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Author: Elen

Veil In Progress

Veil In Progress

I haven’t been posting a lot here lately. Things have been very busy, what with the elevation and all. And not just mine, Master Alden had his not too long ago too, which involved a little bit of effort on my part to make his scroll. /silly 

I have a post I want to make soon about the linen dress that I making for my vigil, not to be confused with the silk dress that I making for the elevation ceremony itself. But for now, I thought I took a little bit about it silk veil that I am making to go along with the elevation dress.

I knew I wanted an oval veil in the same basic shape as the linen one that I wear most often. I have some silk Habotai that has been in my stash for a long time. I bought it from Dharma Trading Co. a very long time ago. I don’t even remember what weight it is, other then very light. I cut it out and finished it in the same way that I finished all of my veils, with the magic veil hemstitch.

Once that was all done, which took forever by the way, I realized that the material was too floaty to make a veil with a good drape, so I decided to bead the edge. I tried a couple of different patterns: Single bead, small loops and a loop-and-single bead pattern. 

I ended up going with a variation on the last, with the center bead of the loop being bigger than the surrounding beads. It adds a little visual interest, and helps each loop drape better, in addition to adding more weight to the edge of the veil which is what I really needed.

You can see here one side of the veil is beaded, and the other side isn’t. The weighted and makes a big difference to how the veil drapes. I’m really excited about wearing it. 

My Linen Biscornu

My Linen Biscornu

When I went to Gulf War this year (or as they’re calling it now: Gulfnado), I lost my needle book somewhere on the drive. I was terribly upset, considering it held all my reproduction clothing pins, and needles, as well as the brass pins I use for hand sewing. When I got home, I replaced them all, but I had to come to terms with the idea that I was trying to make a multi-tasker out of a uni-tasker. I can’t put pins and needles in the same tool. Needle books are crappy choices for pins because you have to stop and carefully replace the pin instead of just stabbing it in and carrying on. And pincushions are crappy places to put needles because they just get lost inside. So I decided to start using a pincushion I had laying around to see if I liked the arrangement better. And I did!
Linen Biscornu

Eventually though, it was clear that the cushion I was using wasn’t going to cut it. It was a quilting cotton that had a pattern on it which made the pins hard to see (and wasn’t remotely period looking), and it was stuffed with poly-fill which I am not a fan of, because it is bouncier than I like and makes a weird squeaking feeling when I use it. I’m not sure that makes sense when I write it, but it’s true.

Linen Biscornu

I happened to have some scraps of linen (in my colors, of course) and some minimally processed cotton fiber (note: I actually changed this out for fully processed cotton roving, since the pins kept catching on the bits of plant debris) and a lone button. Since this was just a quick project, I went ahead and hand sewed it with silk Gutermann thread, in a back stitch. Linen Biscornu I went with a biscornu arrangement, which is when you sew two squares together offset, so that the order of one square is in the middle of the other square’s side. The tutorial I referenced can be found here. I clipped the straight sides where they met the corners, just to give it a little ease while I was sewing.  Linen Biscornu I pinned the last seam allowanced back and stuffed the cushion full of cotton, making sure to get the corners well packed.
Linen Biscornu

Then I sewed the last side shut with a simple blind stitch (it’s actually the neatest looking of all the sides; I should have taken smaller back stitches. Linen Biscornu

Then I added the button and voila! Pin cushion!
Linen Biscornu

Here’s a slightly better shot where you can see the zig-zag seam on the side. I love how crisp it looks. Linen Biscornu

It’s not a real cushion without pins. Poppet wanted to help so I let her put the pins in…. which lasted for about two minutes. I finished up for her. Linen Biscornu Such a happy cushion, with all my brass pins. Linen Biscornu Right now I just have my needles on a piece of felt pinned to the bottom of the biscornu. But I plan to make an actual needle-book with grey felt. I may attach it to the pincushion; I haven’t decided yet whether the convenience of having them attached will outweigh the annoyance of them being fiddly. Linen Biscornu

By Invitation Only

By Invitation Only

This past weekend was Kingdom Arts and Sciences. Ansteorra has a yearly (although the did do an extra one this year; I’m not sure if that will be the norm, or if they’ll scrap the idea of twice-yearly) competition to determine the premiere artisan of the kingdom. In addition, the top ten scoring entries (with a couple alternates) are asked to bring their work to Gulf War as pilgrims to compete against the opposing kingdom, Trimaris.

When I was first thinking about what I wanted to make for KAS, I thought about the knitted Sion reliquary that I had been planning on FOREVER. I wound off all the silk, dyed it, and knitted a test swatch… and realized that I’d have to knit ~1850 stitches A DAY for 30 days to get it finished. In addition to writing the documentation, moving, throwing the Poppet’s birthday party, and prepping for War. So, that was out. 12510387_10103170279800868_7133231928161933845_n

Then Alden reminded me that we’d really already done all the research for his Achievement of Arms scroll (for which a blog post is in the works, I SWEAR) and that I could tweak the existing documentation that I’d written for a baronial A&S competition to suit Kingdom-level standards. I ended up re-writing it a few times, and entering the revamped docs into our local A&S competition, which is a week before KAS. That gives me time for last minute changes based on my scores.

Photo by Martha Schreffler
The nerve wracking thing about KAS is that you get there in the morning, and you set up your display, and then you wait. And wait. And WAIT. I passed some of the time working on my gold work cuffs (I’ll get them done sooner or later!) and some of it shadow judging a lovely piece of stained glass with my Laurel.


Once that was done, it was just about time for court. They called my Laurel Amata in and recognized the service she’s done our Kingdom with a Sable Crane (the service equivalent of a Thistle). And then they announced the Gulf War pilgrims, of which I was one, along with several member of Bryn Gwlad. So proud of my Barony!

Photo by Mariana Garcia
They asked us to check in and verify if we were going to War, and I was standing in line to do that when the Crown called up the Order of the Laurel. And then they called me.


To say that I was stunned is an understatement. I was glad to have Master Alden there to escort me into court because I was too shocked to move. I am so honored, and proud, and humbled, and surprised to be asked to join, that all my words desert me. Amata and I have started to talk about plans for vigils and elevations, and it all still feel like i’m planning it for someone else, because it hasn’t sunk in viscerally yet.

Photo by Martha Schreffler

Photo by Simona della Luna
I’m pretty sure I’ll spend the next year or so trying to catch up to my own expectations of where I need to be to consider myself a Laurel. My first thought when they called my name was “…but, but I’m not DONE yet!” I have all of these plans, and projects, and skill refinements that I want to pursue, and I still want to work until I’ve reached those goals I set for myself. But until then, I’ll be doing my best to be worthy of the wreath.

Elen verch Phelip, Laurel Vigilant

In Progress: Cecilie’s Bliaut

In Progress: Cecilie’s Bliaut

Not exactly SCA related, but sort of tangentially appropriate. My friend Cecilie works at Sherwood Forest Faire here in Austin, and she commissioned me to make her a 12th century bliaut with pendant sleeves, like this one that Racaire made. She bought a lovely blue linen in herringbone twill, and instead of taking time away from her body schedule to embroider the collar and armbands, opted to go with a beautiful blue and gold synthetic brocade.
It's that time of year again.

Although polyester brocade is famously difficult to work with, it was in fact easier than this ridiculously slithery linen. SO MUCH BIAS STRETCH. I was lucky to have vertical lines where the herringbone meets to be able to cut accurately one way. (Bran thinks the whole thing is much better served as a cat bed anyway).
Cecilie's Bliaut The look of this fabric is so gorgeous though. It’s worth it. Almost. I finally learnt the trick of cutting it, which was to make all the vertical cuts and swish the linen kind of up in the air, letting the cut edge settle on its own parallel to the straight edge of my table, and then cut the horizontal lines after that. I am SO GLAD for rectangular construction in bliauts. Cecilie's Bliaut

The neckline is a slit faced in brocade and then topstitched (well-behaved it might be, but this brocade still doesn’t want to iron flat) down. I’d thought about couching some faux gold thread over the top stitching, but it disappears against that lux fabric.

Cecilie's Bliaut Current progress: Sleeves and gussets attached, neckline faced, side gores added. I still have to add the armbands at the elbow seam, but I want to make sure I don’t have to shorten the sleeves first. Then the center front and back gores will be inserted and the sides of the torso will be taken in while the dress is on Cecilie, to ensure the best fit. I’m excited to see it on her!

Cecilie's Bliaut

Steps Backward: Viking Acanthus Collar

Steps Backward: Viking Acanthus Collar

So remember that pretty embroidered collar I had all planned out yesterday? Well…. It’s had some setbacks.

Master Alden and I had decided on blue lines for this lovely design. And seeing how much fun I’d had with pearl cotton on the Cantigas pouches, I thought I’d use it again. I had some beautiful robin’s egg Pearl Cotton 5 (I’d thought about using silk, but these are knock-about tunics that need to be super washable) that I wanted to use. I thought that chain stitch would yield a line too wide even for this large graphic a design so I started in on split stitch.

Acanthus Collar

It looks great! The color pops on the brown! Everything is dandy! So I kept going.Got about a quarter of the way done… Aaaaand start to not like the way it looks.

Acanthus Collar

The pearl cotton is round and, for lack of a better term, bouncy. It wants to stand up from the linen as I stitch it. Until it collapses on its side around the curves. See how it’s sort of falling over up there on the top curve of the vine? And again in the curves of the leaf shapes at the bottom and left? It looks terrible.
Acanthus Collar

I cut all the top of the embroidery off. Luckily the tall, bouncy nature of the embroidery makes this very easy.
Acanthus Collar

Taken off the fabric, this is what’s left of the yesterday’s embroidery. It’s important to document the screw ups as well as the successes, right?!
Acanthus Collar

I started again with four strands of DMC cotton floss in a slightly bluer color (which I and Master Alden both agree looks better, and will look better against the green tunic fabric). It lays much more nicely, and is still linear and graphic in the way we were hoping for.
Acanthus Collar


New Project: Viking Collar

New Project: Viking Collar

I started another project today, a quick viking collar for a tunic with a damaged neckline. The inside of the tunic will be patched, and the outside will be hidden by this collar. It will be embroidered in blue DMC cotton for washability, and the tunic is forest green linen. I’ll add some matching blue embroidery on the cuffs of the tunic to make it coordinate.

Viking Collar

The design is based on one of the Mammen embroideries, an acanthus vine that’s small and solidly embroidered in various colors. However, I found this tunic on pinterest, and loved the spare, graphic outline of the same design.

Looking Forward

Looking Forward

In my last post, I talked about what I had done during 2015. In this one, I want to take a moment and detail some of the things I’m working on for 2016. Both in an effort to be accountable for them, and also to psyche myself up to be super excited about them.

  1. For our Kingdom-wide Arts competition in February, I will be making a version of one of the Sion Reliquary bags. I’m dyeing my own silk, and knitting it on very smaaaalllll needles.
  2. I will be working on another Achievement of Arms scroll for a dear friend, Andreas, in the style of a German roll of arms.
  3. I will be adding a commission page to the blog. I have been using my Trello board (and still plan to, as a way to keep a dialogue open between myself and my clients), but I would like something a little more static and intuitive to be the forward-facing page for my commissions.
  4. I plan to blog twice a week. Expect some shorter update posts instead of just a bunch of longer, more intensive completed project posts. Those will still be here, but they’ll be interspersed with update posts and philosophy of reenactment posts, and more tutorials. So if there are things that I do that you would like to know, dear readers, please let me know.

I have some other things in the pipeline as well: a grey wool dress inspired by Isis’ beige one, another pink Roman dress, a supportive Elizabethan kirtle, and a few other things for myself, as well as more commission items and scrolls. But I want to leave those fairly nebulous so they feel less like obligations and more like fun plans. What are you guys planning on making in 2016?

2015 Wrap Up

2015 Wrap Up

It’s a new year! While I am usually overwhelmed by possibility and eager to start the new year’s projects, this past year has ended on a difficult note for me, personally. I am having a hard time being excited about 2016 and what it will bring. I want to take a minute or two to look back at my finished projects for 2015.

Head CLoth

Embroidered Head Cloth for Dena:  A quick and sweet little embroidery/handsewing project for a friend, with elements of her heraldry on the back.

Sabina's Court Barony Scroll

Court Barony Scroll for Sabina: A tongue in cheek, fun scroll for a friend’s Court Barony. My first real scribal commission. The first time I’ve ever deliberately defaced my scribal work.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

Prick and Pounce Tutorial: I’m counting this as a project because I feel strongly about the roll of tutorials and sharing knowledge in educating people. Still my favorite way to transfer patterns.

Rabbit's Lion Scroll

Rabbit’s Lion Scroll: First time really experimenting with pigments treated in a period manner, first (semi-successful) gilding on a scroll.

Red Crow Cup Cover

Badge Cup Cover: My heraldry passed, and now I want to put my badge on ALL THE THINGS. Starting with this cup cover, that attaches to my goblet stem so I don’t lose it.

Dragon Pouch

Dragon Pouch Collaboration: A fun little thing I did with my friend Lia to sponsor a fighter in a tournament where the buy-in was an item made by an artisan (or two!).


Queen’s Champion Invitations: Last minute call to make pretty invites for an event.

The embroidered pouches are all finished!

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches (and part two): An artisan trade with a friend, based on two pouches from a medieval manuscript.


Cut and Thrust Championship Scroll: A kingdom-level award scroll based on a renaissance fencing manual plate.

These aren’t all the projects I’ve don’t this year, but they are all the ones I’ve blogged about.

Sewing Red Hose

I blogged about these red hose in progress, but I need to do a completed project post for them and the ginger version.


I made myself a beautiful Roman outfit.

achievement The write up for this ridiculous scroll is coming. I promise. It may be two or three entries long. It was a monster.

My maiolica plate, finally fired. Only a year after I painted it! Fingers crossed that this one won't break; third times the charm, right?

Finally managed to fire this plate (third time’s the charm, right?) It lives on a shelf high up and away from danger.


Calligraphed a poem for a very dear friend.


Worked hard on learning to be a proper heraldic artist.


Wrote out the calligraphy for the invitations to our Baronial fall event.


Finished this monstrous endeavor. It ended up being shorter than I thought it needed to be initially, which made me cry, but it turned out okay in the end. Write up coming.


Made a 14th century frilled veil. That I kind of hate and want to remake.


Practiced the Japanese art of Kintsugi.


Made a pair of garters for my friend Cecilie.


Calligraphed this award, which is not for the SCA (but still looks amaze!)

All in all, it’s been a productive year. I think I’ve missed a couple things, actually. Next up will be discussion of some projects I’m hoping to accomplish this coming year, and some changes I’ll be making to the site. Happy New Year, everyone!

Completed: Cut and Thrust Scroll

Completed: Cut and Thrust Scroll

One of the things I believe in is the concept of noblesse oblige as it relates to the SCA and what I perceive to be my duties in it. With my awards and titles comes a responsibility to support my royalty, my kingdom, and my society, and to live up to those accolades. Which is a really self-important way to say that every reign (so about every six months), I try to volunteer my services to make at least one scroll for the kingdom. This time around, it was the Cut and Thrust Championship scroll.

A friend suggested I look at the fencing manual of Achille Marozzo, the Opera Nova. Marozzo was an Italian Master who lived in the latter half of the 1400s, and into the first half of the 1500s. I liked the stark, graphic nature of the copperplate engravings; they’re so different from the illuminations I normally do. I found one plate that caught my eye and decided to run with it.

MarozzoCircle-1 I penciled in the page ditches and figures, with general areas of shadow delineated, and then made the guidelines for the text.
. The hand is a fancied-up humanist script. It’s pretty and legible, even if my letterforms aren’t terribly consistent. I obviously need some more practice with it. Look at those Bs! . I reproduced the effect of the copperplate engraving with the much simpler technique of pen and ink drawing. It’s been a while since I’fe done any sort of hatching in my drawings, and I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it came back to me.

Here we have Malcolm (as I jokingly named him on the FB page; his hat looks a bit like a Scots bonnet to me) completely finished. I’m pleased with he depth of shading I got with the hatching. . And Malcolm’s friend Kenneth, who has a fantastically developed sartorial sensibility.  . All ready to head to the event and be given to a worthy fighter! Funny story: my friend Matteo actually won this; it was his first Kingdom-level championship. I’m so proud to have my work hanging on his wall. .

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part Two

Cantigas de Santa Maria Pouches, Part Two

When last we left our project, I’d finished up the embroidery on the first pouch, and I’d sketched out the diamonds on the yellow linen (the last of the linen from my Byzantine dress [have I seriously not blogged that either?! What is WRONG with me?], except for what I’ve held back for lining the cuffs, whenever they get finished).  . Digression aside, I basically marked equal spaces along each edge and connected them, leaving me with a lovely diamond grid to embroider.   . I only did one line of chain stitch. Since the overall motif was much denser than the other pouch, I didn’t think it needed bolder lines. Here it is all finished, ready to be sewn up.  . I lined both pouches (but forgot the take pictures) with coordinating linen by laying the pieces right sides together and machine sewing at the seam allowances. I clipped the curve of the cover flap and then turned them right side out and pressed, not unlike the Double Eagle Pouch I made some time ago. But that braided finish is a pain in the neck, and I kind of hate doing it, no matter how fantastic it looks.  . So instead, what I decided to so was whipstitch the pouches closed with a thread that matches the outer fabric, so as not to be so noticeable, and then just do a decorative chainstitch along the edges of the join, to mimic the braid stitch without all the fuss. I did this on the dragon pouch too (technically after these were done, but I did blog that one first), because I really liked the effect.  Finishing up the edges of the pouch with chain stitch. I added long shoulder straps in the lining fabric, as shown in the manuscripts. The strap ends were doubled over to create a smaller footprint when attached to the pouches. The red ones were sewn to the back, and the blue ones were inserted into the pouch and sewn to the lining. I’m really pleased with the way they came out and I want to make a million more of them.  The embroidered pouches are all finished!

And the chest that Juan Carlos made for me? It’s beautiful! IMG_1714