When Hakon hábrok was placed on vigil to consider joining the Order of the Chivalry, I joined the Worthies to speak as a member of the populace. I was deeply honored to be asked to deliver this speech, and since Hakon is also a bard, I had to give it in verse. The verse itself is fairly loose Old English alliterative verse; I played with both line-length and alliterative structure to best suit the message.
From Ealawynn Maeru, alias Ela –
Gracious greetings, guests and friends.
Peers do plead their pieces of wisdom,
but I proclaim proudly for the populace.
What should the chivalry show us in deeds?
What weighs more worthy than wielding arms,
swift swords swinging ably,
all adversaries overwhelmed in battle?
No – a knight must be more—
prowess is purely part of the whole.
So what should the chivalry show us in deeds?
Listen, with silent lips and unlocked ears.
Contemplate, consider, and consult counsel;
weigh wisdom and wield caution.
Ignore self-interest; favor insight—
then speak, and lead.
This calling of chivalry is an arduous quest.
Many folk fail this formidable task.
But Hakon hábrok holds these!
Contemplation, counsel, consideration, and discernment:
if these uncommon attributes are the essence of chivalry,
then I call Hákon hábrok “knight.”
Elevate him to that order promptly.
The populace praises it as proper and just.
When Korrin Valravn asked me to write the text for Lucy of Wigan’s Coral Branch (AoA-level arts award), I lept at the chance, as Lucy is a dear friend.
Korrin had already selected the exemplar (a copy of Dante’s Inferno, MS Vat. lat. 4776, fol. 13r; Canto 4, ll. 64-87). This is a version of the Inferno with intensive planned glossing by Jacopo della Lana that had come up in conversation with Lucy when talking about glossing on legal texts. Glossing my own poem would be weird for a scroll, though, so Korrin brilliantly suggested I write a story to take the place of the glossing. To preserve the structure of the glossing and the layout of the exemplar, I decided that the story would incorporate lines of the poem.
The poem itself is hendecasyllabic meter (eleven syllables per meter) in terza rima (a rhyme scheme of ABA, BCB, CDC, etc.), which is the same structure as the Inferno. The prose interpolates lines of the poem in place of each glossed line in the original. Each section is approximately the same length as its respective gloss, which I achieved by taking a rough count of words in the exemplar and editing myself heavily. While the three animals in the poem (leopard, lion, and wolf) are pulled from the first canto of the Inferno, I twisted them towards Aesop’s Fables while also pulling heavily from forest episodes in chivalric romances. I also included an oblique reference to Dungeons and Dragons, as Lucy and I play together.
Hear, how midway in the journey of our lives,1
great merit and worth were discovered that we,
King Anton and Queen Luned, must recognize.
In Atlantia’s northern lands, fair and free,
dwells Lucy of Wigan in Roxbury Mill,
where with modesty she makes marvelously
her diverse delights with dedicated skill.
To list them all is a task most punishing
she creates with fiber and food — and more still!
Knitting and naalbinding, weaving and sewing —
sparing time for a dance, for Lucy loves balls —2
then to the garden, as greens need gathering.
Oft from her kitchen tempting fragrances call:
desirable dishes waft deliciousness,
while smooth libations sate all friends in her halls
Her subtlest arts remain; these are priceless:
We exclaim her judgment, mirth, and courtesy,
but the greatest of all her gifts is kindness.
Now induct her into that high company
of the Coral Branch! It is justly called for,3
and done by our hand and our Royal Decree,
For Lucy we laud, adulate, and adore,
in Anno Societatis Fifty-Five
on April the Tenth at Valencia Court.
Hear, how midway in the journey of our lives,
of that time when Lucy of Wigan was seized with a need to adventure, setting forth from the safety of her manor.
In Atlantia’s northern lands, fair and free,
Lucy set forth down the straight way into dark woods, until she came upon a leopard trapped in vines. Parched and near dead, it begged her to share her cordial, but Lucy knew a sip would not sustain the leopard — so she cut it free. It thanked her for her kindness, and she went onward. Soon she came to a lion weeping under a willow-tree. Once a prisoner, it had paid for its freedom with its mane. She could not bear its distress, so she sat—
Knitting and naalbinding, weaving and sewing—
with her diverse skills creating a new mane for the lion. Fastening the mane around the lion’s neck, she assured it of its handsomeness, with or without a mane. She left him gladly preening into a pond. As night grew closer, she came upon a starving wolf lying in the path. It whimpered pitifully, and Lucy was reminded of her own stomach rumbling when
Oft from her kitchen tempting fragrances call,
enticing her to taste the fine fare before it was finished. Kneeling, she offered a meat pie to the hungry wolf, who gladly took it. Soon it fell asleep, and she went onward. At last, she found herself in a grove where starlight reflected from every surface, for each leaf was of silver, bronze, and gold, and each branch of amber, diamond, and coral.
“Her subtlest arts remain; these are priceless,”
a sweet voice sang out; a luminescent figure stood in the middle of the grove. “You entered a forest, thick-crowded with troubles.4 Though you could have passed without a trace, you stopped for each creature that needed you, helping as you could.
For Lucy we laud, adulate, and adore;
A poet among poets would not have words to describe all you have done for those you have helped. You have done many works, with fiber, food, and flower.” The forest glowed gently around the figure, who plucked a twig of coral from a nearby tree. She extended it to Lucy, who knew then that the moon had come down to test and reward her. “But moreover, you were kind.”
1 Hear, how midway in the journey of our lives: This line is taken almost exactly from the first line of the Inferno, which begins (depending on the translation) with “Midway upon the journey of our life.”
2 Lucy loves balls: This is a joke that started at the first Pennsic Lucy went to, where she was very excited about the number of dances in the evening. We’ve all rather leaned into it.
3 of the Coral Branch! It is justly called for: This line and the following verse had to be changed, as to get me to attend Court for my Pearl, Korrin told me that Lucy was receiving her Coral Branch a week before she actually did. I had written the poem to include the date and the previous event, so I had to revise a few of the lines. Luckily, they were fairly straightforward to revise, and actually improved the final verse!
4 a forest, thick-crowded with troubles: This line is an adaptation from Canto 4, l. 64 of the Inferno (a line from the exemplar), which is sometimes translated as “a forest…thick-crowded with ghosts.”
Dartmouth Dante Project. Dartmouth College. https://dante.dartmouth.edu/
Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities. The World of Dante. http://www.worldofdante.org/inferno1.html
I was honored to write the scroll text for Baroness Catalina Riquel de Luna and Baron Jean Maurice le Marinier’s court barony scrolls, presented at Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival 2021. Korrin Valravn planned two beautiful maps for them, inspired by Dutch map from the 1570s. To match, I wrote two sonnets inspired by Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft, a Dutch poet from the 16th/17th centuries. His sonnets followed the rhyme pattern ABBA ABBA CCD CCD, and mine did the same. I was particularly pleased that I was able to include all the required information (dates, event, and heraldic blazon) within the poems themselves.
For Baroness Catalina
On March the Sixth, A.S. Fifty-Five, we hear
of service, strength, and grace at the edge of the sea
that guided barony, people, and crown most diligently:
the siren who sings of the rainbow over water.
Her righteous voice shimmers in salty air
for many years, serving Marinus surely.
Now is respite, reprieve, and relief from duty,
but Anton and Luned, King and Queen, declare:
“Catalina Riquel de Luna, your monarchs choose
you as Baroness of Our Court. Now use
and display with pride and privilege a coronet baronial.
Grant also arms: ‘Or, four pallets gules,
on a chief vert, three melusines argent.’ Thus ruled
at Atlantian Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival.”
For Baron Jean Maurice
Hear from Queen Luned and Anton the King
of watery dangers, beauties, and beasts so bountiful
and a sailor and warden steadfast, brave, and faithful.
An excellent ship the Mariner was trusted with guiding.
Now finished, deserved shore-leave is softly calling
and he descends from ardent duty without proper label.
Loathe are we to have him leave Our table,
and thus his fervent service We must be rewarding.
On the Sixth of March, A.S. Fifty-Five, decree
Jean Maurice le Marinier “Baron,” and guarantee
the privilege to use and display a coronet baronial
and grant him arms: “Purpure, a seahorse contourny
Between three fleurs-de-lys Or.” Thus we agree
at Atlantian Kingdom Arts and Sciences Festival.
In October 2020, I taught myself how to weave a tubular cord on an inkle loom.
Since this was for a secret project, no-one saw the cord until January 2021, but when they did, several people asked me to teach a class on this.
However, the technique is very simple, so instead of a class, I designed to put together a demonstration video. Enjoy!
Recently, under a context that I don’t remember, I decided I wanted to time myself on my different spindles and wheel. Basically, I knew that I could get roughly the same yarn on all my spindles and wheel, thereby allowing myself to a cut a corner in experimental archaeology by using my wheel instead of a spindle. However, I didn’t have proof.
Here’s the proof.
Wool & Equipment
For this experiment, I used commercially prepared Corriedale top. I chose this so that my fiber’s preparation wouldn’t create an additional variable, as a hand-prepared fleece might. I decided to spin 1 ounce (~28 grams) of Corriedale on each piece of equipment.
The equipment I used was:
- a top whorl spindle (a one-piece Picasso mini from Bosworth Spindles),
- a bottom whorl spindle (a “Viking”-style spindle from Feed the Ravens with a separate whorl and shaft),
- a Turkish spindle (mini from Subterranean Woodworks, no longer producing),
- a single-drive foot-driven wheel (an Ashford Traditional).
The top and bottom whorl spindles are both the same weight, 24 grams. The Turkish spindle is 19 grams.
Total time to spin 1 oz. on each equipment was:
- Top whorl spindle: 64.8 minutes (1 hour, 4.8 minutes)
- Bottom whorl spindle: 108.67 minutes (1 hour, 48.67 minutes)
- Turkish spindle: 135.82 minutes ( 2 hours, 15.82 minutes)
- Wheel: 26.76 minutes
From this, we can see that the wheel is drastically faster than all spindles. At the slowest, the wheel is more than twice as fast as the top whorl spindle (140% faster). The wheel is 277% faster than the bottom whorl spindle, and a whopping 309% faster than the Turkish spindle! All in all, spinning with the wheel is a major time-saver for me, while still providing myself with handspun yarn.
WPI and Yardage
For each test, I also recorded the yardage and wraps per inch (WPI) to determine yarn weight. While I tried to spin roughly the same yarn across the board, I allowed some variance in the yarn because I wanted to see what was different or difficult with each method. Therefore, my final yardage varied somewhat:
- Top whorl spindle: 104 yards
- Bottom whorl spindle: 111 yards
- Turkish spindle: 128 yards
- Wheel: 103 yards
This indicates that my yarn weight varied slightly on each equipment, with my top whorl- and wheel-spun yarns being approximately the same and my Turkish spindle-spun yarn being lightest.
To determine WPI, I measured at both ends of the yarn as well as a randomly selected part in the middle:
|End 1||End 2||Middle||Average|
|Top whorl spindle||32||23||24||26.3|
|Bottom whorl spindle||27||22||24||24.3|
One end of the top whorl spindle ended up vastly thinner than the other, but based on the yardage, I believe that this was only at the end, skewing the average WPI. While my WPI varied across each yarn, I was able to get 22-23 WPI at some point for each; therefore, I know that I can get the same yarn with each method, even if my WPI varied across the actual skeins.
Overall, I would say that this experiment proved what I intended to demonstrate: that with some effort, I can spin the same yarn on my spindles as my wheel.
I had some additional takeaways:
- The bottom whorl spindle required more flicking than the other spindles, which increased the overall spin time. With a bottom whorl spindle that spins faster/longer between flicks, I may be able to reduce this spin time.
- The Turkish spindle took longer to wind on, which increased the spin time.
- The Turkish spindle was harder to spin heavier on because it was a lighter weight (19 grams, compared to the other two spindles’ 24 grams), resulting in a lighter and longer yarn overall.
- The wheel wanted to spin slightly heavier, and I neglected to adjust the equipment and my style for this. However, I know that I could achieve the WPI from the other yarns (32 through 24) if I made these adjustments, as I have done so in the past, and I still achieved 22/23 WPI on each yarn during this experiment.
At the end of 2020, Korrin Valravn organized a scribal trading card exchange, with the cards being sent out in January 2021. I decided to submit a capital “D” from the Book of Kells, folio 85v.
In December 2020, Korrin Valravn arranged a “Secret Shiremate” exchange for our shire. I was excited to receive Ollam Ruaidhri an Cu, a lovely man, dear friend, and fellow bard, as my secret shiremate. We had four exchanges, and in no particular order, I wanted to share three of the things that I made (the fourth were cookies, and there is no evidence left of them).
Ollam Ruaidhri is a generous and crafty person, so I wove multiple yardages of inkle weaving, for him to use or gift (or both) as he saw fit.
The final bands are silk in shire colors (white and green), a semi-symmetrical narrrow weave in wool, a wide and long asymmetrical weave in wool, and a symmetrical weave in wool. I used some of the same wools in all three woolen weaves, which was a fun way to demonstrate the different effects you could create based on warping patterns.
In the survey we had to fill out, Ruaidhri also indicated that he did not have a shire token (!!) and that he liked practical items that fit in a pouch. Obviously, the answer was that he needed handkerchiefs with the shire populace badge.
The handkerchiefs are hand-hemmed linen embroidered with silk. I tried two different techniques for these to create both an outlined and a filled-in badge.
Finally, Ollam Ruaidhri has a wonderful dog named Zeus, so I had to do a small illumination of the lovely fellow. I adapted folio 19r from the Aberdeen Bestiary.
Here are some progress photos:
December 31, 2020 marked one year since I began the Great 2020 Dyeing Project Fade Test (which also had a small sidequest of the Madder Adventure), which meant it was time to take down the final fade swatches and process them! For the dyegoods, dyestuffs, dyeing combinations, fiber preparation, and dyeing methods that were involved in preparing for this year-long fade test, please see Part 1.
The final dates for the fade tests shifted only slightly from my original plan:
- One week: June 19 – June 26 (originally planned June 13 – June 20 or June 20 – June 27; I split the difference due to the weather around that time)
- One month: June 1 – June 30 (no shift)
- Three months: April 26 – July 26 (shifted by two days)
- Six months: March 16 – September 16 (shifted by one day)
- One year: January 1 – December 31 (no shift)
My test of the canary-stained wool (using yarn spun from the yellow tips versus yarn spun from the white roots) lasted three months. I also kept a control swatch of each color and material in a dark place. All the swatches were faded in a south-east facing window for their duration.
For a long time I’ve wanted to make reading Gawain and the Green Knight into an annual tradition around the New Year, as the poem itself is placed around the New Year.
However, 2020 was a long year, so I wanted to share it with others. At the beginning of the panic I read the entirety of Beowulf in Old English via impromptu streams on Facebook. This time, for Gawain, I made a long recording in garb (with new appropriate accessories!) and premiered it on New Year’s Eve and New Year Day. The videos are permanently on YouTube, so you can watch the whole playlist here or watch the videos via the embeds below.