Monday, August 26, 2013

I Can See for Miles and Miles

Why Miles Chamley-Watson is a fencing fashion icon:

He's got great hair
Photo by Getty Images at
(and great earrings).

Impeccable taste in socks.

AP photo by Dmitry Lovetsky on Oregon Live

He knows how to tastefully flaunt his medals.

From MCW's Twitter stream

& how to celebrate a touch

Pic from CrowdRise Fencing in the Schools Campaign page
(which you should totally donate to) 

Rocks a blazer? Check.

Pic from Knox School News

He can look seriously bad-ass
photo by Michael Bryant,

And well, yah, this:

Pic from

For additional pics see this fashion photo shoot which proves he has the right 'tude for modeling.

And for a glimpse of what MC-W takes on the road, check out the "What's in Mile's Bag" section of teammate Race Imboden's video of their journey to the London Olympics. (Spoiler: Louis Vuitton backpack with matching passport holder and wallet*, Ray-bans, serious selection of earrings, Mac tech up the whazoo). Bonus: great shot of his Olympic rings tat. 

*which leads me to wonder--do Olympic athletes get goodie bags, like Oscar nominees? Or does Miles just take luggage really, really seriously?

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Lamé first aid

The start of the new season seems to be a good time to talk about lamé patching: the tools, the techniques, and when to give up and replace gear. Most of us have done this at one time or another, and I’m sure there are as many opinions as lamés, but this is what I’ve found works for me.

The tools:

Lamé fabric: usually taken from an old lamé, though I’m curious if anyone has ever tried to get plain yardage (it seems like it would be a useful thing for a club to have)

Thread: I’m told regular thread works fine but for extra insurance I prefer conductive steel thread. A few years ago all I could find was Lamé Lifesaver, but a search for “conductive metal thread” shows multiple vendors.

Needles and thimble: I’m a fan of hand sewing for greater control over patch placement, and use a thimble so I won’t wear my fingers to hamburger.

The stitches:
For hand sewing there are any number of hand stitches to use, but I prefer the plain overcast stitch. The catchstitch tends to lay flatter, but I find it takes longer/is more difficult.

Turn under the edges of the patch so they won’t ravel! It makes the patch a bit bulkier but also less likely to wear out or fall off.

I’ve darned small dead spots using the conductive thread, and this seems to work quite well. If there are several fairly close to each other, they can be connected with a few stitches.

By the time I got this nice embroidery going I decided it was probably time to replace the lamé.
So when is it beyond hope? In theory you can patch forever:

though I’ve heard that ultralight lamés tend to fail all at once. [Badger: "yes, that has happened to me! Very irritating."]

Armorers, what do you say? When can you tell that a lamé is about to go? Would the above patchwork/embroidery be barred from competition? Feel free to include your own repair techniques in the notes - I'd especially like to hear from anyone who has managed to do patches with a sewing machine.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Referee Runway Style Episode II

Given how exhausting it must be to ref a multi-day national event, I think refs who make the extra effort to look good as well as do good deserve extra credit. We already gave props to Patrick Webster for his dapper style. This week we're sending applause to Dr. Jane Littmann for rocking the referee version of bling at the NAC last March.

I've noticed that pins are a fertile fashion field for referees seeking relief from the monotony of blue blazers. 

Now I have my eyes open for other great fencing pins, like this Rwandan Team Mascot (a gorilla) from the 1984 Olympics

Pic from Kingdom Pins

Even more fabulous, the weird London "Mandeville" mascot kitted out for wheelchair fencing

What about you? Any great fencing pins lurking in the jewelry box? Share pics...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Things I Do Not Understand, Episode 2

Also observed at the March NAC. (Where, evidently, I encountered a lot of things I did not understand.) 

My first question was: what the #$%&* is this?

My hypothesis, after (gingerly) examining it: a pair of men's compression shorts. Which only leads to more questions. Does compressing your, um, bum, really increase your performance? 

It also bears a distressingly resemblance to a girdle. Doesn't that tape look like it is designed to Shape and Lift? Do guys really care that much how their tushies look while they are fencing? 

Last question: how the heck do you lose something like this at a competition? 

Wait, don't answer that.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Pimp My Ride

Sometimes at NACs & Nationals I sneak away from cheering my teammates to scope out the wheelchair fencing.

Most of the time the Fashionistas nose around for the small amount of real estate available to fencers for embellishment--the mask, the shoes, the off hand.

Hence my interest in the wheelchair riders. Talk about scope for ornamentation. While equipment manufacturers struggle to fit a few stars and stripes onto a mask, these guys have room for the whole freakin' flag.

And flags are only the starting point. 

There's room to acknowledge pretty much everyone under the sun (including airlines).

Or to riff on anything from from cosmic explosions to artistic vines & leaves

From China Daily
Or in-your-face nationalist symbolism. (But still, a little more subtle than a flag.)

Photo by Lei Zhang on
And that's just the wheels. They also have the whole frame to play around with. Check out this paint job.

I haven't had the chance to interview any of these riders--don't want to interrupt them when they are hooking up to bout, and they often seem to be in a hurry, between times. But I want to! So if you know any fencers who have customized their fencing wheelchair, please make an introduction.

Photos, unless otherwise credited, by Badger.