Thursday, November 28, 2013



I took my children's "mouse battle" hats to the Jagermeister event this weekend at Ffynnon Gath and I won the A&S competition! Wow! Above is my lovely scroll which was painted by Grishka. I had a great time at the event and received a lovely gift basket that included a gorgeous lucet!

New lucet

I've been fiddling around with the lucet and now that I've got the hang of it there is a string pile starting to accumulate. It's the perfect nervous fiddle for truly lazy days! I also thought I'd post a picture so that you would know that I haven't forgotten the giant sparkly banner. Most of the update pictures have been more of the same, so I haven't written much about them, but today's is a happy update - I am almost finished with the letter fill! Yes, that really is the last two letters of "Society for Creative Anachronism"

Giant sparkly banner

Monday, November 25, 2013

Mantle and torse

Mantle and torse

I've been doing some research on helm decorations (torse, mantle, and crest) so I thought I'd start testing and drafting patterns before I haul out the nice fabric. This pattern was drafted from a torse and mantle that was loaned to me a while back. I grabbed some scrap fabric out of the hoard and gave it a try. Big shout out to the folks over at Armour Archive who posted their stuff and got me moving quickly on sewing and research!


I got the dagging just the way I liked it with a serious iron and copious amounts of starch. This wouldn't work well for more delicate fabrics, so I'm thinking that I will probably need to hand finish for silks and such. There are a lot of different patters than can be used for the dagging and I'd love to play around with that a little bit. Some of the dagging patterns have to be hand finished because of their intricacy and I've even seen some examples that have multiple layers for the mantle. If you want to get fancy, you can go with fur and tassles!


I've started a Pinterest board to keep things organized, so you can check it out and see what's on my mind here. The torse shown above is from Sweden and you can see what got me all giddy about helm decorations - Goldwork embroidery! This torse is one of a pair that were given as victory wreaths to tournament winners by Queen Maria Eleonaora of Sweden. They are on display at the Historiska Museet in Stockholm. The exhibit flier has a picture of both of the wreaths.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Giant Banner Progress Pics

Giant banner progress

I was out sick last week, so I missed quite a few days of stitching. Bah! Anyway, I started feeling better this weekend and have resumed stitching. One row down, two to go! I fear that the pictures really don't do it justice - the couched gold is very, very sparkly.

I was chatting about the banner this weekend and this project has been really interesting for a couple of reasons. The first big surprise was the depth you get from just one piece of paper for the letters. The first layer of each letter is laid green thread (just DMC cotton floss). The single layer of paper adds a surprising amount of dimensionality to the stitching. I suppose it makes sense when you look at the perspective of the actual thickness of the thread. I just hadn't really realized how much you could get out of so little.

The second layer is the laid criss-cross of gold thread. I am using a gold Gutterman machine embroidery thread for durability/washability/cost/etc. It's a very smooth thread and very nice to work with. Finally, I couch down the criss-cross at the intersections, which adds the texture and sparkle. It's very satisfying to finish a letter and see it glitter.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Giant banner

Starting a banner

We have a demo coming up soon that will be hosted at a local museum, so I wanted to make a Really Nice banner. I've been futzing around with the design for a while now and finally called it good this weekend. Due to a slight clerical error said banner is the size of my couch. Ahh, re-size by height or width - does it really matter? (Yes) Anyway, I got it all laid out and the design transferred and took a minute to bask in my success. All the letters in a tidy row. I was itching to get started, but only had just a few minutes after dinner last night to actually start on the stitching. Below is a picture of the first stitching - laid green thread with gold couching. It sparkles! I love the fill, now I have to figure out what I'm going to outline with. Somewhere in the fussy planning over the last couple of weeks I have this hazy idea of a fringe and that the outline will match the fringe. Ahh well, I have a lot of fill stitching ahead, so it's not an immediate crisis.

Beginning the stitching on giant banner

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dissertation and thesis joy!

I just had to share this post from "a stitch in time" blog. The British Library hosts a database of electronic copies of dissertations and thesis documents! Hooray! This is awesome on both recreational and professional levels :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Niedersachsen / Lüneburg monasteries

The German Inscriptions Online project has posted a lovely set of pictures of art from the Lüneburg monasteries/cloisters along with a discussion and translations of the original inscriptions and text! There are some lovely pictures of embroidery - enjoy :)

Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter

I do a lot of random research bits here and there, so I thought I'd start sharing some of my sources. The "On-Line Digital Archive of Documents on Weaving and Related Topics" project is hosted at the University of Arizona and has a large number of very cool documents. The series "Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter" has a number of interesting notes on medieval patterns, artifacts, and textile trade and issues 22-35 are available online. Enjoy :)
  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 22, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 23, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 24, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 25, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 26, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 27, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 28, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 29, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 30, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 31, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 32, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 33, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 34, PDF

  • McKenna, Nancy M., ed. Complex Weavers Medieval Textiles Study Group Newsletter 35, PDF

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Friday, September 13, 2013

Mouse castles!

mouse  battle progress I've transferred the pattern and made a good start on the stitching. The blue mice have their castle and the red mousies are soon to follow. I'm liking how the design is stitching up. I went with DMC cotton floss for this one, since it's for kids and silk seemed a bit overboard. Ok, silk seemed like a fabulous idea, but one of my friends called "reality check" on me and was correct. The cotton is looking good, so I am happy.

Now that the project planning is done and I've actually started, I wanted to give a shout out to the awesome blog "Got Medieval" which inspired the design for this project. I was looking around for a cute little pastoral scene for a kid's project and remembered the epic mouse versus cat marginalia battle. I've wanted to do something fun with it for a while, so I seized the opportunity. I didn't have enough stitching space to do the poor, defeated kitties artistic justice, but that may just be another chapter in their sad tale. Here is the thread of the tale of the cats versus mice.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sneak peek on the mice

I've got quite a bit of project posting to catch up on, but here is a sneak peek at what I'm working on. The mice get revenge! The design is taken from the mice versus cats marginalia in British Library MS Harley 6563. It's a 14th century English Book of Hours. The images can be found here

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gold Work Doodle #2

Goldwork doodle #2 My second doodle is finished! I used red couching thread on this one and mixed in some bezants and pearls, resulting in a very different look. I was going for a more Byzantine style and design on this one and I like how it turned out. The main downside to the "doodle" approach to trying out new stuff is that this doodle looks very hand drawn (which it was, in various stages). My modern aesthetic balks at imperfect geometry, but I console myself with the thought that it does look more like the stuff I see in museums.

I thought I'd include a picture of the two doodles, side by side. They are essentially the same basic gold work supplies and same ground fabric - what a different appearance! Comparision on #1 and #2

Friday, July 5, 2013

Gold work doodle #1

Goldwork Doodle #1 I've finally started playing around more with my faux (cheap) gold work kit that I put together a while back. I've been wanting to do something more than the little sample swatches I put together before. I have mounted a few bits of wool on the frame and without much planning or fanfare, begun to doodle. The first bit turned out to be a rose, which is about 1.5 inches in diameter. I like the results and have improved my skills substantially. At some point I realized that I had accidentally committed myself to quite a bit more chip work than I wanted, but I stayed the course. It's hard to see, but the petals are padded and have a sloped, bubble effect for surprisingly nice dimensional effects (for a first try). I've used up all the check in that size, but the results have amazing sparkle. I think I would like to display it in a dark closet with one candle for the "oooh" effect!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Finished horse tunic

finished horse tunic I finished the applique and other stitching on the horse tunic. My little guy was checking my progress regularly and is pleased with the result. This one is still a little big on him, so hopefully it should last more than one or two events before he out grows it!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Two horses

Two horses I've finished the applique and decorative stitching for both of the horses. After that I ironed them out to roundels. Next step is to applique them onto the tunic!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Horse applique number one

horse My little guy requested decorations for his new tunic. When I asked him what kind he decided that he wanted some horses on his tunic. I needed the tunic finished for the event, but then got to work on his decorations. He has been checking with me every day to see my progress. Last night I finished the first horse and he really likes it. Hooray! The horse is white linen appliqued to a black linen ground fabric, which matches the collar and sleeves on his tunic. I hand appliqued the horse using needle turn and a button hole stitch. After I finished I wanted to add a bit more to the outline, so I just did a quick outline of chain stitch.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Kid's Tunic and Pouch

Tunic and pouch My little guy continues to grow rapidly, so it was time for new SCA clothes. He picked the linen out of my stash and I made him a new tunic. I decided that I was done making small collars with the sewing machine, so I did this one by hand. Sewing it in by hand is definitely easier for the tiny collars. I'm still working on my hand applique skills, but I do like the result. Little guy liked the tunic too and now I'm working on the decorations that he requested. Also, we had an SCA birthday party for this weekend, so I put together a felt pouch for the little girl. I added a bit of stitching and then appliqued a tiny heart. Cuteness achieved :)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

C-belt finished

C-belt is finished! A few modifications made it feel more secure and fit better. The neatsfoot oil has darkened the brown leather that was attached, and after a week or so the new leather will probably darken too. The color contrast is still enough for a pretty pattern though. Finished c-belt Here I am wearing it! Very comfortable and ready to hang some legs on. Front view of finished c-belt

Friday, May 17, 2013

New C-Belt

I've been pondering upgrading my armor for a while now and have a list of stuff I'd like to do. I've recently moved, which gave me the chance to inventory my collection of random craft stuff. This week I found enough leather bits to start putting some stuff together, so I decided to begin with a new c-belt. I've been working on design and planning with my randomly shaped scraps here and there most of the week. Here are the bits all nice and cut out. C-Belt progress The black leather is a lighter weight leather and the brown is a bit heavier weight. I had to oil the black leather since it had been in various garages for quite some time. I have an old school metal sewing machine, so I can drop it down to a very low speed and sew leather. I've got some nice leather needles which look like tiny daggers. At first the sewing was a bit rough, but I rubbed some of the leather oil on the needle and then things went quite nicely. Appliqueing leather is fairly different than the work I've done with fabric and it was challenging. I managed to make it through without any catastrophes. No do overs with leather! C-Belt progress Finally, I riveted in the buckles and finished them out. It's starting to look pretty nice. The screw rivets probably wouldn't have been my first choice for the project, but my theme for a while is going to be using stuff I already have and I had a handful of these left over. I am going to keep rummaging through things to see if I find some rivets I like better. C-Belt progress Next on my agenda will be adding the leg harness mounts over the hips. I'm going to continue to strategically use the brown leather to reinforce the black leather and hope that it is strong enough. I used some older measurements and I think that I'm going to have to take in the front a little. I'm going to let it sit overnight and think a bit on what to do next.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Tiny Surcoat

new tiny tunic I'm going to try to make Queen's Champion this weekend since it's down the street from me. I just realized yesterday that my little guy has grown 2 inches in the last month - so I needed some new garb for him before the weekend! He really likes the fighters and their clothes, so I made him a tiny little surcoat with some decorative spiral lacing on it. It's cute, but every time I look at it I keep thinking the measurements must be wrong - it's square! On second thought, little dude is kind of square, so I think it will fit. Hooray for random linen scraps!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brown velveteen pouch

I'm playing around with some different purse patterns and am currently working on this one: . pouch-01 The first thing that is obvious about this pattern is that there are a lot of eyelets! Once I got the pieces sewn together and everything marked, I began to wonder if I had the fortitude for that many eyelets. However, the journey of a thousand eyelets starts with a single stitch. pouch-04 I couldn't believe that I managed to get all those eyelets done! At this point I was really hoping that this pattern worked and regretting not doing a mock-up like I usually do.

pouch-05 pouch-06 I was impatient so I used some shoelaces to string it together and make sure that the gathering worked correctly. It works! Hooray! It's kind of hard to see on this picture but the gathers lay nearly perfect with a graceful curve into a nice round bottom. The next step will be to cut and sew the top flap, which will be attached at the little tab sticking up. Also, I need to make some pretty drawstrings to replace those shoelaces.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Apron dress progress

I went to fiber arts guild last night and have made some progress on stitching the roundels on my apron dress. A while back I sewed down the second roundel (left) and stitched the edges for it. Last night I worked on the first roundel (right). I've finished the white stitching and am working on the gray fill. roundels-progress

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

(Very) Tiny Purse

I was chatting with our gift coordinator for the crown and she mentioned that they were a bit low on largess, so I decided to make a little something to make her job easier. This little project combines three "to-do" things on my list: eyelet practice, twisted cords, and up-cycled shirts. I've been meaning to practice eyelets and have yet to feel comfortable with them. This little project had 12 of them - and I think I've got the hang of it now. Recently one of the blogs I read posted a tutorial on quick twisted cords and I had been meaning to try it out since I don't seem to have a good track record on finishing long finger loop braids to finish out projects. Finally, I was gifted a box of old silk shirts from my sister a while back and I have been wanting to use them for more projects. Most of the shirts have large chunks of silk that is still nice, so I just have to dissect them and pull out the good bits as I go. The silk for my apron dress is my first shirt project. This is my second. purse This is a simple little circle purse in silk with twisted cord silk drawstring. I put my favorite teas in it as a little bonus :) When I patterned it, I had intended that it be large enough to have the tea totally inside, but drafting patterns just really isn't my strong suite. Oh well, another skill to work on. The eyelets turned out very nice and surprisingly consistent. They are a little snug for the draw string, but they work. Even as a tiny purse I think it works out well with the tea and the silk is so shiny and soft that it still makes me happy.

Friday, March 29, 2013

And now for something completely different

I've have come to appreciate the beauty of vector graphics for patterning. The ability to scale, manipulate, and print designs easily makes life way easier. As a result, I have a new compiling fidget (as illustrated by the genius of XKCD) My new fidget is making vector graphics patterns for "future projects" and I have decided to share them with the world. Please feel free to use these for your personal projects and enjoy them. If you want to use them commercially, please email me to work something out. If you do something really awesome with them, I would love to see pictures :) Without any further ado, here is the first design from a Bishop's mitre at Uppasala Cathedral and Treasury in Sweden. I've uploaded two different formats to my Google Drive here: PDF and SVG format. If I have done things correctly, you should be able to download them without creating accounts or logging in or any extra trouble. I created the SVG in Inkscape, which is a free program that is similar to Adobe Illustrator. Please let me know if there are any problems with the downloads or files.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two roses!

I'm in the midst of packing and have taken the opportunity to sort my craft stuff by unfinished projects. If I pack everything else then I can't start a new project, so I *must* finish them! So far, it's working. I had one finished rose and one that just needed a few more minutes of work, so I pulled them out as my first challenge. Now, I've finished my two wool roses! They are a combination of satin stitch, Klosterstich, and stem stitch. 20130318_105604 They are stitched on linen, using "Designer's Dream" wool from Rainbow Gallery. I posted a picture of the thread palette just for fun. The wool is a very fine wool, which is fairly easy to work with. It's not too fuzzy, but it does tire pretty quickly. The threads are very springy, so you have to be extra careful with stitch tension. wool