Late-Period Old English Riddle in Alliterative Verse
Presented at Ruby Joust, Barony of Caer Mear, 2019, for the Poeta Atlantiae competition.
In April 2019 I had the pleasure of leading the Shire of Roxbury Mill team at Revenge of the Stitch, a 24-hour sewing competition. After consulting with our model, Ava Deinhardt, we settled on a 12th-century bliaut. I was particularly interested in bliauts, as they’ve been finicky to pin down, and I happen to know Dr. Monica L. Wright, an expert on bliauts, and I wanted to apply her research.
After several requests for our team’s documentation, I am posting it here. You can also download a PDF copy.
In 2019, I had the honor to write the scroll text for my friend Ishmael Reed in a fantastic collaboration with Lady Adelaide Half Pint (illumination) and Lady Kaaren Valravn (calligraphy). Of course, I had to write a Shakespearean sonnet for Lord Ishmael:
From Ragnarr King and gracious Queen Lynette:
Hail and heed our words, Atlantia fair!
For poetry written and many a doublet
A Coral Branch for Ishmael Reed declare.
He toils with sharp and pointy things each night:
A quill, a pen, a needle, sometimes wit.
His laborious toil makes Atlantian arts shine bright
and keeps the lantern of arts well-tended and lit.
He calls forth words from both the brave and afraid
By easing others’ fears of meter and rhyme.
And oh! diverse doublets he helped be made,
Manifold shirefolk dressing now sublime.
Thus have we with royal power decreed:
Present this Coral Branch to Ishmael Reed.”
To see the scroll, visit Lady Kaaren’s site.
I made this bag for Lochmere Midwinters in January 2019 as part of their Pilgrim Bag competition. The picture shows the fabric a much darker blue than it is in real life.
Outside Bag Body
Thanks to Mistress Karen Larsdatter’s links pages, I first found the pattern by Sabine Scholl, the pattern by Myriam Gateault, and the translation of Scholl’s pattern by Lord Coblaith Muimnech (Ansteorra). In several manuscript images on these pattern pages, there were blue bags with white tassels and details (Atlantian colors!). I then remembered the wool cloth that I had handwoven, fulled, and dyed in indigo—it would be perfect for this bag! Addendum 2019: I used a small rigid-heddle loom to weave the cloth out of a rough commercial wool; I then fulled wool by putting it in my home’s washer/dryer and forgetting about it!
While I prefer the look of the trapezoidal bag in these patterns and illuminations, I wanted to use every inch of my handwoven/hand-dyed fabric, so I settled on a rectangular bag (but still with tassels, because who doesn’t love tassels?). Because the final construction was simple folding and bag-lining (pun definitely intended), I did not use a pattern; I relied on the dyed fabric’s width and cut the lining to match.
Finally, while straps in illuminations are usually a single color, I wanted to reinforce the Atlantian colors of the bag body, so I patterned the inkle-woven strap with white and multi-toned, asymmetrical blue stripes. I wove a long enough piece to serve as a strap, then sewed it to the back of the bag to create the same visual, from the front, that I saw in the exemplars. Addendum 2019: I used a modern inkle loom to weave the strap. The asymmetrical blue stripes were a necessity, as I had a limited amount of match yarn remnants!
These three exemplars gave me confidence that a blue-and-white square bag with tassels could be possible across multiple centuries.
Lord Coblaith Muimnech, Lord. “Trapezoidal Shoulder Bag.” Coblaith, http://www.coblaith.net/Bags/TrapezoidalBag/default.html.
Karen Larsdatter, Mistress. “Pilgrims’ Bags.” Medieval & Renaissance Material Culture, http://www.larsdatter.com/pilgrims-bags.htm.
Myriam Gateault. “Schmuck und Accesoires – Pilgertasche.” Diu Minnezît, https://www.diu-minnezit.de/realie_details.php?sid=0&lid=0&rid=119&tid=1.
Sabine Scholl. “Mittelartliche Umhängetasche.” Tempora Nostra, http://www.tempora-nostra.de/mode_umhaengetasche.shtml.
In April 2018, I had the great honor to be part of the Shire of Roxbury Mill’s Revenge of the Stitch team for the first time. Our chosen garb was middle-class Tudor garb.
I had one responsibility: knit a Tudor flat cap and full it in the 24-hour time period. Folks were (understandably) a little concerned about the amount of time it would take me to knit, so I knit a test hat first.
It took 8.25 hours. Flat cap was a go!
On the day of, though?
It took 6.5 hours, from cast-on to bind-off.
Fulling, of course, took a little longer.
In 2018 my friend Ishmael Reed became Poeta Atliantiae, and somehow managed to convince me to start writing poetry again. The Fire of the Hunt was the result. I entered it into my first-ever bardic and poetry competitions at Trial By Fire 2018, and somehow managed to win both.