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

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.

Tablut Game

Last year, I participated in the Sable Swap, a kingdom-wide secret gift exchange. You may remember that I made an embroiderer’s kit for my assigned giftee. It was easy to decide what to do because, as an embroiderer, I know what I would love to receive.

This time, though, I got a gentleman with an Icelandic persona, who is into medieval artillery and archery. Uh…
Super secret project.

So I decided to make him an embroidered game bag that folds up into a pouch for easy carrying. I did some research on variations of a game called Tafl, which was played ll over the Scandinavian world.

Super secret project: all the green is finished!

Despite it being a Laplandic variant, I chose to go with a version of the game called Tablut, since it was the best documented. Lapland and Iceland aren’t that far apart, in the grand scheme of the Viking reach.
Tablut Board

The board consists of a 9×9 grid, with the central cross being one color, and the Ts at the end of the arms in a different color. The squares are embroidered in chain stitch, and the lines are stem stitch. Everything is stitched in DMC cotton, because you never know when you’re going to have to wash out a spill. (As an aside, I’m not sure what prompted me to choose baby food or 70s appliance colors, but he did say he liked earth colors.)

Tablut Board The defending army starts off in the center blocks, with the king on the middle square. The attacking arms starts on the T shaped areas on the ends. The goal is to either get the king to a corner, or to capture him, depending on which side you’re playing. All pieces can only move orthogonally, or in straight lines.

Tafl Game

Traditionally, the king is a taller piece, but I only had these glass pebbles and no time to make a different marker for the king, so I just included a different color instead. I love the way they look all lined up and ready to go. Tafl Game And when you’re done, the strings pull tight…
Tafl Game …and make a neat little pouch for carrying. Tafl Game I made the strings long enough to stay in the eyelets when the game is laid out flat, and that means that they wrap around the pouch neck a few times to insure that none of the pebbles fall out. It would tie onto a belt quite nicely, too. I am always glad of diversions during the longest bit of an event, which seems to be between the end of fighting and the beginning of feast or court. I hope Karl likes playing his Tablut game as much as I enjoyed making it! Tafl Game

New Garb for Poppet!

The answer to yesterday’s question is “nothing.” There’s nothing cuter than a baby sleeping. Unless it’s two babies sleeping. Together. In garb.

Poppet outgrew her last garb, the green with pink trim between the last event and this one. Originally, before I started taking hallucinogenic drugs, I thought maybe I could make us all new garb by Candlemas. Yeah, that was the first thing to drop off the to-do list. But Poppet really, really needed some new clothes, so I pulled out some fabric I’ve been saving up and went to town.

Bebe's new garb.

The underdress is a simple t-tunic cut all in one piece because I’m lazy and would rather deal with just one seam down the side than have to fiddle with separate sleeves and an under-arm gore on a 2T sized dress. And honestly, Her clothes take up so little fabric any way, that it’s not so much of a waste of fabric. It’s a subtle white and tan and brown stripe, all on the cool side. The fabric is rayon, I think. Maybe polyester. It’s light and breathes well, though, and aside from a pretty subtle sheen, looks like a cotton fabric. The hems and facing are sewn down in a decorative red running stitch.

Bebe IN her new garb.

The outer apron dress is a rough-weave 100% wool that I’ve had in my stash approximately forever. It’s a little (a lot) scratchy for next-to-the-skin wear, but as an outer layer, it’s perfect. Even though it’s a little heavy for Austin (certainly a medium weight), Poppet ran around in it all day with no signs of being too warm. It just goes to show that wool is magical. It’s trimmed at the top with a line of white chain stitch to hide the machine stitching. I don’t usually bother on her clothes (and didn’t along the bottom), but it was really noticeable and jarring at the top.

Candlemas 2013

The straps are some tablet-woven trim I’ve also had forever. I attached it to the back in such a way that when she outgrows the dress, I can reclaim the trim to use on something else. The whole outfit is still just a little big, but I’m hoping that means I’ll get four or five events out of it. As it gets hotter, I’ll leave off the apron dress and just let her run around in the belted tunic instead.

Candlemas 2013

Viking Seams

Viking women would decorate the seams of their garments both to tack down the seam allowances and to create visual interest along the major lines of their garments. Some of the stitches used were delightfully intricate. I had trouble with one, until I sat down with the instructor of a class on them and made her go over how it was done.

Embroidered Viking seam treatments.

It’s the pink one up there in the middle top. I got it eventually.

Naturally, after I figured out I could actually do these, I hastened to start embellishing my own Viking Hangarok. The pink and brown is on the straps, and the white interlaced stitch is on the front two seams. I’m really pleased with how fancy it’s looking.

Viking seam treatments in the wild.


So, I know I’ve been gone for a couple months.  I’m sorry about that.  My first trimester was terribly hard on me; it felt like I was hung over for four months. Yes, four.  My morning sickness lasted all day and didn’t abate until well into the fourth month, after my doctor prescribed me some of the anti-nausea medicine they give cancer patients to ease the side effects of chemo. Incidentally, that stuff works. Really well.

Instead of wasting an entry listing what’s happened to me in the interim, I’m making the executive decision to just continue on as if I’d never stopped.  One of the reasons I procrastinate about picking something (blogging, corresponding, journalling) back up after I’ve paused for a bit is that I feel overwhelmed by what I should have written, and obligated to write about all that stuff before I write about new stuff.  So I’m giving myself permission to skip the old stuff.

Something I’ve been doing a lot of since I’ve gotten pregnant is embroider.  It’s too warm down here for most of the year to knit, but I don’t have the energy to do more strenuous things, either.


This is the favor I embroidered for my Champion, Richard of Essex.  The crow is done in klosterstitch (thanks, Racaire!) and the outline and keys are in stem stitch. Seeing as how he’ll be wearing it whilst fencing, I wanted something that could stand up to a bit of hard wear and washing, so I went with cotton pearl thread on a linen ground. Easy as pie.

Needle Roll

Needle Roll

I had embroidered that little flower motif some time back, as a little experiment, but I didn’t know what to do with it.  Racaire had made a lovely needle roll or two and I was inspired to make my own. The braid around the edge was a pain in the butt, but a pretty way to finish it.

Cup Cover

This is a cup cover I made for myself. It’s based on a Byzantine brooch design that I happened to like.  I embroidered the motif and then appliqued it to a hemmed square of linen.  It’s still awaiting the beads at the corners to prevent it from blowing away, but I’ll get to that after we move.

Cup Cover WIP

Edmund said he wanted blue and green for his cup cover.  Personally, I’m not enamored of how this is coming out, but he seems to like it, so that’s fine.  The design is based on a brooch from the Andel period. The outer ring will be the same medium blue as the outer-most cross segment. It, too, will be appliqued onto a square of linen.  I’m doing it that way so the back of the embroidery isn’t visible, but I don’t know. It may just be one more fussy step that doesn’t really matter.  The last ones I did had the embroidery showing on the back and they looked fine.