At Last

At last, it was a sunny warm day for the weekly club fly.  According to the weather report on my phone, the winds were around 8 mph.  Which means it could be anywhere from 5 to 12 mph.  I selected my kites and set off for the beach.  As I drove to the parking lot, I noticed quite a few kites in the sky, mostly small deltas.  And as I walked back up the road to the path to the beach, I could hear the buzz of an “old school” dual line stunt kite.  I also noticed the wind felt a little stronger than 8 mph.

There were more people flying than had been in quite some time.  The kites in the air included three small deltas, three 6-7 foot deltas, a set of Martin Lester legs and a penguin.  And the satisfying “old school” buzz was from a Joel Scholz fish stunt kite.  And then I saw the movement of the sand.  It was blowing across the surface of the beach in waves.  A clue that the wind was much higher than the weather report.  I got out my trusty wind meter and it was blowing 17-20 mph.

18.2 MPH
18.2 MPH

There was not a thing in my bag that would safely fly in those winds.  And I stood there thinking of all the high wind kites that were sitting at home.  I was not the only person there with the same dilemma and so we stood around and talked about many things and waited, hoping the winds would die down little before it was time to go home.  Just before everyone left, I took a chance and put up my Waif train.  The wind was about 15 mph at this time and I had seen other trains flying in strong winds.  It bobbed and weaved quite a bit and pulled quite a bit but it did stay up without damage.  So I can truthfully say I flew a kite on this blustery day.

Later in the day, I returned to my kite building.  It’s going to be a little more complicated than my past kite projects.  And take up more space than just my craft room.  Already I’ve lost the use of my dining room table.  I can easily see the guest room being next.  The target date for completion is our local kite festival at the end of October.  Wish me luck.

The Dining Room Table
The Dining Room Table

Fair Winds All.

I Must Apologize

I must apologize for letting this blog go unpublished for so long.  Bad weather, family events, health issues and just life got in the way.  And time flew by.  Unfortunately, our kites weren’t flying half as much.  We missed several of our favorite kite festivals.  Even our local kite festival experienced its first cancellation and 25 years.  As I attempt to resurrect this blog, it seems appropriate that it is also the start of National Kite Month.

We’ve managed to get to the beach a couple of times this past week.  The wind was low and gusty but the sun was warm.  I have acquired some new kites recently and finally got a chance to fly them.  One is a custom Rokkaku built by Randy Tom.  It is titled The Cat and is #2.  Number 1 is owned by my friend Brett Dixon.  It is a striking kite, looking like a tattoo in the sky.

The Cat

Another is a train of kites I built at a kite builders workshop in Raleigh, NC last October.  The workshop brought in Tasmanian kite builder Robert Brasington to show us how to build a couple of his more popular kites and some wind spinners.  I opted to build the Waif Train.  It is a multi-colored series of smaller kites with long organza tails.  The complete train is made up of six kites.  However, I’m sad to say I’ve only completed five.  The sixth is still sitting on my sewing table.  But I have flown the train a couple of times and it has always drawn appreciative looks.  I am rather proud of it.

Brasington Waif Train

When all else failed, we brought out our collection of Skates.  We have all the color varieties and enjoy getting them up as a group.  The Skate was designed by Paul De Bakker and is made by Into The Wind Kites.  It is a low wind, no wind and indoor kite.  It goes up with almost no effort and hangs in the sky.  I’m beginning to sound like a commercial.  But it is handy to have at least one of these kites in the kite bag at all times.

The Three Skates

Along with sharing what we are flying and when and how, I’m going to document my latest kite building venture.  I have thought a long time about what project I wanted to undertake and have decided on building a train of five kites.  The idea began during the annual American Kitefliers Association convention in Nags Head, NC.  It was re-enforced after building the Brasington Waif train.  Now the project begins and, hopefully, it will be completed before our local kite festival in October.

I hope anyone interested in kite flying will enjoy my ramblings and others will read this, become interested, and try kite flying.

Fair Winds All.

Two Weeks And Not A Kite Has Left The Bag

I guess you could say this is just a part of winter.  The weather is either too cold and/or wet for flying or its beautiful and there’s no wind.  Really it’s been grey and rainy a lot lately.  While you would think this is good weather to work in the craft room making kites, I just haven’t been inspired.  It’s taken a long time but I did finally finish the kite for the nursery.  The one my daughter asked for last summer.  It’s not that it was too complicated.  I think my perfectionism got in the way as I worked on it.  Anyway, it is done and it looks pretty good.

Mom & Dad (custom kite)

I have my next kite project cut out ready to sew.  A pocket sled.  However, it is going on hold.  There is something new and different that has moved up to the front of the line.  Something I’ve never tried before and haven’t read or seen anyone try lately.  Last night I stayed up way too late cutting out the template for this project.  I’ll make a smaller prototype first just to see if it will fly.  If it does, then I will start on the real thing.  This sounds like I really know what I’m doing.  Oh, so far from the truth.

I added a “new” kite to my vintage kite collection.  A Joel Scholz Butterfighter, signed and dated June, 1991.  There’s a little bit of fine tuning that needs to be done to the sparring but it should not be a problem.  I am lucky that I have a kite shop close by and they have just about every kite known to man.  I was able to compare my kite with a brand new Butterfighter and see what needs to be done.  Believe it or not, everything I need is found at the local hardware store.  None of this specialty stuff that you can’t get from anyone except the manufacturer.  Just dowels and O-rings.  When I get it ready and have the day to fly, I’ll have photos.

That’s about all for now.  Hopefully, things will start to change and I’ll have exciting kite news week after week after week.  Until then…

Fair Winds all

Sewing And Cutting, Sewing And Cutting

Wanted to fly today but, once again, the wind wouldn’t cooperate.  We have a couple of new Skydog kites to test fly.  Tried to fly them a couple of days ago before the sun set.  While the wind was stronger than today, it was not strong enough to get one of the kites into the air.  The other took some work but did eventually fly and fly quite well.  It just hung in the sky above our heads, no waving, weaving or wobbling.  Maybe tomorrow we can try again.

So instead of flying, I worked on a kite for the upcoming kite festival workshop.  I got my kite early so that I could get my kite finished for use as a sample.  Because of this, I’m moving rapidly into the position of a perfectionist.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not competing in the Nationals so it really doesn’t matter.  This is a fun, good-looking kite and I should be having fun making it.  And why is my kite a sample kite?  I have been given the assignment of workshop assistant instead of workshop participant.  Apparently people believe I already have the skills for a beginner class and have moved on.  We will see.  In one week, it will be only be a year since I made my first kite.

The applique sewing is complete and I am cutting away the unwanted layers of ripstop.  Tomorrow I have to get some more thread for hemming and pockets.  Then I need to do repair work on some of my kites so they will be ready for the festival.  Yes, I have been procrastinating.  I hate repair work.  Mostly it’s ripping out pockets and replacing them.

My next project is a kite for my daughter.  She wants to hang it on the wall in the spare bedroom.  So I had better get back to the work table.

Fair Winds All.

A Lot Of Catching Up To Do (Part 1)

Life has been hectic since the last post.  And it bothers me that I have left this so long with no updates.  I will try to do better in the future.  We haven’t been flying much for one reason or another.  The first reason is Hurricane Irene.  She may have only been a category 1 storm when she passed over our heads but the rains and winds were enough to disrupt our lives significantly.  We were lucky in that we had no damage to our property.  Although we did have to have three trees taken done to avoid later possible damage.  Needless to say, the regular weekly kite fly was canceled.

Right after the clean-up was completed at both houses, it was time to pack up the car and leave for the Mile High Kite Fly at Beech Mountain, NC.  This festival was so named because Beech Mountain is 5,506 feet above sea level, the highest town in the state.  Saturday is set-up day and a kite builders competition.  I decided to take the plunge and enter some of the kites I had built.  Hopefully, the judges would be kind and I would pick up some pointers on kite building and competing.  I spent a couple of hours Saturday morning attending to details on my kites and getting very nervous about the competition.  The judging is done in two stages: in the air ( how will it flies and looks in the sky) and on the ground (how well it is made).  I entered four kites in three categories.  In the flat & bowed kites, I entered the Penelope Cat della porta and the Green Bay hata. (Side note on the hata – I finished this kite and flew it for the first time on Superbowl Sunday.  Need I mention who won Superbowl LXV?  Go Packers!!)  In the soft & flexible, I entered the Eagle painless parafoil.  In the box & cellular, I entered the Dunston-Taylor box delta that I had finished the night before leaving for the festival.

Dunston-Taylor Box Delta (custom kite)
Green Bay Packers Hata (custom kite)

The winds on Saturday were light and variable and the skies were cloudy.  Not the best day to show off one’s handiwork.  But we do the best we can with what we’ve got.  There were a total of none kites entered in the competition.  They all flew to one degree or another.  I had the hardest time getting the parafoil to fly but once it got up, it flew steady like a champ.  There wasn’t quite enough wind for the flat & bowed so it took some work to keep them in the air high enough for the judges to see what they looked like.  But we managed.  The Dunston-Taylor box is a light wind kite so there was no problem there.  The judges’ scores were tallied but the results weren’t going to be announced until the next day.  More nervous waiting.  I did get some great comments from the judges and a lot of good advice and suggestions.  Lots of encouragement to keep on building.  And have to admit, it was fun and I look forward to doing it again.

Sunday was the festival day.  The day full of flying and kid’s kite-making and kid’s flying up and down the mountainside.  But there was no wind.  Yes, even less than the day before.  But that didn’t seemed to stop the kids.  They ran up and down and up and down trying to get their kites in the air.  Some brought their own kites to fly and some bought kites from a vendor on site.  The clouds became thicker and darker and around one o’clock the skies opened and the rain came down. We were ready to wait it out until there was thunder and lightning. Then the tents came down and the banners were put away and the festival was officially over. It all ended too soon. There was a fliers cook-out later that evening despite the rain. Thank goodness for picnic shelters. At the cook-out, the winners of the kite builders were announced.

I was truly surprised when I found out I won first place in soft & flexible with my Eagle parafoil. I truly thought my competitor’s kite was better but the judges thought otherwise. Hurray for me!!!!! Then I won a second place in flat & bowed with the Penelope Cat della porta. A second Hurray!!! Two awards in my first competition. Pretty good. I’ve started planning for next year.

The Eagle (custom kite)
Penelope Cat (custom kite)

More later.

Fair Winds All.