Finished Project: Crow Cup Cover

It’s finally finished! I’ve had this as my SCA on-the-go project since Gulf War (which was in February, so it’s been a minute). I decided that I wanted to get it finished and usable, so I did a stitching spring to the finish line. Red Crow Cup Cover

I ironed the cover, but it sat in the hoop for so long that it still has the imprint. I’ll hit it again with some steam before I take it out to an event.
Red Crow Cup Cover

Close up of the crow. My badge (heraldry lesson: your coat of arms is meant to signify YOU or someone you have designated to speak for you, your badge is what you put on things to signify ownership of them) is “fieldless (no background), a crow rising gules (a red crow taking flight).” I want to put it on ALL THE THINGS. Red Crow Cup Cover

The hoop ring disappears nicely when it’s on the cup.  Red Crow Cup Cover

My innovation for not losing the cup cover; a simple lucet cord attached to one corner and sewn into a loop that hook onto the bead to keep it in place.
Red Crow Cup Cover

I attached it to the corner that would keep the crow moderately upright when it hangs, preserving the display of the badge. Cause I’m clever! Red Crow Cup Cover And cause everyone always wants to see the back… I did try to make sure that it was neat, because it will be visible. I am not always so neat when the back will be hidden, such as on a collar or bands on sleeves. Pieces in period are not as neat as we generally imagine, and I am sad when people kill themselves trying to make the backs as neat as the front.


Tutorial: Prick and Pounce

I’ve had a lot of people interested in how I transfer my patterns to fabric for embroidery. I use a technique (one that’s completely period, actually!) called pricking and pouncing. Basically, you poke holes in paper to make a design template, then shake colored powder on the design. When you lift the template, it gives you a series of dots to connect, and you can reuse the template later.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

First we start by gathering our materials. I have a whole kit there, which goes to show how often I do this. I’m going to be making a cup cover with my newly registered badge on it. I have a template for the design made already, so I’ll be demonstrating how to prick a design with something else.

Prick and pounce tutorial for

To make my templates, I use plain printer paper. It’s sturdy enough to hold up to the pouncing, and it’s easy to get designs on there. I’ve also used tracing paper and that works fine as well. My tiny awl is made from a relatively large sewing needle I glued into a hole I drilled in a peg I got at a local craft store. My Laurel made a handle from Fimo clay. Whatever’s clever, you just don’t want to be gripping a tiny-diameter thing for that long.

Prick and pounce tutorial for

To be able to poke holes deeply enough, I like to rest the template on something with some thickness that won’t be damaged by a needle poking at it repeatedly. I have a pretty handwoven piece of cloth that I sometimes use, but mostly, I grab a couch cushion and use that instead.
Prick and pounce tutorial for

Make sure that you poke the needle far enouh in tha it makes a fair sized hole. If the pricks are too small, the powder won’t fall through and the design won’t show up on the ground. Prick and pounce tutorial for

Here I’ve pricked a tiny part of this design to illustrate a couple of things. First, you want to make sure that you make a hole in every corner of the design. You want to mark where the lines change directions to have the most accurate design possible. Second, around tight curves, make the dots closer together. This will give you, again, the most accurate line you can get. Three, on shallower curves, or straight lines, you can space the dots out further, as I did along the outer circle there. You don’t need as many points to act as a guideline in that case. Prick and pounce tutorial, for

I folded my material in quarters to find the center, which I marked with a disappearing marker. Not strictly necessary in this case, but next time the embroidery night might not cover the dot. Better safe than sorry.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

The template goes in the middle there, and I hold it down with one hand while I pounce with the other.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

Pouncing supplies. I got charcoal powder from an art supply store. Graphite powder works well, too, but isn’t period. For dark colored fabrics, I use pool chalk, which I found at a sporting goods store. All of these are also available at Amazon, too. The pouncer is a wooden knob with one of those carpet dots you put on the bottoms of chairs to protect floors stuck on it. That stuff and the little plastic containers for the powders were obtained from a craft store.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

Get a little powder on the pouncer and kind of tap it against the template, or rub it in small circles over the design. You want to make sure you hit the whole thing, while holding the paper still so you don’t get a fuzzy image because it’s shifted.

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

When you take up the template, you should have a pretty clear design. The powder will rub off pretty easily, though, so you’ll want to connect the dots before stitching. I use a Micron 01 pen. It gives me a nice thin line, and is archival so won’t bleed.  Prick and pounce tutorial, for

Keep your template at hand for reference; especially for the fiddly bits. When you’re done connecting the dots, shake the powder off. I usually whack the material against my leg a couple of times, as if I was beating dust out of a rug. And when you’re done, voila!

Prick and pounce tutorial, for

Ready to start embroidering!


For dark cloth, I use the white chalk for pounce, and connect the dots with either white gel pen, or thinned out white acrylic paint and a tiny brush.

Amata's border design

The technique being used to transfer a design to a piece of pottery before being painted. Please let me know if this has been useful, or if I need to clarify ayting. Good luck!




As you may have noticed, I have kind of fallen of the NaBloPoMo wagon. Usually it’s not too bad, but this year I have two blogs, an active two-year-old, and several more commitments than I have had in the past. So I’m giving myself permission to stop. I’ll still be posting multiple times weekly, but I need blogging to be something I’m not stressing out about.

And in the interest of full disclosure, let me share another way I messed up recently. I was working on the giveaway cup cover at a recent event, and got distracted by a bard singing near me, and started embroidering the wrong part of one of the spirals. Out it came. I’ve started that one again, from the base this time.


Welsh Triskele Cup Cover

So, as the principle, or leader, of my Barony’s Fiber Arts Guild, I’ve been hosting a cup cover stitch-along, where I take everyone from choosing designs and fabric, on through to embroidery stitches and thread, to finishing techniques. And it occurred to me that I’ve been making and gifting cup covers to a lot of people lately, but I have none for myself. Gotta fix that.
For the cup-cover stitch-along.

Celtic Snake Cup Cover

As promised, here’s the other cup cover I’ve been working on. It wasn’t for the largess competition, so I wanted to post it separately. I had a cup cover that I was using, and two of the Queens (well the Queen and a former Queen) started play- fighting over it. So I gave it to one of them, and promised to make another for the ‘loser,’ too. And since then, I’ve tried to make pretty cup covers for all the Queens that have come. So this is the most recent. Her colors are gold, purple, and green, and her persona is something Celtic. Ish.

Queen's Champion prep Queen's Champion prep Queen's Champion prep Celtic knotwork cup cover

Early and Late period Cup covers

So, I’ve been a little silent lately. It wasn’t on purpose, I’ve just been working on a lot of stuff lately, and it’s sometimes hard for me to balance the things I like to do (this blog) and the things I’ve committed to doing (the things I’m going to be posting about this week). It’s not you, it’s me. Or rather, my non-existant time-management skills.

We had a big to-do this weekend. It was an SCA event called Queen’s champion. The rapier fighters (guys who fight with light metal swords, all Princess Bride style, instead of big rattan swords, in roughly the style of Braveheart) get together and compete to be the one who fights for the Queen’s honor during her reign. There’s a King’s champion, too, but they’re the rattan fighters, and don’t feature in this story. Usually, all that happens at a QC event is the fighting, but this time, they held an Arts and Sciences competition as well. The items that were put in would then be donated to the basket of gifts that the Royals hand out as largess during their reign.

I made two embroidered cup covers. Although they’re not strictly period, they’re a nice visual touch that can conceal a soda can, and keep bugs and leaves out of one’s drink. I made one early period, based on Anglo-Saxon brooches.

Anglo-Saxon Cup cover Anglo-Saxon Cup cover Anglo-Saxon Cup cover Anglo-Saxon Cup cover

The other one is a later period design, with an Tudor Rose and an Ansteorran star, and the shading created by the use of blackwork fill patterns. I think they came out nicely. I’ve got one more cup cover, a ton of calligraphy, and pictures of the actual event coming up this week. And then, hopefully, we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging. Blackwork Rose and Star cup cover
Blackwork Rose and Star cup cover Blackwork Rose and Star cup cover Blackwork Rose and Star cup cover

Scattered Embroidery News

I finished my smocked apron! It’s fantastically beautiful, and I love it. It’s really a perfect low-effort, high-impact object. It’s made of weaver’s cloth and DMC floss, so I’m not overly precious about getting it messy. It only took a yard, so the materials aren’t expensive. I made it in less than a week, working on it in the evenings, so the time investment isn’t very large either. And the smocking was totally easy. I’m seriously considering making some more to give out as largesse.

Finished smocked apron.

I went to the Austin Stitchery Guild’s event, Stitchin’ Happy, with a friend. I got this adorably macabre needle keeper there. I totally want to make my own now; it’s terribly useful.

Picked up a needle keeper at a needlework show on Sunday.

And I started work on a new pretty project. It’s the latest in my attempt to give all the Queens of Ansteorra a pretty cup-cover.

New portable embroidery project.


Compass Rose Cup Cover

A while back, I got tired of getting leaves and bugs in my cup at SCA events and made myself a cup cover. In the same post, you’ll see that I started one for Nick, too, but I never liked it. The design is good, but the colors and progression I chose for it was, um, ill-advised. Not only that, but it was a Viking-era design, embroidered in a medieval style. Not at all what an Elizabethan courtier would use. So I elected to design him a new one.
Nick's Cup Cover

Nick's Cup Cover

I chose a hybrid between a compass rose (since Nick’s persona is a sea captain and privateer) and a Tudor Rose (a very Elizabethan motif). I used a few different blackwork fill designs to create light and dark areas, and the plain fabric (100% linen, but not even weave) for negative space. I used some brass beads and faux green pearls for corner weights, and a plain running stich to hem it. I’m much happier with this one.

Nick's Cup Cover

Nick's Cup Cover


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.