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.