Playing With Knives (Weyrling Lesson)

Xanadu Weyr - Weyrling Barracks

A long and roughly oblong cavern, about a third of the space is open, used for classes or chores as required. The rest of the space is filled with couches of varying sizes, all with plenty of space between them. Some couches are obviously intended for the very young weyrlings while the largest ones at the back are for the older weyrlings.

It's another lovely late spring day - the sun is shining, the bird are singing, the breeze is cooling. But class is being held inside again. Rough, oblong wooden tables have been set up in the classroom part of the weyrling barracks, folding chairs placed all around it, spaced to give the Weyrlings elbow room. The surface, they'll note, is marred with digs, nicks and scores: these are not banquet tables! Stacked all down the center of the tables are thick, stiff hides, the hair has been removed and they've been tanned but that's about it. Nothing else has been done to treat or finish them, so their outlines still roughly bear the shape of the animal from whence it came -with holes that once were eyes or horns - some have tails, even. Spools of leather cord are also set out and among the AWLMs waiting for the weyrlings to arrive and take a seat is V'dim.

One guess what they're doing today, and Mur'dah seems to know it immediately when he walks in. Brows lift and then he grins, wide and /happy/. He even mutters a 'Yes!' under his breath for this exciting lesson. He has been looking /forward/ to this. So much.

Such a lovely day. Luraoth is playing outside. Soriana, not so much. She arrives with the rest, looking over the long tables with a curious tilt of her head. Hide, in plain sight! After a moment's consideration, she shrugs slightly and heads over to find herself a place to sit. Like, say, that one.

Ka'el is having a case of spring fever! The lovely weather beeeegs him to go outside and play. And on his way to lunch earlier, he saw his old friends outside in a pickup game of what could be called soccer. And he peeked his head into the forge just for a second. And right now he feels as if he could run outside and spend the last hours of daylight doing nothing but goofing off. But .. nope. Instead, he is in the barracks now, eyeing the tables and chairs and hides with tails… yeah he has no clue. In fact, the further along he gets into weyrlinghood, the more realizes just how clueless he is about dragons and riding in comparison to most of the other weyrlings! "Good day, Weyrlingmaster," he greets chipperly to the old greenrider, plopping into a chair across the table and one seat over from Soriana.

Idrissa was enjoying being outside like the others, mostly because Tahryth was having running, chasing after trundle bugs of all things. She pauses at the entrance and brushes herself off, perhaps a bit of dirt clinging to her for whatever reason. All the items are caught sight of and she blinks while peering around, a soft ah escaping her before she is moving forward, settling upon a seat next to Mur'dah and offering him a slight smile before letting her attention turn back to the things upon the table. It takes her a few moments but it soon dawns on her what may be going on.

Today's class starts with presents! After greeting the Weyrlings (like they've seen them not long ago, but, y'know, it's the polite thing to do), V'dim and the AWLMs distribute wide, flat wooden cases to each of them. These are nicely finished in polished cherrywood with metal hinges on one end, handle and clasps on the other. While these are set before each weyrling, V'dim says, "Today you will begin learning how to work with leather so you can start on making your first set of riding straps." THUNK goes Ka'el's case in front of the bronzeling with a dry chuckle accompanying it. "Good day, Ka'el," the old Weyrlingmaster responds, amused. "These are yours - gifts from Xanadu Weyr and necessary for your continuance in the Weyrling program. Go ahead and open them, look them over, but be careful. The blades are very sharp." When opened, they'll see the inside is leather-lined in different shades - depending on which box they got - and expertly-stitched, the tools and knives each nestled inside of a stiff loop that keeps it in place. There are blades of all shapes - some wide and flat, others curved and pointed, some tiny v-shaped blades (there's even one wheel-blade - think pizza-cutter) and an array of blunt-tipped, large eyed needles of varying sizes, some of which are straight, others curved. There are also several awls with points of varying sizes, scissors and a metal, squared-tipped hammer among other things needed for working leather.

Mur'dah turns his head to greet his fellow weyrlings, even going so far as to nudge out the chairs beside him for those that choose to sit in them. When his box is set down he's quick to open it, and blink. "Pink?" He got the pink set? For real? "Anyone want to trade?" he hisses to his companions, even as he's reaching out to run a finger almost reverntly over the tools. "These are…so…this is so awesome," he says, beaming up at V'dim. "Thank you." And he almost wiggles in his seat. Can they start can they start can they start when can they ride omg!

Soriana looks up across the table and smiles to Ka'el, then returns her attention to what's in front of her and reaches out to brush her fingers lightly along one of the hides. "Alternate career number twenty seven: Leatherworker." She smirks, then looks up to accept her case from one of the AWLMs. "Thanks," she says, and as V'dim speaks, she opens it to take a look inside. Pointy things! And… other pointy things, as well as things-to-be-used-with pointy things. Oh, and sharp but not actually all that pointy things. "Neat…" she murmurs, and then glances sideways to Mur'dah and his pink case… briefly. And then she pretends she didn't notice, because hers is orange, and she's juuuust fiiiine with that.

Ooh, look at that box! Look at this hinges! Ka'el's head lowers level to the box, which he turns around so he can geta awesome expert view of those…hinges. So nicely made! Shiny. Oh, and V'dim is talking, so he'd better listen! He lifts his head back up to a normal level, eyes upon the Weyrlingmaster. Wait. These are theirs as in … theirs to keep? His box! He opens it once given the ok to, and after turning it back around so the front is facing himself. And inside…GASP! So many tools! So many blades! So finely crafted! His eyes are blue saucers as he examines the knives, not hesitant to touch, though he is very careful. "Where were these crafted? Were they made here? Were they imported from Telgar? Do you know who made them? Wow…look at this craftsmanship." Yeah, somewhere in his awed rant there probably was meant to be a thank you. As for color. He hardly notices the stain of his! The color of red wine. Quick Mur'dah, switch while he's distracted!

Idrissa is quiet while eyeing he hides in front of her on the table for a few moments. Why does that one look sort of runnerish in a way? She makes a face before her attention flicks to the case that is set before her. There is a slight pause before she opens it to eye the tools curiously, a soft oh escaping her at the sight of the ones within and she leans against the table to half poke at one of the smooth handles. The color upon hers is a deep emerald green and a faint glance is sent towards Mur'dah to catch sight of the pink case. Oh no, she is sure not changing! She looks a bit amused and pokes Mur'dah and points over at Ka'el case, with a faint grin seen. Looky he is distracted! Her gaze flicks back to V'dim and the AWLM crew whom all get a warm smile. "Thank you." Is said happily, she's never been given anything like this before!

V'dim doesn't care if Mur'dah trades, but he does note wryly, "When you've had your lesson on staining leather, you may alter the color if you'd like." He's seen these reactions turn after turn, but enjoys their delight nonetheless. "Check the stamp," is his answer to Ka'el. 'Handcrafted in Xanadu' is tooled in expert script upon the leather near the right hand corner. "You're welcome," he continues, "just handle them with care and treat them as valuable (because they are) because that will be the only set the Weyr will provide." Now then. The leather. Obviously it is from bovine, ovine, porcine, caprine, wherry (wherhide?) and possibly runner, but unlikely. All are in varying conditions. "You have quite a few examples of leather before you. Go ahead and take some hides, look them over and tell me what you see."

Mur'dah sees how distracted Ka'el is, and the teen slooowly begins to inch his hand out, seeking to make a silent and careful switch of the boxes. He'll probably get caught but he's got to try. And whether he succeeds or fails, he'll then be reaching for leather to touch and feel, absorbed in the lesson.

If Ka'el doesn't (unintentionally) trade with Mur'dah, maybe Jnelle will. Pink is bound to be just her color, right? Either way, Soriana is content with her own case, carefully shutting it again so she doesn't do anything accidental with those sharp and pointy things as she reaches for some of the leather in front of her. Hmmm. She runs her fingers over the hides, picking them up off the table and feeling how they move against her fingers. "…this one needs oiling," she mutters of a former bovine in mediocre condition, then sets it back down to pick up a piece of caprine leather instead. "Oh, but this one's nice." She sets it down, then reaches out again to straighten it. "Awfully thin, though."

"Hey, get your own." Ka'el does indeed spy that sneaking hand of Mur'dah, assuming he's trying to take one of his superexcellentamazingomgawd knives! He gives the other boy a mock glare while shielding the knife he holds away from snatching fingers! With a smirk, he replaces the weap- .. no, tool… in its rightful place, looking rather smug that it was all indeed made right here in Xanadu. It had to have been Orik's hand! … It's a struggle to refocus his thoughts away from metalwork and back on…what are they learning about again? Oh yeah. Leather! Leather. He shifts nearer to the array of hides and pulls two towars him. Sooo … he's no tanner, but he oes as instructed. Touch. Feel. Look. Ponder. "This one is rougher than the other," he says, comparing his two. "Ah. No. Not rougher. Tougher. Doesn't move as easy."

Idrissa shakes her head as she watches Mur'dah try to get hold of Ka'el case. A slight grin is een before she is moving to look over the leathers before her. She pushes a few by and soon stops when picking up a piece of the wherry and lets her fingers wiggle and press through it.

Squabbles and trading is bound to happen. Besides, they need to look their kits over. The Weyrlingmaster waits only a few minutes for that to occur however, before starting the class. "Your powers of observation are skills that will prolong your lives," intones V'dim as he paces behind the weyrlings and their leather samples. It's a prod and an encouragement all on one: Don't hold back Little Weyrlings, no answer is too simple or bizarre! "Correct," he says to both Soriana and Ka'el, "Depending on which animal hide, and how much the leather was scraped, you'll see varying thickness of hide." Pause, "You'll also note that cured leather, much like dragon hide, when left unattended will dry, harden and stiffen. Who knows what happens to leather if allowed to become like that?"

Mur'dah snorts softly, looking around hopefully for someone else to trade with. But alas, he's denied at every turn so he's stuck with the pink. Lame. Then he's focused on the lesson again, catching the next question posed by V'dim. "It breaks? Like, cracks and stuff? That'd be…bad, if that happened to your straps." Grimace.

Are their lives prolonged because observation is useful, or because if they don't develop those skills V'dim will see to it that their lives are shortened? Some questions, Soriana does not ask. She continues to investigate the hides in front of her, looking down the table to see the ones beyond her immediate reach. When Mur'dah answers V'dim's question, she nods her agreement. Sounds right to her! "It gets weak spots." Danger spots. She bends a piece of hide, trying to see if it bends evenly. "But this one bends fine once it gets started, it's just… really stiff." And thick.

Ka'el's eyes turn to V'dim while he continues to touch and feel the leathers, moving on to a smaller skin. This one still has hairs! As Mur'dah gives his answer to the question, he nods a little. Hard dry leather probably get cracked and broken! "Probably doesn't look too good either. … Not that lookin' good is the most important thing." Probably an important thing … to some!

Idrissa knows very well what will happen to leather that is not taken care of. "It'll crack and split." For a dragon that would be very painful for sure. Though she keeps that to herself while she slowly works at the hide a bit. "Have to oil it, and keep it in good condition to make sure it doesn't crack or wear wrong." Sort of like with runner saddles and tack. Rissa will offer up comments now and then, and follow through with what directions they may be given with what they are to do the lesson as well. This should be interesting!

V'dim won't need to see to shortening anything if powers of observation are lacking. Life will do that for him. "Exactly," he says approvingly to Mur'dah, "And besides being easier to crack, it will irritate dragon hide." He nods at Soriana and allows, "It does bend, but look closely at where you bent it. Stiff leather has to strain to bend." He points with a gnarled finger, "See that light line there? That is the beginning of a stress mark. You want to avoid that. Also-" he lifts his voice just enough to carry to the rest of the class, "moisture like rain and perspiration will swell leather, allowing it to overstretch and/or dry too hard. Weight and stretching puts stress on the leather, so you don't want it brittle. You want it supple so it will bend easily, conforming to your lifemate's form. And waterproof so it does not absorb moisture. For this we use mink oil. Go ahead and use some on the stiff leather. Work it in good and tell me what changes you note." Small, lidded jars of that are on the table. It's a finely-whipped oil, thickened to a buttery consistency with a pleasantly-musky scent.

Mur'dah listens with rapt attention, and when the next task is given the brownling tackles it with gusto and enthusiasm, which will continue throughout the lesson despite him being quiet for most of it.

Soriana peers in closely where V'dim indicates, then nods. "But… it's thicker than the others. Isn't that sort of stronger? When it's not bending, anyway?" Then again, when is a strap not bending? She frowns consideringly, then reaches for the jar of oil and begins to work it in as directed. Well, it's certainly shiny! Rub, rub, rub… she gives the leather a test flex. "It's a little easier now…" she says, still sounding a bit uncertain. Maybe that means it needs more of that mink oil. It's worth a try, anyway.

Nosy Ka'el wants to see that light line there too, and so he moves closer and leans to get a better look. Stressmark, noted. Stressmark … bad. Also noted! He leans back and moves a few feet to touch and bend at more hides, absorbing information as it's given. "Dryin' leather off fast enough after it gets wet will avoid that, then?" Keep towels handy. He keeps a hold of a particularly stiff hide to use the oil on. He too snags a jar to unscrew and dabs his fingertips in, bringing it to his nose to tentatively sniff before touching it the leather. He rubs and massages, working it in a while. "It is a little easier now. Softer. .. Not by a whole lot, but gettin' there." Eyes flit to Sori, then, questionigly, to V'dim. "Would too much make it too slippery to be of use?"

"It is stronger," V'dim agrees with Soriana. "When you make your straps you'll want two to three layers of that thickest hide for the dragon's harness," he adds before falling silent to watch them work the leather. He shakes his head about oil making the leather slippery, "The leather is porous and will readily absorb the oil at first. This may take several days, allowing it to soak in between application of oil. Note how it is darkening the leather. If you see uneven spots that remain light despite your adding oil, then something, perhaps glue, was splattered on the hide. That's something you also want to avoid. You want to continue oiling until it will take no more and then wipe the surface until it gleams." A pale glance is sent to Ka'el. "Wet is unavoidable for dragon harnesses, but if you've oiled them properly, wipe them down promptly afterwards, and hang them to dry, they can take some damp. You'll want a dry place to store them - a locker or closet that doesn't allow humidity in as well." They'll go over storage in more detail later. For now he instructs them on the basics. "When selecting the leather to make straps, look for thick, even leather, avoid flaws and thin spots like scars or stretched spots. Go ahead and use your roller blade to cut strips from your sample." There are marking utensils and measuring sticks on the table for them to use if they want to.

Oiling leather is kind of like oiling dragons, except there's no voice in her head telling her which spots are itchy. Soriana tilts her head slightly, listening to V'dim as she works the oil into the leather. "What about the stressmarks? Is there anything you can do about those?" It's not like this is actually a dragon, after all. The hide's not going to actually heal and grow new if she takes good care of it. Rub, rub… okay, good enough. Time for the next part: cutting! She sets the oiled piece aside and selects a different one, one that looks suitably thick and even… to her inexperienced eye. She marks a nice neat line on it, then opens her case and selects the rollerblade. Okay! Here goes. She'll just set it on the surface and push… which is fine, until it encounters a rough spot and wobbles sideways. "Whups." At least she's going slow.

Oh, so that's how it works. Oil. Absorb. Oil. Absorb. Til the leather can't absorb any more. Ka'el nods lightly, still rubbing that oil into the hide in his hand as V'dim continues about wetness and storing. Huh. Kanekith is going to need… a lot of leather. The bigger the dragon, the more material! And the more material, the larger the storage space. Hm. He looks back to the hide as they're instructed to cut. Cut? He zooms back to his box and, after rubbing his hands thoroughly on the sides of his pants and shirt, opens it up to get that roller blade thing he saw. Blade, stic, and marker. Check! Now, for a hide. One is pushed to the side. Another, after a few touches, dismissed. That one is so thin, it has a hole torn down the middle! But this one, he..oh it's just right. Maybe. He slaps that measuring stick out, squints one eye, and gets to measuring and marking. Then, keeping the stick down to use as a straight edge, he stabs his rolling knife in, and begins to roll/saw back and forth, cutting a strip. Ooh, it's like cutting dough! Very tough dough. That looks like an animal. "So .. we make all've this ourselves?"

"Sometimes the oil will mask them," V'dim answers of stress marks while looming behind Soriana and watching her progress, "but you'll want to keep an eye on them. If they pucker, stretch or discolor further you'll want to splice a new piece in." Her hand wobbles and his mouth pulls in a smile that looks more like a grimace as he kindly assures her - and all of them, "With practice, you'll develop the hand and finger muscles you need to hold the tools steady." Or they won't and they'll have to buy all their straps, a costly option. "Yes, to graduate Weyrlinghood you will," he answers Ka'el with a nod. "After that it's up to you how you get new ones." He moves on, pausing behind Jnelle to correct how she's gripping her rollerblade. "Try with your finger on top here and apply pressure." Like… in that little finger-shaped groove she's not using. He gives them some time to experiment with cutting, then gives them their next tip, "You'll find needles won't penetrate the leather without a lot of effort, so you'll use the awl to make the holes before stitching together with the leather cord." And he demonstrates this using the hammer to taptaptap on an awl, making several holes about an eighth of an inch apart along the edge of an already cut strap.

Soriana nods about those weak spots, then frowns for her wobble. "It's different," she says as she nods to V'dim's encouragement, then tries again… though when he moves on from behind her, she relaxes somewhat. Not having him lurking over her shoulder is definitely a relief! The next attempt goes somewhat better, and with practice, she starts getting the hang of it. "Not to mention fixing them…" she adds to Ka'el without looking up, cutting another strap before looking up for the next bit. Hole punching, huh? She puts away the cutter and takes out the awl and hammer. Her first tap is too delicate, but while the leather isn't as tough as dragonhide, the awl isn't as sharp as a syringe, and she has to increase the power a few times before she actually makes a hole.

A graduation test, eh? Well, Ka'el will certainly have the hang of it by then! … One hopes. Or is he destined to be a 4 turn Candidate? -.-; His cut definitely could use some work. Perfect it is not. It isn't even great. But … hey, it's cut! His attention turns to V'dim again, watching him for the next instruction, and watching as he helps Jnelle position her fingers. And smirking as she still grips the tool with all the grace of a gradeschool child with a crayon. But oh, isn't it miraculous how when V'dim moves on and eyes are off of her, her grasp soon rights itself? Making leathers. Fixing leathers.. Ka'el nods a little at Soriana's addition. So. Much. To. Learn! But this is fun stuff. Especially now that hammers are coming out! He eagerly gets his from his toolbox, turning it in his hand as he mimics V'dim and positions the awl over the leather. Hammering he can definitely do. BAM!! AWL, MEET HAMMER!! "Sha-.. Uh…" So the point wasn't to hammer it in like a nail? "…Not the same as in the forge.."

V'dim is making his way around the table, demonstrating multiple times how to cut and/or pierce the leather with hammer and awl for those who need it. He actually smirks when Ka'el nails his leather to the table. Now they know why the tables are so marked up. He gives them a good long time to practice with the leather before he demonstrates how to thread one of the needles and stitch two pierced straps together by lining up the holes and passing the needle through the first hole, down, making a loop on the far side, and then passing the threaded needle through the made loop and pulling back up until it is very tight. "This is called a lockstitch," he tells them. "The two threads are intertwined and keep each other from moving. Go ahead and practice cutting, piercing and stitching - and over the next few sevendays as well when you have time. Basic patterns for straps will be provided when you are ready and we'll begin on your first set for your lifemates."

Now they know! Thanks for demonstrating, Ka'el. Soriana looks up at the thunk of it, staring a moment. "Not so much," she agrees with him, then shakes her head and lowers it to more or less hide the grin as she returns her attention to her own work. The next punch is quicker, now that she's got an idea how much force to use, and she continues practicing until V'dim moves on to the next step. Oh, lockstitch? There's the grin again. She knows this! Well. More or less. It's bound to be different when the hide isn't warm and layered over muscle. "Yessir," she says, still grinning. Maybe some of Mur'dah's excitement has rubbed off. Soriana reaches for her second strap, putting some holes in it so she can start stitching the two together to make a double thickness… strip of leather. Okay, so it's not a very exciting project… yet.

Ok! Lesson learned. Ka'el pulls his awl out from the wood and examines and damage he might've done to it. Not too bad! He exhales a breath of relief and tries again.. gentler this time. Tap tap tap. Not bang bang BANG. Hole after hole after hole. oooh now he's getting the swing of things! He grins to himself, glancing at the progress of his fellow weyrlings before focusing on his own work and the stitching that's being taught. Wait. Sewing? Needle threading? At least it's not as tiny as clothing needles, thank goodness, but they're still smaller than he'd like. He tries to thread the needle. Fail. Tries again. Double fail. Squints an eye and tries a third time. Almost! He gets help from helpful Jnelle, who gets it on the first try and thus earns a face. Which in turn gets a giggle before she flits away. Ka'el smirks an fiiinally gets to try out stitching! "Wait.. how was that again?" He glances a Mur'dah. And over at a fumbling Al'cas. Then peeeers over at Soriana to try to copy her. He'll most definitely need much practice at this!

There are MANY ways to practice threading needles. Ka'el will no doubt experience a variety of them throughout life. V'dim is patient, helping where he's needed, but for the most part adopting a hands off policy and allowing them to succeed or fail. They'll get it eventually. And so the afternoon goes, with leather working practice until the permission is given for those who would like, to go enjoy some free time in the sun.

Yep, definitely different than stitching live hide, but… mostly, easier. Once she's got the holes in place, Soriana stitches the pieces together pretty easily… except for the places where she doesn't have the holes lined up quite right and so the pieces bulge against each other or need more awling. She glances up across the table at Ka'el, and at his project. "Loop it around the other way," she suggests. "I mean, you can do it that way, but it'll be easier if you do it the other." She offers a smile, then glances after Jnelle before returning her gaze to her own project. Time for more holes! Precise ones, this time, so first it's time for measuring. Nice as the day outside may be, she'll stick around for a while and practice this, even once their temporary freedom is granted. Luraoth's going to need a lot of riding strap.

"I'm all over easier…" Ka'el smirks as he readjusts the way he's supposed to be sewing. Loop and pull and tug, right? And a .. tug some more and a loop the other way? Sigh. This will take some time, and he's lucky that he has much of it left to perfect this artform. And so he continues to fumble and buble and have a little success in stitching, engrossing himself in his work for a good long while. That is…til they're set free, at which point he'll pack away his tools, store his box near Kanekith's couch, and after unsucessfully trying to lure Soriana out too, he heads out with a handful of others to enjoy what's left of the day with them and their (plus his own, of course) dragons.

Admittedly, once the AWMLs are hovering less, Soriana's labors over the leather include a fair amount of talking to the others who've stuck around. She even shifts her chair to be closer to them, discussing various things with Reina and T'bor while she practices this leatherworking thing. Luraoth will enjoy the sunlight for her… and does, playing with the other dragons and giving occasional commentary back to Sori.

Add a New Comment
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 License