Five Years of Pennsic

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 😊

A moment of joy with dear friends at Pennsic 48 (2019).

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.

Retaining at Pennsic 45 on Middle Sunday during the Champions Battles.

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.

The Grimmsfield banner flying at the camp entrance at Pennsic 46 (2017).

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.

An example of how my Pennsic schedule usually looks. As mentioned above, I’m lucky to complete three of these activities a day.

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.

The new and improved camp gate. Photo credit to Master Stephan Grimm.

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.

My somewhat historically accurate men’s interpretation of the Wicked Witch of the West. Photo credit to Lord Ronan Mac Imair.

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.

My Companion sister, Marguerite, and I in our new coronets – gifts from Her Majesty Adelhait – on the last Friday of Pennsic.

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!

Marshaling at St. Sebastian’s with Baroness Karin and Mistress Martelle.

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.

Myself, my Companion sister Marguerite, and Their Graces, Adelhait and Christoph (so charming) at Pennsic 48.

My First Pennsic

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!

The Barony of Ponte Alto during Opening Ceremonies of Pennsic. I’m one of those dark shapes 😂 Photo credit to Baron Naran Numuchi.

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.

A view of Casa Bardicci from across the lake. Image Courtesy of http://diligentdwarves.blogspot.com/2010/09/pennsic-house-pay-off.html

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.

Shooting war points on the Pennsic archery range.

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.

A photograph taken during Court, trying to shield myself from the powerful Pennsic sun. Photo credit to Master Stephan Grimm.

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.

To the good times.

Coronets, Diadems, and Bling – Oh My!

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 🙂

Taken after Atlantian Great Court. The coronets pictured were a gift from Her Majesty Adelhait, made by Mistress Seraphina Maslowska.
https://www.facebook.com/itsaseraphina/
Myself and my Peer, Her Majesty Adelhait, at Stierbach’s Baronial Birthday – September, 2019.

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.

I was silly and forgot to take a picture of my entire outfit, not sitting in a vehicle. But the amethysts and stars can be seen clearly here.

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.

This coronet also features my heraldic colors – purple, black, and white – as well as my seven pointed stars.

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.

The funeral crown of Queen Agnes from the Hungarian National Museum. Photo credit to Kotomoi_
https://www.flickr.com/photos/kotomi-jewelry/
Another car photo, yes, but the details of the coronet are best seen here.
A photograph of me wearing the coronet with German Landsknecht in matching colors, with the talented Lord Cataldo – maker of said coronet and all around nice guy.

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 🙂

A Review of 2019

Well. That happened.

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!

For Myself

❌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.

For Others

✅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 🙂

Roman

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.

A Roman Matron, photo credit to Lady Machteld Cleine. The three layers are seen quite clearly here – the light yellow tunica; the blue and gold stola; and the white palla.
My friend, Lady Marguerite, and I dressed in Roman and squinting in the sun 😉 Again, the layers are clearly distinguishable. Photo credit to Master Ursus.
Roman women in tunicas and stolas. We did not wear pallas this night.

Resources

Anna’s New Rome – https://annasrome.com/roman-garb-basics/

Greek & Roman Garb – https://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~lwittie/sca/garb/GreekRoman.html

My fibula come from ThorThor’s Hammer – http://thorthorshammer.com/romanbroochpage.htm

16th Century German

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.

For instructions on rolled pleats, please reference The German Renaissance of Genoveva at http://germanrenaissance.net/rolled-pleats-photo-tutorial-and-pleat-spacing-calculator/

The finished dress with detachable sleeves. The dress is 100% linen.
The dress, this time without sleeves, but with the gollar – a style of hood. The gollar is wool, lined with linen.
A close up of the wulsthaube, or head covering. I made mine using a drawstring – recommended by a friend – for ease of use. The drawstring is not historically accurate. Likewise, the fabric is a patterned blend that I purchased from JoAnn’s due to its resemblance to embroidery.
A close-up of the wulsthaube and hat.

I have several more 16th Century German style dresses planned for 2019 – stay tuned for updates here!

Resources

Reconstructing History has several patterns for both the Kampfrau style of dress and its accessories:

https://reconstructinghistory.com/product/rh505-german-accessories/

https://reconstructinghistory.com/product/rh504-kampfrau-or-common-womans-dress/

The Curious Frau – http://curiousfrau.com/2009/08/12/trossfrau-kampfrau-and-landsknecht/

Whilja’s Corner – https://whiljascorner.wordpress.com/2013/06/04/an-overview-of-the-trossfrau/

Katafalk – https://katafalk.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/patternmaking-for-the-kampfrau-dress/

14th Century English

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 🙂

A blue GFD, made by myself, with a hood made by Historic Enterprises, bycocket – a hat typically worn in the 13th-14th centuries, belt, rosary/paternoster, and leather gloves. Photo credit to Lord Naran Numuchi.
The same GFD with a red pilgrim’s bag, a shorter rosary, and no head covering – GASP! This picture was taken almost two years ago, before I realized how much covering the hair in a period style really lent itself to the authenticity of the overall look I was trying to recreate.
The same GFD, this time with white tippets worn on the sleeves, and a coif with a frilled veil. Photo credit to Master Ursus.
A red GFD, made by myself. Worn with a belt and red pilgrim’s bag. You can see a small red paternoster hanging from my belt, as well as my pointed 14th Century shoes peeking out from the bottom of my dress. My hair is worn in a period style referred to as “hair taping”, though it remains uncovered.
Disregarding my ridiculous pose in this picture 😉 You can see the details of the rings I typically wear, along with details of this beautiful belt made by Billy & Charlie’s Fine Quality Pewter Goods. I am wearing my hair tucked into a coif under my bycocket.
A green GFD, made by myself. Worn with a belt, annular broach in the shape of a heart, wimple, and frilled veil.
Another photograph of my green GFD, credit to Lady Machteld Kleine. This is the only photograph I have where my 14th Century shoes – courtesy of Viking Leather Crafts – are visible, along with the knee-high socks that I typically wear.

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.

Resources

In the meantime, here are a list of resources for patterning and making a gothic fitted dress that may be helpful:

La cotte simple – http://cottesimple.com/

Rosalie’s Medieval Woman – http://rosaliegilbert.com/index.html

Festive Attyre – specifically the article on spiral lacing, which is used for this style of dress – http://www.festiveattyre.com/p/the-zen-of-spiral-lacing.html

Embroidery

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.

Juan de Flandes, Portrait of an Infanta. Catherine of Aragon (?), ca. 1496; Oil on panel. 31.5 x 21.7 cm, Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid INV. Nr. 141 (1930.36)

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.

A close-up of the embroidery on the collar, which was used as the inspiration for the pillow’s design.

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.

A progress picture of the counted thread work.
The final result.

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.

Kingdom Arts & Sciences Festival, 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.

A close-up of the hem stitch.

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.

A very traditional motif of oak leaves in one corner.

German Brickstitch

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!

A close-up of the hem stitch.

The pattern was taken from Master Richard Wymarc’s collection at http://wymarc.com/index.php/patterns

It is Pattern 23: A Fragment.

The pattern depicted a motif of trees and birds.
The pattern was meant to be subtle. From a distance, it would appear as solid blue. Only up close would a person see the variations in colors and patterns.

A Norman Dress

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.

An Alb (Coronation garment) said to be worn by the Norman King William II. Made by the Royal workshop in Palermo, Sicily. 1181. Inv. XIII 7. Location: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Schatzkammer, Vienna, Austria. Image taken from Pinterest.

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.

The final product, worn on the archery range.

Mammen Embroidery

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 extant piece and technical drawing of the find from the 1869 article by Worsaae. This image is taken from the website of Heather Rose Jones: http://heatherrosejones.com/mammen/

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.

The beginnings of the stem stitch around the face.
A close-up of the stem stitch and the completed face motif.

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 🙂

No judgment! It worked 😉

The embroidery was done in satin stitch with DMC floss on white linen.


The beginnings of the satin stitch as the tree branches are filled.
Nearly complete!

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!

Leather Working

I have a tendency to dabble in a variety of A&S activities within the SCA and leather working is one of those areas. As an archer, I’ve found a need to work with leather in order to make quivers, bracers, and other shooting accessories. Luckily, I have friends like Lord Stephan Grimm and Baron Colum Maxwell in the Barony of Stierbach who, not only have all the tools needed to work with leather, but are willing & able to teach!

Flask

This project was completed in one weekend spent at Baron Colum’s house. I picked out an empty glass container and His Excellency then showed me how to shape the leather to the vessel. I then embellished the leather with stamping, carving, and painting techniques in order to personalize it. This was my first leather working project and I’m very proud of how it turned out.

The glass container is permanently encased inside of the leather flask. This is perfect to carry water during the day or for a night out at Pennsic!

A Quiver for Pennsic

For my first Pennsic, I needed a quiver! Up until that point I had been borrowing quivers or using ground quivers while I shot, but I knew that was not sustainable. In the summer of 2015, Lord Cameron de Grey held a quiver making workshop at his home and I was able to make a very basic back quiver.

Cutting straps for my back quiver.
The finished quiver with a rendition of my badge, stamped and dyed.

My back quiver has seen quite a bit of use since my first Pennsic in 2015 and I’m ready to make a new one, in addition to a new crossbow quiver. Progress pictures to be posted here!

Arrow Making

There is a saying within the archery community of the Society: “Don’t get attached to your ammo!” And there is good reason for that. If you shoot on a consistent basis, then the probability of breaking and/or losing your arrows is quite high. The best way to curb the cost of replacement ammunition – with the exception of never missing the target – is to make your own arrows.

While I did purchase my very first dozen arrows, as I became more involved in archery I knew that I would eventually make my own. The first set of arrows I made were never meant to be shot – they were award arrows that I made and gifted to the best shooters at Spring Coronation 2016. I was the Marshal in Charge of Target Archery for that event and one of my favorite parts of this job is coming up with prizes to give my archers.

A few of the award arrows that I made for Spring Coronation 2016.

After making the award arrows, I set to the task of making a set of my own. These ones would be shot 🙂

Fletching my arrows using a fletching jig.
A hanging target at Grimmsfield.

I will continue to make my own arrows and arrows for others – either as prizes or as gifts – and post them here. Arrow making can be an art of its own. And receiving a beautiful, well made arrow can be a true gift.

The first award arrow I ever received. Made by Master Godai for Highland River Melees, 2015. A gift that I will cherish forever.