When I found out that Iselda de Narbonne was going to receive her Laurel, I may have demanded to make her mantle. I don’t know. It’s all a little fuzzy.
Due to life, the timeline on construction got a little tight, so the foundation seams were all machine sewn. However, every single visible stitch was hand-sewn, and the applique and beads were done entirely by hand. The fabric and thread is 100% silk. Every fabric used is a two-tone that shimmers when in motion, some more subtly than others. The pearls are glass Swarovski pearls.
I was asked to say something about the mantle as it was presented to her, but initially all I could think of was “A badass bard deserves a badass mantle, and I hope this makes you cry.” However, inspiration struck two nights beforehand, so I wrote her a poem that I read:
From sweet soil sprouts the laurel,
But limbs and leaves with labor grow
dewy drupes. Devotion and time
Furnished fruits fair to the ear,
Foliate and flourishing, brought forth
Verdant voices in choral concordance.
Now a mantle marks the mastership attained
Proclaims to peers: perceive this Laurel
with seeds of song to sow and nourish.
Amang ic seowede nihtlang ic sticode me foroft.
Æt þære wæfersyne wundormentles, þīn wopdropum ic ahope.
The last two lines, in Old English, translate directly to “While I sewed through the night, I stabbed myself often. At the spectacle of the wonder-mantle, I hope for your tears.” In other words, “I hope it makes you cry.”
In summer of 2019, I made my first pair of shoes with Michel Almond de Champagne’s shoe kit. They were remarkably easy, and will fill a nice gap in my wardrobe, as they will work roughly for most time periods.
The leather and rubber soles came in the kit, which I handsewed with silk thread. The shoes fit very well both with and without socks, but the soles are incredibly thin, even with a pair of insoles. Because of this, I only plan to wear these when I know I will mostly be standing on dirt or grass.
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.
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.
Materials & Techniques
Outside Bag Body
Material: Wool, handwoven on a rigid heddle loom, fulled, and hand-dyed in indigo
Techniques: Handsewn with commercially-dyed wool
Materials: Linen (commercially woven)
Techniques: Handsewn and felled with cotton thread
Materials: Commercially-dyed wool in Atlantian colors
Techniques: Inkle-woven and handsewn onto the bag’s back
Fluffy fluffy goodness made of wool
Don’t worry! The badge hasn’t gone missing: this is the bag’s first “pilgrimage,” so it does not have a badge yet! After this event, I will sew a badge (perhaps a Spike?) to the front flap.
Pattern & Construction
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.