Monday, August 21, 2017

Pennsic 46- A&S Experiences

Picture by LĂ©onete d'Angely
I was convinced that I should display my works at the populace display this Pennsic, despite the fact that it overlapped with Rapier Champs this year. One of the big things that managed to push me over the edge was that my friend and fellow Handsome Boy was willing to babysit my precious books (and that others also volunteered for that task!)
I arrived early to set everything up. There was a non zero amount of running around because of forgotten items (oops) but the organizers had given us plenty of time (about 2 hours), which I very much appreciated.
At the suggestion of Mistress Vienna, I had business cards set out (Staples has one day printing, it was great!). I had also put out a book for comments, since I wasn't going to be able to actually hear those. I'll probably put out the book every time, now, because memories are good to have.
My display consisted of the two goldwork book covers I've made, with their documentation, as well as some test pieces that I did. The test pieces were there to be fondled and looked at, since the books themselves are somewhat delicate. I had many thoughts on how to make a better display from my A&S Champs experience, but all I managed to follow up on was a cloth for my space. My next display or competition I'll try to add one of the more complex things (right now, a step by step sampler that people can handle is highest on my list.)

Not shown: the piece of chocolate I immediately ate
I sat with my items for a little bit before everything opened, when the displayers were all wandering around looking at each others things. Then I went to fight in champs, and finally returned about 5 minutes before the display closed. But even in those 5 minutes I managed to have great conversations and heard many nice things! It was worth it just for that. I also returned to pile of tokens and several comments in my book, all of which were also heart warming. I didn't get to thank individual people, but know that if you stopped to look, I appreciate it.

There were a couple of amazing services that occurred concurrently with this display that I wish I could have partaken in. First, there was a team of artisans who gave their time to give feedback and advice to interested participants on a one-on-one basis. I hope many people took advantage of this, since it's absolutely the best way to improve - especially if you want to compete! There was also some people who were offering appointments for free macro photography of pieces. I would have signed up for this in a heart beat, since I find taking pictures of my work quite challenging. I have my fingers crossed that this will happen next year as well, and that I won't have a conflict for it.

And a class!

There were several embroidery classes that I had my eye on this year, but I was only able to make it to one of them. But it was a great class, and I learned a new goldwork technique! The class was taught by Vavara Laska doch' Koudelka from Trimaris, and it was about couching over a card. The class was coming from the direction of Russian goldwork, but many cultures have used cards to raise up their embroidery, and to get very crisp lines. I find it in ecclesiastical embroidery particularly often.
As is the way with classes, we didn't remotely get to finish the little project, but I think I have a solid understanding of the technique, and the handout is very detailed. The actual technique is pretty straightforward, although it takes some finesse to get exactly right.
Now to decide what to do with it!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Device Pin Project Part 8

It's been awhile since I finished some of these. I completed two more right before Pennsic, and they had been sitting around for mooonths. I keep getting distracted by things, I guess.

I've finally started in on our good friends the Calivers.

Per pale purpure and vert, on a lozenge argent a rose proper.

Argent, a chevron between three fleurs-de-lys and on a chief azure a wolf passant argent
These were the first two that I did on linen instead of a thicker cotton. I did it because it's what I had to hand when I started them, but I think I'll stick to the cotton - or at least use heavier linen. These were a bit of a pain, and I don't think they look as nice on the pin. And it's certainly harder to hide little thread bits behind the thinner fabric.

Also, that wolf is on my hit list along with certain horses and greyhounds now.


Thursday, August 17, 2017

Remy's Vigil Book - The Embroidering Part 1

After finishing the design of the goldwork cover, it was time to start with couching down the lines. The lines were couched using #368 matte gold wyre from Thistle Threads and #5 silver passing thread from Hedgehog Handworks (now out of business). I happened to have both of these threads already, and chose them based on size and quantity, and the fact that I had bullion that matched their color. They were slightly different to work with. The silver was slightly thicker and acted more like metal wire would.
Sometimes I don't take the best pictures of my work, but hopefully you get the idea here.

The lines were somewhat complex to work with. In the original piece, there are two threads that are paired, but often have split apart to go create sub designs, to return to each other. Often they cross over themselves. In order to get all of that straight I printed out a very high resolution corner of the design, and drew arrows on it to follow. Even with one corner blown up to a full 8x11 page there were some more densely crossing areas that ended up being mostly guesswork.

Gold passing thread so close to completed
Because the lines were so complex I wasn't able to actual couch down both threads at once, when they were next to each other. I didn't have two spools of the thread, and couldn't begin to guess how long a second piece would need to be. Instead when separated thread returned to each other I tried to couch the second in the same places as the first, often going over both threads to give the illusion that they were couched at the same time.

Once I had completed all the gold portions - which amounted to four large motifs in the corners, and two smaller ones on each long side - I moved onto the silver. There was much less passing thread to worry about this time, and none of the motifs were particularly complicated. The flower petals were a bit of a pain due to the small loops crossing over each other and generally not wanting to go where I told them to, but it was still nothing compared to the gold motifs.

After the silver was done I outlined the last few objects with sewing thread, just so that I could find them once the paper was removed. This included the eagle, the central shield, and hilts of the swords. All of these were going to be more complicated that just outlined in passing thread, so couldn't be done over the paper.

All the passing thread

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Pennsic 46 - War Points and Tournaments

Tournaments!

I only managed to participate in two tournaments this year, but they were both good experiences. On Wednesday after the Woods Battle all of us folks who work from manuals trekked our way to the fencing field in order to fight in the By the Book tournament. Despite the wretched timing, I think there was a bigger turnout than last year, which was great! Because of the wretched timing, it ran up against the Edmund the Lame Memorial Tournament, and was changed from its normal round robin setup, which was less great.
There were three lists, each with about 10 people. We ended up fighting double elimination, just to get done in time for Eastern Court. I fought Rafael of the Thieves of Hearts first, and we had a close fight, but he eventually won. I followed that up by fighting Remy (a thing I definitely never do). This was particularly unfortunate since I don't think that my Fabris fighting is the best way for me to fight him (I don't have specific thoughts on the why of this, but I probably should develop some). I stuck by the point of the tournament and stayed within the realms of Fabris, and he did in fact defeat me.
I admit, I've never been more ok with getting out of a tournament quickly. A shower before court was calling my name.
It turned out sticking to Fabris as well as I could was definitely the right play. I ended up winning the prize for best showing the style I intended to! For this I (amusingly) acquired a new book on I33.

The other tournament I took part in was the Ladies' Tourney. 40 women came out to play for that one, which was amazing. Each list had 10 people - mine included both Rowan and Camille, but I got to fight 7 people who I didn't know, too. I had specifically decided to make it to this tournament so that I could be there for women fencers, and try to be a role model (it's still occasionally strange to think of myself as a role model, but I do realize it's true). So I made myself make conversation and be more gregarious than I might normally be in a tournament. It ended up being quite fun, and I had several good fights. I made it out of my pool into the single elimination, best two of three, final 8.
I fought Eirne from Eoldermere. I had never fought her before, and she was a unique combination of quite tall and very aggressive. She's also quite fast. I won the first pass, but she adjusted quickly to my own aggression and she daggered me the other two fights. I was particularly vulnerable to that style, since I was fighting buckler, and I applaud her quick learning in the fights.
She went on to fight in the finals against Isolde. They had some vicious (but courteous!) fights, and in the end Isolde won the day.
I was very glad to have fought in that tournament, and I'm likely to participate again.

War Points!

Tuesday, the longest day, and yet not as long as I was worried it would be. The weather I'm sure helped with that feeling. It was gorgeous.

There were four Field Battles, each worth a war point. The Handsome Boys were holding down the north side of the field. The intention was that we push through the other side, with the Thieves and the Calivers, and be the hammer to the anvil that was waiting on the other side of the field. When this was planned, there was a single caveat- that we probably wouldn't be able to do this if we ended up across from Atlantia. And of course, we did end up in that position, and we did not generally manage to break through. But we held out long enough for people to our south do turn into a hammer, and it was amazing. I know that the Southern Army was the hammer at times (and they were inducted into the Blue Tyger Legion for their efforts!), and Loch Levan was able to find an internal flank and open them like a can. We won all four runs, but we had to work for them. The army really came together for these fights.

The Ruins Battle was much the same as in previous years, although the flags seemed even more off centered than usual. The Handsome Boys spent the first two thirds of the battle smashing into the other side up by the castle. We tried to find holes all up and down their line, and down into the building, and while we had some good pushes we never managed to get through. We did keep them very busy, and so our compatriots to the south were able to take advantage and own the flags down there.
After we switched sides, taking and keeping the top two flags became much easier, thanks to the distance difference. I believe that I heard that we mostly retained the southern flags, too. So again, the army worked beautifully. 

Wednesday was the Woods Battle. Our job was flag three, which the enemy barely tried to touch. They had one push where they almost got to our flag, and then they never really tried again. We had skirmishers out in front of the line, and the other side didn't want to get past them. So our line did a great job, even if we did a lot of looking pretty. Sometimes it's exactly what a soldier needs to do.
The other two flags had much more pressure on them, but still came away successful. 

And last we had the Stronghold Battle on Friday. This first came into being last year, and was an interesting experiment, but ended up being a very small amount of fighting. Two changes this year made the entire war point much more fun - the defending team had an easier time rezzing, and we ran three times for each side. The times for the three runs were added, and the lower cumulative time won the war point.
The Purple side defended first. Handsome Boys were with the Thieves of Hearts on the right side. We would send some people forward to distract their line, and then stand for as long as we could. We had some issues with falling back with the rest of the army, and so we had to recover from a few gaps. But in the end we held them off for something like 6, 4, and 3 minutes (I don't have the specific times, unfortunately.) Good on them for adjusting and learning. This scenario really shows that sort of thing.
When we attacked, we were very aggressive. The flanks especially were told to push through and around, and each time one side or the other managed to do that. As our general, Remy carried a standard to whichever our closest rez point was so everyone could see how far we had gotten, and this was extremely useful.
I love this war point. I love the short, intense fighting, on both sides. I look forward to seeing it continue to morph and grow.

The Purple Army did a fantastic job all week, and it was an absolute pleasure to fight alongside you. Thank you also to the other side for for being skilled and courteous opponents. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Pennsic 46 - Rapier Champions

This year was first time fighting on the singles team for Rapier Champs. In the past I've fought on the melee team several times, but that's infinitely different for my brain space. The entire experience was a great one, and I am honored to have been chosen to represent the East and the Rapier Community.
Picture by Cecily O'Donell
I was paired with Master Davius of Trimaris, previously of the East. I knew that he was left handed, tended to use case, and of course, is a skilled fighter. We happened to fight the day before, not yet knowing that we would be paired up. I think this was somewhat helpful for me - it allowed me to remember some of his go-to moves, for example. But I think it may have been more helpful for him. My entire fighting style has changed in the last couple years since we fought, whereas he has stayed in the same general vicinity of his. If he had come up against me without more recent knowledge, I may have managed to surprise him.

But of course, that's just speculation, and we'll never really know.

I fought warm ups specifically against Master Antonio, who was kind enough to make sure he was there to be a left handed warm up for me. I felt very good after those warm ups. But then I had to wait. And wait. Going last is hard. Duke Kenric offered to renew the warm ups partway through the boughts, but I felt rude to be fencing off to the side so I declined. (I wonder if there's a better way for people late in the list to stay warm? It's not rude if everyone agrees to a fighting area a bit away beforehand.)
I did spend most of the intervening time ignoring the other fights and doing forms off to the side to keep my body warm and my brain focused. This part worked quite well.

Davius was even more aggressive than I expected. This was smart of him - it did catch me off guard at the very beginning. I've heard it said that he doesn't like to fight the same person the same way twice, and this showed. Once it was apparent what his plan was, From then on I was kiting him, because I didn't want him to be the one who decided when we clashed. We had a few such clashes with no touches landed.

In the end it was a move that I associate strongly with him that finally got me - a cut to the calf. Even once I was on the ground, I did have a buckler, and so it was a near thing.

I need to get better about moving between upright and bent over stances, as well as moving from circling to attacking, smoothly. I knew this, but it was particularly clear during this fight. Had I felt more comfortable with those transitions than I could have caught him from an angle, or moved into the Fabris stance that he has less familiarity with without pausing my movement and giving him a tempo against me.
Also, no matter how much I know that I need to be aggressive, when the fight matters I always end up more cautious, especially if I can't enter the fight already amped up. I think if I can move into aggression more smoothly - primarily using the transitions I noted above - that that will help.

On a more general note....
There were some interesting observations that are sparking the beginnings of a post in my head. Many people, including Davius, were certain the Davius was in complete control of the fight. I felt as though I was kiting him - and thus, despite his aggression, that was not always true. I do think that when viewing the fight, it's easy to assume that the aggressive person is in control. But I also wonder if we have some internalized biases affecting us - that the larger person, or the male person, is assumed to be in control. I've spoken to a few people, and the women were much more likely to be told that they need to control the fight better. Anecdote doesn't mean data, but I'm interested in pursuing this further.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Remy's Vigil Book - The Planning

Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne has a very late period, very French persona. When I was asked to embroider a vigil book for him I went on a quest for items that fit those two requirements.
I found that the Library of France had some gorgeous book covers in EXTREMELY high resolutions.
Seriously, go visit. I'll wait.
The three embroidered covers that they had were all appropriate to the Cavalier period that Remy prefers. They're a little late for more common SCA A&S, but the style and materials were not appreciably different.

http://reliures.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cdt9x1j51/?enhttp://reliures.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cdt9xvg4/?en


http://reliures.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/cdt9x1jmm/?er=2
The purple one to the left is from 1637 ended up being the main source of inspiration. The original design was something that I knew I could add personalization to without too much effort, and without losing the original feel of the piece.

I knew that I needed to add the Order of Defense symbol. I also knew that I wanted to replace the religious imagery in the center with Remy's device. Other ideas that I floated around included the Musketeer symbol, the Carolingian heraldry, and the Carolingian Caliver's eagle. In the end, only the eagle made it into the design.


Both Carolingia and Remy have blue as their primary heraldic color, so I went on a search for blue velvet. I managed to get my hands on some amazing velvet scraps from fabric that had been used to create coronation garb for Thyra II and Edward III.
Similarly to previous velvet based projects, I stretched linen onto my frame and then basted the velvet on top of that so it could be stretched without being crushed. Then I traced the design onto parchment paper and basted that onto the velvet. I knew this would eventually result in the painful process of removing the paper, but it is so much easier to get the initial design down this way.
I tried to place the design so that I could use the selvage edge to make the covering process easier. This mostly worked, but I ended up with a book slightly larger than expected, so the end cover is just a smidge too small, and has a tendency to fall off. This is, luckily, a thing that can be fixed.



Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Kennathimor's Knighting Cloak

At Birka this past year, Kennathimor Gierson was knighted. The Worshipful Company created a cloak for him with wool applique along the bottom. I did one of the simpler symbols - the Northern Army badge. Others included his device and the Lochleven badge. All of the appliques were done using wool felt and thick wool thread.
This post is much belated in the hopes that I would find a good picture of the finished cloak, but unfortunately that is not to be. Instead, have this glimpse of the embroidery in a photo of his buffet.
Duchess Thyra was nice enough to provide me with a good picture of the cloak, as displayed by Cassandra Grey!
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Picture by Thyra Eiriksdotter