Friday, March 18, 2016

Two Practices and a Rapier Academy

Fencing catchup!

Last weekend I made the long trek to New Jersey for the first (I think?) Rapier Academy! It was a gorgeous day, and the classes were varied and informative.

I started in a Fabris class that Firebow was teaching. For the most part it wasn't new information for me, so I played TA with some of the other fencers. I was a bit worried about stepping on the teacher's toes, but he seemed thankful for it, and I think it helped those fencers get something out of the class. Someday we will sit down and really talk about Fabris-y things, but Saturday was not that day. Too much else to do!

I fought a variety of people - one specifically asked me to Fabris it up, and that went fairly well. Particularly considering it was my warmup, I was surprised at how little my body complained.
I was later told by another opponent that my aggression was great. Which is good, because I have been specifically trying to put that back in my game after so much time spent on Fabris and blade work and etc etc. My other fights were very good, although I did nothing memorably good or bad during them.

There were many command based classes happening, so I spent a lot of my afternoon doing Eastern Army things. I have no aspirations to climb any higher in the ranks than leading the Handsome Boys - but since the Handsome Boys have grown to be a very significant part of the army I want to be on top of what's going on there. Not to mention that my co headmaster/cadet brother is the General. So we talked a lot about getting more people involved and comfortable in melee, and then went over the war points.

Alys had a story time (and I also got to fight her, which was a lot of fun), which I thought was a great way to close out an event like this. Everyone loves to revel in nostalgia, and the newer folks got to learn SO MUCH. The rocking chair was a particularly nice touch.

There was no court, and there was a service at the church at 5, so we got out quite early and had a delicious dinner. It was worth a long day trip, definitely. Although I did tweak my elbow and have had to baby it for the last week.

On to the practices!
I used my short blade the whole time (see aforementioned arm babying). I still love that thing, but definitely had distance issues. I worked with Liadan on dagger stuff, and am interested in dagger parrying drills that people have found useful!
Despite my issues, I felt like I fought well.

Arm was still just a little twingy. I wore my elbow band and alternated my swords. I worked with Finn, specifically trying to get him back to using his offhand. On my side I was trying to morph between upright and bent stances smoothly. And only doing so when I intended to - I have a habit of lunging while in the low Fabris stance, and standing upright as I do so. Which makes a hole big enough that even Finn noticed it (and stabbed me in it.)
I fought Remy and felt really good about it. I don't have specifics, it just seemed to go better than normal.
I fought Xavier, and probably worked my arm harder than I should have. I had a spiral of not being able to control my blade as well as I'd like, and so working harder at it, which made me less able to. But other than that I felt pretty good. During the last fight when I realized that my arm was going to fall off/hurt itself, I managed to flip a switch to "murder quickly". I need to find that switch more often.
I also did a very little bit of drilling with Donovan doing single tempo dagger parries. This is an old hat drill, but this was the first time I tried to do it from a Fabris stance and OH GOD EVERYTHING WAS AWFUL. Nothing went where I wanted it to go. In upright stance it was fine. So, I suppose this means I know something I need to work on.

Monday, March 14, 2016

What do I do next?

I've been trying to decide what to make for my next Big A&S Project.

After making Elizabethan gloves and an Elizabethan book, I feel like I should continue my trend, and then someday I can have a whole Ridiculous Elizabethan Accessories display.

But they had so many potential accessories!

I could make a sweet bag!
, 16th century CE, Bag, Brocade, Elizabeth I  (1553-1603), Queen of England, Elizabethan period (1553-1603), Embroidery, Gold, Knitting, MEMORABILIA, Needlecraft, Renaissance, Sewing, TEXTILES:ALL
From Art Resource

Or a coif!
From Victoria & Albert Museum
Woman's off-white linen coif, with a point over the forehead, shaped at the cheek, and with a pleated detail at the crown. Embroidered in black silks and gold metallic yarns in a pattern of scrolling branches framing flower and fruit clusters among which birds, butterflies, snails and rabbits appear.
From Cooper Hewitt

Or this utterly ridiculous hat!
A man's cap with turned up cuff, of off-white linen embroidered in a pattern of rainbows arching over clouds with rain falling, with snails and caterpillars interspersed. In blue, green, yellow, red and pink silks and silver metallic yarns.
From Cooper Hewitt

From Reunion des Musees Nationaux
I also discovered that embroidered knife sheaths were a thing that were given at weddings. I'm not entirely certain that they were used by Elizabethans, but I am quite certain that I don't care. Because knives!

I would need to find someone willing to work with me on this one for the wooden base of it, though.

From Reunion des Musees Nationaux

There's also the question of style and supplies. I am intrigued by non counted blackwork. But I really really want to pursue a period needle painted design. I've found enough examples that I feel comfortable saying it existed, even if it wasn't common.
From Cora Ginsburg
From Isis' Wardrobe

 One thing I know I want to avoid is detached button hole...I don't know why, but I just don't really like how it looks. Which is unfortunate, since it's everywhere. And so while I should definitely learn it eventually, it will probably never make it onto a Big Project.
I need Opinions! Are there cool items I'm missing out on? Some extant piece that you think I'd be way into recreating? Anything here seem particularly awesome?

I am currently leaning toward either a blackwork coif or a sweetbag the takes makes use of all the sweet bird motifs I've found.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Practice Report

This past Monday I tried to get back to my roots and remind myself that when I'm not Working On Things I am capable of murdering my foes. It's a thing I have to do every once in awhile to beat back the frustration. I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this problem. It hangs out next to The Plateau at parties and taunts everyone who ever wanted to be good at anything.
So, it seemed to work! I didn't fight a lot of people, but I felt good about the ones I did fight. I barely Fabrised at all, and when I did it was a mixed bag of results, so I need to continue working that. Which is, of course, something I already knew.

I got complimented on how I move, which felt good. And then I realized that's been happening with some regularity, even on the days when I feel kind of crappy about my fighting. So hooray! The problem is, I don't really get what they mean, if that makes sense. I believe them. I believe that I am moving in a way that is worthy of comment - part of me says that after 20+ years of assorted martial arts I damn well better be able to move.
But believing is different from fully understanding. I want to grok what I'm doing so that can play with it, and so that I can maybe teach it to others. The most obvious way I can think of to do this is to start recording myself (which is useful on so many levels and I have never made happen).

So that is now on the list of things to do.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Novice Schola - Teaching Time!

This weekend I went to Novice Schola for the very first time! I had three goals for the day: keep my cadet, who was autocratting her first event, sane and alive; play tour guide to a group of new people for whom this was their first/second event; teach one class and help teach another and have the students enjoy them!

Liadan did a great job autocratting, and the event seemed to go very smoothly. She had a lot of amazing helpers.

The new people took several classes and seemed to have a good time! They were relieved when I discovered that I did not need to go to court (although it turns out that Liadan got her baronial service award, but no one told me about it before hand :( ). I think they all came out of the day with new skills and a better idea of how the SCA does things.

And the classes!

First I assisted with an Italian fencing class that Remy <link> was running. We had a pretty good group - I think about 12 people with a wide variety of skill levels, from "never held a blade before" to "cadeted and otherwise fairly known in the community". I think that everyone got something out of the class - whether it was basic blade work or the specifics of Capo Ferro. Certainly they seemed to enjoy it. My only regret is that I had to leave a little early because my two classes were back to back. Luckily they had a woman would go around and give a 10 minute warning near the end of each block.

The second class I taught was my first official embroidery class! I took all the work I'm been doing recently and ran an intro to goldwork class. Of course, for being at a Novice Schola my class was full of everything but. I think the newest person had still be embroidering for well over a year. That was fine with me - I was prepared to teach the basics, but this left more time for the actual goldwork portion. I do wonder if that means the class was a little scary sounding for someone who hadn't ever embroidered before and if I can do something to help with that.

So with a full class, I carefully set aside the knowledge that several of these people had been embroidering for longer than I knew the SCA existed and pushed forward.

I handed out kits and had them set set up their hoop and trace their design while I babbled about historical goldwork. And I really did feel like I was babbling - I jumped around more than I wanted to. The handout was nicely divided into examples, and thread types, and embroidery terms. I think that works for the handout, but it certainly did not work for speaking. Which is fine, but I need to be more prepared for that next time. While I talked about the threads and styles I handed around the items that I've made throughout the years, including unfinished projects from classes I've taken. The Opus Angelicanum (side note: learn to say that without stumbling) seemed particularly helpful to see in person (and incomplete). There were some epiphanies about how the patterns are made in metal backgrounds.

I had all my metal threads too, and passed some of those around. I almost forgot to do that part. I think it would be better to start with those and the thread types and move onto the pretty objects afterwards.

Then we went into actual embroidering. I had given everyone one bobbin of metal thread, and offered a second strand to people who wanted to do two at a time (which was almost everyone). In the future I think I should just give two bobbins of metal thread from the get go. The free thread tended to get in the way.
In general the embroidery part seemed to go smoothly. The main sticking point was lack of time. I should have had them start while I was still talking - which I know, from my own class experiences, but I got focused. One of the students also suggested this, and of course she's correct. But we had time to talk about crossing points and corners, and thanks to that 10 minute warning I managed to talk about plunging right before the end. I usually plunge all the threads at the very end, but I should probably have them plunge their beginning thread during the class, so that we don't have a chance of missing this Very Important Part.
When we talked about turning corners all I had to help people was to say that it is difficult to keep the two threads parallel and to be careful. Well, almost as soon as I got home this showed up on my feed. It's a collection of tutorials for goldwork by Ruth O'Leary, and one thing she suggests is couching down each thread individually at the corner to keep them flat. Which is, of course, simple and brilliant. So if any of my students are here, I suggest that!

All in all, it was a great experience and I will be excited to do it again. I've also been thinking of what I could do for a 102 class - I might try to do a class on cutwork. At some point, far in the future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Practice Report

I did not feel on my game most of the night.

I started off well against Donovan, but was faltering by the end of our pickups and never managed to get back on the horse.  He said that my energy seemed down. And since I mostly fought very fast, high energy people the rest of the night...that probably didn't help.

I've been doing a lot of focusing on opposition and technique and expanding my horizons and the like, and I think the base fighting style that got me here - get inside their range, fast, and don't let up - may be suffering. Some days it's there. Some days it's not. And those days don't always coincide with the days when I want it to be there (rather than when I'm working on other things anyway.)

That said, all of the fights I had were a lot of fun, even if they were frustrating. We had a lot of people there who are not normally around.