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.