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