Greetings! Below is the handout from my garb rehab class taught at the Barony of Arn Hold's Arts, Arms, and Academia event. It focuses on mending, refreshing, and generally squeezing more life out of old or damaged garb. Enjoy!
I posted last week about what I'm learning about making baby garb and shared a few pictures of Freya in her first SCA outfit. She has a plethora of lovely hand-me-downs from friends, but I wanted to make something special for my little treasure. Anyway, when I shared last week, what you saw was the assembled dress with raw edges everywhere. However, I wanted to make an heirloom piece, one that might be worn by a future sibling, or handed on to other babies. One that would be soft and comfortable to wear, and pretty enough to merit our lovely firstborn. I firmly believe that handmade items are a physical manifestation of love. They show the hours we spend thinking about the recipient and giving them our good intentions. If billed by the hour at a rate worthy of the skill it takes to make these items, they would be cost-prohibitive. To that end, I knew I wanted to put some hours into making something special for my wee dove.
Here are a couple of photos of the final product. All the hems and seams are rolled and stitched by hand in linen thread. The neck closure button is a wee Nazar bead that my husband received as a gift (I believe from previous Artemisian Queen Esther). Nazars are ancient amulets to protect against the "evil eye," and would have been common trade goods throughout the medieval period, as they are even now. Honestly, I'll take all the good vibes we can get, whether real or not. The loop to go around the button is a bit of needle lace in linen. Making that wonky loop was a good reminder that I need to practice my needle lace some more! The embroidery at the collar is split stitch done in white spun silk and features a ramson flower from my arms and an acorn from my husband's (convenient that we both have white plant bits on our devices, eh? We didn't plan that.). This style is universal enough that the dress could work for either my husband's 9th-century Viking persona or my Norman one. Baby clothes haven't changed much, really. I put enough extra room in this dress that Freya should be able to wear it more than once, which is great, since it was certainly a labor of love.
Well, it's been almost a month since this event and I'm just now sitting down to write about it. Sorry I don't have a lot of pictures. I never take enough at the events themselves.
We set off in our matching household teeshirts on Friday morning and made it to the site by mid-afternoon. As the first arrivals from the household, we staked out a spot to set up tents, and then set up a few besides our own for later arrivers. Nobody likes putting up a tent in the dark. After checking in with the kitchen folks to pick shifts and pay, we got into garb and settled in for a relaxing evening. Things turned out to be fairly chaotic for some fellow cavalry members who had car trouble along the way, but I'm proud to say that a dozen people from our household and our local barony stopped to help out, keep them company, etc. Friends swapped out cars to get kids taken care of, and to send tents on ahead for those who would be late while waiting for help to arrive. I'm not sure how many tents we earlier arrivals set up, I think about half a dozen, but that kind of thing is why I love my SCA family. The whole household was settled in by 1 am.
On Saturday, there were lots of activities taking place to score war points in this battle between the forces of Artemisia and An Tir. I decided to participate in the Iron Needle competition, where we were given a square of linen and challenged to create a largess item by the end of the day. This was a lot of fun, but meant we spent most of the day in camp sewing instead of watching the other contests and seeing friends. We sewed furiously right up to the 3 pm deadline, and I'm proud to say my friend Mistress Giliana won the competition with her gilded fabric bag complete with documentation, with my student sister Beatriz taking the novice award for a pulled thread embroidery pincushion. I made a cup cover with rolled hems, pearl beads on the corners, and an embroidered A on it (for An Tir or Artemisia). Did I remember to snap a photo? Of course not.
Overall An Tir took the competition and kept their seaport on the Columbia River. The best part of court for us, though, was watching my husband accept a well-deserved Golden Maple Leaf (our kingdom's AOA level arts award) for his awesome work. I was so excited for him.
That night my husband took his oath to become a man at arms to his friend and knight Sir Brynjolfr. There were a lot of friends in attendance to lend their support to the ceremony. it was a lovely moment.
I turned in fairly early, then it was up on Sunday morning to pack and get on the road back to Arn Hold. This was a fun and low-key event. Though my energy level still wasn't what it was before getting pregnant and I was/am still dealing with some other fun symptoms (walking to the biffy in the cold 3 times a night, anyone?), it was nice to feel more with it than I did at Estrella. I should say a special thank you to my husband, our household, and especially Beatriz's other half Nick for making me take better care of myself than I otherwise would. That whole learning not to burn myself out business is still a challenge.
Photos below, and more blogging to come!
Well! Here I was, staring at my blog wondering what in the world I'd write about, then I realized I went to one of the biggest events in the country and hadn't said a word about it here! Ha. Here, then, is a brief rundown of my time at Estrella. As usual, I was pretty busy having fun and didn't take many photos, but I definitely have stories.
We drove down to Arizona with our friends Duke Ronan and Duchess Clare. What was supposed to be a 14 hour drive wound up taking more in the neighborhood of 17 hours due to stops, wrong turns, construction, etc. I drove the last three or so hours while the rest of the truck slept, and we rolled in to site at 3:30 am on Wednesday, Feb. 22. We did our best not to wake the entire Atenveldt Royal encampment (where Ronan and Clare were staying). We basically set up their tent, laid out the bedding, and all four of us crashed on their floor until about 8:00. At that point people were waking up and we were able to get some breakfast and find the land coordinator for the Artemisian encampment (next door to Atenveldt) who helped us find our spot. We had a lot of great help getting our camp set up. I hardly had to do a thing, actually. By the time I came back with a cup of coffee, the tent was up and everything out of the truck and put inside. Thank the gods for good friends. After breakfast I basically got garbed up, did a brief exploration of the site, then my husband and I took a two hour afternoon nap, which felt awesome. Most of Wednesday was pretty relaxed, which is just as it should be. I went to bed pretty early because the nights are chilly and I wanted to shoot archery the next morning, which is always first thing at SCA events.
Thursday morning was cool and sunny, and I did indeed get to head to the archery range for a "In pursuit of the dream" themed shoot, including counted sheep, a monster under a bed, the sandman, a dreaming knight, and an "aquatic" dream target (it was Disney's little mermaid with SCA escutcheons over her bosoms). I did well for about the first three rounds, but then it quickly became evident that not shooting for three or four months made for an arm that got tired quickly, and my aim went downhill, especially on the tall and narrow targets and those low to the ground. Something to work on at practice. In the afternoon I did some window shopping at the many merchants, took a nap, and did some handwork and socializing with friends. The evening was capped by my charming husband winning the Best of the Branches bardic, reserved for current bardic champions of local groups. He's so good. It was a lot of fun to see some performers from different parts of the known world.
Friday morning was another archery morning, and as we hurried out to the range we got to watch parts of the big parade procession to the battle fields, which are out past the range itself. It was great to see so many kingdoms represented. I loved looking at all the garb, banners, armor styles, etc. The shoot was a traditional clout shoot, with six targets ranged at between 60 and 90 yards (actually rather close for a clout). We were required to shoot one arrow at each target, and had to fire as if shooting over a six foot wall, so arching rather than straight shots. The closest arrow to each target scored a single point with categories for heavy and light. With only six points at stake each round, the scores were low, and the challenging nature of the shoot made me very proud to have scored a single point, especially because we cut out before the final round, certain we weren't going to win anyway, to take a couple of classes. I had a fun moment when a nice young person on the golf cart shuttle introduced themselves to Clare and I. Clare had her coronet on and introduced herself, and the person was duly respectful of her rank, title, and gorgeous garb, but when I introduced myself as Lady Ursula from Artemisia, the person became truly excited and exclaimed "I read your blog!" It was awesome to know that someone out there I have no connection with found this page and found it interesting enough to remember me. Does this mean I can say I'm a famous blogger now? If you're out there, my friendly reader, hello! Please leave a comment and say howdy if you're reading and enjoying (or hating) what I have to say,
Anyway. The first embroidery class I took on Friday morning was a bit of a bust. No discussion of how the technique was used in period, no historical examples, no real context. We were given a photocopied guide to how to do the stitch, and materials (class fee $1) to make a needle book with embroidered cover. By the end of the class I hadn't really learned anything, but I did figure out a more thread-efficient way to do the stitch than the method taught.
The second embroidery class, on the Egyptian art of pattern darning, was a night and day difference. HL Bernadette, who taught it, was so well prepared. She had a great grasp of how the technique developed from necessary clothing repairs to reinforcement of areas that would wear in the future, to simple decorative technique, with excellent photos of extant pieces. In my mundane life, I am a huge fan of the visible mending movement (the amazing tomofholland is an excellent resource), and the idea of handmade clothes and slow fashion, so I was really excited to learn about this art, which actually extends to many parts of the world and is still practiced. It's essentially counted thread embroidery as a technique for darning or patching clothing. Anyway. We had very nice kits with coarse woven linen and wool thread to practice on, plus a charted sheet of period patterns. The fabric was enough that when finished it can be sewn into a little bag. I will probably line mine to protect the back of the embroidery once I finish it. Anyway, the teacher was so knowledgeable and helpful and friendly and charming (and the South African accent was so fun to listen to).
After class, her Laurel, Mistress Morgan, who sat in on it while working on some whipcording, gave a few of us a demo of the technique and let us try it oursekves. It was so quick, fun, and interesting. I see lots of whipcording in my future. It's so much faster, more portable, and more versatile than fingerloop braiding or even lucet. So cool. I spent some time with Her Highness (now her Majesty) Gwenevere in the afternoon while we watched the rapier fighting. Her husband is a white scarf and a lot of fun to watch. It was clear everyone was having a good time. I have got to get authorized soon so I can get in on it myself.
We did more shopping in the afternoon, and though my budget was somewhat limited, I did find a pair of gorgeous cinnamon-brown calfskin rapier gloves at Dark Heart armory. My hands are one of the few parts of my anatomy that can really be called small, and bless Dark Heart for having gloves in such a huge range of sizes and colors. I loved the colorful gloves, but was truly taken with the buttery softness of the calfskin. I may even embroider the cuffs to spiff them up a bit. The gloves came in handy because the nights were quite cold, and the leather was enough to keep my hands warm around the fire.
Our King and Queen held court that night, and it was great to see some of my friends awarded for their skill and good works. I even got tasked with giving a scroll to my friend Lord Pieter. It had been languishing somewhere waiting to be given to him. The date on the scroll was 2013, making it quite vintage indeed.
That night after dinner the Brotherhood of the Black Unicorn (some of our friends from Northern Artemisia) hosted their torchlight tourney. It was great fun watching the fighting. The Landsknecht group from Drachenwald was a delight to watch. They fought so well together, and it was no surprise that they won the day. I was lucky enough to meet the King of Drachenwald earlier in the day. He was very charming, and we had fun talking about making garb, which is one of his favorite parts of the SCA. I love a man who can sew. Really, I love anyone who loves fiber. Due to the cold and the walking and the playing hard I decided on another early night, but not before we had wandered over to the Outlands encampment, who hosted a big belly dance hafla and drum circle. There must have been at least a dozen drummers playing, and I was lucky to get to watch a bunch of different dancers, with all different styles and techniques. I wasn't brave enough to get up there, especially because I really don't have much skill yet and really wasn't dressed for it in my cloak and Rus get-up, but I had fun thinking about which one of those dancers I'd most like to emulate when I grow up. There was a huge variety as far as the period-ness of the garb and the dancing itself, but it's an evolving art form, and the SCA does have "creative anachronism" right in the name.
So, Saturday morning I was in a bit of a state because the solar phone charger was not working, and my phone was dead, but one of my parents, Abby, was going to be visiting the site from her home in Tucson, and I had no idea how to find her/when she'd be arriving. I was not at my camp most of the morning because we all went to the fighting fields to watch our friend Sir Dunkr get knighted, and of course nothing was running on time. This did mean that I got to see a bit of the hound coursing, which was excellent fun to watch. I'd love to get our dogs into it. Luckily, my husband managed to connect with Abby when she got to the site, and we eventually met up. I got Abby garbed up and we had fun walking around the site, watching the fighting, and even running into one of her work colleagues, who is the Baroness of the Tucson group. We did some shopping for souvenirs and even went to grand court in the evening. It was so cool to see the eight crowns all lined up with their beautiful garb, thrones, and traditions. It was especially pleasing to receive my very own Oleander, an award given to all women who participate in the combat arts at Estrella, which apparently includes archery. Watch out, world. I'm beautiful but deadly, just like these desert flowers. ;) Really, though, the highlight was that my husband, Lord Aonghus, won populace choice for his A&S display that day, along with best beer and best mead at the brewing competition! I married a winner.
I packed up most of the tent on Saturday night and went to bed early (again). I know I missed some amazing parties and bardics and midnight snacks, but playing that hard just wore me out, and we wanted to get on the road early Sunday morning. Unfortunately, this was thwarted by my husband having a night so late it was early. Then we had to make a stop at a tire place to get a leaky tire checked out, and we were finally on the road around noon. We ended up having to stop in Jackpot, NV on our way back due to blizzard conditions. We got a hotel room, and finally limped home around noon on Monday, a full day later than planned. Oops.
All in all it was an awesome event. As usual I hardly took any photos, but here are a few I did manage.
Well, another week, another project. I don't really feel like I've made a whole lot of progress with anything. I have had some health challenges (yet again) both physically and mentally, but I still have lots to share.
Here's a preview photo of the embroidery on my new bliaut. I realized that this is the first time I have planned to hand embellish a piece of garb. I am really trying to improve my use of period correct materials, and my new bliaut is a good example. The fabric is 80% silk 20% linen, and this fabric, to be used for the neck facing, sleeve guards, and ceinture (belt) is a slubby silk. I realize the slubs and the coarser weave aren't particularly period, but this is a piece I had in my stash, so it fit the bill (and the budget). The embroidery thread is silk, and I included the box of mints and penny to show that they served as my stencils for the lozenge and circle pattern. I am using a green woven trim from my stash to go around the neckline, and it will also be used in the guards and ceinture.
I am using a mystery brocade-ish fabric in a cream color for the maunche (sleeve) linings. I'm pretty positive it's a polyester/cotton blend, but it looks plausible and again, was something I already had in my stash. In the interest of time I decided to use my serger to do the construction sewing, and ended up using grosgrain ribbon for the side lacing, so it's not my "perfect" period dress, but it will be some very plausible-looking period court garb. I would have loved to finish it by the ball on January 28, but things just didn't work out that way, and I ended up spending a good bit of time helping my sister with a cotehardie that came out so nicely, so no matter. Here's the only picture I caught of it, while she escorted her fiance up to accept an award (Order of the Yggdrasil) from our Baron and Baroness:
Luckily, I have lots of other pretty dresses, and ended up winning Lady of Azure in the Lord and Lady of Color competition with my blue bliaut with pleated skirt.
The ball was very nice. Great appetizers, fun (but not too long) court, one of the best bardic competitions I've ever seen, a brewing competition, nice dancing with live music, and socializing.
Almost a whole month without an update! I'm terrible. I have been slacking off even though I have another finished object from May to share, and plenty to talk about as I learn more about 16th century men's garb and work on my friend Don Gomez's outfit for his Pelican elevation.
I haven't had a lot of energy lately, and I kept forgetting to take pictures, which is what really held me up.
Anyway, here's my other finished project for May, a t-tunic to go with the brown linen trousers I made. These make pretty serviceable SCA pajamas for cold evenings or morning lounging with a pair of boots, my furry hat, and a belt around the waist. I've worn the trousers under my dresses for warmth a few times too.
The tunic is very standard, rectangular construction, underarm gussets, small gores at the sides that extend from waist to the bottom hem, which covers my hips for warmth. I used leftover green linen from Brynjolfr's trousers, hand-hemmed the neckline, sleeves with linen thread, and then did a simple chain stitch embroidery in red cotton (hey, it's what I had, and these are pajamas!) around the sleeves and neckline.
For sleeping in, I just wore this over a long-sleeved teeshirt. Obviously, an under-tunic might be better, and I will have leftover linen from my vigil shirt project that might work for that. I will also probably make a wool over-tunic for more warmth, since I'm always cold at night, no matter what precautions I take. The hot water bottle I brought to celtic revolt to put in bed with me at night was a stroke of genius though.
If I were to make another of these, and I probably will, I'd taper the sleeves so the openings are smaller and fit closer on the wrist. I will probably go back and change that at some point, but I haven't bothered yet.
Here are a couple photos with not great lighting. First is a view of the tunic overall, second is a neckline detail image.
Well! It is a new year (It's still January so I can still say that), I'm working on becoming a new me (down two pounds so far) and improving my mundane life in lots of ways (mostly because I'm finishing grad school in December and will be the proud owner of a Master's in Public Policy and Administration), and with the masked ball stewarding behind me, I'm looking at how to organize my life and my art a little bit more.
I feel like it's time to up my SCA crafting game. I have been in the SCA for two and a half years, and I have enough basic garb to get me through even multi-day camping events (three bliauts, a Norse apron dress, an Italian renaissance dress, my Slavic dress, and a sideless surcote that really needs a kirtle to go with it), but what I feel my SCA life is missing is accessories. Because I race through much of my garb-making, I don't own a lot of pieces with embellishments, embroidery, hand-sewing, etc. I could also really use more purses, belts, fans, etc. The things that make you look like you live in your garb, rather than like someone putting on a costume.
This year I want to work on really settling into my SCA life, and hone in on making lovely art. To that end, my goal is to complete at least one project per month, whether it's a work in progress (WIP) or something new. January's finished object (FO) is, of course, my Slavic dress and filet. Below is a wish list/to do list of what else I've got in the works that could potentially turn into monthly FOs.
I've also been looking at what events I'll be attending this year. Obviously work and school are my first priorities, but I'm tentatively planning on the following:
Honor War in An Tir (March)
Coronation in Barony of 1000 Eyes (March)
Crown Tournament right here in Arn Hold (April)
May event TBD in Arn Hold (May)
Celtic Revolt in An Tir (May)
Uprising War in Barony of 1000 Eyes (June)
Raptor War in Arn Hold (July)
Coronation TBD (August)
That gets me through the camping season. There is also an event in Arn Hold every November, so we'll see about that. Anyway, I know this is sort of rambling and random (which will not surprise anyone who has met me), but it's good to get things written down so I stay accountable.
My husband and I have a friend who joined the SCA about a year after we did, and whose interests are not as much in the direction of the arts and sciences. The two of us have been sending small care packages with a few little bits and bobs, mostly accessories, to help our friend with his garb. In the SCA, as in the mundane world, accessories really make the outfit. My contribution was a populace badge for his barony (can't for the life of me remember which one), embroidered on a bit of leftover aqua colored linen from a bliaut I made (click the garb tag to see photos). The thread is just cotton embroidery floss, but the stitches are all period. Stem stitch for the borders, satin stitch to fill in the three hammers, and Bayeux laid work for the background. This was my first time with Bayeux laid work, and it was a lot of fun. I want to give it another try with wool, and learn more about using it to create textures and contours. Not sure what I'll make yet, but it's rattling around in my brain. Of course, I signed the back, dated, and used a lazy daisy stitch (I have NO evidence that this is period) to stand in for the ramson flower on my device. Turned out pretty nice for a quick little belt favor, eh?
Phew! I have no clue how I'll manage to catch up with this blog, since I seem to have a new event or project to write about every time I sit down to try to talk about one of the ones that's already happened. Today I'll tackle the Fest of St. Pyre in Loch Salaan, which was April 24. I decided to go to this event last-minute when it turned out Her Majesty needed some attendants. It was a fun girls' trip, since she, another one of her ladies, Lady Britta, and I, all drove down together and stayed at our friend Lady Dria's house. We made the pilgrimage to Ikea in Salt Lake, which I'd never done before, and had a fun night getting to know Her Highness Esther, also staying with us. She is a very talented belly dancer, and as soon as we all sat down with a beer she was offering lessons to Lady Britta and I. I was abysmal, but Britta did very well.
My car project on the way was attaching the blackwork cuffs a friend made for me to my Italian camicia. I did a trade with him for a pair of green knitted socks. The cuffs have garlic bulbs (which, in addition to being one of my favorite foods, hearkens back to the garlic flowers on my device) and knitting needles with green knitting on them. I got so many compliments on these. I just attached little ribbon ties to the cuffs, but will probably go back and do buttons. The cuffs are just thick enough that the wrists of my sleeves are too snug, so I'll have to work on that too.
Also staying at Lady Dria's was Princess Esther, who gave us a mini belly dance lesson the evening before the event. She's a very talented dancer, and we had a great time.
The drive to the site in Logan the next morning was so beautiful that I had to take a bunch of landscape pictures, but I'll just subject you to one.
The event was a lot of fun. I especially enjoyed the carrot nose tourney and the barroom brawls put on by the heavy fighters. In the carrot nose tourney fighters attach a carrot to their helms and must try to break off the carrots of the other fighters. The barroom brawl included a tavern table made of a shield and swords, and various barroom implements such as a guitar, a turkey leg, a dead cat, bottles, tankards, etc. Those of us in the audience had beanbag tomatoes to throw at the fighters. Here are a few shots.
In the afternoon we had some time to do a photo shoot of Her Majesty and her many ladies who were in attendance. As you can see, I've added additional trim and sewn some freshwater pearls on to my Italian gown. It was a lot of fun to wear, and I got a lot of compliments. The one thing I'll change next time will be to add more room under the arms. They are high enough that I can't comfortably tie my own shoes. There are a few shots of Lady Britta and I together in our matching Italian dresses. Her beading on the bodice was just amazing, and the smocking on her camicia was too.
Below photos: Nicole Scofield
There was also a lovely feast, an A&S competition, a bardic competition, and of course, court. Here's a shot of Her Majesty and Her Highness showing their unadulterated girl power. There was a lot of laughter and lightheartedness at this event, and it was a great time.
The after party at Lady Dria's house was nothing short of absolutely wild. It was just a huge pack of SCA-dians, mostly women, dancing and imbibing until the wee hours of the morning. It was a great time, but oh boy was the drive home the next morning rough. Oy.
I have a lot to catch up on. It's been a busy few months since I wrote last. Much of my early spring was taken up with assisting Their Majesties prepare for their coronation. I was thrilled and more than a little proud that they decided to focus on the Anglo-Normans in the twelfth century, and honored that Her Majesty asked me to help her make a bliaut. It was a pleasure to help cut out and embellish their garb, and it looked fantastic. I was also honored that The Queen honored those of us who helped her in court with lovely pewter valkyrie pins. I was able to get some new embroidery done for my seafoam green bliaut, and received several compliments on it. I am also proud to report that I am now officially the apprentice of Baroness Antonia d'Alessandria, a fiber artist I count among my friends. Both of us are a bit awkward and shy about ceremonials, but we called a group of friends and SCA family together in our pavilion, and I was honored that Her Majesty and several other laurels whose work I admire were in attendance. Mistress Antonia gave me a beautiful card woven belt, with spindles on each end. It's like she knows me or something.
I'll post again soon with updates on Artemisia's crown tourney and the Feast of St. Pyre.
I like to: play with fleece, spin, knit, weave, sew, garden, cook, eat, bake bread, dance, read, sing, and learn new things.