the hold at the gate.  I would freak out.

Reframed and ready to go with a few hours of
added work in Stockholm.
So I finally bit the bullet the night before our leaving and decided to do 'it'.  IT was to cut the piece out of the slate frame and reframe it onto a smaller slate frame, but that meant it would be kinda tight as there is only about 3/4 of an inch between the pieces and two of them were all done and fully stitched (and nicely in square).  So I decided to paste the paper for the finishing process onto the two finished pieces before I removed the tension from the frame.  So off to mix up a bit of the wheat paste, find some of the paper and carefully spread the glue on the back of the paper.  After a minute when the glue was more tacky than wet, I placed the embroidery face down onto a stack of books that had a light towel on them and placed the glue wetted paper over the finished embroidery parts.  Then I pressed them hard into the embroidery with my fingers.  Then again with a light towel on top and a few books for overnight drying.

I was then able to cut off the finished works without them raveling and right at the line I would cut them to paste onto the casket.  That gave me about one half inch of linen to fold over and use to attach the panel to a smaller slate frame.  I happened to have a variety of frames that were made decades ago and lucky... one just the right size for this issue.  Kinda travel sized.

So I have been working this piece daily when I get a chance and have made quite a bit of progress.  It is pretty clear to me that I would never have been able to get it done along with the stump work panel that is waiting for me at home in a 10-day period (plus instructions).  So good thing I was able to figure out a way to 'bring it with me'.

About a week of work in the hot sun (heat wave here)


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Animating a Tapestry

If you go to the Landesmuseum Zurich, they have a part of their exhibit on textiles that is incredibly innovative and makes you stop and understand the piece.  I have to admit that I am not that much of a tapestry fan; it is a narrow set of techniques and not my favorite look.  But this exhibit made even my husband sit and listen to the entire description of the piece which was over five minutes long!

It starts with a bench with recessed sets of headphones with narration available in multiple languages.   You sit and watch the four projectors play an animation of light on top of the tapestry.  Having the areas highlighted and moving is really fantastic and can significantly enhance the discussion on the headphones.  I loved it!  More museums should consider this type of effect for large objects with complicated storyline or symbols.  Of course I had many questions - like light levels and protection of the dyes.  But I am sure they had done the trade-offs and it would be interesting to understand.  I haven't ever seen so many people engaged in a tapestry - so it was working!


Projectors beaming onto the tapestry

Animation playing on the tapestry.  The lights not only highlight the areas discussed, but move as well so it looks like water is coming out of the fountain, etc.  



Sunday, July 30, 2017

Embroideries at the Landesmuseum Zurich

The Landesmuseum Zurich (National Museum) has been on my list for many, many years to visit while in Zurich and I just never seem to get to do it.  Yesterday, after we recovered from a sleepless night and had only a partial day (and due to the rain in the mountains foiling my husband's elaborate plan to have us hike on zero sleep), I got my wish!

It did not disappoint!  There is a gallery of the permanent collection with about a dozen large embroideries on show as well as tapestries.  The rest of the decorative arts are quite engaging including the complicated globes, mechanical clocks and animatronic watches.  If you go there - plant your husband in front of the touch screen with the videos of how these work and you will get quite a long time with your embroideries.  (I did enjoy watching them as well).

The embroideries include a few samplers but also some large embroidered murals worked between 1590-1630 that really had me sucked in.  Only one of them reminded me of the English work, a four panel piece with the common scenes of the bible worked on all our caskets, mirrors and pictures. In the panel, the Queen of Sheba visits.  The panels were almost all worked in long stitches in silk or wool to cover the entire surface and were quite large (the smallest was 20" x 20") and the largest was about 4 feet square.

Wool embroidery pre-1582.  LM13019 in Landesmuseum Zurich


What really got me excited was the subject matter of two of them, which were listed as typical.  Whereas the embroideries in England are biblical or allegorical in nature, these were domestic scenes!  If you want to know what was being used and common things about everyday life - you look at Dutch genre paintings as all portraits in England were staged and full of symbolism.   They weren't painting what they saw.  In this case, some of the embroiders were stitching things that were common.

One of my favorites was this laundry scene.

AG2369 Scene showing Laundry Day in Landesmuseum Zurich

This large embroidery shows the different steps in the cleaning of laundry as well as the common implements, how the drying fence was constructed, the way their wore their clothes to keep the hems from getting wet, and many more details!  It is fantastic!  I have no idea why it was drawn and worked, but so glad it was as it is an amazing glimpse into life.

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Close view of Laundry Scene AG2369 in Landesmuseum Zurich
The other piece that really got me excited was a huge embroidery with small domestic scenes all over it.  It was so large and the way it was mounted I couldn't get a good picture of it - so here is a link to the museum catalog image.

A partial image of the panel
The piece was reportedly thought to be worked by Luigia Morell in 1601, the daughter of Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot who are shown in the center large roundel.  They are surrounded by their children, in-laws and grandchildren in the round scenes.  Luigia is assumed to have worked the piece because she is shown in one embroidering.  The names of the people are in the banners and found in the town records (most were married to members of the Constance middle class and citizens of Eastern Switzerland).  It is an amazing resource to cultural history.  While I couldn't get close enough to it to see many details - I was really taken with the grandchildren or scene of stages of life at the feet of the grandparents in the center.  Here you see a child swaddled, one in a sitting rocker and the third a toddler in something we recognize - a 'walker' like device.  What a great record in embroidery!

Luigia embroidering in a roundel on LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich

Hans Morell and Barbara Ossenrot, the head of the family (I cut off the labels in the pic) with some assumed grandchildren at their feet.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich
A closer view of the presumed grandchildren showing how kids were cared for at the period.  LM24507 in Landesmuseum Zurich





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thistle Threads Closed for Vacation

Thistle Threads will be closed for vacation between July 27th and August 21st.  

Communications will be very difficult due to the spotty wifi a great deal of hopping around locations.       (That is how it will be a vacation!)

Shipping of orders taken after July 26th will be done when I reopen in late August.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What's in the Frostings Box?

The New Frostings Box!
So this is the spoiler alert - if you are waiting for your box and don't want to know what is inside the box - don't read any farther!  Come back later!!

The Frostings Session 2 box contains six different thread types.  It expands and finishes the color line of the Tiny Silk Purls with the addition of five red family colors, three purples and two blues.  This brings the entire color line up to 40 colors!! So we have a great set of medium sized purls and a wonderful set of tiny purls to select from depending on our project needs and scale.

Tiny Silk Purls in ten colors
For those who want to do stump work and use a wire edge to your motifs, you know how painful it is to either wrap a piece of wire with silk or spend all your time doing a buttonhole stitch around the edge to cover the silver wire.  If there just was a wire that was
already covered in silk!! Well now there is!  I have chosen seven colors to have made as silk covered wires that just disappear in your detached work - easy to cut and put down as a scaffold and then do your needlelace and no more extra work.  It is included in the Frostings box in:  a red, pink, yellow,
yellow green, dark green, blue and purple.
Seven colors of silk wrapped wire

Looking for an alternate to braiding your own tiny strings for purses or edgings?  The Frostings box has a new round braid with either gold or silver in the braid.  Included this time in red or black in each of the two metal variants.  They will be so useful for blackwork or redwork projects.  I already have one Frostings project underway to use one for you - watch for it in August!

Red and Black silk braids with gold or silver
And we have a new gimp thread for couching down.  Crinkle Gimp is a thin gimp that has been wrapped with a second gimp to make it more bumpy.  It can be sewn through the fabric if you use a big enough eyed needle.  I love this for making clouds, grass, or water as well as giving the fuzzy look of feathers.  It is extremely variable because wrapping one gimp with another can have the second gimp squish or expand as the machine spools.  If you like it more smooth or bumpy, run your fingernail one way or another to compact or pull out the
Crinkle Gimp
overwrap to give it the look you want.

The last two threads are related, silk covered plate which I see on stump work all the time.  This is the 11S size of gilt plate and it is covered in three different greens to make a smooth and bendable covering.  Use it for grass and couch it down with gimp or purls to make amazing patterns that are textured, contrasting the threads against the smooth silk plate.  And once you have silk covered plate, you can make crenelated plate! This is just the coolest thread and I have been getting emails from people who want more of it in the greens or more colors!

Crenelated Silk Wrapped plate in three green colors
There will be projects in the early fall and these threads are currently part of the Harmony with
Nature Casket Stitch Along as well.  About 160 of the kits are still available.


Silk wrapped 11S plate in three green colors

Friday, July 14, 2017

They are Here!

Packing the frostings boxes in process!
For those in the know, you know that the Frostings Boxes were delayed as the first printing was done wrong and it took an extra four weeks to redo it all.  Ugh.

The boxes arrived a full day early and so we were packing and making labels until the wee hours last night!  1/3 of the boxes went out this morning - I am very excited!!  I have a big workforce of robot kids arriving in minutes and we expect to maybe even finish today!  So be on the watch for those exciting threads.


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Milton Mannor Casket on Video

I have been sent a few links to an Antiques Roadshow video (UK S39E26 Caversham 2) that showed around June 14-20th on TV in the UK and featured a long video scene of a  SPECTACULAR and almost untouched embroidered casket.

The piece starts at 48:33 in the video and then had a slight respite and comes back again for opening. Pull up a pot of tea and watch it over and over again!  Do it soon as it is likely that the material will be taken off-line as the BBC is really diligent at getting their video material off sites and the iPlayer for BBC doesn't allow other countries to sign up and watch.

It is really quite amazing.  Once you have looked at it once, take another watch through and look at the details of the finishing.  The finisher did a few neat things like doing the horizontal tapes first on the top and wrapping around the edge of the lid, which produces a clean edge because there aren't any cut edges.  But the interior shows so well the colors and the details!

Now they totally have the storyline wrong on the piece - around the bottom of the casket the storyline is that of Abraham.  The front is Abraham banishing Hagar, the back is her looking for water for her son, etc.   And I would say that the auction estimate is low.  :-)

Watch the video

image1.PNG


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Treading Water Anyone?

I know the blog has been rather sparse of late.  It's because I am treading water.  I think it is the 'get up and go' of everyone really starting their caskets that is causing this high water mark.  The order volume at Thistle Threads went up by 250% in November and has held constant for eight months.  That is great - but it is still only me.

So I have to apologize for extra time it takes for orders to get out!  It is also making it tough to keep on top of CDs, making instructions, stitching the next project, getting items cut and ready for kits and etc. etc.  Fortunately it is summer and I was able to garner some summer labor - my robot girls seem to be happy to make money and when they are here - surprise, surprise, I often get a bit of free robot boy labor (sticking stickers, etc) as well while they chatter.

They have helped me get all the Frostings box contents prepared (done), we will finish the CDs for Stumpwork next week and have the contents for the 1st Stumpwork kit done.  I am finally breathing a bit lighter this week - especially after four of them processed 60 pounds of wheat paste for me into 600 bags.  (This is a job that can only be done in the summer as it goes everywhere!).  We had to hose them down in the yard when they were finished (I think it was an excuse for a water fight).

They have allowed me to keep shipping the daily orders and caskets while knowing that progress is being made on the core business.

If NOTHING more goes wrong at the box maker place - we are driving to Rhode Island on July 14th to pick up the first pallet of frostings boxes and plan to have all the shipping boxes labeled and ready already so we can ship them out Saturday morning.  I refused to wait for them to ship them to me.  So I have a pizza party planned and about a half dozen teens.  I expect a fight for the shrink wrap station.  That is always popular, ha ha.  

It has been fun so far, several of the kids are entrepreneurial and so I have been discussing the particulars of small product companies, building web infrastructure, etc.  Funny to see them absorb information on credit card processing, PayPal, etc. while packing stumpwork forms.

Tricia

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Guess Who I Met In Texas?

Talk about a surprise in the garden cafe at the Dallas Museum of Art!
I am right now at the SCR EGA Seminar in Houston, TX and just finished giving a lecture.  But I took the opportunity to come to Texas a few days early and enjoy some things in Dallas - like the two caskets and beaded basket in the Dallas Museum of Art!  YUM.  I was able to invite some of the locals to come with me to enjoy the day and also included Rachael Kinnison who had alerted me to the presence of a beaded basket in that collection I would want to see.

Rachael's son, her patient sherpa for the week
Rachael drove 11 hours to be with us at the museum and brought her pieces!!!!!!  With her boy sherpa (a lovely young man - her 6-foot tall son) to carry boxes she was able to bring out her AMAZING beaded basket, the small beaded basket she is teaching in Bath this summer, her music box casket and the beaded mirror case.  What a wonderful time was had looking at these modern treasures.  We both kept it secret from the lucky ladies who were visiting with us - to see if we could find a space near the museum to look at them and we were happy to have found one.  You can imagine the excitement everyone had when they realized that the 'show' wasn't done after we saw the museum pieces!

Thank you Rachael!!

I am sooo thrilled in this picture, I seriously didn't think I would ever see this
magnificient item in my lifetime.

Look at the fantastic boxes that Rachael had made to travel with her pieces!



Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Frostings 2 - 19,500 Items

Wow.  It has been a total production facility around here this week.  Ok, that is the rosy view of the place, my husband and kids would instead characterize it as a 'little plastic box sweat shop'.  Why?  Because I am getting geared up for the Frostings Box Session 2 to be packed and sent out to the people who are excited to get new threads.  Tonight my husband spent three hours watching comedy shows while placing stickers on little plastic bags.

It is a long road to getting the box in your mailbox!  There are the months (in this case 18 months) of designing threads, checking colors and waiting... waiting... waiting... for the threads to start trickling in.  The last one arrived days ago.  There are 39 individual threads/colors and 500 boxes to pack so somehow all those big spools that come in have to be divided up and labeled.

Just the act of opening up the little clear plastic boxes to put something in takes a tremendous amount of time, then you line them up, load them and close them and then apply a label.  If I do a box of 500 of them of one thread, it can take me about 6-8 hours.  So this time the family has taken quite a bit of pity on me and finally pitched in to help.  19,500 little boxes or bags have to have cut and wound things put inside and labeled.  Then there is the packing of the actual white frostings boxes and shrink wrapping - that will take a week before I sit for a whole two days and making/printing shipping labels.  A couple of hours then verifying that the label is correct and marking up the database that a box is leaving.  And then many emails assuring people that the label I created on Monday and wasn't ready to adhere to the packed boxes until Thursday hadn't gotten lost by the post office as I haven't gotten a slot in the post office truck schedule until Friday to do the massive pick up.  :-) All-in-all the process is about 1.5 months from starting to cut the threads to the boxes leaving on their journey to you.

Thursday before the Memorial Day weekend, I cried 'uncle' and decided to bring in the big guns, paid teenagers.  While I only intended to hire one of them - one of the girls on the robot team that I knew was looking for some work - I managed to get a gaggle of them.  Guess they are all growing up and realize that all my time helping them with roboting costs me dearly in my work time.  So amazingly when she showed up there were others in tow.  Over the course of two days (and some sleepovers) I had four different teens (boys and girls - sorry if a few labels aren't as straight as I might like) here to help me as well as family too.  We voted on movies and had a whole Pirates of the Caribbean marathon.  Took them to see the 5th movie on Sunday to celebrate getting 3500 little plastic boxes packed and labeled in three days.  It would have normally taken me seven days.

They certainly made the work much more fun.  Sounds like they are planning on coming back for the shrink wrap party - heck - why not?  Sounds like cool tech toys and we all know robot boys like cool tech toys!


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

World Championship Finalists*


It is with great, great, great pride and also some sadness that I announce that The Brainstormers are the World Championship Finalists* for 2017!  This is just an astounding accomplishment... there are 5,200+ teams in the world.  Depending on their path, they need to be usually one of the top 1-3 teams at a competition of 32-72 teams to move to the next level, having gone through five levels now.  At each competition, they will play between nine to 18 matches and come out as elimination winners in the last nine.  Because of the narrow number of teams that can move on until the super regionals, we certainly saw some amazing and great teams fall by the wayside and not move on because our state is a powerhouse that can't send all the world class teams on from the state because we are a small state.

Working on the practice field and explaining features to
another team watching
The kids worked quite hard before we left for the championship and managed to completely develop a new autonomous strategy to deal with some of the problems we had at competitions, especially with set-up issues with the fields.  It required both mechanical changes and some significant new programming feats - all accomplished in less than five weeks.  And it was killer.

This year with the splitting of Worlds to a North and South to double the number of teams who could attend because of expansion of the programs, there was a decision to give a percentage of spots to lottery because the logistics of expanding the super regional level had not occurred on schedule.  So that meant that teams who had never progressed to Worlds on merit were allowed to put their name in the hat and get a slot by lottery.  But that meant that some partners weren't as strong as others.  The kids did great during the qualifiers, almost overcoming some partnerships with teams that only scored five of the 250+ points our alliance put up.  We all felt good, the robot was working and working well.  Teams would stand and watch them practice, that felt good to be admired by their peers.

This is a favorite picture of mine because of what it says.
This is the captain of another team, sitting in our booth
watching an important match of ours on the live stream with
Rob.  Our team is known as general 'good actors' and we
have many hang out with us.  When we were in the finals, the
only cheers you would hear was for our alliance.  I find this
important - when your peers not only admire your work
but find you good people and want to see you win.
I have mentioned that at previous competitions teams have come into our booth to thank us for our how-to videos and Worlds was no exception to our complete surprise.  The one that really tickled us - the Russian team thanked us and showed us and Sofia their robot - they built their shooter based on a design she came up with and showed in one video.  As the youngest member of the team (8th grader) it was just such a great thing to hear.

It was a nice experience as my brothers came as well, driving from Michigan to see their nephew compete for the first time ever.  Part of the reason they came was that the team 'grandpa' and my brother who makes their shirts at his screen printing business, had decided to surprise the kids with a set of special commemorative hockey jerseys that would be something they could wear and keep for years past these experiences.  They included an American flag patch and a special 2017 Worlds St Louis patch they designed on one arm.  It was a great night when we got the kids together to have him give a speech on how they had inspired so many people they didn't know and give them the jerseys.  They were just blown away!

This is how they move around - together.  No one is 'out of it'.
They are attentive and in the moment and on point.  
Near the end of the competition, it became obvious that we were a highly desirable alliance partner and so one of the World Champions from last year started asking us to make some autonomous routes together.  The kids got to work and there were some outstanding joint programs written on the fly - that worked and later (as we did become partners) blew people away in the eliminations!  That night, we went out to a great Italian restaurant and I took the opportunity to make a speech as the seniors were flying home for their prom the next morning right as the elimination matches were to begin.  I reviewed their amazing accomplishments over the years and that year and that no matter what happened the next day - I was so proud of them and would miss them so much.  And that if I am not invited to their weddings, well, there would be hell to pay!
The new jerseys!

My son was trying to hold it together and not cry and as soon as I sat down, the first senior stood up to my surprise to say some words.  And one by one the three of them stood up and gave the most inspiring speeches, each about a topic.  Ethan, only on the team for two years, talked about Family.  How John and I had invited him into our special extended family, made him feel part of it within days and how that made him feel.   Then Ben, an original Brainstormer starting when he was nine years old, got up and gave a long talk about Trust.  How the arc of being on the team had taught him to trust others, trust in their collective abilities, trust others to do their job, and trust that all would be good in the end no matter how dark and horrible some situation looked at the moment - no matter how broken the robot seemed to be he could trust that somehow they would figure it out and get it running in the 5, 10, 30 minutes they had.  It was an amazing speech, of course I remember each of their personal journeys from wanting to control a task because they didn't trust another child to do a good job to today, when they could give up control and inherently understand that they were all on the same team and how talented each was and hardworking and so trust in each other.  An amazing journey and something that Ben said they would all take forward in the future in how they treated others they worked with.

11pm Waffle House Run.  The boys were never
full.  I must have ordered tons of room service,
made bagel runs, pizza orders and late night
runs to waffle house.  All the nervousness
makes those wiry 6' frames bottomless pits.
As they were woofing down a big room
service order one night - the girls just couldn't
help saying - 'we are leaving for dinner in
20 min, how come you are eating now!?"
Yeah - they also woofed down pounds of
BBQ only 30 min later.  BOYS.
Then Dan got up, on the team for a little more than three years, and he gave a talk about Failure.  He discussed how John and I had taught them how to fail successfully and created a climate where it was totally ok to fail in the small and big things - that it wasn't failure but an opportunity to learn, try new things and expand themselves individually and collectively.  He discussed how many trials had come up for them all, things that were unfair, parts that broke at the wrong time, and days that didn't go your way but that we had helped them all learn how to face these things with grace and how to turn them into motivation for the next day.  Obviously I cried quite a bit.  It was beautiful and also hilarious to hear all the rest of the kids talk about how they needed to get their speeches started now for next year!

So the next day luck went our way and we ended up partnering with our 'dream partner' in the alliance selection.  The matches were tough and fast paced (I heard that several of you watched - WOW).  Two divisions play simultaneously and the winners of each vie for the championship in a final set.  That is the first time the teams from the divisions meet in competition during the five days.  At the point we won the division, I lept out of the stands and ran down towards the pit and was hugged by each of the kids - most of them squeezing me so tight I almost couldn't breathe while I was crying.  At that point - the worst they could do was be the World's Finalists and take home a big trophy.  They were all crying.

I am not sure exactly how to express what happened next.  We won the first match by more than 150 points, lost the second by the other team making a mistake and preventing our big ball from scoring (questionable call), and it was all down to the third match.  During the last match, one of the opposing teams collected our balls and scored them in their vortex, an explicit major penalty of 40 points and seen by all - all but the referees apparently.  Upon review, the team did it at exactly the same time stamp in the first final match as well - at a time when one team from each alliance was lifting the big ball and the refs would be looking in that direction.  You can imagine how we felt upon review of that video.  It was the first and only instance in competition that this was done worldwide that anyone knows of.

So the kids were sure they had won as the penalty would put them over the top by quite a bit.  Instead, the scores were put up - we lost by the two of our balls scored by them and no penalty.  What??  But in a situation that we now know was an innocent mistake, the organizers had brought the trophies onto the field and as soon as the scores were shown, they thrust them at the winners.  Now, there is a process for disputing scores or calls and that is a marked out box - but it was covered by photographers, and some organizers who were trying to keep the area clear actually held our kids in the driver box and refused to let them out to get to the box which is the only way they are allowed to challenge.  Apparently there will be a huge rule change for next year now.

One of the boys having Dean Kamen,
co-founder of FIRST, sign his special
jersey.  Signing shirts is a 'thing' and he was so excited that
Dean showed up and he was able to get signature. 
You can imagine how this played out.  I won't go into all the details in a public forum.  I was heartbroken to watch my son sob and sob as they weren't allowed to challenge.  It got worse and again I won't say in a public forum.  Tonight, the organization held a call to allow the kids to discuss their challenge but insisted that while the video evidence showed clearly that the penalty should have been called, the refs insist they never saw it and there is no time machine and so they are the World Championship Finalists.  Hence the (*).

Beginning of the fateful last match.  
It is not how I wanted to season to end.  I also can't tell you the depth of hurt the kids have gone through, as the devil is in the details and they don't feel too good about them.  And I will state this - everything they have done was honest, professional, with grace, honor, openness and integrity.   But that isn't always how others play and when mistakes are made by others that let that get by, it is upsetting.

I thought robot season was over but as one of the top teams in the world, they were saved a space at a top-teams only invitational in Maryland at the end of June.  I am taking them as I just can't let this be the ending to an amazing season.  They need to get back up on the horse and ride again together.

At the beginning of the season they declared that they would be World Champions and worked their fingers to the bone to get to that point.  Their arc has gone from starting out as the worst team of 64 at their first FLL competition when they were only 9 years old.  Today they are considered by their peers (we keep getting messages) as the champions.

And they really are... I am so amazed and proud.

The whole crew the weekend after with all the trophies they earned this year - Champions in my book


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I Think I Have Created Monsters...

So the World Championship was finished three weeks ago and yes, I have news but I am not ready to talk about it yet.  It isn't actually over and that is part of the story.  Maybe later this week.  I hope.  Thanks to everyone who has emailed me.

But before we left, we took down the robot room and cleaned it up.  Moved the field into closets and put the furniture back.  There was just one little table off to one side with the robots on it and the rest of the room was empty and back to normal.  And CLEAN.  We could watch movies together again with the couch in the right place.  No food wrappers hiding under piles of papers, there was space to walk, play ping pong/pool and our vacuum wasn't sucking up screws anymore.

Well, at the World Championship there are 120 or so First Lego League teams, 128 First Tech Challenge teams, about 100+ cute little Lego League Junior teams (they are six years old) and about 400 enormous First Robotics Challenge teams.  So just tens of thousands of kids and their mentors.  It takes up all the venues in a big city and there are screens everywhere bunched together running the live stream from the other venues simultaneously so you can check in on what is going on in other divisions while you are in yours.  Well, my younger son Andy was there of course and he is captain of his FLL team.  You know that he barely missed going to Worlds this year and is a bit miffed at that as his system was quite good.  We never expect that they would do well at Worlds if they made it there because the USA rules cut the age off at 14 but the rest of the world can field lego teams as old as 16.  And that 14 to 16 years old difference is enormous in cumulative ability.  So it was quite a surprise to see that if they had gone, they could have ended up 7th with the system as it was in December (without working another four months straight on it).

So that created a monster.

When we came back he started looking up the videos from the live stream.  Then identifying the top teams and finding You-Tube videos they had posted showing their systems working with more close ups.  Analyzing them every morning over breakfast.  Then the LEGOS came out again in the family room and he started building.  He knows that competition field forward and back for this year and he started building different concepts for detachable robots, exoskeletons that fit over the robot, etc.   In one case the winning team had a 5 second animation where their robot was built from the ground up in the LEGO designer program (think a CAD program for legos) as a insert in a larger video.  Well, over a two hour stretch with his team mate, they froze frame the you-tube video and figured it out and built the darn robot to understand the concept that group had used.  They are now on the third iteration of that concept making it their own.

The team mate who lives next door has been watching the same videos this weekend on our TV and going ballistic with excitement at some of the out of the box ideas.  Started their research notebook for next year's challenge already in Google Docs and shipped the notes off to all the other kids.  This next year the challenge is "HydroDynamics" - the water system and its challenges (think Flint).  They are looking up waste water treatment plants and contact info for me to try to arrange them meetings already.  Krikee!

Then yesterday I spent 11 am - 3 pm up in my attic office catching up on Frostings work.  Little did I know what was going on downstairs.  At a nice dinner with my husband last night he mentioned that 'the table is back'.  I said 'what?'  So he proceeded to tell me that while he was working on a little home repair project, the two young boys came through the shop getting the drill and saw horses and carrying out the wood that makes the FLL competition field.   Amused, he told me that they had set it all up, found the matt in the closet and put all the mission modules on it as well as a folding table as a work space.  All he did was answer a question on drill bits.  Gone was our clean media room and it was back to being a robot room.

Those little monsters wanna win.

And I didn't tell you that they spent Jan-April building a metal robot to do the challenge that the big kids were doing.  By the time we left for Worlds, it could do many of the things on the field and might have progressed from a qualifier to the state level.  We were happy as they were learning the metal robot division skills and were keeping busy while we were so preoccupied with the big team.  They would use it as a nuisance robot to drive against the big kids to improve their practice.

Yikes.  Roboting is becoming a year-round thing.

My clean room is no more.  I have no idea what those kids are planning as I just saw they did this.
Season doesn't start again until September.  
The black thing in the foreground is the replica of the winning robot
from St. Louis a few weeks ago - a German team that was amazing.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

First Looks at Harmony with Nature Casket

Left Frieze for the Harmony with Nature Short Flat Casket
I am running a course for those already in the Cabinet of Curiosities universe called "Harmony with Nature Casket' that is a stitch-along piece.  It starts on June 1st and will be put on the short flat casket piece.

Later, the casket project course will be opened to other people (i.e. when it is finished) as then I will have a complete total for the piece and can take sign ups.  But most of the threads for this will be ones that have been already sent to the current students through the Cabinet of Curiosities, Stumpwork or Frostings Boxes.  So they can stitch along with me if they don't want to wait.

And the first panel of the box is finished and ready to take a look at - the instructions for the panel will span June and July and will be up for those registered on June 1st.  The materials list for this panel just went to the web guy to be posted by the end of the weekend in the stitch resources part of the website for the class.





Sunday, May 7, 2017

Choices - Tin plated Brass or Brass?

When people are working on their caskets, one of the decisions they have to make is what color hardware to use on their casket.  This decision cascades through and impacts what color of woven metal tape is used and the metal color stamping on the papers that are inside the casket.

What is hard is to visualize the choice.  So I have taken two pictures to show the difference between  the voice of tin coated brass (silver colored), which was the traditional choice, and brass (gold colored).

Tricia

Top of Tent Stitch Casket with tin plated brass hardware laying on top and edged with silver woven tape
Top of the tent stitch casket with brass hardware on top with the gold woven tape on the edges



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spoonflower - Digital Printed Fabric on Demand

Blackwork Fabric Print
Some of you might be familiar with Spoonflower, an on-demand digital printing on fabric company.  You can upload your own designs and choose a fabric from their list and have it printed in quantities as low as a quarter yard.  Or you can choose from designs that people have uploaded and made public (they get a small cut).  What this means is that there are many things out there that you might find useful for fun!

There are many blackwork designs as well as one you just might recognize (Plimoth Jacket).  It can be printed on silk fabric to make a scarf or heavy duck fabric (tote bag anyone?).  You can also buy a small sample to see if you like it on that fabric.

Some people have uploaded these designs to help out those who do reenactments, some using the printed designs for embroidery, such as coifs.

I really wish that we could print on the 40ct Old White linen.  Wouldn't that be amazing!!

Tricia

P.S.  You can get gift wrap in any of these as well!  How cool!

One of the Blackwork Collections

Plimoth Jacket Fabric 


A collection of 17 blackwork designs, many from Trevelyon