In addition to sewing Mistress Ysabeau’s Laurel cloak, I spun the wool for her vigil shawl. Ysabeau has made several vigil shawls for other people, so my friend Lucy (Lucy of Wigan) and I decided that we must make Ysabeau her own. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of the yarn-in-progress. The wool was off-white merino from Paradise Fibers, and it was an utter delight to spin. Once the yarn was spun up and washed, I threw together a simple triangular shawl pattern, did a tab cast-on, and passed it off to Lucy to knit. Once she was done with her beautiful knitting, we blocked it together.
When Baron Hamish MacLeod found out that his wife, Baroness Ysabeau ferch Gwalchaved, was going to be surprised with her Laurel at Bright Hills Baronial Birthday in February 2020, he asked me to create her Laurel cloak. Now-Mistress Ysabeau is a spinner, weaver, and sewer who handsewed garb for one of her first events 32 years ago (in a time and place when handsewn garb was actually looked down on — how far we have come!) so I knew I had to pull out all the stops I had.
At some point in the murky past (that is, 2019), Kaaren, Adelaide, and I made a joke about how we’re the three Fates. I am, of course, the spinner Clotho, Adelaide the measurer Lachesis, and Kaaren the inflexible/cutter Atropos. When we discovered that we all had bought (or wanted to buy) the same grey linen, we decided to make Fates-themed garb in our preferred styles (we also managed to be chronological as well!). For a deadline, we set Twelfth Night 2020.
Because I was doing early period English, I felt a little guilty that my garb wouldn’t be as complicated and require as much hard work as Adelaide and Kaaren’s. So I decided to make everything I wore.
I already had shoes, anyway.
After taking a class on natural dyeing using different yellows and indigo in May 2019 at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I decided it was finally time to dye the Romney fleece I bought in 2017. However, I wanted to test sun-colorfastness first, as I had noticed some garments that I dyed with commercial dyes were fading significantly after 2 years of SCA wear and washing.
I decided I wanted to test weld, madder, and indigo (the great triumvirate of medieval dyes) plus cochineal; I also wanted to test these dyes in combination.
In May 2017, right before I joined the SCA, I purchased my first-ever fleece at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I chose a pretty Romney with long locks and nice crimp, and decided to wash it lock-by-lock. However, when I washed it, I noticed that most of the locks had at least an inch of canary stains (yellowing that weakens the fibers starting at the tips). I decided that I should try dyeing it for tapestry, but because of that decision, it sat in storage for two years.
Fast-forward to May 2019, when I took a natural dyeing class at Maryland Sheep and Wool, and I decided it was time to finish processing that fleece (which gave me an excuse to buy another while I was there). With the help of some Dawn soap, tap-hot water, an assembly-line-style set-up, and a three-day weekend in the fall, I finally got the whole fleece washed and stored.
Thus the Great 2020 Dyeing Project was ready to begin.
In fall 2019, I wanted to improve my embroidery, so I drew a knotwork design that I decided to fill using a combination of satin stitch and split stitch. It’s still in progress, as knotwork takes a long time!
For the second year in a row, I was proud to be a member of the Ottoman Mehter Takımı, or Janissary Band, at Pennsic. I was also asked to put together a display of the band’s material culture for the Known World A&S Display. I enjoyed coordinating it, and writing the materials allowed me to learn even more about the Mehteran! In this post, I’ve included photographs of the display and of my new uniform. After the cut is the display’s sign text.
Many thanks to Maggie Hays for the photos of the display below. It was rather hard to photograph, as it was long (two tables!) and tall (standards and flags!).
For my efforts in the A&S display, I was named an onbaşı (corporal) in September 2019.
As part of my individual efforts, I made a new uniform that was much more accurate than the one I wore in 2018.
For my new uniform, I made a new red coat, kaftan, pants, turban, and cross-body bag. Because I was making these close to Pennsic, most items were machine-sewn; however, I hand-finished the coat. I also made some prayer beads as an accessory to hang from my sash (and fiddle with while we were waiting to march!). I’m really happy with my uniform now, but for the next march I plan to update my hat (time for a historically accurate one — read below!) and my yellow sash (it’s just too flimsy.)
Keep reading for the text from the display!
In Spring/Summer 2019 my friend Adelaide decided it was finally time to tackle a project she’d been wanting to do: a genderbent, period-accurate outfit based on Disney’s Rapunzel. As a knitter, I immediately volunteered to knit her a flat cap and garters. I was not particularly good at taking photos of my work before passing it off to Adelaide, but luckily our friend Kaaren Valravn took an excellent photo of Adelaide in the garb this fall where the garters and hat are perfectly visible.
You can read all about Adelaide’s hard work here.
In the summer of 2019, I went on a small jewellery/beading jag.
Left, top to bottom: necklace that doubles as circlet made of amber on beader’s wire; amber drop earrings; glass bead swag with removable beads (cord is beader’s wire with silver beads); amber and copper bead swag on beader’s wire for Old English garb (with brooches). These are all for wearing with my Old English garb.
Right, left to right: Pearl-and-amber paternoster on silk with silk tassel; green-stone-and-amber paternoster on cotton with cotton tassel; green stone prayer beads on cotton with cotton tassel. The first two paternosters are to wear with my 14th-century garb, while the prayer beads are for my Ottoman garb.
For my third-ever tapestry project (the other two done before I joined the SCA), I went a little overboard: I wanted to weave a bag for my spinning wheel with my device on one side. After an entertaining discussion at my local shire meeting, I decided to add a motto on the other: tanta oves, paucas tempus (so many sheep, so little time).
Pattern & Design
For the pattern, I wanted to weave the bag in one piece so that I all I had to do was fold and sew it. I also gave it multiple straps to hang it from my wheel, plus straps with buttons to close it.
I created the designs on my computer, as I had already drawn a digital version of my device. I also had some good fonts to use as a jumping-off point for the text. I printed these out and used them as a cartoon behind the loom, though I did Sharpie some spots on the warp to assist in alignment.
Materials & Process
I used my vertical tapestry table loom for this project. Because of the bag layout, the pattern was woven so that the warp ran vertically in the final product, as opposed to horizontally (as in period). I was determined to weave from my yarn stash, so my warp was a midweight cotton and my weft was a worsted-weight knitting wool. Because the straps were woven in, so were the buttonholes. The buttons were leftover ones that I made out of Sculpey for a baby sweater; I sewed them on at the end.
The choice of warp and weft led to the greatest issue with the tapestry, which could modernly be called “pixelization.” Because my gauge was large by my pattern had some finer details and many curves, the final product ended up less smooth than I wanted. This was also my most complicated tapestry so far (horses are notoriously hard in art!), so I learned a lot from these challenges! Also, I totally went overkill on straps.
Progress Photos & Final Project
Overall, I’m happy with the bag. It fits on my wheel and holds all my bobbins plus my niddy-noddy, diz, and some wool. It doesn’t interfere with carrying the wheel, either! Finally, I learned so much from this project that I know my next tapestry will be leaps and bounds better.