Thursday, August 22, 2019

Barony of Southron Gaard Persona Challenge

I love Challenges; having a date to work to motivates me. I recently heard about this Challenge created by the Barony of Southron Gaard, and I must say it is very tempting. I need to think about whether I can participate (either formally or informally) without causing myself undue stress. Veeery tempting!


Nice Little Touches:the Southron Gaard “Persona Gubbins*” A&S Challenge

“The object of art is to give life a shape.”

We know that sometimes people find it hard to “use” their persona at events, or to make their persona relevant to their SCA “game play”.  In this challenge we invite you to use your persona (or someone else’s) to investigate that persona’s world, in order to create small items that you might carry to or use at events to enhance our SCA “game”.

*Gubbins, meaning small items, easily picked up and carried about (mid-16th century word, from the obsolete gobbon ‘piece, slice, gob’, from Old French; probably related to gobbet).  Not to be used in connection with live small animals.

Thanks to Shakespeare and others for the quotes used here throughout.

This Challenge is brought to you by Meisterin Christian Baier, Baroness Isabel Maria del Aguila, Lady Amabillia Threxton, under the gracious patronage of Her Excellency Baroness Ginevra.

We would like to thank Lady Cecily for the inspiration of her excellent and amusing A&S Pentathlon upon which we have shamelessly, but with permission, borrowed.

We would like to thank those Southron Gaard Laurels who have kindly offered to sponsor small prizes or tokens.

The Challenge:

What to enter:
You may enter the challenge by completing one (or more) small objects or items from the categories below.  "Small" may be defined as you choose, and may include "medium", "large", and "gosh, look at the size of that thing" projects.
Entries should be new projects (i.e. not entered in previous competitions/challenges).
All items should be for use at an SCA event.
Items may be for your persona, or for the persona of the person for whom the item is intended.

Who can enter: Anyone!

Entries are welcomed from adults, children and youth.

For any who are not members of the populace of Southron Gaard, please note that her Excellency has decided this Challenge is also open to entry from those not resident in our fair Barony, as it is not your fault that you are so disadvantaged.

Items may be made or performed by an individual, or by a group.

How to enter:

Submit the following information

1) a photograph of the item, and

2) a few brief notes about the item and the persona that inspired it.

When to enter: Enter now!

All projects must be completed by Baronial Anniversary 2020.

Your recognition: All entrants will be awarded a special token at Baronial Anniversary 2020.

Those entrants who complete three projects, and those who complete five projects, from at least two distinct categories listed below, will receive an additional token.

Some of our local Southron Gaard Laurels have generously offered to award small prizes or tokens to the entry of their choice.


1. Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?

An item of food or drink your persona may have grown, prepared, consumed, or known of.

2. With silken coats, and caps, and golden rings, with ruffs, and cuffs, and farthingales, and things.

A garment your persona may have worn.

3. When I am forgotten, as I shall be, and sleep in dull cold marble, … Say, I taught thee.

The teaching or sharing of knowledge or skills that your persona would have had, for example, classes, published articles etc.

4. With scarfs, and fans, and double change of bravery, With amber bracelets, beads, and all this knavery.

An accessory your persona may have owned, made, used, or gifted.

5. All the world‘s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.

A performance of a persona-appropriate piece (song, poem, play, saga, tale, dance, etc); formal or informal, individual or group.

6. What revels are in hand? Is there no play, To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?

Games, toys, and other such entertainments.

7. 'Fore God, you have here a goodly dwelling and a rich.

Items your persona may have had in their home: housewares, furniture, feast gear, table wear, lighting, and such like.

8. This is the excellent foppery of the world

Develop a repertoire of vernacular language, appropriate to your persona, for use at events, e.g. oratory, witticism, oaths, braggery, vernacular phrases, boasts, etc.

9. To gild refined gold, to paint the lily, To throw a perfume on the violet,…

At your toilette: hairstyling, make up, beauty products, skincare, ointments, unguents, perfumes, etc.  Also items associated with bathing, cleanliness, etc: e.g. soaps, cleaning tools or products, laundering, etc for people, houses, livestock etc.

10. Is this a dagger I see before me?

Items for self-defence or martial activities.

11. Get thee to a nunnery

Religious or spiritual items, e.g. momento mori, devotional items, etc.

12. A garish flag, to be the aim of every dangerous shot.

An item of heraldic display.

13. Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll have none of it.

Items associated with health, medicine, or wellbeing.

14. I do remember an apothecary…

And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,

An alligator stuff'd, and other skins

Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves

A beggarly account of empty boxes,

Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,

Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,

Were thinly scatter'd to make up a show.

An item used in an occupation, trade, or task, e.g. a tool, equipment, etc.

15. I'll note you in my book of memory

A written item or document of some kind, e.g. a letter, a piece of calligraphy and illumination, etc.

In particular, we would also encourage you to put together your own commonplace book or similar item relevant to your persona (a commonplace book is a collection of notable extracts from other works, and everyday handy knowledge for your personal use at events e.g. song lyrics, game instructions, recipes to share, etc).

Monday, August 19, 2019

More finger loop braids

Well, the chest infection that apparently never ends turned into pleurisy, and that is why I have been feeling so decidedly ordinary. I feel much less guilty about getting nothing done; although the frustration never goes away.
I have continued to experiment with the five bow fingerloop braids, and I feel like I am  starting to see progress. I want to really get the hang of this form before I branch out into other patterns and more bowes. Tension is improving.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Personal Embroidery Challenge

Something that surprised me recently was that I am as excited now about embroidery and women's fashion accessories as I was all those years ago when I first joined the SCA and picked my garb based on embroidery styles and fashion accessories! Such a wealth of information to explore, and it is only getting easier as more pieces are released into public displays or digitised for viewing online. The to- do list will never end!

Another interesting consideration when looking back over my work in the last fifteen years or so is just how 'stuck' I have been on monochrome non-counted embroidery - particularly the Elizabethan style. I love it so much, but I do think I need to work a bit more on exploring other techniques. I'm going to challenge myself to try it. New skills will enhance existing ones, and it can only enrich my experience. Obviously (as embroidery takes so long,) this will be a long term project, but it is one which I am looking forward to. It might give me confidence to try some of the bigger 'dream' projects I have been thinking about for years.

This thought-thread made me think that I should go back and review some of my very early work so that down the track I can compare it to where I am now.  A lot of the pieces were done pre-digital camera, so there are no photos (or at least no good photos) but it will be nice to do a review in a year or two and see how far I have got with the challenge. I've also noted that I haven't taken pictures of things that are not finished, and there are a lot of those.

Couching, Laid work

Beading, Pearling

Metal thread work, Purl work

Canvas work, including Slips


Cross stitch, including Voided work (Assisi)

Counted Thread work

Raised work, Padded work


Whitework (not Hardanger)



Construction sewing

Needlemade lace

Non-counted thread embroidery



Coptic embroidery and pre 1000 AD work.

Woolwork e.g. Bayeux Tapestry

Opus Anglicanum

Or Nue, Lazurtechnik

German counted work

Heraldic Embroidery

Elizabethan Embroidery


Canvas work, Table carpets, Slips

Polychrome Elizabethan Embroidery

Costume Embroidery

Embroidery for Household Linens
 Sooo very many napkins! I won't show them all

Embroidery for Regalia
These are only a fraction of previous projects- ones where I had photos easily to hand. You can see the obvious gaps and areas of embroidery that I enjoy.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Fingerloop Braiding Progress

I have continued to experiment with 5 bowe fingerloop braiding, and have been trying different thicknesses of thread and different tensions. I am really enjoying it and have been surprised at the different results little differences to tension can make.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Fealty Contract for Pelican Elevation

Please enjoy this 2-part Fealty contract created by my talented friend Lord Federyc de Herle of Lochac. He managed to do this in less than a day (!). It is done in Winsor and Newton inks on pergamenta.

The wording was created by another talented friend Baroness Annys Blodwell.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Heraldic Embroidery on MoD Cloak

I recently was honoured to add a friend's device to the Cloak of the Masters of Defence in honour of his elevation to that Order. The Order of Defence is given to those who excel in the field of Rapier and or Cut and Thrust in Lochac. Peers must also support the Crown and kingdom, display courteous and noble behaviour, share their knowledge and skills with others, practice hospitality according to their means, and those skills and behaviours appropriate to the court. (
The regalia is a white livery collar, but the Members of the Order are also garbed in a special cloak upon their elevation.
The cloak is made of black wool lined in white linen, and is decorated with an elegant and subtle line of black-on-black embroidery. The devices of the Masters are embroidered on the inside in back -stitch with DMC floss 310.
Back stitch is not a stitch that I use regularly, so I had to concentrate on what I was doing.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Partlet with Embroidered Flower and Bee Motifs

Partlets (also called bavari and gorguera) are an element of sixteenth century clothing which were commonly worn by both high and lower class ladies, although ladies of nobility tended to wear more elaborately decorated versions which often had lace and/or embroidery on them.

I have been embroidering a partlet. My partlet with bees and flowers was inspired by the chemise and partlet set worn by the sitter in the Portrait of Helena von Snakenborg by the British School circa 1569-

Image from: Wikipedia

The top edge of the chemise can be clearly seen under the edges of the partlet, which suggest that this is a set of garments rather than a high necked smock (although both styles were worn in the sixteenth century). The garments have a boldly coloured floral decoration, which may be painted but is more likely to have been embroidered. I did not have the time to do a completely filled embroidered motif, but also prefer a more subtle design for most of my clothing. My persona has ties to both the English and Italian courts, and I wear both styles of clothing, but Italian is my favourite.

This Italian allegorical portrait by Francesco Melzi shows Flora wearing a chemise embroidered with motifs
Image from:

The design on this extant 16th century camicia held by the Met museum was also an inspiration in choosing my design-
 Image from Pinterest:

Many examples of portraits of noble ladies of both the Italian and Elizabethan courts show exquisitely embroidered partlets. Monochrome and polychrome embroidery became increasingly popular from the 1510s to the end of the sixteenth century as a way of displaying wealth and rank. Portraits from artists as diverse and geographically widespread as Anthonis Mor, Hans Holbein, Guillim Scrots, Moroni and Veneto show sitters with lavishly decorated embroidered garments. Portrait evidence shows a great deal of versatility; some ensembles have the partlet matching another costume element such as sleeves, ruff or stomacher, and others show a partlet decorated in a completely different style to the sleeves. The underlying desire seems to have been to display wealth and show off beautiful garments.

Monochrome and polychrome embroidery was popular on chemises and smocks, partlets, collars and cuffs, ruffs, coifs and caps and other linens. It was executed in counted form (usually in running stitch or double running stitch) or in non-counted form, in stitches such as stem, braid, chain, speckling, feather stitch, backstitch, long and short stitch, herringbone stitch and split stitch. Extant items can be seen with all these stitches. Addition of spangles, gold or silver threads, plain or metallic lace, and pearls and beads all added to the lavish effect.

Portrait of Lady Dacre by Hans Eworth (1540) shows the sitter wearing an elaborately embroidered (monochrome) partlet and smock. This is an English style.
Image from

 In contrast, the images below show Italian styles:
Tintoretto’s Portrait of a Lady (1570s) from

Veronese’s Portrait of a Woman (1570s) from

Bernadino Licinio’s c1550 Portrait of a Family from

I have created a collarless partlet in the Italian style (shown above) as this style is very comfortable, is not restrictive, and matches the style of Italian gown I prefer. The three pattern pieces were sewn together with enclosed seams by machine, and then the seams were sewn flat by hand. A small folded hem was sewn by hand on all raw edges. I decided to embroider the partlet after it was sewn together to ensure accurate design placement, although this does make it more difficult to embroider.

Floral designs were very popular for embroidery in the sixteenth century, due in part to the proliferation of printed pattern-books and the discovery of the strange flora of foreign lands and the New World. Designs were often copied from pattern-books, as well as bestiaries and herbals. Other designs such as geometric designs, grotesques and allegorical emblems were very popular and can be seen in portraits from across Europe. There was no notion of or way of enforcing copyright during this time, so designs were lifted and adapted, and versions of the same designs can be seen in design model books from the 1530s and into the seventeenth century. The same designs crop up in books published in England as well as in Europe.

The flower design that I have used comes from the 1608 Trevellyon Miscellanny-
Image from Pinterest:

A similar version of the same motif is also seen in Shorleyker’s 1603 (and reprints) publication of “A Scholehouse for the Needle”-

The bee design also comes from “A Scholehouse for the Needle” from 1608

Image from Pinterest:
(This image is a reproduction of a page of the 1632 reprint)

but there are many bee designs as well as extant examples from the late sixteenth century, mainly due to the popularity of bugs and flower designs in Elizabethan embroidery (such as the piece below)

Textile of block-printed linen, England, 1600-1649. Museum Number T.174B
Image from Pinterest:

The design was traced out in removable pen and worked predominantly in split stitch and double running stitch in orange DMC cotton floss with two threads, and some running stitch with a single thread (bees). In period, silk floss would most likely have been used for embroidery but I can’t afford silk. The background fabric is cotton linen blend. Linen was mostly commonly used for undergarments in the sixteenth century, as it was widely available (being produced from flax plants) and easy to launder. There are many extant examples of linens for use as underwear (both embroidered and plain) in museums and textile collections worldwide. Linen was relatively easy to launder in our time period; un-embroidered linen bleaches easily in the sun and becomes softer with wear, wicks away sweat and is long lasting. Linen blends offer some of these benefits, but are more in line with my budget than pure linen, as well as being more readily available.

Polychrome embroidery and decoration on a late sixteenth century extant linen shirt held by the Met Museum showing the use of bold colours in Italian embroidery, Accession Number 10.124.1 from

I have not yet finished the embroidery, but I plan to add more decorative elements when I have. I am considering adding some smaller motifs along the front edge, and I think some bobbin or needle lace in orange and white threads will finish the piece off nicely. Some of my inspiration pieces are below:

Extant 16thC Camicia held by the Met Museum
Image from:

Extant 16thC Camicia held in Prato, Museo Del Tessuto
Image from Pinterest:

The pattern of the partlet I made differs from those used in period ; I wear a 'dickie' style that I can get into by myself as I don't have anyone to help me dress. The side seams under the arms are sewn rather than being loose and having the partlet tied on. Patterns for and images of partlets from the sixteenth century mainly seem to involve pinning or tying them in place under gowns (although some are pinned on over gowns also).

Partlets (with ties) hanging on the line in this scene painted by Allori in the Palazzo Pitti (c. 1598)
Image from

Extant Spanish partlet which has ties:
Extant sixteenth century partlet held by Instituto Valencia de Don Juan
Image from Pinterest:

An Italian style of partlet (which would be pinned on), from Elisabetta Parasole's book of partlets (bavari) patterns from 1604 “Ornamento nobile per ogni gentil matrona, dove si contiene bavari , frisi d'infinita bellezza, lavori, per linzuoli traverse, e facuoli” at
Reproduced at

Arnold, J. 1988, Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, W S Maney and Son Ltd, London.
Arnold, J; Tiramani, J; and Levey, S. 2008, Patterns of Fashion 4, Pan Macmillan Ltd, London.
Compleat Anachronist 115: Wrought with flowers of Black Silk, Prudence Catesby
Compleat Anachronist 31: An introduction to Blackwork, Shoshonnah Jehanne ferch Emrys
Dress at the Court of King Henry VIII, Maria Hayward (2007, Maney Publishing, UK).
The Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques, Pauline Brown (1994, Simon and Schuster, Australia).
Geddes, E and McNeill, M. 1976, Blackwork Embroidery, Dover Publications, New York.
Mikhaila, N and Malcom-Davies, J. 2006, The Tudor Tailor, B T Batsford Ltd, London.
Orsi Landini, R and  Niccoli, B. 2005,  La Moda a Firenze 1540-1580, Pagliai Polistampa, Florence.
Synge, L. 1982, Antique Needlework, Blandford Press, New York.

With many thanks to Modelbuch Muse for inspiration and for conveniently posting images in one place so I don’t need to search through my books for designs -