Saturday, July 28, 2018

A&S Pentathlon Display Table

I mentioned in an earlier post that I am running an A&S Pentathlon in my local group to get people motivated to do Arts and Sciences and to develop new skills. At a recent event we held a display table where people could show what they have been working on. I only had two of my five entries available for display; I am working a coif with purple embroidery, and I also displayed my second piece of braid woven on the rigid heddle loom.

An A&S display table is an excellent way to let people showcase what they have been working on in a no-pressure environment. People can come and have a look at people's projects and documentation and hopefully get inspired to try something new or develop an existing skill or knowledge area.

Hand sewn tunic by Lord Faelan and my braid and embroidery

Class notes and sundial by Master William and embroidered game board by Lord Faelan

Hand-sewn doll's dress by TH Baroness Linet

Klosterstitch angel by Lord Faelan

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Partlet Embroidered with a Design of Grotesques

Adding to my pile of unfinished projects, I started a new partlet recently.

I am running an A&S Pentathlon challenge in my Barony to encourage people to get involved in the arts and sciences and to learn new skills. One of the challenges involves monsters and grotesques. I decided to make a partlet decorated with grotesques for this challenge. I love monsters and grotesques - they are my favourite things to paint for Scribes - and I would love to have a wardrobe full of coifs, partlets and camicias decorated with them. I thought these little snake-dragon wyrms were pretty cute.

The design for the embroidery

The partlet cut out with shoulder seams sewn and hems being tacked down.

Normally, I would embroider my fabric first, and then cut out the panels, but with my partlets, I will often do it the other way around. I make up the partlet pattern first, and either finish or tack the seams down. Then I mark out the design, often with a frixion or removable ink pen. (Or a pencil if I am feeling confident.) When one side is embroidered, I trace the embroidery in reverse on the other side so that the placement is a mirror image. This matters less on a chemise or coif, but is important on a partlet where both sides are up ''front and centre'' so to speak, and very visible.

One side of the design marked out

The design is from Thomas Trevelyon's Miscellany manuscript of 1608. These strange snake-dragon like creatures are a reccuring theme in modelbuchs and design books of the previous century, and are very common in Italian and German artworks and embroideries. I had  to change the design slightly to allow for the slight curve in the front of the partlet. I plan to work this design in a flat gold split stitch, probably using only one thread as an outline for a finer finished look. I'll let you  know how it goes.

Image from:

The manuscript can be accessed here:

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Cloved Lemon Soltelty

At our recent Royal Visit, I made a surprise gift for a friend who HATES cloved lemons. It is a novelty cloved lemon made of marzipan.

I made a lemon shape out of marzipan and made little indentations in the skin with the small side of a cheese grater. I painted the lemon with commercial food colouring, studded it with cloves and dusted it with caster sugar.

The presentation was greatly enjoyed by the populace, and the ''treat'' accepted with mixed emotions by the recipient :-)

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Order of Grace Frette Pouches

I finished these two pouches a couple of weeks ago. They are the sort of project that doesn't look that involved but which actually takes a lot of time.

These are token pouches for my Barony's Order of Grace. The silver frette is what takes the time. Because recipients  wear them with pride to events, they need to be very durable. And anyone who has worn garb trimmed with gimp braid will tell you that it is often not terribly durable.

The pouches are made from wool and velveteen. The lining is cotton or linen. The pattern is just a simple rectangle with seam allowances added. To make the pouches more likely to stand up to wear and tear, I hand sewed the trim into place down the centre of the ribbon. Then I went along both sides and sewed down all the little loops.

Once the trim was secured, I sewed the side seams of the pouches and linings and trimmed the corners. Simple tassels were created and then sewn along the bottom of the pouch.

Next the lining was inserted into the pouch, so that all seams were hidden. A whip stitch along the top edge secured them together.

I use five eyelets per side for pouches of this side. I use pins to mark their position and then make a hole with an awl. (I have an eyelet tool that I made from a wooden knitting needle that I use to enlarge the hole.) I do a double running stitch around each hole to secure it, and then reinforce with a thick satin stitch.

The pouch ties are threaded through the holes in opposite directions so that when they are pulled, they draw the mouth of the pouch shut. I used commercially produced cord for this project to save time.

The last thing to do is to add ties onto the pouch so that it can be hung from a belt. I usually aim to have it sit at around mid-thigh height, although this is only a guess because I have no idea who these pouches will be awarded to.

My little friend offering moral support while working those tedious frettes.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Local Wildlife

Thought long-term followers might be interested to see that this guy is back, roaring all night and sleeping all day!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Learning About Rigid Heddle Weaving

At a recent event I was lucky enough to catch up with an interstate friend who had kindly agreed to show me how to use my rigid heddle loom to make narrow wares. I was given this little heddle as a gift two or three years ago and had played around with it on my own, trying to work out the secret to a nice even braid. I was not very happy with the results, and to be honest, I can't even remember if I did a blog post about the results because they were pretty atrocious.

Good teaching makes all the difference, and it turns out that, as I suspected, my issue was a simple one of tension. With the right tension, the process became so much easier, and actually quite enjoyable. Thank you so much Mistress Ursula for your help!

 This is me at the event trying to get the hang of the process. Ignore the glazed look on my face; it was very cold, I was quite sick and I had spent all week frantically prepping for the event as it was a Royal Visit. I'm pretty surprised I was still upright at this point of the day, although I had lost my voice.

I'd like to be able to say that this is the fruit of my labour, but it is actually a braid that was gifted to me by my friend Lady Melodia after I admired her handiwork. She made it in what seemed like about three minutes, so I am aspiring to be as fast and as neat as she with this new skill. (PS- failing miserably so far.)

I used some birthday money to purchase this lovely, tiny little heddle from an artisan in Europe. It is so pretty, it makes me happy just to look at it. So far, I have made one braid on it and I am reasonably pleased with the results. This is a skill I need to work on: I enjoy it, but can't do it for very long because I get disoriented with the creation of the 'shed' for some reason. I believe it is fatigue related. For now, I have to do a little bit every day that I can find time.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

15th Birthday Celebrations!

I have previously shared the very upsetting news that my furry helper is slowly deteriorating due to congestive heart disease and kidney disease. Her vet has warned me that I will, in all likelihood, lose her before Christmas, so we are making the most of every day (in a slow and gentle way befitting an elderly lady who can't get too excited at the risk of a heart attack.)

My little friend recently had her 15th Birthday, and of course we had to celebrate.
The part she celebrated most of all was taking off the Birthday t-shirt, which stayed on for less than a minute! But she also did enjoy some special vegetable treats and gifts.

She has been a part of every single project since 2003. In the beginning, her 'help' mainly involved stealing threads, ripping up pattern paper, laying on my fabric and distracting me with requests for games. But over the years she has been my 'fabric inspector' and someone to bounce ideas off of. I honestly can't imagine sewing without her around, it just seems too bleak.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Another Seahorse Napkin

Lots of projects on the go - and the going is SLOW!

As you probably know by now, I love the satisfaction of small projects which are quickly completed. They seem to get me motivated and back on track again.

I was recently searching for an item I needed for one of my other ongoing (never-ending?) projects, and came across an old napkin that I had bought from a thrift shop and started to embroider with my device - a seahorse. My heraldic device was mostly done, so I decided to finish it off. The stitching is split stitch worked in a DMC cotton floss. I also added some purple floss tufts along the edges as a bit of an experiment.

I was quite pleased with how it turned out.

I keep finding old table linens in thrift shops and can't resist them. They are so very handy for keeping flies and wasps off of food at tournaments, as well as being used as napkins.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Viking Tournament and Magpie-sitting

I went along to a Viking tournament on the weekend. I haven't worn Norse style garb in several years, and I was pleasantly surprised that a) it still fit and b) at how quick and easy it was to put on compared to my Renaissance garb. I was having bad fatigue and a high pain day, and it was also quite cold, so a warm and easy style of clothing really helped me get through the morning.

A friend of mine has a rescue magpie that lives with him and I got to spend time on the day with her. (Actually I monopolised her for as much time as I could during the day!) She is a truly beautiful bird, as well as being good-natured and intelligent. We could all pretend that this post is about a renewed interest in Viking garb, and my plans to make some more early garb for travelling, but really it is all about showing you a picture of my new friend 😉

Photo by Phil Abrahams