I first learned of the Society for Creative Anachronism in 2007, while attending the University of Florida in Gainesville. Growing up, I had always loved Renaissance & Medieval Fairs. My parents had taken me to the Sarasota Medieval Fair every year during middle school and high school. When I was old enough to drive, I dragged my friends to the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Tampa. Then, after I left home for college, I would go to the local Hoggetowne Medieval Faire in Gainesville. One year, the local SCA group set up a pavilion and demo at Hoggetowne and I was thus introduced to the world of recreating Medieval life.
Despite my introduction to the SCA in 2007, I didn’t reach out to my local group for another six years. Then, in 2013, after I had relocated to the Washington DC metro area, I found the Barony of Storvik in the Kingdom of Atlantia.
And that is where my story begins.
This site will be ever-changing, as I write new blog posts on events I’ve recently attended and also catch up on posting about past events and projects that I’ve already completed. Feel free to scroll through and post questions & comments as you like.
Last summer, July 26 -August 10, 2019 I attended my fifth Pennsic: Pennsic 48.
Following my second Pennsic (Pennsic 45) I started a tradition of writing a “Top Ten” post with my favorite memories of the event. But this year was a bit different for me. I was over-committed, exhausted, and stressed – and had been for quite a while leading up to the event – which led to mistakes and offenses committed by yours truly. After the event was over, I struggled to come up with a list of the good things that happened and so my “Top Ten” post for the year was neglected.
Now that apologies have been made and time has helped to soften the sharp edges of memory, I wanted to revisit my time at Pennsic last year for the sake of posterity at the very least. A wise man suggested that instead of my usual list of “Top Ten” moments, I write a more general overview of my past five years at Pennsic and how my experiences at War have evolved. I found this to be a clever compromise and so here we are 😊
My first Pennsic was Pennsic 44, in the modern year 2015. While I had joined the SCA in the summer of 2013 and so technically been a member for two years, I had only attended a dozen or so small, local events. This Pennsic proved to be a catalyst for my future as a SCAdian.
In another post dedicated solely to my experiences at Pennsic 44, I made mention that I believed that first Pennsic War to be the event that spurred me on to greater involvement in the SCA. That being the case, a lot of changes took place between my first and second Pennsic. I became an officer for my local group, the Barony of Ponte Alto, as Webminister, Deputy Chatelain, and Archery Marshal. I joined a new household – The Honorable Company of Grimmsfield – run by (recently made) Master Stephan Grimm and Lady Gunnora Grimm, whom I’d met while camping at my first Pennsic. And while I’d experimented in many areas of the Arts & Sciences, I discovered that my path in the SCA would lie in the way of service.
Now for both my first and second Pennsic (44 & 45) I camped with House Longbow, run by Earl Mika Longbow and his wife Ursula, on block N22. House Longbow is a great group of people with years of experience in the SCA, welcoming hosts, and excellent friends. I will always look back fondly on my time in that camp and with those people who helped me enjoy my first experiences at Pennsic. Alas, change is inevitable, and so by the second year at Pennsic there were already plans being made for my new household, Grimmsfield, to break away from Longbow and form a new camp exclusive to our small but energetic group of household members. And so my third Pennsic, and every Pennsic since, has been spent camping with Grimmsfield on block N22. Yes, we are still neighbors and friends with House Longbow 😊
But I appear to be getting ahead of myself a bit. My second Pennsic was just as (if not more) enjoyable as my first. Lots of new experiences, new friends, and new memories were made. This event was my first time volunteering to retain for Royalty. It was also my first time volunteering to work as a waterbearer for the battles held during War Week. These two “jobs” are some of my favorites and I’ve volunteered in the same way every Pennsic since.
Pennsic 45 was also the year I managed to take only ONE class at Pennsic University (that involved a very painful walk to the Bog and back in new shoes 😢) . Though I had a detailed schedule planned out well in advance of the event with lots of interesting classes that I wanted to take… things didn’t quite go to plan. One of the things I’ve learned now is that my bandwidth for the day is limited to three activities MAX. Any more than that and something is going to fall off. This year, it was classes.
Another first for me this Pennsic was trying out for the Archery Champions shoot. Pennsic 45 actually remains the ONLY Pennsic in which I tried out for the Archery Champions shoot… I did not make the team 😉
Luckily this was the Pennsic that I began my “Top Ten” lists and so I’m able to look back, read, and remember my favorite moments from that year.
My third Pennsic was Pennsic 46. Not only was I camping with a new camp, but it was also my first year spending both Peace Week and War Week at Pennsic. In addition to helping form a new camp, another big change that happened after my second Pennsic was my involvement with newcomers to the SCA and my work as a Chatelain. By this time I had taken on the role of Deputy Chatelain for my Barony and at Pennsic I had volunteered to fill shifts at Newcomers Point. Little did I know at the time that my experience at Newcomers Point would later lead me to become a member of Pennsic staff as the Newcomer Activities Coordinator and the Kingdom Chatelain for Atlantia.
Pennsic 46 was the year I barely adhered to my schedule. I found that I had much more fun relaxing in camp that year and spending time with my chosen family in the new space that we had created for ourselves. The commitments that I did keep were in volunteering at Newcomers Point, teaching (for the first time) two different classes for Pennsic University, and waterbearing during battles. Highlights from Pennsic 46 can be found in Top Ten from that year.
Looking back on the past five Pennsics, I feel that Pennsic 46 was the best of them so far. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, I struck that balance between staying busy and relaxing that can be so, so hard to find at an event where there is something happening every minute of the day and night.
Pennsic 47 proved to be a bit more stressful than past Wars. I can say now that navigating a two week event while in a relationship has a different set of challenges. It’s difficult enough to find that balance between fun and work as a single lady 😉, but add a partner into the mix and there is a whole new set of obligations to fulfill. I won’t say much more about this Pennsic – my Top Ten is here – other than lessons were learned.
And that brings me to Pennsic 48, my most recent Pennsic War. This year not only did I become an official member of Pennsic staff as the Newcomers Activities Coordinator, but I was also a member of the Royal Retinue for Their Majesties Christoph and Adelhait of Atlantia. What’s that saying about all work and no play?
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, mistakes were made and feelings were hurt. Those mistakes have now been atoned for and hurt feelings made better, but at the time they did make my Pennsic War that year significantly less fun. I found myself spending most nights hanging out quietly in camp or attending official functions as a retainer, than out at parties or down in the Bog as I normally would have been. I was more focused on doing my job as Pennsic staff, as a teacher for Pennsic U, and as a member of the Royal Retinue than on the traditional activities that I found fun or relaxing at past Pennsics.
Despite the amount of work required there were still some fun highlights to my War that year. The first was FINALLY being able to attend Fizzball with my friends Ronan & Leesa and their camp Morning Wood. Fizball (a game of “baseball” played with beer cans instead of baseballs) has been on my Pennsic schedule for years but it’s always been one of the things that has fallen off due to other obligations. This year I made sure to go. The theme for the Morning Wood Fizzball team was the Wizard of Oz and so I went as the Wicked Witch of the West (medieval style). Participating in Fizzball was the one activity that year that didn’t feel like “work”. I didn’t feel like I had to be “on” – doing or saying the right thing in case someone was watching – and it was nice to be able to relax a bit in that moment.
Another highlight was being made a Court Baroness, along with my Companion sister, Marguerite. It was a (somewhat) unexpected surprise and a pleasant way to end two weeks of physical, mental, and emotional labor.
And, in keeping with years past, another highlight was once again marshaling for the St. Sebastian’s archery shoot, hosted by the Kingdom of Atlantia. This year we had matching hats!
Lastly, it was a privilege to spend this Pennsic with my Peer Duchess Adelhait, her husband Duke Christoph, and our household, Honey Badger, as They served as Royals of Atlantia at Pennsic. Having spent a year as retinue, attending both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, I can honestly say it is one of the most time consuming and stressful jobs that one can take on in the SCA. It is an emotional rollercoaster full of highs and lows, and you really have to love the people you serve in order to make it worth it.
Funny enough I started writing about my first Pennsic as a part of my “Five Years of Pennsic” post, but quickly found that I was spending far too much time recounting the details of my first year at this incredible event. I realized that if I kept on like I was that my “Five Years” post would never end. And so I created this.
My first Pennsic was Pennsic 44, held in 2015. I attended Pennsic for only one week this year – War Week – and I had no idea what to expect. While I first began playing in the SCA in 2013, I had only attended maybe a dozen small events in those two years and I still considered myself very new to the Society. I had yet to take on any responsibilities and was still exploring the many activities and crafts that the SCA had to offer. Looking back, I believe that my attendance at Pennsic this year is what spurred my future involvement in the SCA, my interest in becoming a local officer, and my commitment to service.
That year I was invited to camp with House Longbow, the archery household of Earl Mika Longbow and his wife Ursula, on block N22. My friend, Lord Robert Cameron de Grey, offered his carousel pavilion up for lodging to be shared by myself and another member of the camp. I remember we put so much effort into decorating the pavilion after arriving on that middle Friday – hanging colorful saris and Moroccan lanterns along the interior walls – that even Cameron stated how jealous he was of our improvised set-up. I wish now that I had taken pictures of our home for that week, that I had taken more pictures of Pennsic that year in general, but I was so caught up in the moment that I didn’t think to take pictures or post anything on social media until the event had ended!
Now in the weeks leading up to the event I had cobbled together a schedule of sorts – listing 3-4 activities that I planned to do each day. I wasn’t very successful in keeping to that schedule and looking back I’m amazed at how much free time I must have had to just relax and wander around. But there were several activities that I made sure to prioritize, namely shooting archery and attending parties. And so, my first day at Pennsic was spent on the archery range. I was a Marshal in Training (MiT) at the time for Target Archery, and so my first MiT shift happened at Atlantia’s St. Sebastian’s shoot on Middle Saturday. It was my first time as a Marshal in Training and I remember how much I enjoyed meeting people from around the Knowne World and enabling them to shoot archery and have fun.
The next day was Opening Ceremonies and it was held in the morning that year. I remember I wore a blue polyester dress and by the time the Ceremonies were over, I was SWELTERING. I went back to camp and immediately changed into something made of linen!
Sunday night was the Lowdy Toadie – a party that’s held annually at Casa Bardicci, a reproduction of a 15th century Venetian villa. This night remains one of my favorite SCA memories. There is nothing like Casa Bardicci at night – stepping in to an incredibly realistic Italian villa, filled with torchlight, music, and dance – created one of those “Medieval Moments” that SCAdians all live to experience.
What I most remember about that night was that two friends of mine – a couple with two small children – had constructed a covered wagon of sorts so that they could bring their kids along at night so as not to leave them unattended in camp. And so the children were brought into the Lowdy Toadie party at Casa Bardicci, asleep in a covered wagon! And they slept peacefully there for hours, despite the music and revelry taking place around them. Another couple with their children sleeping in a similar wagon showed up and joined us. And so we created a “Children Parking Zone” in the courtyard of the Casa. Afterwards, we all helped push the wagon back up that awful hill that lies between the lake and the “Serengeti”, where we were camped that year.
The Monday of War Week was spent on the archery range, shooting war points in order to score for our side of the War that year. I’m sad to say this might be the only year at Pennsic that I managed to complete every war point station! Each year since became busier and busier and while I always made it out to the range to work as a Marshal, I rarely enjoyed shooting for pleasure.
That night was the Hafla Jadida, held at Camp Mileacre. My friend who had lent me the use of his pavilion, Cameron, was playing host that evening. There was hookah and drumming and belly dancing… and a minor kerfuffle in which the staff from the Pennsic Performing Arts Pavilion asked us to drum more quietly so as not to disturb the performances that were taking place across the street. We left shortly after!
The next day I played babysitter to my friend Cameron’s two daughters while he fought in the battle taking place that morning. We explored the Pennsic playground, ate ice cream, and did arts & crafts in camp. That night we celebrated the birthday of my friend Annika’s son, Sebastian, with a S’mores Bar hosted in the Barony of Ponte Alto’s camp.
Wednesday afternoon I attended a three hour bardic coaching class, taught by Master John Littleton. That class was the highlight of my Pennsic University experience that year. Each student stood and performed at the front of the class and Master John offered feedback for improvement. It was like a private concert for and by those new to the bardic (performing arts) community in the SCA and I LOVED it.
That night was the traditional night for Midnight Madness at Pennsic. Midnight Madness is the only night during the week that the merchant area is open late and vendors are selling their stock at reduced prices. It’s a hugely popular activity, incredibly crowded and incredibly fun! Much alcohol was imbibed and much amber was later purchased as a result. It was a great night.
Thursday is traditionally the day that the Kingdom of Atlantia holds its Court. I can’t for the life of me remember how I spent that day, but that evening was spent in Court watching new friends receive awards.
So what day is really the last day of Pennsic? That answer can vary depending on the person or camp. According to the rules of the event everyone (and their personal property) must be off site by noon on Sunday. However, some folks start packing up and leaving as early as Thursday so that they can get home and have the weekend to recover before returning to the “real world” on Monday. What has become my tradition (and the tradition of the folks that I camp with) is to spend Friday morning saying goodbye to people and activities before beginning the pack out process Friday afternoon. Friday afternoon and evening is then spent packing the majority of the camp’s common areas – the common tents, the kitchen, the shower, etc. Saturday morning is then spent packing personal belongings so that everyone in camp can be finished and off site by Saturday afternoon.
And so Friday morning was spent saying goodbye to the archery range. I went and shot one last time before returning to camp to begin helping with the pack up process.
Writing this post has reminded me why I always take the time after Pennsic to write down my favorite moments from the War. Letting five years pass since my first Pennsic has allowed some memories of that year to slip away. This has proved especially saddening during this year – the year of COVID. Being unable to make new memories now has shown the value of those times gone past and the joy that spending time with friends and family has wrought.
On Wednesday, August 7th at Atlantian Great Court at Pennsic 48 I was made a Court Baroness. So, that’s cool.
Anyone who has ever asked me why I joined the SCA has received the same answer – I like to play dress up. And the exciting thing about playing dress up as a Court Baroness is that now I get to wear a fancy hat 🙂
Since Pennsic, I’ve commissioned two additional coronets and one diadem. Yes, I am extra.
My diadem was commissioned for Rip Rap War – an event held every September in the Kingdom of Atlantia. I typically wear a lot of Roman garb in the Summer due to the warmer climate of this Kingdom and so I needed a diadem to match.
This brass diadem was made by Lord Cataldo Querini and features amethyst stones and seven pointed stars to match my heraldry.
My second coronet was made by Mistress Michel Almond de Champagne. It is a field coronet made from leather, wood, silver leaf, rabbit glue, pigment and clear coat. The total weight is under 13 ounces, which makes it perfect to wear outdoors over head coverings and hats.
My third coronet was inspired by the funeral crown of Queen Agnes of Antioch, first wife of Béla III (1172-96), and was also made by Lord Cataldo Querini.
I’m very pleased with my coronet collection so far – they are all distinct in their makes and styles. I do have plans to commission one more in the near future, about which I am very excited! Pictures will be posted here once the coronet is completed 🙂
On January 2nd – 322 days ago – I wrote a post outlining goals for the year of 2019. I opted to try a new goal setting format this year, breaking my goals down into three categories: things to do for myself, things to do for others, and new things to try – an activity to break me out of my comfort zone.
The year isn’t *quite* over, but since I won’t be attending any more garbed events until January I think now is a good time for a recap!
❌Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects. ✅Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money. ❌Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.
✅Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend. ✅Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their Reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc. ✅Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point
New to Me
❌ Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument. ❌ Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle. ❌ Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD.
In reflecting upon the goals that I was able to accomplish this year versus the goals that I was unable to accomplish, I can see that I fell victim to one of the classic blunders. While I didn’t get involved in a land war in Asia, I did underestimate the amount of time and effort that is required to support a Reign.
From the time that Duchess Adelhait and Duke Christoph stepped up as Their Royal Highnesses of Atlantia last November until the time they stepped down as King and Queen this past October, I attended 25 events. That list of events includes both Gulf Wars and Pennsic, which totaled three weeks of time. It’s also important to note that the majority of these events were not day trips, rather entire weekends – Friday through Sunday.
The effort required to attend this many events left me exhausted during the week. That exhaustion led me to spend my time resting and recovering, rather than working to complete embroidery projects or learning a new skill as I had intended at the start of this year.
It also does not escape my notice that while I was able to accomplish all of the goals assigned to the category of “For Others”, I was only able to accomplish one of the goals assigned to the categories for myself.
Despite that disparity between the categories, I learned a lot from this exercise. I gained a new perspective on the timing and effort of goals – “big” goals versus “small” goals – and I was able to recognize in myself the tendency to prioritize the needs of others over my own.
And so my goals for next year – 2020 – will focus on balance.
Stay tuned for a blog post in January with my goals for the next calendar year 🙂
In November of 2017, I began the first steps towards forming a student-teacher relationship with Her then Excellency, now Princess Adelhait Fuchs. Her Highness and I agreed to a trial-period of at least one year before we would formalize our relationship with a contract. In 2018 we agreed that we felt our relationship to be a good fit and so we began making preparations for my Companion Ceremony.
While there are variations of student-teacher ceremonies throughout the Knowne World, there are some traditions that seem to be most common. In addition to the tradition of a contract and the gifting of a belt or favor, there are often gifts exchanged between student and teacher. When planning for the ceremony began, I started to brainstorm a list of potential gifts for Her Excellency based on what I knew regarding her whims and preferences.
I came up with many ideas, but the one that seemed to stick was the idea of a painted jewelry box. This idea was originally inspired by Dame Emma West, who painted a mirror box in the style of a reliquary box from the Uppsala Cathedral, dated from the 12th century. Her Highness, Princess Adelhait, is well known for her love of shiny things – jewelry and accessories – so I knew this would be a gift that she would both appreciate and find useful.
Originally I planned to paint a mirror box that I had purchased previously at Fool’s War in 2017. However, at Pennsic 2018, Her Highness’s husband Count Christoph purchased her a larger mirror box from Egill’s Woodstuffs and offered it to me to paint instead.
Before I began any work on the box, I sent a message to Dame Emma and asked her what steps she took in painting her box, what supplies she used, etc. She was incredibly helpful – as always – and so I followed her instructions exactly.
Next, I had to decide on a design that I wanted to use. For this step, I mostly browsed Pinterest since documentation was not of vital importance. I mainly needed visual inspiration and found plenty of examples under a search for “reliquary box”. I finally decided on the following design as inspiration since Her Highness’s persona is late period German.
After deciding on a design, I gathered my list of supplies and went to Michael’s to buy everything that I would need. I used very basic supplies for this project – nothing fancy – since this was my first time painting a box, a lot of the process would be trial and error. The first step was to gesso the entirety of the box. Gesso provides a white base layer so that the colored paints are not muted by the wood.
After painting the box with two layers of gesso, I decided to make stencils for my design. I love working with stencils – I use them for my fabric painting as well – because they allow for a precision in design that is rarely achieved when drawing or painting free-hand. I came up with two stencils that I used in various combinations on different sides of the box. These stencils were drawn by tracing a variety of circular shaped objects on a brown, paper grocery bag. Very fancy 😉
I spent a lot of time visualizing how I wanted the stencils to be arranged in order to get the design that I wanted. But once that lengthy process was complete, I started to trace the stencils directly on to the box using a regular pencil.
One the design was traced, I started to paint. Based on the box that I chose as my inspiration, I chose to work with only three colors.
I started painting the gold first. I figured that if I went “outside the lines” with the gold, that would easily be covered by the blue. Covering blue with gold would not be as easy a task.
Once I started to paint the gold I realized that I was going to need multiple layers. You can see in the picture above how light the gold color was initially and how streaky the paint started with that first layer. In the end, I had to paint four layers of gold in order to get the color that I wanted to achieve.
Luckily, acrylic paint dries relatively quickly so it can be layered easily without large amounts of time spent wasted while waiting for paint to dry.
Eventually I did need to work in time to allow the paint to dry – this ended up being the trickiest bit. I really had to plan out what sides of the box I could paint and allow to dry, while still being able to work on other parts of the box. The box also had to be flipped and laid on its side to be painted more easily, so that had to be factored in as well. In the end, I came up with a very rigid schedule of which sides I could paint when – in order to allow time for the paint to dry in between layers and the box being laid on one side or the other. This became especially important when I began to paint the remainder of the box blue.
The first part of the box to be painted blue was the removable box that sits inside of the top layer, to the right of the mirror. This smaller box was my test piece for the blue paint, and I’m very glad that I was smart enough to do it this way, because the blue paint turned out to be very disappointing.
You can see in the picture above that the blue paint was quite streaky. It was also much thicker and darker than the gold paint, not allowing for layers in the same way. I’ll admit, I had a bit of a panic attack when I first used the blue paint. The gold had layered so well and then the blue looked awful! I reached out to a few friends with more painting experience, in addition to searching the internet for a solution. One specific solution that I found online suggested adding Titanium White as a semi-opaque. Luckily this was the exact color that I bought at Michael’s. I added a dollop of Titanium White to Disappointing Blue and it worked like a charm!
I was very happy with how the blue turned out and it only required two layers, as opposed to the four layers I had to paint with the gold color.
In order to personalize the box for Her Highness, I added her device to the inside of the bottom drawer.
Once painting was complete, I used a paint pen to outline the gold motifs and add a bit of detailing. This cleaned up the line that was painted by brush.
After the outline and detailing was done, it was time to lacquer the box. This was a trial in itself. For the first attempt at lacquering, I purchased a can of liquid lacquer from Home Depot and attempted to apply it in strokes using a foam brush. This did not work well. It was difficult to regulate the amount of lacquer on the brush and the strokes were very visible to me. It was especially hard to apply inside the box, with the smaller sides and corners.
The liquid lacquer also caused a bit of a panic when I applied it to the bottom drawer over Sharpie, which I had used to outline the device, and it streaked horribly. I would never have guessed that lacquer could smear “permanent marker” but it does. Lesson learned!
When I saw the Sharpie start to streak, I set down the lacquer and stepped away for the night. The next morning I attempted to fix the streaking by painting over the first layer of lacquer. I am quite certain this is some kind of no-no in the world of painting wood, but I knew I would be applying another coat of lacquer later and it was the only way I could try and fix the problem that the lacquer had created.
After the Sharpie incident, I opted to go back to the store, purchase spray lacquer, and try that instead. Not only did it work much better, but it dried much more quickly and I was able to apply 2-3 coats, finishing the box nicely.
The final step was to add some words to the mirror. I had a friend translate Her Highness’s favorite quote from Mean Girls (a favorite movie of ours) into Latin: “You’re really pretty! So you agree, you think you’re really pretty?” – “Tu ed pulcherrima! Tum adsentis, tu putas te pulcherrimam esse?” I then used the gold paint pen to write this on the edge of the mirror. This definitely could have turned out better – I wish I had a smaller, gold paint pen to use, but I was unfortunately out of time and the lacquer incident had taken more time to resolve, leaving less time for this detail.
I applied a final coat of lacquer and then I was done!
I presented the box to Her Highness at Atlantia’s 12th Night event on January 12th.
Overall, I am very happy with how this project turned out. From start to finish, it took about two months to complete, though I was not working on it every day. It was my first time painting wood like this and while it wasn’t perfect, I managed to work around and fix most of the complications and mistakes that came up. It was a great learning experience and I already know how best to tackle another project like this in the future!
Last week there was a post to the Kingdom of Atlantia Unofficial Discussion Group (Cheapside Tavern) on the Book of Faces. This post addressed setting goals within the SCA, breaking them down into the following categories: something we do for ourselves, something we do for others, and trying something new – something that will help us break out of our comfort zone.
I rather liked this idea. As I am a very goal oriented person, I decided to try setting my goals for 2019 using this format. I decided on three goals for each category. Here they are (in no particular order) with explanation as needed:
Work to complete unfinished embroidery and sewing projects. Completing small tasks will give me a sense of achievement and motivate me to continue working on A&S projects.
Acknowledge that in the past, deadlines that were set to complete new garb were a source of stress. Plan future deadlines more carefully and/or commission or buy garb when possible in order to relieve that stress. Sometimes time is worth more than money.
Continue to update my blog with projects and event recaps.
Volunteer to help in the kitchen, serve, and/or wash dishes for any feast I attend.
Support my Peer, Her Highness Adelhait, & His Highness Christoph during their reign as needed – retaining, donating largesse, etc.
Organize Pennsic Newcomers University Track & Newcomers Point.
New to Me
Make progress on learning to play a plucked/string instrument.
Perform said instrument and/or sing at a bardic circle.
Enter an A&S competition using a new skill. New skill still TBD 🙂
In past years I have used the SMART criteria for goal-setting. While this method has been beneficial in other areas of my life, I found that setting hard deadlines for projects that were meant to be fun rarely worked well. Most of the goals I am setting this year are more broad and less time-related. I’m interested to see how well this format works!
During the summer months Roman garb becomes quite popular in Atlantia, where temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees. Typically made from natural-fiber fabrics like linen, silk, and light weight wool, these loose fitting garments are quite effective in keeping the wearer from becoming overheated.
Roman women, or matrons, wear three layers. The first layer is the tunica, made from a light-weight linen. This layer sits closest to the skin and linen is a natural choice for helping to wick sweat from the body and keep it cool. The second layer is the stola. This layer can be made from a slightly heavier linen than the tunica, silk, or a light-weight wool. I always make my stola from patterned silk. The final layer is the palla. The palla is usually 6-8 feet long and is worn draped around the body and as a head covering. My palla is made from wool gauze.
Roman garb is incredibly simple in its patterning and construction. Both the tunica and the stola consist of two rectangles of fabric, cut to the length of the wearer from shoulder to floor, sewn up the sides. The width of the fabric can vary greatly, but must be at least as wide as the wearer’s hips. These garments can then be pinned and fitted to create a variety of styles, using a type of pin called a fibula. The palla is simply a rectangle of fabric with the edges hemmed.
Within the last year I have grown quite fond of the Landsknecht and Kampfrau style of garb. In April of 2018, an event with a German theme – Night on the Rhine – was held in the nearby Barony of Lochmere. I decided to dress with the theme and make myself a Kampfrau dress, gollar, and wulsthaube.
For the dress, I used a pattern that I already owned and was previously used for a 16th Century Italian gown. I simply extended the waistline so that it would come several inches lower, ending at my true waist as opposed to just below my bust.
I then added guards to the bust and the skirt, which was then attached to the bust using rolled pleats.
Lady Margaret Lad is a 14th Century English Noblewoman. I would consider her to be my primary persona, though I often wear clothing from other countries and time periods.
When dressing as a 14th Century Englishwoman, I generally wear a front lacing cotehardie or gothic fitted dress (GFD for short); a belt, of which I have several styles; knee-high socks or stockings with garters; ankle high boots in the 14th century style; and a head covering of some sort.
I also have a variety of accessories that I like to wear. Accessories can really enhance the overall look of garb and are usually come at a nominal investment – I highly recommend them! Typically, I wear a variety of rings that are reproductions of pieces found in the 13th-14th centuries. I also have several annular and penannular brooches that I wear pinned to the chest/shoulder area of my gowns. For my belt, I like to wear a rosary or paternoster, which are found worn in illuminated manuscripts of that time period. I also have several bags that I carry so that I can hide my modern necessities 🙂
In regards to the picture above, I do want to note that tucking the ends of a dress into a belt in such a way is NOT a period fashion. Typically the dress is pulled up from the waist, with the excess fabric hanging over the belt. The next time I wear my dress in such a way, I will take a photograph to post here as an example.
Patterning a GFD
The gothic fitted dress is typically meant to be self supporting, which means that the wearer does not need any type of supportive undergarments for the top half of the dress. In order to achieve this look, patterns need to be custom-fitted to the individual. I have had the great fortune to attend several workshops in Northern Atlantia where custom fittings have taken place, and the principles of which have also been taught, by Dame Emma West and Mistress Drea di’ Pellegrini. As a result, I not only have my own custom pattern for this style of dress, but I can fit others as well.
I have offered fittings in the past at events and hope to do so again in the future.
In the meantime, here are a list of resources for patterning and making a gothic fitted dress that may be helpful:
Embroidery is one of my favorite A&S activities within the Society and I honestly wish that I had more time to commit to making and finishing projects. I have many half-completed projects and ideas for others – I only hope that I live long enough to see them through!
An Embroidered Pillow in Black & Gold
This pillow was embroidered based on my interpretation of a period style found in 15th century Spain.
The style of embroidery is a counted blackwork, though gold floss was used. Blackwork is typically seen on garments in England from the time of Henry VIII, however the term “Spanish work” was also applied to this same style. The belief became that Catherine of Aragon brought blackwork garments with her from Spain to England. The pattern created for this pillow was inspired by a portrait, believed to be of Catherine of Aragon herself, painted by the Spanish artist Juan de Flandes in approximately 1496.
For the pillow’s materials, I used Zweigart brand Belfast 32 count 100% linen and Au Ver A Soie brand silk embroidery floss for the pillow’s exterior case. The body of the pillow consists of a linen interior case stuffed with goose down. The case of the pillow was then sewn closed using a whip stitch in a cotton thread.
This was my first entry in an A&S competition. The embroidered design on this pillow was my second project to use blackwork or any kind of counted thread embroidery. I was very pleased with how it turned out and I’m proud to say that it won the Best Novice in the A&S competition at the Spanish Inquisition – Torquemada’s Trans-Iberian Tour event on January 21, 2017.
After winning the Best Novice entry, I was honored to be selected as the Baronial A&S Champion for the Barony of Ponte Alto. I then entered the pillow again at the Baronial A&S Champions competition at Kingdom A&S Festival in 2017.
A Blackwork Napkin
I first learned the technique of blackwork during an Atlantian University, at a class taught by Lord Robert Shockley of Avonsford. I immediately fell in love with counted thread embroidery, as it appealed to my love of symmetry and evenness. My first blackwork project – a gift for a friend that has yet to be gifted! – was a napkin with a hem-stitched edge and blackwork motifs decorating its corners. I still have additional motifs that I would like to add, so – for now – it remains in progress.
I love to hem stitch the edges of any embroidery project the requires a clean finish. This is one of my favorite embroidery techniques and I find it to be particularly calming & meditative due to its simplicity.
Another of my favorite counted thread techniques is brickstitch. I learned this technique for a project that was never completed and, most likely, never will be. But I do hope to start a new project in order to practice this technique some more – I’m thinking, a German pouch? To be determined!
One of my first, big embroidery projects was to make a simple dress with very elaborate embroidery – inspired by the Norman garb of the 12th Century.
My version of this garb was much simplified – made with Appleton’s crewel wool on linen, in a combination of chain and stem stitch. I also used a blanket stitch around the border of the neck and sleeves.
To transfer the design to the linen, I traced the motif onto Strathmore Tracing Paper and darkened the lines with a black sharpie. I then taped the paper with the outlined design to a window on a sunny day, then taped the linen over top of the paper. The light shining through the window allowed me to see the black lines on the paper through the light green linen, and then, in turn, trace those lines onto the linen with the Wrights 8823005 Water Soluble Marking Pen in blue. I find this pen to be wonderful for embroidery projects as the markings disappear as soon as you add water.
Another unfinished project! I began recreating the Large Masks motif from the burial at Bjerringhøj, in Mammen parish, Middelsom herred, in northern Denmark. The finished product was meant to be an embroidered bank for a Viking hat, but it never quite made it that far.
The embroidery was done with Au Ver A Soie brand silk embroidery floss on inherited fabric – I was told it was a silk blend, but that may or may not be correct.
I traced the technical drawing (above) on to the fabric using a light box.
A Lady’s Favor
A quick project, gifted to a fighter as a favor for a heavy tournament in early 2017. The motif is my first badge registered with the Society: Argent, a tree blasted sable and in chief a mullet of seven points purpure.
I traced the design using my computer screen – haha! Like I said, it was done quickly 🙂
The embroidery was done in satin stitch with DMC floss on white linen.
The edge of the linen was finished with a machine. Since it was meant to be worn on the fighting field, I didn’t want to spend too much time fancying up something that was likely to end up torn and dirty!