Entries Tagged 'Letterpress' ↓

MuseCon Report

Interesting, my last blog post is dated for last Saturday, but it refers to last Friday as “this morning”. 

Anyway, for MuseCon, last Thursday night we stayed at home, and Friday morning we took the dogs to the vet’s, because many good reasons, then went to the hotel. Robin left for the hotel about the same time Ron and I left the house with the dogs, so that he could go help at Dave’s storage locker and do all his Logistics things.

MuseCon was busy. Ops took over hanging all signage, so I sorted signs and left them to it. I was in charge of Stanford/the Workshop Room/Blinkie Room (however you want to think of it). Friday that consisted primarily on making sure that everybody was on the same page for how the room would be set up (blinkies and other soldering things on the south half, everything else on the north half). Most of the Open Builds had moved to the Muse Salon in Marlborough, so Stanford proceeded relatively smoothly, biggest thing was getting hotel engineering to crank up the A/C, because if the room was too warm with <6 people in it for setup on Friday, it was going to be WAY TOO HOT once it got busy.  

I spent more time in the Salon (vs. Stanford) than I probably should have. I left my knitting at home, other than the turkish braid demo stuff, but I brought some doll clothing materials and tools and worked on kosode. Karen and I discussed ideas for the Salon and Stanford for next year, and have some ideas, considering above re: most Open Builds already having moved to the Salon. 

Saturday afternoon we reprised the Letterpress Printing Overview, and Saturday night we reprised Dramatic Readings of Music. This time for dramatic readings the chairs were all in a big circle (I think a leftover from a previous session), which was a good arrangement. Sunday morning we did Braided Snake Wristbands (3-strand mystery braid) for/in the kids programming room.

I took my Inuk and my classical guitar to MuseCon, and Saturday evening before dramatic readings I took them down to the Salon, where Andrea played them through an amplifier with distortion and feedback. Both sounded good, but the classical guitar played that way just sounded so wroooong to me. Andrea fell in love with the Inuk. 

Sunday night we went to the hotel restaurant/steakhouse, had sticker shock at the steak prices, and decided to just get soup, salad, and share a twice-baked potato, which was enormous. Then we went to the Necro-Muse music circle, where I flailed away through most of my classical-ish repertoire (mostly shorter bits out of my method book), Ron tried a couple banjo things, and Cathy McManamon made my Inuk sound very nice indeed. 

We stayed at the hotel Sunday night, and went to breakfast with Ron’s parents on Monday morning. Ron’s sister Alisa had also come to MuseCon, but she left Sunday afternoon. I think they all had a good time.

After breakfast we finished packing, hooked up the trailer, and headed home, where we dropped off the trailer, unloaded the truck, and then went out to pick up the dogs. Gimli was a very very tired puppy, he pretty much spent Monday asleep. Ron and I, and I assume Robin, also took naps. Nobody wanted to cook, so both lunch and dinner were invoked. 

Little Caesar’s called after Ron and the dogs and I had gone to bed, somebody up the food chain had scheduled Robin to open Tuesday morning. And close Wednesday night (at least it wasn’t a clopening). When he’d last checked his schedule, he didn’t have to work until Thursday. He was Not Amused. I can’t say I blame him.

Wednesday morning I had a definitely upset tummy, and stayed home, pretty sure combination of sinus/allergy issues and being tired from MuseCon. At one point Robin came downstairs and told me if I was going to nap I should go up and flop in bed. Grumble grumble grumble acting all adult who does this smart-alek kid think he is anyway? Which I did not do, but I did flop on the couch instead of sitting up. And in the afternoon I tried not to nap again. 

Last night Ron and Robin took blinkie stuff and Mr. Slushie back to D’s. Our stuff is still scattered around the house, and needs to go back to storage. Otter Necessities has an event (Lake Count-I-Con) in two weeks, so a trip to storage will happen some time between now and then to take coolers, etc. back and pick up Otter’s stuff that was stashed for MuseCon.
And that pretty much brings us up to today. Except for snake-natter, which will be its own post. 

New Year’s Eve and Day

Ron’s investigations with the AT&T store near his office revealed that I could get a new 16 GB iPhone 5C for $100 and a two-year commitment to my contract. And the way the contracts run, which is by phone/number, not by whole bill, we can wait and upgrade Ron’s in a month or so.  The store near home was only open until 5:00 on New Year’s Eve, and the store in Vernon Hills was going to be open normal business hours New Year’s Day, so the plan was to go out in the morning and procure my new phone.

Tuesday night Ron printed up some calling cards for me, while I played around on the computer with laying out short poetry on smallish pieces of paper. I set the type for and Ron printed “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Bat” by Lewis Carroll:

Twinkle, twinkle, little bat!
How I wonder what you’re at!
Up above the world you fly,
Like a tea tray in the sky.

Then we went to bed, well before midnight.

Yesterday morning I decided I wanted to procure some patterned paper for bookbinding experiments. The paper crafting store at Deer Park Towne Center was closed for the holiday, but Dick Blick in Schaumburg was open, and there is an AT&T store nearby. So off we went.

I should have called to confirm the hours for the AT&T store. Normal Wednesday opening time is 10:00, but they were opening an hour later yesterday.

It worked out, though, as Robin wanted to hit a fabric store or Hobby Lobby, Robin wanted to get another couple slinkies for print drying racks, and I was in quest of a Monster High doll, and the Hobby Lobby and Toys R Us were both open. Robin got a half-yard of green fleece (instead of felt) for making forest blobs for wargaming, and I found some decent fabric remnants for my costuming thing at MuseCon at Hobby Lobby.

Ron found Slinkies at We Be Toys & Shit, but I struck out on Monster High dolls – they didn’t have any single dolls, only more expensive playsets. Not many Barbies, either – no more Pink Aisle of All Things Barbie. Even Robin was aware that Monster High and other dolls were taking a bite out of Barbie.

On to the AT&T store, and only a few minutes wait for them to open. I got my new phone, without the salescritter wasting too much time trying to sell us UVerse or other things we didn’t want. I got a blue phone, and a blue and green Otter case for it, which was half as much as the phone. And a new cable for at work, since the new phone uses the new tiny connector. A cable I promptly forgot this morning, oops. In the Otter case, the new phone is about as thick and as wide as my old one in its cover, and a little taller.

Had lunch at Olive Garden, then hit Dick Blick. The designated “bookbinding paper” was stupidly expensive ($15 or more for an 18″x24″ sheet{, so I got a couple sheets of “gift wrap” instead (same size, $3.50/sheet). I may be willing to buy the more expensive paper later, but for the first attempts, cheap is just fine, thanks. I also got some pH neutral white glue, bookbinding cloth, and another exacto knife (since one has permanently moved to the printing bench). I did not buy an awl, needles, thread, or bone folder, as we have those at home. I may have to split the linen thread I have down by a ply or two, but that’s OK.

Got home, and while Ron went upstairs to come up with calling cards for Xap, I went hunting for shorter poetry by Kipling. I decided on two Seal Lullabies from “The White Seal” in “The Jungle Book”:

Oh! hush thee, my baby, the night is behind us,
And black are the waters that sparkled so green.
The moon, o’er the combers, looks downward to find us
At rest in the hollows that rustle between.
Where billow meets billow, then soft be thy pillow,
Ah, weary wee flipperling, curl at thy ease!
The storm shall not wake thee, nor shark overtake thee,
Asleep in the arms of the slow-swinging seas!


You mustn’t swim till you’re six weeks old,
Or your head will be sunk by your heels;
And summer gales and Killer Whales
Are bad for baby seals.
Are bad for baby seals, dear rat,
As bad as bad can be;
But splash and grow strong,
And you can’t be wrong.
Child of the Open Sea!

I decided to do the first lullabye. I ran into two problems. The first one was that the lines of metal type ended up shorter than the lines in the digital font I used for layout in InDesign. That was relatively minor, it just would have meant a little more fiddling about setting up the press.

The second problem was more serious.

Over the weekend Ron had written a perl script to count characters, but I didn’t run it. I counted the lowercase As in the poem I was doing, and compared it to the count of the font I’d planned to use (metal type for English has a fairly predictable distribution of letters, so they’re sold as x-A, y-a fonts, where x and y are however many of each type of A). I thought I’d be fine.

As you’ve probably guessed at this point, I wasn’t. After the first four lines I was looking at the number of lowercase Es I had left and getting worried. Ron counted Es left in the tray and I counted Es in the last four lines. Then I pouted while putting the type I’d set back away, because there weren’t enough Es left.

I’m not sure if that font has an add distribution of letters, if the poem does, or if I checked the a-count on the other size of that font.

I suppose this means that I should start the quite possibly long tedious process of counting all the letters in all our fonts and entering it into my type spreadsheet. Or at very least, count the upper and lower case As for every font – the fonts we got with the presses we’ll have to do that physically, the ones we’ve bought separately we should have at least the A-counts in the listings. Grumble.

And we probably need to pick one font and buy a bunch of it, so that we can set more than an 8-line verse at one time.  Like these from Kipling:


What is a woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?

She has no house to lay a guest in—
But one chill bed for all to rest in,
That the pale suns and the stray bergs nest in.

She has no strong white arms to fold you,
But the ten-times-fingering weed to hold you—
Out on the rocks where the tide has rolled you.

Yet, when the signs of summer thicken,
And the ice breaks, and the birch-buds quicken,
Yearly you turn from our side, and sicken—

Sicken again for the shouts and the slaughters.
You steal away to the lapping waters,
And look at your ship in her winter quarters.

You forget our mirth, and talk at the tables,
The kine in the shed and the horse in the stables—
To pitch her sides and go over her cables.

Then you drive out where the storm-clouds swallow,
And the sound of your oar-blades, falling hollow.
Is all we have left through the months to follow.

Ah, what is Woman that you forsake her,
And the hearth-fire and the home-acre,
To go with the old grey Widow-maker?




I met my mates in the morning (and oh, but I am old!)
Where roaring on the ledges the summer ground-swell rolled.
I heard them lift the chorus that drowned the breakers’ song—
The Beaches of Lukannon—two million voices strong!


The song of pleasant stations beside the salt lagoons,
The song of blowing squadrons that shuffled down the dunes,
The song of midnight dances that churned the sea to flame—
The Beaches of Lukannon—before the sealers came!


I met my mates in the morning (I’ll never meet them more!);
They came and went in legions that darkened all the shore.
And through the foam-flecked offing as far as voice could reach
We hailed the landing-parties and we sang them up the beach.


The Beaches of Lukannon—the winter-wheat so tall—
The dripping, crinkled lichens, and the sea-fog drenching all!
The platforms of our playground, all shining smooth and worn!
The Beaches of Lukannon—the home where we were born


I meet my mates in the morning, a broken, scattered band.
Men shoot us in the water and club us on the land;
Men drive us to the Salt House like silly sheep and tame,
And still we sing Lukannon—before the sealers came.

Wheel down, wheel down to southward! Oh, Gooverooska go!
And tell the Deep-Sea Viceroys the story of our woe;
Ere, empty as the shark’s egg the tempest flings ashore,
The Beaches of Lukannon shall know their sons no more!



There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
But when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.


Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.


When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair,
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.


When the body that lived at your single will,
When the whimper of welcome is stilled (how still!),
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.


We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?



Neither the harps nor the crowns amused, nor the cherubs’ dove-winged races—
Holding hands forlornly the Children wandered beneath the Dome,
Plucking the splendid robes of the passers-by, and with pitiful faces
Begging what Princes and Powers refused:—’Ah, please will you let us go home?’


Over the jewelled floor, nigh weeping, ran to them Mary the Mother,
Kneeled and caressed and made promise with kisses, and drew them along to the gateway—
Yea, the all-iron unbribeable Door which Peter must guard and none other.
Straightway She took the Keys from his keeping, and opened and freed them straightway.


Then, to Her Son, Who had seen and smiled, She said: ‘On the night that I bore Thee,
What didst Thou care for a love beyond mine or a heaven that was not my arm?
Didst Thou push from the nipple, O Child, to hear the angels adore Thee?
When we two lay in the breath of the kine?’ And He said:—’Thou hast done no harm.’

So through the Void the Children ran homeward merrily hand in hand,
Looking neither to left nor right where the breathless Heavens stood still.
And the Guards of the Void resheathed their swords, for they heard the Command:
‘Shall I that have suffered the children to come to Me hold them against their will?’

The Christmas Report

Tuesday the office was pretty quiet. Even quieter/more deserted today.

On Tuesday Ron and Robin went to Games Plus to replentish the supply of Robin’s business cards on the bulletin board. He did need to leave some more, but no business has been garnered yet. However, in a bid to try to drum up some business, Robin got a set of miniatures for a fantasy/SF football miniatures game, which he’s going to paint and then put up for sale in the store’s display/consignment cabinet.

Tuesday while I was at work Ron cut, folded, and printed some little to/from cards/tags for gifts. But I forgot to get pictures.

Robin’s Christmas presents arrived Tuesday, two kilts from UT Kilts (“Wild” model), who are significantly cheaper than a lot of places, but only do off-the-rack waist sizing. I’d ordered based on the waist size I’d supplied Alt Kilt for his other ones, which turns out to be too small, especially across the hips. Exchanged mail with the UT Kilts proprietor about the proper size kilt for his hips, and will be sending the too-small ones back and ordering the correct size tomorrow. I’ll probably also get one or two for Ron.

Opened presents after breakfast yesterday (a tradition that has driven some of my family members up the tree in past years, as did letting toddler-Robin take his time and play with his new toys instead of hurrying him on to the next presents). My stepmother thoughtfully sent Ron shirts in several sizes, and me fabric to make one or more new dresses (one piece of fabric, haven’t checked yardage, seems like more than enough for one dress), as well as gift cards to Kohl’s.

After opening presents, we got even more dressed and went to Brookfield Zoo. I’d weighed myself in the morning, and surprisingly have lost weight in the last week or so – I’ve been trying to be restrained with holiday treats, but I didn’t expect to do that well. I’ve lost enough weight that I can comfortably wear the jeans I have again. Ron says I look strange in pants, its been quite a while since I last wore them.

I ended up over-dressed (cotton leggings under jeans, t-shirt, sweatshirt, coat, scarf for my ears, and heavy gloves), as did Ron (cold-weather motorcycle jacket). We visited The Swamp, Birds & Reptiles (used to be the Perching Birds), the big cat row, The Fragile Rain Forest,  and Pinniped Point. We weren’t quite the only people there, but it was a very quiet day.

Since we last went to the zoo, over a year ago, several of the exhibits in The Swamp are of South American species instead of just North American. Not complaining, just a data point.

Most of the big cats (and the spectacled bears) were hiding from the cold, and the tiger was sleeping. The young snow leopard and his mother, however, were active, and right in front of the viewing window.

We arrived at The Fragile Rain Forest just before the keeper started working with the binturong. First she called the squirrels to their crates for treats and to not steal the binturong’s treats. The binturong was feeling lazy, and wouldn’t do all the keeper wanted her to do. Then the keeper let out a pair of asian small-clawed otters and gave them their lunchtime fish.

Got home and had a late lunch. We’d tried the restaurant at the zoo by the dolphins, but it was closed (not surprisingly).

After lunch I creased more to/from cards for Ron, and sorted cards and To/From cards that Ron had printed, to give to various family members as gifts, while he printed the to/from cards. IIRC he did 4 different designs – three Santas, and a Christmas tree.  He may start printing the interiors (“To:” and “From:) tonight. This batch will be for sale, so I should probably figure out how much they cost, at least in paper, to make (ink is harder to quantify, as the 1# cans we got are going to last a long time).

Got the mittens I’m working on almost done. I have half of one thumb to go, and then the yarn ends from the thumbs to darn in:


The pattern is from “Selbuvotter, Biography of a Knitting Tradition” by Terri Shea. Selbu mittens (Norwegian) use a modified peasant thumb, which has a subtle thumb gusset. The yarn is Claudia Handpaint Fingering, the purple is “Last Night’s Wine”, and the light multicolor is “Crocus”, obtained at Stitches:


I also dug out the wave mittens and orange, purple, and gold Komi mittens I made earlier this year. Turns out I still have a bunch of ends on the Komi mittens (from the thumbs down through the cuffs):

photo.JPG photo.JPG

 The plan is to finish both pairs of mittens off at lunch/this evening, and pack everything (including kilts to be returned) up and get postage/mailing labels on tonight so they can go out tomorrow. The kilts won’t fit in the mailbox, so I’ll have to either drop them off at the post office, or the outgoing mail at work.  I also need to invoke plastic and dispatch gift cards for some of the relations.

For dinner last night we had beef tenderloin and popovers. I’d cut a section off a whole tenderloin for dinner, just about the perfect size. Ron and Robin took care of the leftovers, and I don’t mean to imply that any made it to the refrigerator (or dog tummies, to their disappointment).

Christmas Eve!

Merry Christmas, in case I don’t post tomorrow!

As one might infer, we ate a bunch of pasties last week – lunch and breakfast for me every day, except for Tuesday, when I went with a co-worker (as opposed to a cow-irker) to a meeting in Springfield. Should have taken a pasty, the McRib clone at our HQ building was eminently forgettable.

On the printing front, I finished up the snow maiden holiday cards on Saturday:

Blue & Gray Holiday Card.jpg

 The “Happy Holidays” text is in my 18-point Parsons, on the inside of the card.

Doing these, we discovered an issue with cheap cardstock. Using Neenah Pape 110# Astrobright stock (which I think I previously mentioned is much thinner than French Paper Co. 110# Smart White cardstock), we get bleed-through of ink. It doesn’t show up right away, and didn’t photograph very well, but it is there.

Not being one to delay holiday preparations, I distributed some of the cards around the office, which is very de-populated, today.

Ron’s also been printing, he’s made calling cards for Xaplet Major, and proof prints of our various fonts.

Last night I sorted out another of the pied fonts. IIRC that leaves one that will probably get sorted, and the big pile of at least two itty-bitty (guessing 6-point) fonts that may not ever get sorted.

I think I mentioned previously that we want/need a bigger font for cards, etc., than the Parsons. Well, on eBay the other day I discovered someone selling new sets of Uhlen Rundotisch:



I have lust. Its fancy, without being too fancy over-the-top. But we weren’t sure about the size – was 30-pt going to be too big.

Sunday morning, we had a knock-down drag-out fight with Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud (yes, we went with the CC subscription model about a year ago, because it was about the only way to upgrade one or more pieces of the software suite to get upgrades we wanted.), and dis-satisfaction with Adobe’s on-line chat support (you need real tech support, call back on a weekday), I gave up and printed out some sample text in Pages, Apples word processor:


 As you can read from the text on white paper, it isn’t Uhlen Rundgotisch, but it is close enough for the purpose. My test electronic font has slightly fancier capitals and LC zed, but they’re clearly related.

The initial thought was that 30-point would be too big for calling cards. The blue paper is cut to modern business card size (2″ x 3.5″). Yeah, you can use it on cards, you just aren’t going to put a lot else on there. Also, Victorian calling cards varied in size. The pink paper is a quarter-sheet (5.5″ x 4.25″), which is the size of the Christmas cards I’ve done. 30-pt is a nice size for that. I think I’m going to buy it Friday. And also spaces, because it doesn’t come with any.

Uhlans are/were cavalry, originally Polish, usually armed with lances. That style of typeface is often referred to as “gothic”, and the bits of German I have floating around my head are gotisch=gothic and rund=round, so I think Uhlen Rundgotisch could be translated as Polish Round Gothic. Because I’m geeky in that strange way.

Do you detect a hint of 1930-40’s Germany in that font? Yeah, me too. And in poking around, I discovered that the Germany had a whole “Antiqua-Fraktur dispute” in the 19th and 20th Centuries, which the Nazis decided by fiat. Yes, as I said, I’m a word nerd. But in any case, it isn’t the poor font’s fault, and it isn’t as, um, loaded as a swastika. If you can feel sorry for a symbol, there’s a prime candidate. Kipling used to use it on his bookplates and it was on the covers of many of his books, but that ended with the rise of National Socialism.

Which reminds me, Robin is taking German next semester. Should be interesting, I had two years in high school, Ron had some in college. So maybe we’ll all (re-) learn. I can fairly quickly get to the point where I can can read German again, with a little help from a dictionary, but other than very basic stuff, my spoken is hopeless. But I watch movies with spoken German (usually WWII movies) and it always bugs me because I feel like I *should* be able to understand it.

Moving on to food-ish things, I made a batch of scotch eggs (baked) for lunch on Sunday, which we finished off for breakfast yesterday.

Dinner tonight is potato sausage and mashed rutabaga (an Ohman family Christmas Eve tradition), and tomorrow we’re having beef tenderloin. And probably mashed potatoes, because its Christmas, dammit, I’m having spuds.

Need to stop at PetWhatever on the way home tonight, hopefully they’ll be open, and get something for the dogs. I don’t love them enough to share the good beef, and I don’t think we have any more shank bones in the freezer.

Ron and Robin are home today. I wanted to take half or all of today off, but I ended up taking time off to deal with the car instead. But I think I earned some comp time going to Springfield last week (we didn’t get back to the office until 8 pm), so I might take part of New Year’s Eve off. Or not, since Ron has to work, too. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they get turned loose early anyway. So I’m waffling.

Anyhow, Ron did finally get InDesign working on Sunday. Keeping our fingers crossed that it really is fixed-fixed, and not just temporary good behavior.

On Saturday he made sure all the blocks we’ve bought were in his spreadsheet (got a bunch in the mail Friday evening), and numbered them all. We tried test-printing some of the larger ones, which led us to the conclusion that we need stronger roller springs on my press and/or to do some other adjustments.

Saturday morning, before we were started playing with letterpress, we went out shopping for woodworking. Robin is making us some trays to store wood furniture and borders, and some for himself for miniatures. We were debating how to do the joints in the sides. We weren’t sure the nice (and expensive) router bit that would do thin finger joints would work in our current router table, and a new table to use with the router that the bit would fit in was out of the budget, so we decided to go with a simpler joint, which I think he’s cutting today.

Robin found lumber to rip down for the sides in the stash, so all we had to buy were brads, a brad driver, and masonite for the bottoms. Ron and Robin cut the bottoms Sunday, and Robin cut the sides (many sides) yesterday.  I was thinking of paying Robin in enough lumber to build his trays, but since he found the lumber for the sides, looks like it’ll be cash or credit at the Bank of Mom.

Robin put the Christmas tree up Saturday morning, which led to a trip to Ace for lights. Apparently we got rid of the lights last year. That actually worked out fine, as all Christmas stuff was 40% off, and they still had plenty of strings of white LED lights. Robin also got some trees (meant for train layout/lighted village setups) for miniature wargaming, since he’s fine with flocked pine-ish things.

Last week, maybe a week and a half ago, I finished my mostly-black socks that I did the gusset increases and heels twice on. They’re still too tight. I’m not sure if I’m keeping them or giving them as Christmas presents to somebody with slightly smaller feet. Started another pair in Socks That Rock Mediumweight, this time I’m doing a less fussy/fitted foot, and using a basic toe-up gusset/heel, that fits fine in STR lightweight in my red/flame socks. I’m about ready to turn the heels on those, but realized that I should have been working on Christmas knitting instead.

Friday night or Saturday morning I started a pair of mittens for somebody for Christmas. I’ve finished the cuffs and am about halfway up the palms (working cuff-up this time). No pictures yet. Hopefully I can finish them tomorrow. I also dug out the wave mittens I made earlier this year, and I just got my brother and sister’s addresses.

Yeah, I’m a little slow on that whole Christmas-prep thing.

Staying home tomorrow, since I only have the one day off, and traffic, dogs, possibly weather, and too many years of going too many places on Christmas day, yadda yadda yadda. Not sure if we’ll be knitting, printing, something else, or a little of everything.

Pasties and Printing

Friday night started out with a trip to the Schaumburg Rockler woodworking store for threaded inserts, so we could bolt the presses down, and an oak board to bolt the little press down to.  After dinner (Chinese, Hunan Beijing), we went to Ace Hardware for bolts. When we got home Ron warmed up by setting up the board for the small press, then put the big press in place on the workbench. We had a small oops in location, as the press runs into the blind in operation. Robin took the board downstairs to trim to length, use the router on the edges, and finish it while  I started setting up my press for Christmas cards. It involved a fair amount of flailing around, but I finally got it done.

Saturday morning I started printing. Several test cards and 50 cards didn’t take long to do, and covered most of the horizontal surfaces in the room, which includes the 2’x4′ table we’d put up opposite the bench for the paper cutter and creaser.  Meanwhile, Ron was working on calling cards for Xaplet Minor.

Saturday afternoon was Cookie Lab and the vague skeleton of a MuseCon meeting. Robin made ginger cookies (not gingersnaps, he wanted something more chewy), while Ron and I socialized. We headed home about dinner time.

Saturday evening I carefully removed the Santa Claus block from the chase for my press, filled in the space where it was, and put the words “Merry” above and “Christmas” below.

Sunday morning started out with breakfast at Billy’s. Over breakfast we discussed what to do for dinner, and pasties came up. Robin agreed to make pasties under my guidance, and then Ron came up with idea of curry pasties, made with ground lamb. Robin countered with ham and cheese pasties. And the next stop was the grocery store.  Ron also suggested that  “Pasty Lab” could be fun.

Pasty fillings procured and dropped off at home, Ron and I ventured out to Office Whatsit for bulldog clips, to string on a line to dry printed things on. I’d first thought of binder clips, but I was afraid they’d leave pinchy marks.  Unfortunately, Office Depot only has packages of 36 bulldog clips on-line, not in their Arlington Heights store. So we got a package of tiny binder clips and a package of coated large paper clips. Also a couple more cartridges for the label printer, and some more inexpensive cardstock for things like test prints and putting on the top and bottom of a stack to be cut. I suggested not-white to make it easier to tell from the good cardstock I bought, and the Neenah Astrobrights “beige” looked too yellow, so we got light gray.

Back home again, Ron strung up a line by the spare bedroom door, over the table with the cutter and creaser:


It’s hung down low enough I can reach it to hang things on.

Then I started printing the words on my cards. The Santa was printed in red, the text in black. This is a test print, before I had the ink quite evenly distributed on the ink disc, so the letters are a little light. Its printed on French Paper “Smart White”, which is a very bright white in person. The inside is blank:


Folded, the card is the size of a quarter-sheet of paper. After cleaning up my press, I went downstairs to help begin pasty production. While Robin and I were baking, Ron set up and printed samples of all our type (which he’d actually started setting up Saturday night), as well as some of the cuts (image blocks), as you can kinda see in the first picture above, hanging on the line.

We need to get at least one font of a nice large type. “Merry Christmas” is in 14-point, and my Parsons is 18-pt (waiting for my spaces . . . not patiently), I’m thinking something in the neighborhood of 30-point, maybe 24.

Pasty Purist Warning

Pasty Purist probably want to just look away for a while.

We made Stupid Amounts ™ of pasties.

First up was the curry pasties. We’d gotten ground lamb at Eurofresh, as well as Dal Tadka, which is yellow lentils in a curry sauce (Swad brand, microwave and eat). I chopped up a big onion, and we cooked that with the lamb, then added the Dal Tadka. It wasn’t a lot of legumes, and we were out of canned white beans, but Robin found another Swad meal of garbanzos in sauce. He added that, and cut up paneer (amazingly tasteless Indian cheese), and let it cook to get some flavor into the paneer and to reduce.

As I was finishing chopping the onion for the curry, I had the “duh” moment of using the food processor for onions. So we did that for the next two flavors. Which meant the onions were finer than I usually cut them for pasties, but it was much faster.

(Understand that we were actually working on all three varieties of pasties we made simultaneously, in various stages for each type, not linearly as described)

For the ham and cheese pasties we cooked the moisture out of the onions, and diced the canadian bacon or eastern-European bacon-ish hammy yummy pig substance. Once the onions were done we added the pig, let it cool a bit, and added the shredded cheese.

For the traditional pasties we had beef (coarsely ground skirt steak), a half a rutabaga some potato in chunks, and onions. No carrots and we limited the roots in general to try to keep the carbs under control. I sautee the onions and meat together, and boil the roots until mostly done for pasties, as it happens.

I demonstrated how to make the first double-batch of crust, then put that in Robin’s charge.

I rolled and filled the curry and ham and cheese pasties, although Robin had said he’d do the ham and cheese and traditional pasties. But I had him helping on the curry pasties, so it seemed fair. I did a couple traditional ones, then turned it over to him while I took a break. Then he rolled out dough while I filled – which my wrists appreciated.

We made the pasties small, so that a dozen fit on a half-sheet pan. We had a 14 curry, 8 ham and cheese. and 17 traditional. We ate three of the traditional for dinner, and about half of the remaining traditional and curry went into the freezer. I had a ham and cheese for breakfast, it was good. So was the curry one I had for lunch. Fortunately, the filling seems to have mellowed, or the crust helped tame it, I wasn’t sure from tasting the filling alone if it was going to be too spicy for me.

Pasty Purists can now safely resume reading

Purist-safe summary: we made 17 mini traditional pasties, a little light on the carbs in the filling. They were yummy.

Yummy, but could have used more black pepper. And I’d forgotten that we were out of ground celery seed. But not-quite-perfectly seasoned homemade pasties are still pretty good.

And before the last batch of pasties was baked I’d done the dishes. Go me. And now Robin knows how to make pasties, at least as far as I can demonstrate, since the only recipe I have is for the crust.

Stiff back this morning. I think its complaining about all the pasties. Last night Ron said he hadn’t meant Robin and I should do “Pasty Lab” right then and there

After dinner I went upstairs and cut and creased paper for more cards. I’d been thinking of doing the snow/winter goddess in blue, and I thought she’d look good on the grey paper. Although both it and the better white paper are both 110 pound, the gray is only half to 2/3 the thickness of the white. I suspect the ink is going to take longer to dry on it than the white, as it does on the other, mystery cardstock we had floating around the house. Anyway, here’s the block locked up in the chase:


I think I’m going to put “Happy Holidays” on the inside of the card for these. Our blue ink is pretty dark, I’m thinking of lightening it up some for the image, and using it straight up/darker on the inside for the words. I’m probably going to do them in two passes anyway for various reasons.

For the white cards I cut & creased last night I’m thinking of using one or more of the two-color sets of blocks we have. We have holly leaves with berries, a wreath with, IIRC, berries, and poinsettias and candles. I’ll have to mix up some green, and be careful about setup and registration for the second passes, but I’m gaining confidence.