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I’ve had an unfortunate abundance of free time lately, thanks to being downsized at work. The first couple of weeks of being unemployed involved a lot of moping, being angry, and paperwork for various issues. Now, three weeks or so down the road, I’ve got my résumé updated and I’ve shopped it around to a couple of local job opportunities, including one which I really hope I get a shot at (I’m trying not to get my hopes too high, though, lest I jinx it) but for the most part I’ve not had much to do.

And I’ve got to give my former employer credit: My paperwork went through to EI without a hitch and I was approved with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss, so while I’m not making a lot of money at least I know my student loan payments and groceries will be covered. That, my severance package coming through and The Wife™’s increasingly successful practice have all combined to take a great deal of personal stress off of me. I can afford to apply only to jobs that represent a step up (or at least not a step backwards)… at least for a couple of months.

That leaves me with the problem, of course, of free time, and I’ve decided to fill it with some armouring. First, I had to get the shop in order and figure out what I can work on with the resources on hand and no major purchases; I’ve discovered that I’ve got damn near enough leather, buckles, rivets and scrap metal make a whole suit of armour. I’ve decided to build myself some low-profile arm- and shoulder-harness that could fit under a jupon, comparable to the kits that several of my friends are currently using. (My current arm and shoulder rig, while gorgeous, is heavy and decidedly not low-profile.)

Photo by Kyle Andrews Photography

While having such a beautiful kit is certainly it’s own reward, there’s unfortunately not a lot of advantage to historical accuracy in the SCA’s heavy combat rules: I genuinely do wish we’d have a few “as-armoured” tournaments in this kingdom. It’d really give SCA fighters an appreciation for the value of being armoured cap à pied; as it is I have no advantage over someone wearing lightweight leather armour… or concealed plastic and lacrosse gear for that matter.

I’ve also discovered, as I progress with the longsword postae, that my arm harness is not the most forgiving when it comes to the high guards. It’s difficult to assume a posta finestra when the wing on one’s couter has a tendency to catch against its mate on the opposing arm; or when one’s spaulders jam hard against the bascinet and prevent raising the arms to the full height required for the posta falcone. And let’s face it: the weight of a mild steel articulated arm rig is just exhausting.

So I’ve got some plans for making cuir bouilli arm and shoulder protection with floating couters over the elbow. I’ve made a waxed cuir bouilli jack before and I think it should be a technique which is relatively applicable to armouring.

I’ve also got some other projects that I’ve been meaning to start: I want to make some pewter belt-plaques, for example, so I’ve had to dig the block of soapstone I acquired for that purpose out and put some thought into it. I’ve got everything I need to replace the silk banner I lost at last year’s Trillium War, and so on. And for the most part, everything I need to do these activities is actually sitting in my shop right now, gathering dust. The brutally full work schedule last year meant that I would buy the parts for the project, and then never actually get around to it because I had no free time. Now, obviously, I do.

I spent yesterday in the shop with one of our newer fighters; most of the loaner kit has (thankfully) been put into circulation, and we spent some time yesterday picking through the remainder and then fixing it up. And some of it needed major fixing; mostly replacing rotted-out straps and such. We took the time to fit the gear to him personally, and since none of the loaner helms fit him I actually dug out my old spun-top helmet and will be re-padding and re-strapping it so he can at least practice in it (although I’d like to see him in something a mite sturdier before he authorizes and starts fighting in tournaments, much less at a war.)

So, yes, I’ve been keeping busy… over and above the job search and a truly epic game of Mount and Blade: Warband.

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