Monday, December 14, 2015

Cassandra's Laurel Coat

Cassandra has been a leader and inspiration for the Worshipful Company for some time. She has guided many of us, and caused more than a few of our escapades, and I was overjoyed when I heard she was going to be receiving her Laurel.

Duchess Akaterine was in charge of her regalia - specifically, a coat. She handed out kits to all of the Company, and several more of Cassandra's friends.

It was a fun design, with a variety of techniques.

 I was initially happy with the metal work, but once it was on the coat things got a lot more wavy. That's a problem in the MoD gloves I made, too. I've since been told that Jap metal thread just likes to do that, and close, even stitches are the best way to stop it. I also learned that they usually used two strands of the metal thread side by side. Next time I will try it that way!

The coat was used to panel for Athena's Thimble for a number of people before it was handed off to Cassandra in court. The coat was very full. And Cassandra is not a short woman.

Me holding the coat for easy inspection.
Photo by Simona bat Leon
This was the first Athena's Thimble experience for many of the people who helped with this, and I'm glad they could get ushered in so easily.

I can't find a good photo of the coat in action, but will post one when it inevitably appears.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Yule and Practice Report

Bergental/BBM Yule happened! I went there instead of to the Northern Academy of Rapier because there were awards happening I wanted to be there to see.
It was a small group, but the average fencing level was quite high. My cadet, Liaden, was the MiC and ran two tournaments. The first one was the first rapier champion tournament that Bergental has had in years. She has been working on getting the position back since she joined us in fencing, and it was very good to watch. And congratulations to Urraka for being the champion!
The second tournament was a simple bear pit. I fought with my buckler, which I haven't really picked up since K&Q, and it showed.
I don't think my head got away from me in the tournament, was I was also not in kill them all mode. I was having fun and trying some things and that's ok.

I went into practice on Monday feeling like I wanted to Stab All The Things, which is good. It is not uncommon for Monday practice to have me dragging my feet until I get adrenaline going.

Fighting Lilias went way better for me than it usually does - and it was with single, which I generally expect her to trounce me on. I changed my game on her. It felt a little like I was playing *her* game - the patient distance game - but it worked a lot better than trying to get all up in her space like I generally. She's just too good at getting around my dagger when I do that.

I discovered when fighting Donovan and Kenrick that my current level of Fabris is not really prepared to fight more Fabris, or lefties. I realize that I just need to find different guards and in general expand what I know.
It also makes me think that if Caoilfhionn is planning on pursuing Fabris, I should figure out this "fighting lefties" problem so I can pass it on to her - since she is a lefty, and fighting righties is rather more common.

I was trying a lot of invitations and blade opposition, which got me killed more than I'd like. BUT I did get a plate perfect invitation based kill.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Queen's Favors, Caoilfhionn II

There is nothing fancy about these favors...I was think of doing some white work detail on them, but Christmas has stolen my time. And besides, Caoilfhionn was in desperate need of favors.
They are both worked in simple split stitch.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

MoD Gloves - The Planning.

Before the Masters of Defense were even a done deal, I knew that when Donovan got one I wanted to be able to make something for him. Of course the problem there is that I don't really sew - I embroider. And regalia kind of requires a combination of the two activities most of the time. And I knew the likely candidates for sewing for him were far away, so that would be difficult.

Once the new Peerage was definitely going to happen there was so much discussion about what sorts of traditions and regalia and such we would be using in the East. So. Much. It's like people really cared or something. One thing that got brought up by several different people and then stuck was the idea of "throwing the gauntlet". The Queen would literally toss a gauntlet, and retrieving it would be the symbolic acceptance of their new duties.

I thought it was a very cool and unique thing for the new Order to do without stepping on anyone's toes, and allowed for the Queen to be directly involved. It also meant that the regalia would have to include gloves. Embroidered gloves. My task was born!

I have never done a lot of historic research in my embroidery - I've done what strikes my fancy at the time, or projects given to me by other people. But I knew that the person (Alesone/Alysten over at Alysten's Blog) making his garb for ceremony was going full on fancy late period English, so I wanted to add to the outfit. Little did I know that most of the extant examples of late period English gloves are UTTERLY RIDICULOUS. But also, so cool.

I ended up with a Pinterest board of late 16th/early 17th century gloves, but I took particular inspiration from these.
Image from
I liked them, and they weren't quiiite as complex as some of the others.
So there was much sketching. Here are some designs from before I settled on those gloves, in more "typical Elizabethan embroidery" style.
Unfortunate shadows are unfortunate!
Once I had the pattern I wanted, I enlarged it to full size for tracing purposes.
I went with the basic motifs in the inspiration gloves - the border and the flower-type things - but changed some of the flowers to be circles instead, to be filled with the three fencing award badges in the East. In this picture you can see rough sketches of the Golden Rapier, MoD, and Silver Rapier symbols.
Once I had a design I approached the problem of materials.
I knew that I wanted the base gloves to be the calfskin ones available from Darkwood Armory - they are soft and nice and I could figure out his size from his fencing gloves. And there was no way that I was going to add "glove making" to this project.
Unfortunately, the gloves that I've seen come in two types - embroidery directly on the leather, or embroidery on piece of stiffened fabric that is then attached as the cuff to the leather hand part of the glove. Neither of these were going to be feasible for this project. Embroidering directly on that leather was asking for tiny holes everywhere from mistakes, not to mention that most ideas I had needed properly stretched material to work on. Removing the perfectly nice leather cuff to attach a fully fabric one was taking a step closer to glove making than I was interested in going for this project.
The happy medium I decided on was embroidering on linen, and then attaching it (and a layer of stabilizer) to the leather cuff, making it look like it was a fully fabric cuff. This had its own difficulties, but I still think it was the right plan.

Stayed tunes for actual embroider pictures to come.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rose Cloak 2

Thyra's rose cloak was such a hit that we were asked to make one for our current Queen, Caoilfhionn.
This one was smaller, with fewer roses, but this time they were blue!
I went with similar stitches to the last one, but the challenge here were the tiny leaves. I'm not entirely happy with how they came out - I was kind of making things up as I went - but from far away I suppose it's ok.
I forgot to take a picture before I handed it in, but luckily the Company is on the ball. Mine is on the left here.
Photo from the Worshipful Company
One thing that I screwed up is not realizing that one side of silk was significantly more silver than the other side. I was using the freezer paper on it as a stabilizer (someone else had cut it out), and by the time I peeled that paper off it was too late.

And the cloak in full!
Photo from the Worshipful Company
Photo from the Worshipful Company

Monday, November 16, 2015


I have been lax. I swear there are projects and fencing, but you know how it goes.
But then - KWAR!

Known World Academy of Rapier was in Chicago this weekend.

I went to the last one, 3? years ago, when I still considered myself a baby fencer. I learned a lot then, and that has no changed this time around. This is going to be a kind of general synopsis of my weekend. More detailed posts will hopefully follow, after some time spent unpacking my brain.

Fabris 101, taught by Phaedra.
I know enough about Fabris by this point that nothing truly surprised me, but I have been given some methods to my thigh killing madness. It was a huge class so I didn't get any specific one on one time, but now I know someone new to hunt down with questions.
What we did that really stuck in my brain was invitations with the dagger. There were 5 standard invitations and responses - upper and lower inside, upper and lower outside, and the middle, which is the same high and low. I hope to get these into my muscle memory. Convincing my opponent to do what I want to to do has always been difficult for me and I think having these set invitations will help.
I also learned that I do so many crossover steps when in my Fabris stance (because short!) that I am really quite bad at basic advances and retreats in that stance.

17th Century Italian Pedegogy, taught by Prospero (aka, Devon from Duello).
This class was all about how to effectively teach Italian fencing. We did some drills, but were focusing on how to do them correctly and how to make sure that your partner got the most out of it. It was not the class I was expecting, but it was definitely a class I needed.
In general the style of the class was that we would go over a basic drill and then go off with our partners. But instead of the class instructors going around correcting the mechanics of the drill, they would correct how the "teacher" partner was correcting the drill.
Primary takeaways -
   - A good combative drill will have a stimulus, response, and consequence. There will be a consequence for both success and failure (generally, but not always, one or the other person being hit).
   - Don't tell students what *not* to do. Positive statements are best. Say "Raise your sword" not "Don't keep your sword so low." It is human nature to internalize "Keep your sword so low" and leave out that important "Don't".
   - There was a glove slapping distance game that I think will be fun to bring back to practice.
   - My interest in doing a "How To Drill" class has been reinvigorated. I just need to find a place to do it.

I didn't do as many as I might have wanted, but the ones I did get were great. I managed to hunt down some of the Midrealmers that I saw so much last year but have never crossed swords with. I felt good about the fights - they were fun, I didn't do anything stupid. I did not really put into practice any of the things I'd learned that day, but I know that will take time.

Mini Lesson with Devon
Devon had said that anyone who wanted some time with him should feel free to ask, so Donovan got him, me, and Malocchio a slot. It was great and we all learned a lot.
We focused on opposition and gaining the blade. Not all of it was new, but reinforcement never hurt anybody - and knowing something in your brain and making your body do it are two very different things.
 - When finding the blade use the forearm and not just the wrist, especially toward the inside.
 - When gaining the blade go in a straight line. Let the tip lead, but the guard should also be moving in a straight line toward your target. Natural reaction to pressure is to respond in kind, but moving laterally to pressure will work much better.
 - When you are the opponent in an opposition drill the best way to give pressure if to try to push through their sword and stab them in the opposite eye.
 - As a short person I was strongly encouraged to use cross steps . Going into a lunge will lower everything, which makes opposition more difficult. Cross steps will also cover more ground
 - When doing cross steps into opposition, step forward with left foot, but keep the toes pointed left. When opposing to the inside you will want to make yourself push your whole body towards their sword - but keep shoulders sideways and make sure you don't poke a hip out. The position is essentially the same on the outside. Turning your body toward the sword then will get your offhand in play, which is nice, but will completely lose all the lines that give you opposition.
         - I find this whole concept difficult to put into words, but I'm happy to try and clarify. Maybe with stick figures.

So that's what I remember without notes. Tonight there will be drilling and so hopefully some of this will get clearer.

There was also a lot of socializing and shenanigans and general good times. A++, will KWAR again.

Monday, October 12, 2015

King's and Queen's Rapier Tournament

This past Saturday was The Rapier Tournament in the East.
The site was determined rather late in the game, at a place none of us had been before. I don't think I was the only one a little worried about what the day would bring and how the tournament would go.

But! It was an absolutely GORGEOUS day out, and the site was beautiful. We were right on the sea shore, by an old fort, with relatively flat ground (only slightly muddy).

63 fencers entered the tournament. There were eight pools, and the top two from each pool went on to a double elimination sweet 16. The finals were best three of five, matched, rotating forms.

Fencers were out in both quantity and quality, which was wonderful to see. I've heard almost entirely good things about the fighting - clean, courteous, etc. I am hoping that the exceptions are being taken care of appropriately - but they were not enough to mar the day.

My pool was definitely clean. Our marshal and MoL were wonderful, efficient, and active when needed.

There will eight people in the pool, and I lost three fights, tying for third with several people. I'm not HAPPY about that showing, although I'm not kicking myself about it either.

One loss was to an OGR who I practice with regularly. I nearly had him a couple times, which honestly is better than  most of our fights.  He has always had my number.
One loss was to an OSR from the south who uses curved swords, which I really to practice against more (which is hard, since no on in my area uses them). We had a messy exchange where there was a question about whether he daggered my head - we were in close enough, and there was enough stuff hitting my mask at weird angles (quillions and the like) that I couldn't tell. I appreciated that the marshal stepped in to tell us that he didn't think it was good. So we refought, and this time he got in my shorts and made a cut at my belly that succeeded. I feel like it could have gone the other way, but I'm not upset at how I did.
The last loss if the one that I am saddest about. I was fighting an OGR who I haven't fought much, besides him being in my pool at my second K&Q. I am certain that I should have won that fight, but I didn't commit to my Fabris guard - and additionally, he is a short guy. The combination mean that I was really in a "stab me in the belly please" guard, which he proceeded to do. He mentioned afterwards that my buckler had floated up too far. Which is he doesn't know what I'm intending is a reasonable assumption to make. But the buckler was fine - I just wasn't bent over near far enough. In hindsight, against someone that short, I really shouldn't have gone for that particular guard at all.
Also, I didn't properly warm up that guard. I was worried about getting tired too early, and didn't have a lot of time to get my blood flowing, so I didn't concentrate on it at all. I feel like I should have, to at least remind myself what it feels like.

My pick ups later on were fantastic and fun. I fought a northern OGR that I've never managed to pin down before, and he was a blast to fight. I fought another person who is into Fabris (way more into Fabris than I am, really) and he was super excited when I fell into that stance, and we talked about Fabris for awhile. I did pickups with some of the people from my pool.


People I care about did amazing things all day, and were recognized for things, and it was great.
Marguerite was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent for her many "bad" ideas.
Natalliia was given a writ to answer to the question of whether she would join the Order of Defense.
Jean Michele was inducted into the Order of the Golden Rapier.
The Carolingian Calivers were made the King's Calivers for the duration of the reign due to their prowess at Pennsic.
Malocchio was recognized for his great service as Rapier General this past Pennsic. I am beyond happy that someone did.
Scrooby and Marielle were given their AoAs.
Donovan won his third K&Q.
Llewellyn, who I have known for pretty much ever, had a great day in the lists and was chosen as Queen's Champion.
I heard innumerable good things about my cadet all day long - about her fighting and her attitude. I am very proud of how she came back from her injury a better fencer than she was before, and how she's finding her place in the SCA. Initially is was weird to have people come up to report to me about her, but then it was just awesome.

So yeah. It was a good day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Practice Report

For three practices at once. Blogger is very finicky at work, so I typed most of this up in an email and then it wallowed...

What I didn't know on Monday was that over the next few hours I was going to start feeling like death.
There were no real epiphanies - I fought some people. I did ..fine. I fought in the tournament, and got out of my pool. But it's always the same people that I have problems with in the next round. 
The details of the practice are a little fuzzy. Silly being sick.

Thursday practice I was recovering, so I didn't push myself too hard. I fought Ted when he had case, because tall people with case will always be a problem. The kills I got on him were all clean and precise, but there were not as many as I might have wanted. My buckler game was not strong, and my body was not interested in being properly Fabris for very long.
I fought Donovan, and we had some very good fights. I've been working on changing my guards to better match what my opponent gives. It's still sometimes hit or miss. Donovan gave me a couple more guards to add to my repertoire, although they felt particularly awkward. We also talked about feints and invitations. Mine are not convincing enough. And we rehashed the conversation I have had many times with many about how if someone ignores a feint then you should be able to follow up on it and kill them.
It was a low key night with more braining than fighting. Which is good, because I still feel slightly worse than I did yesterday.

Then Monday happened again. I was coughing some, but mostly fully recovered (and I wasn't at Coronation...poor everyone who was.) Gabe and Lupold are my problems, and once K&Q is over I really need to pick some fights with them and try things and be willing to die. I had another Fabris session with Donovan. We talked about how when the guard is extended - with a straight arm, all up in their face - you can't let anyone get anything on your blade, because there's nothing you can do. Luckily, a very small movement at that distance will generally be all you need. This moved to remembering that when you make that small movement, your should capitalize on it. And that that small movement is different from faffing around with relatively pointless motions, which I tend to do no matter what guard I'm using.
I continued working on trying to change my guard to match what my opponent is giving me. I think it went better, but that will be an ongoing process.

Now to not hurt myself or get sick before K&Q this weekend.

Monday, September 28, 2015


These examples of blackwork are hardly traditional (or black).

My first attempt was a biscornu using a variagated thread. I used this biscornu to get my competency for blackwork in Athena's Thimble. Finding the right buttons to go with it turned out to be the hardest part.
Both patterns are from

Then I decided to try to recreate something I had seen online (This, specifically. Yes, tumblr.) for a friend, but only had relatively high count cloth to use.  NEVER AGAIN (but I like the result!)

Friday, September 25, 2015

Donovan's Bling Box

Today we get a medium that isn't likely to show up on this blog very often, since polymer clay is not exactly what you would call "period".

I'm sure if they had it they would have used it.

Anyway, this particular clay project gets the right to be here because it has an SCA basis, and because it's trying REALLY HARD to not look like polymer clay.

Donovan had been complaining about not having a bling box big enough for all of his bling (poor boy). So I decided to make him one! I'd wanted an excuse to make faux stones, and I've covered the tops of wooden boxes before. What could be hard about it?

Well...lots, is the answer. I made it too big (so. much. sanding.), My plan to use liquid clay as "grout" was only mildly successful. But in the end I like how it came out.

Of course now, 3 years later, it's too small for all his bling again.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Practice Report

I worked with Finn for a little while. I hope he remembers the sorts of things I told him, because I can't for the life of me think of them right now. This is why practice reports shouldn't wait several days (I blame work).
I didn't fight poorly in the tournament by any means, and I think I managed to keep my head mostly in the game. But Marguerite and I Just. Kept. Doubling. And that is never good for anyone. And I was too busy with "Must Kill" to really pick apart why that kept happening.
I do think I need to be more patient when fighting her (when I said this to Donovan he gave me That Look and told me to remove those last three words. He is, of course, not wrong.)
This also tired me out like whoa for the rest of the tournament. I ended up in the final three and then lost to Lupold, whose distance I just couldn't get. And who was purposefully getting me on the defensive before making ridiculously long lunges. So I need to work on that. He would also sneak up over my buckler and stab me in the forehead. So I need to pick that up, just a titch.
After I was out of the tournament Rodrigo asked for some fights so he could figure out more about what I've been doing with my guard. We fought a little bit. It was very obvious that I was tired. I would normally have reverted to my normal guard, but he made a specific learning based request. And I guess my thighs could use the workout.
He did manage to stab me essentially in the back of the head, from the front, once. Which was interesting. He makes a lot of very big motions, which are usually his downfall. But in that case the angle was just right.

Donovan then spent some time trying to fix up the Fabris guard. Need to keep my blade in three instead of letting it rotate outward, and keep the sword and dagger closer together. I also have reading to do and plates to look at. I need to figure out how to transition between guards while still in the Fabris stance. Just having one guard is somewhat limiting - even if it is quite effective.

Rose Tourney Report

The tournament was an absolutely beautiful day. I was worried at the beginning because it seemed very disorganized, and that tends to screw with my brain space. But turns out that I could mostly just let things happen and fight whomever I was paired against, and that was that.

Presenting myself to my rose, Duchess Katherine Stanhope
Photo by Sitt al-Gharb ha-niqret Khazariyya
I won 5 of my 11 fights. I was not upset about any of them, though. I generally fought well and was able to stay focused. And I didn't get paired up against any slouches!
And one of my opponents tried to sing at me, and I didn't let it phase me. I still lost that one, but that was because he was a good fencer, not because I was distracted.

Other things that stuck out for the day:
   - JP had to do a lot of thinking about the new guard to figure out what to do with it. I was amused by this, and didn't take proper advantage at the time. I should never have let him think. Afterwards he suggested taking my sword in a little bit, because the only real hole in the guard is my belly below my left hand.
   - I had a glorious back and forth with Owen, and eventually killed him, but in doing so I thugged him. So I need to keep an eye on my calibration when things get really intense. It is rare for there to be as much constant motion as there was in this particular bout, and I think that amped me up more than I'm used to.
   - We need to be more careful in authorizations about making sure people understand that a bit down the arm or inside the leg is still a kill. There was a potential kerfuffle that occurred.
   - I need to fight LT more. He does weird things and new guard did not work at all in that fight.
  - Fighting Jean Xavier, I managed a beautiful kill right off the bat. And heard from a bystander "She was using Fabris, that's like cheating!". This amused me, and also made me happy that people were recognizing where the guard came from.

I don't know what place we ended up getting (although I would love to), but our team had a lot of good fights, and it was a pleasure to fight beside them.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Practice Report

Last night I just went out and fought people, for the most part.
Things were still feeling pretty good!

I still need to commit to things. I'm hanging out in The Bad Place more than I should. I overcame this with my shorter sword back in the day, but when I got the longer sword I discovered that I couldn't dive in quite as far and still maneuver (because, you know, physics). So maybe I'm overcompensating for that still?

We also talked about how to properly Fabris against a two handed sword, since my new guard (which continues to serve me well) is not made for that. Specifically, when the two hander is in a low guard, and can easily pop up under my weapons. In that case, Donovan suggested a ward with the sword pointed down and the dagger up near the hand. Generally this is more of a transition or response than an actual guard, but in this situation it could work quite well.

Now to hold on to this fighting for Saturday! Rose Tournament, here I come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Practice Report

I have been lax in my fencing practice. Other things happen on Mondays and Thursdays, and so I don't always make it (Broadsword! Responsibilities!). And before Pennsic I was revving up for melee far more than I was for singles.
But now K&Q looms on the horizon, and I've been trying to get myself in gear.

Things started out roughly. I was not happy with any of my fighting. Last Wednesday Donovan told me that my guards were all extra lazy, and that I was trying a new guard by not committing to it enough. Turns out it was a demi-Fabris guard. I've since been alternating between my normal guard (no longer lazy!) and a true Fabris guard with my dagger, and things are going much better.
Last night was the first time that I've felt good about my fencing in awhile. There was a bit of a ramp up, but by the time we got to our weekly tournament, I was There. My brain was there, my fighting was there. 
It's still hard for me to sustain the adrenaline for long enough to truly get through a tournament. I was lucky this time in that there wasn't much of a break. I one shotted two people from my new guard off the bat, which definitely set me on a good path. It was difficult to not let their dismay (and in one case, sudden realization that they were injured more than they thought) bring me out of my head, but I think I succeeded ok, without going too far.
I then fought Malocchio. The first fight was long, and that's when I started to feel kind of shaky and had a tough time with my focus. We ended up doubling twice, which wasn't ideal, but generally Malocchio will murder me in a tournament, so I'll take that.
I then fought Will Deth. I took buckler against his giant case, and tried to be Fabrisy here as well, despite not having tried it with a buckler yet. It almost worked - I managed to get inside his two swords twice, but I never committed enough to just run him down. And I have to commit a LOT to run people like him down. 
Donovan is trying to get me to use crossing steps more than redoubles. I have a tendency to either redouble or walk normally and neither of those are the fastest way to charge at someone. Crossing steps without raising up from Fabris adds another level of difficulty.
In the end he killed me. 
Malocchio and I had to fight a tie breaker for our pool. At this point my focus was trying to run, and I was being impatient. He ended up killing me with a shot he said he never expected to connect - he was just trying to get me to back up.

Then I drilled with my cadet. Since she's injured I've had to be creative. She's finally at the point where she can stand, which is exciting, but I need to make sure that none of the drills we do make her want to move her feet yet.
I've been trying to spend this immobile time concentrating on blade work - point control, opposition. You'd think that would be easy enough, but almost every drill I'm used to involves some bit of forward movement. Hand shot drills have become only extensions, with a focus on reaction time. Opposition drills are either much closer than they should be (extension distance) or involve me testing her opposition by walking toward her.
She's also done parrying drills. That, at least, is straightforward enough.

Laurel Handkerchief

Last March, my friend Isabel was given her Laurel. It was a wonderful vigil and very much deserved. I was also quite glad when I was given the opportunity to participate in a small way.
I'm not sure if the handkerchiefs were specifically requested, or her friends just know that they might be needed in this situation. The plan was for handkerchiefs to be embroidered, and throughout the vigil the guests would each add a stitch or two to the hem.
I had plans to make more than one, but the second one was one of the more spectacular embroidery failures I have ever had. I also have pictures of it, so you'll have to take my word for it - there was blackwork and her device. And blackwork on this tiny linen in strange shapes was not something I was prepared for.
But! A laurel leaf in silk was successful.

Rose Cloak I

For Thyra's second reign, after the worst weather I have ever seen at a Crown, we made her an exceptionally warm, heavy cloak.

Marietta designed it. I think it was the beginning of her ongoing foray into designing things for the Worshipful Company. I watched her color in many blue cloaks before the design was settled.

One thing she knew all along was that it needed to have roses on it (what Rose doesn't need a rose cloak?), and that she wanted them small enough that she could get people all over the East Kingdom to embroider them. She created kits, including with a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the rose in. And it worked!

I didn't need to use my envelope, since she's my roommate. She just comes home from Worshipful Company meetings (I'm always fencing when they happen) and throws embroidery projects at me. Sometimes literally.

The only guidance we were given for these roses was that we should applique the small silk bit on top of the larger wool bit, do something in the center, and use only the gold thread provided for us.

I prefer to applique with blanket stitch - especially with silk, which will fray. So that part was a no brainer. I then filled in the center with laid work, which I enjoy and don't have many chances to use. The outside edge is chain stitch, and that bit at the bottom will bother me forever, even though I know that you can't tell on the cloak.

So we made her this wonderful cloak and where is the first time she wears it? Gulf Wars, in 80 degree weather. Because she is the kind of queen who will do that.
Oh also, on the back of a horse.
Picture by Cecily O'Donell of the Midrealm
She later got an opportunity to wear it at the more weather appropriate Mudthaw. Here there's a bit more of a view of the decoration, too.
Picture by Raziya Bint Rusa

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Queen's Favors, Thyra II

Apparently I still hadn't learned about pictures the first time Thyra sat the throne either. Oh well.
I had some fun with the favors this time around and tried out some different techniques.

The satin stitch on the left one leaves something to be desired, but I'm pretty pleased with the hedgehogs. And for the right one I found some very nice Japanese metallic thread that doesn't separate. It's hard to tell there is shininess there, but that was fun to play with.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

AoA Box

When the Worshipful Company of Their Majesties Underwear had a member getting an AoA, they started plotting. And if there's anything that is known about the Worshipful Company it's that when they start plotting absolutely ridiculous things happen.

It was decided that we would embroider a scroll for her. But not just any scroll - a box with silk embroidery on all the sides. Panels were pre designed and handed out to members, who could then embroider them in whatever style they wanted.

I ended up doing 1.5 panels - my initial assignment, and then the decoration on the top panel, with the words. I had a lot of fun with this project. It was my first time working with silk in any significant way, and the linen that we were given was absolutely divine.
A closer look at my piece of the top.
I did a way better job taking pictures of the other panel. Certainly not because the top was a rush job. Nope, not at all.

I tried to use a variety of stitches, although in the end satin stitch and long and short stitch generally won. The one requirement of the assignment (besides the design) was that the vine be a rope stitch with a particular gold thread. That gave me the most trouble out of any of it - I think maybe I was having Z/S twist problems, but I redid that over and over and I'm still not happy with how it came out.

Hedgehog Dress

Sometimes a king makes the mistake of disparaging the noble flamingo in front of his queen, and then decides to ask forgiveness in most epic fashion.

The Worshipful Company of Their Majesties Underwear was asked to create an apron dress with flamingos appliqued on the front, and a collection of hedgehogs around the hem, each representing a chivalric virtue.

My part in this was to create two of the hedgehogs: Wit and Wisdom.

I will be forever bothered that I forgot to put the ankle decoration on this one.

For Wit we have a hedgehog taking great joy in practical jokes.

For Wisdom we have Odin with his ravens.

The other virtues that were on display included knowledge, grace, generosity, and Nom. There were 9 in all, and you can find pictures of all of them on the website. 
Thyra Eriksdottir, picture taken by Camille des Jardins

Friday, August 28, 2015

Device Pin Project Part 6

And now we are caught up! And we're getting caught up on two particularly important devices.

First we have my brother - both real life and cadet. Recently General of the Eastern Rapier Army at Pennsic 44. He's so late on this list because he spent forever hemming and hawing over what he wanted his device to be. Picky artists are picky.
Per chevron Or and sable, three suns and a lion dormant, a bordure counterchanged
 And then we get to my cadet, Liadan. I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot about her on here, as I contemplate how to teach her things, and in turn get inspiration from her.
Per bend purpure and sable, an owl argent maintaining in its dexter talon a sword within a bordure Or

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Queen's Favors, Avelina II

The first time I created Queen's Favors was for Avelina I, which was before I realized I should take pictures of everything.
By the time Avelina returned to the throne I was an old hand.

I am still pretty happy with how that satin stitch came out.

Device Pin Project Part 5

Today we learn that otters are also problematic. Luckily for me, they aren't exactly a common heraldic animal.
Azure, a chevron throughout between three needles bendwise sinister argent.

Per pale purpure and vert, on a chief argent a raven displayed sable.

Per fess Or and vert, in pale a brown otter statant proper and an open book Or.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Queen's Favors, Caoilfhionn I

Unfortunately I was rushing to get these passed off to someone else who was going to sew them into favors for me, so these pictures are kind of a mess.

I had a lot of fun with the tails on the mermaids.

Needle Painting

This isn't exactly SCA embroidery but goddamnit I'm proud of it, so you get to look at it.

This is a kit from Trish Burr and my first foray into needle painting. Turns out I really like needle painting.

And a few months after I fiiiinally finished that, I tried needle painting sans kit and came up with this rose.

Needle painting is a common technique, but mostly it comes up in the 17th century - just a little bit too late to be properly "period" for the SCA. It also comes up in Eastern embroidery, but they have a precision that I will never have the patience for. So I will just have an ongoing search for examples that aren't quite over the line of 1600. If you happen to know of any, I would love to add them to my collection. Someday there will be period needle painting for me.

The Handsome Boys

When I first decided to take the leap from "Random Pennsic Goer" to "Actual Member of the SCA" it was fencing that was the catalyst. 
Malocchio, Dionisio and I decided on a whim that fencing looked fun. We went and got ourselves starter sets from Zen, talked to Osprey in Darkwood for a little bit, and suddenly we found ourselves on the field getting taught by strangers. 

We peer pressured a bunch of our friends into joining us and decided that we needed a completely ridiculous name that did not take itself seriously at all. Thus the Handsome Boys Modeling Academy was born.

That was back in 2010. Five years seems like such a short time for how far we've come.

The Handsome Boys now have about 21 active members (very few of them overlap with the first group we pressured), a registered name, and a badge all our own. We also fielded around 25 people for Pennsic this year, making us one of the largest single units out there.

File:HandsomeBoysbadge.jpgWe've also grown from a bunch of punk kids out to make fun of the sca (and stab people) to a collection of active, helpful, titled sca-ers (who also like to stab people).

It's all a little strange.

Our existence spurred Master Donovan to do a ton of research on English gangs, which eventually allowed us to register The Handsome Boys as a real household. It was based on such stylish 16th century gangs as Damned Crew, Roaring Boys, and Gallant Crew. It is my hope that the SCA has more gangs in its future thanks to his research.
(It is also my hope that he finishes the research paper he's going to write on this so I can link to it here.)

While we might pretend to be fine upstanding citizens, we haven't completely lost our roots. From the beginning we have had the tradition of "beating in" new members - they must win 5x for each present Handsome Boy. This has been maxed out at 25 once we realized that there were so many of us that we would never get to do anything else. 

The most ridiculous thing we do is our house tournament, though. Every year at Pennsic we get together with our non-fencing friends and have them judge us on..whatever they want, really. We fight for their amusement and they vote on us for ours. This tournament has involved wizards, puppets, and occasional tackling. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Canvaswork Pillows

The Athena's Thimble embroidery guild often embarks on large group projects. One recent project (finished for Birka 2014) was a set of new kneeling pillows for the Eastern royals.
This was my first attempt at canvaswork.
My piece of the pillows on a really bad background

Quarter for scale
Picture courtesy the Athena's Thimble website

The next big project is a set of matching back pillows for the thrones. I had a slightly more complex piece to finish for this, but unfortunately the full project isn't done yet.  The side by side comparison makes me feel pretty great about my improvement, though.