Thursday, March 28, 2019

Preparations for Rowany Festival

Well, I've just gotten over one infection and now I have another one!
Everything is a bit hectic in my local re-enactment community, with a lot of my group going interstate for the big SCA Rowany Festival. I'm not going (due to health issues,) but I have preparations to make as I will be sending items along. While everyone is away, I am hoping to get some sewing done for myself. I am busily making plans while trying to rest up.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Six Months of Reduced Productivity

Today marks six months since my furry helper passed away. In some ways the time has flown by, and in other ways it has dragged beyond belief.
I've been sick almost constantly. I've tried to maintain a reasonable level of productivity, but it has been a real struggle. I underestimated just what a good 'helper' she was.
I miss her every day.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Wulsthaube Schleier or Steuchlein with Whitework Embroidery In A Fretted Band

Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, AN II 3, p. 121r – Matriculation Register of the Rectorate of the University of Basel, Volume 1 (1460-1567) Coat of arms for Adam von Müllenberg, SS 1509
available at:

At Christmas time I made a Wulsthaube schleier (wulst veil) for a friend who is exploring 15th Century German clothing. I chose a pattern from the German Modelbucher book:
The design is not super symmetrical, which is something I tend to struggle with, but I decided to leave it as is and not adjust it. 
I cut out a piece of linen in a rectangle shape with a rounded top edge and hemmed it all with a whip stitch.

I traced out my chosen design in Frixion marker using a window as a light board.
I used silk floss in a lovely cream colour to work the design. The main stitch used was split stitch. The silk was wonderful to sew with.
Initially, I wasn't sure that the embroidery needed a second band framing the main design. When I finished working the design that I initially marked out, it was lacking something. I added the second border and it looked much more balanced.

I didn't put the dots in on the frettes because the frette is part of my Barony's heraldry, and I didn't want the dots to distract from the frettes.

I knotted my stitching off on the back of the piece to aid in washability.

I'm quite pleased with the outcome of this project. The design is quite charming, and the result is pretty and understated (which suits the recipient). I haven't seen the item worn yet; I'm looking forward to seeing how it looks on.

I recommend Katafalk's tutorials on different ways to make steuchleins and wulsthaubes:

and this excellent tutorial for a different perspective:

Monday, March 18, 2019

Seal Burse/Presentation Pouch

It really does pay to save all those little scraps of fabric!

Late last year, I needed to present a seal in Court. It was a physically very small item to present, so a presentation pouch of some sort seemed appropriate. Luckily, I hadn't given my scrap bag to the thrift shop (I had briefly considered it when despairing of ever trying to sort out my stash and sewing materials), so I could rummage through and find this lovely rectangle of fabric just asking to be sewn up into a pouch.

I didn't even need to add eyelets or drawstrings; just added a piece of braid as a tie which is wrapped around the excess fabric at the top of the bag. A couple of tassles on the corners gave a finished look, and the lining was whip-stitched into place. A quick, easy and satisfying project!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Wulsthaube Schleier or Steuchlein with Embroidered Foliate Pattern (and Bunnies)

Last year I wanted to make an embroidered wulsthaube veil for a friend who has a German persona in the 15th and 16th Century styles. The images below give an idea of the look I was going for.

Master of the Housebook [German Northern Renaissance Painter, 15th Century]
(Also known as: Master of Hausbuch, Meister des Hausbuches)
Image from:

Basel, Universitätsbibliothek, AN II 3, p. 121r – Matriculation Register of the Rectorate of the University of Basel, Volume 1 (1460-1567) Coat of arms for Adam von Müllenberg, SS 1509
available at:

16th century (1509-1510?) Switzerland - Basel               Basel, Universitätsbibliothek 
AN II 3: Matriculation Register of the Rectorate of the University of Basel, Volume 1 (1460-1567) 
fol. 123v            
Image from

I have an inordinately large head(!) so I had to turn to friends for advice on sizing. Many thanks to Mistress Rowan and Mistress Ursula (Lochac) who provided advice and sizing information.

The pattern is basically an extended half circle, or a rectangle with a small half circle on the end. I used 100% linen, which is a dream to work with. I hand sewed a small hem around all the edges, and then looked at the embroidery I wanted to do.

In a large number of period examples of this sort of headwear, counted designs (most likely executed in silk thread) are very popular. I struggle with counted work, and prefer non-counted so I had a look at appropriate designs. I was lucky enough last year to obtain a copy of  "German Modelbucher 1524-1556" compiled by Marion McNeally, so I had lots of designs to choose from.

I would also recommend Modelbuch Muse on Facebook as an amazing online resource of all sorts of embroidery and lace designs:

I chose this one; it was appropriate for the region and time period, and I liked it (third one down).

I decided to modify it a little and add a border and some bunnies to personalise it for the recipient. I worked the design in split stitch in a lovely wine coloured thread which would work well with the colours favoured by the wearer.

I traced the design out with my trusty Frixion (iron out) marker. With these old woodcut designs, I always have the dilemma of whether to alter them to make them more even and symmetrical. I used to always alter them, but now I am working on being able to directly transfer them and not worry to much about the little irregularities. (They still bother me!)

I was pleased with how the design turned out. It doesn't look like much of a garment when flat, but it looks great when worn. (To be honest, the recipient could wear a paper bag on her head and make it look stylish...... but I'm still pretty happy with how it turned out!)

Monday, March 11, 2019

A&S Pentathlon

I've been quite ill with respiratory issues this week, but I needed to drag myself along to an event this weekend. For the last year I have been running an A&S Pentathlon Challenge in my Barony, and this weekend was the opportunity for people to show the items that they have been working on.

Here are the guidelines:

Each entrant must complete five projects that each meet the requirements of at least one distinct category of the thirty available. The projects must be begun after the Baronial Rapier Championship 2018, and completed by Baronial Rapier Championship 2019 (excepting those calling for existing items/part finished projects). You can post updates on the Baronial or A&S Facebook pages and/or display your entries at events. 

Projects must be submitted to the A&S Officer – summaries and photographs as appropriate, reviews of comestibles/potables by consumers and performances by those present etc. There will be a special display of projects as they are at the Baronial Rapier Championship in 2019.

Projects may meet more than one category, but each one must meet at least one distinct category. 

This event is distinct from and does not count towards the Baronial A&S Championship.
Shared/group projects may count towards the Challenge for all participants.

1. Child's Play - Any item intended for a child - clothing, accessory, toy, game, wrap, cradle etc.
2. Out of Your Comfort Zone - An item from a time or place or material or skill set you have not
previously explored
3. Hitting Below The Knee -An item intended for use below the knee
4. The Neck Best Thing - An item intended for use on, around, or above the neck
5. Here Be Monsters - An item featuring or incorporating fantastical medieval beasts and creatures.
6. For Science! -Arts and Science often focuses a lot on the Arts side. Make a project that
is more related to the Sciences.
7. Show Us Your Arms -A project of heraldic display.
8. Break A Leg- A performance based project - learn a new dance, sing a song, do a performance etc.
9. Tool Me Once - A project to make a tool to be used in other projects (not necessarily for the Challenge).
10. Cover Me -A project to make an item intended for protection: from the elements, from
other people who want to hit or poke you etc. Suggestions include: wet weather gear, armour, tents and shelters
11. String Theory -A project significantly incorporating some form of string - weaving, knitting, ropes, nets, knots etc
12. One Metre Material Project -A project made of less than one linear metre of fabric, wood or other
material that usually comes in larger quantities.
13. Century Time Traveller -A project from exactly 500, 600, 700, 800 years etc in the past. Make
something from in period, from a year ending in 18.
14. Back To Basics -Ever wanted to undertake a sheep to clothing project? Mine your own clay for bricks and build an oven? This is your opportunity. This project will be made as much as possible from unprocessed elements, from the beginning to the end product.
15. Those Who Can, Also Teach Pass on your knowledge! Present an A&S class or run an A&S activity outside
of activities you usually run, or write an informative article for an SCA publication or similar.
16. Give What You Get- A project to be given to the Barony or Kingdom or to be given to Their Excellencies or Their Majesties to be given out as largesse, or as a gift for a relative newcomer.
17. I Can’t Believe It’s Not Out Of Period -A project that includes accurately documenting something often erroneously considered naff, out of period or otherwise wrong for the SCA.
18. Tis the Season- A project specifically related to a particular season or Saint’s day or holiday.
19. Embellish It- A project to add embellishment or decoration to an already existing item
20. With The Grain- A project featuring grains – of wheat, of rice, of paradise or any other grain
21. Fly The Colours - A project based on the primary Baronial colours – Red, White and Blue.
22. Oh Say, Can You Sea? - A project related to the high seas – something nautical, related to ships,
made of shells or pearls etc
23. Togs, Togs, Undies - An item that could be considered an under thing. Or an item of clothing intended for a specific purpose: eg, swimming, cooking, hunting, hawking, sports.
24. Remake, Reuse, Refashion, Reconsider - A project to remake or complete an item you or someone else has previously made, or half-made and abandoned.
25. Containment System - A project to make something designed to hold other things – boxes, bags etc.
26. Forget Me Not - A project related to death/mourning. Memento mori, mourning clothing or traditions 
27. Counting (on) Sheep - Ovines were significant to medieval life – providing meat, milk, wool and
the imagery of lambs. Incorporate one into a project.
28. Fire Burns - A project using real fire. Cook on it, forge with it, make it in a period manner.
29. A Bird In The Hand - Of or relating to birds – feathered accessories, quills, roasted birds, raising chickens, falconry projects etc
30. An Essay Of A Thousand Words - Research and write an essay on an aspect of medieval life. Topic of your
choice, minimum of a thousand words.

With thanks to Cecily de Montgomery, Southron Gaard A&S Officer for this concept

The A&S display tables.

Many people were away, so entries weren't as prolific as I had hoped, but the ones we had were well received by the populace. Hopefully the challenge will inspire people to develop existing skills and to learn new ones.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Baked Lumbarde Custard

I tried this recipe last year. I have had a few attempts at it. The taste is good, but the texture needs tweaking. My family (who generally don't eat medieval food) enjoyed it. I will keep working on it and post my final recipe when I am happy with it.

Custard lumbarde Recipe from A Boke of Kokery (Book of Cookery) c 1440

Take good creme, and leuys of Percely, and yolkes and white of egges, and breke hem thereto, and streyne hem all þorg a straynour till hit be so thik that it woll bere him self. And take faire Mary and Dates, cutte in ij. or iij. and prunes, and put hem in faire coffyns of paast. And then put þe coffyn in an oven, And lete hem bake till thei be hard. And then drawe hem oute and putte the licoure into þe coffyns. And put hem into þe oven ayen. And lete hem bake til they be ynogh, but cast sugur and salt into þi licour whan ye putte hit into þe coffyns. And if hit be in lenton, take creme of Almondes and leve the egges. And the Mary.

 In present day English: Take good cream, and mix in leaves of parsley. Break the yolks and whites of eggs into the mixture. Strain through a strainer, till it is so stiff that it will bear (support) itself. Then take good marrow, and dates cut in 2 or 3 pieces, and prunes, and put them in nice coffins (pastry cases). Put the pies in the oven, and let them bake until they are hard. Then take them out and put the liquid into them, and put them back in the oven. Let them bake together until done, but add sugar and salt to the liquid when you put it into the coffins. And if it is in Lent, take cream of almonds and leave out the egg and the marrow.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Blue Elizabethan Monochrome Coif

There are many extant coifs in museums and textile collections to give a guide to the shape of the pattern used for the piece. In terms of the embroidery design, I chose the traditional coiling foliage design which is so common in Elizabethan coifs. I prefer to design original patterns, but use motifs taken from extant pieces and Elizabethan portraits. On this project I used bird, flower and insect motifs.

Once I had sketched the design, I traced the pattern and design onto tracing paper with a permanent marker. Using tracing paper or greaseproof paper allows the light to shine through, and the permanent marker makes the design easier to see. The design can be traced using a light box or by taping the foundation fabric over the pattern on a large glass window or door.

Extant examples indicate that in period, ink was often used to mark designs onto white foundation fabric. I used 100% linen for this piece, and chose to use a modern alternative to ink: the Frixion pen. This type of pen irons away, is widely available where I live, comes in a range of colours and is available as a pen or marker. Very convenient for the modern embroiderer, and much more forgiving of unsteady hands than dip pen and ink.
The salamander design above, dating from around 1600, shows that ink was used to mark out embroidery designs (V&A Collection, T.88-1925, Arnold {QEWU} p. 272).

This piece is embroidered in blue cotton floss (DMC 824), in one or two strands (depending on the motif). Silk is a more authentic option and was used in period but cotton floss is affordable and easily available.
1A variety of period stitches were used on this piece, including stem stitch, double running stitch and speckling/seeding stitch. Combining different stitches on this project made the end result texturally more interesting, makes working the embroidery more interesting, and is also entirely period. I used hoop because it is more portable than a frame. I omitted spangles (even though they were a decorative feature on coifs) as they can sometimes be uncomfortable if worn under headwear such as a coronet.

Once the embroidery was complete, I ironed away any traces of the pen, and cut out the piece. I edged the coif panel with zigzag stitch for extra strength. I cut a linen lining and sewed the two panels together. This lining hides the spangle threads and protects the embroidery from hair oils and pins.
The cord channel was hand sewn as was the top seam which runs over the top of the head. Only the first two thirds of the seam was sewn up; the last third was gathered with very small stitches to produce tiny cartridge pleats. The pleats were drawn up to gather the back of the coif into a circle and the pleats were secured with buttonhole bars. This pleating rounds off the back of the coif and makes a space for the hair underneath.
I sewed a channel around the bottom of the coif and used commercially produced cord to gather it. I also sewed commercially produced lace around the front edge.
This image shows the way that the coif is gathered at the back of the head – from Plate 52B (Patterns Of Fashion 4).

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.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

A Recipe for Frumenty

One of the recipes I made for the Revel was Frumenty.

These period recipes listed below  are reproduced at

Source [Le Viandier de Taillevent, J. Prescott (trans.)]: Frumenty. Take wheat, prepare it, wash it very well, and cook it in water. When it is cooked, drain it. Take cow's milk boiled for an instant, add the wheat, and boil it for an instant. Move it to the back of the fire, stir often, and thread in plenty of egg yolks. Some add spices, saffron and venison stock. It should be yellowish and well thickened.

Source [Forme of Cury, S. Pegge (ed.)]: I - FOR TO MAKE FURMENTY. Nym clene Wete and bray it in a morter wel that the holys gon al of and seyt yt til it breste and nym yt up. and lat it kele and nym fayre fresch broth and swete mylk of Almandys or swete mylk of kyne and temper yt al. and nym the yolkys of eyryn. boyle it a lityl and set yt adoun and messe yt forthe wyth fat venyson and fresh moton.

Source [Liber cure cocorum, R. Morris (ed.)]: Furmente. Take wete, and pyke hit fayre and clene And do hit in a morter shene. Bray hit a lytelle, with water hit spryng Tyl hit hulle, with-oute lesyng. Þen wyndo hit wele, nede þou mot. Wasshe hit fayre, put hit in pot. Boyle hit tylle hit brest, þen Let hit doun, as I þe kenne. Take know mylke, and play hit up To hit be thykkerede to sup. Lye hit up with 3olkes of eyren, And kepe hit wele, lest hit berne. Coloure hit with safron and salt hit wele, And servyd hit forthe, Syr, at þe mele. With sugur candy, þou may hit dowce, If hit be served in grete lordys howce. Take black sugur for mener menne. Be ware þer with, for hit wylle brenne.

Source [Libro di cucina / Libro per cuoco, L. Smithson (trans.)]: XXIV - Maize dish (Frumenty) good and perfectly useful. If you want to make a frumenty, take the wheat and beat it well to when it leaves the shell / husk, then wash it well, then put it to boil not much, then throw away the water, then put into it that fat of the meat that you choose, and it needs to be not too much, and mix spices sweet and strong and saffron, and if you do not have wheat take rice; it will be good.
Originally Published: March 20, 2003

As you can see, these recipes are either savory (with meat and marrow additions) or sweet, with spices and/or fruit additions. I chose to do a sweet version.

My recipe:

approximately 150g bulghur wheat, rinsed until water runs clear
pinch of saffron
3 egg yolks beaten
1/2 cup of almond milk
sugar to taste (approximately 1/2 cup)
prune pieces to taste

I boiled the bulghur wheat and saffron in a little water until soft, stirring often. It was very thick so I added the almond milk and yolks and stirred over a low-medium heat to get a consistency similar to porridge. It was too bland for a dessert revel, so I added sugar to taste and some chopped, pitted prunes.

I used bulghur wheat and commercially produced almond milk to reduce the preparation due to my wrist injury. I suspect that cooking down hulled wheat would produce a more interesting texture, and the addition of home-made almond milk would produce a richer and more creamy result. I did not add cinnamon or other spices as other menu items were spiced and I wanted a bit of variety in the dishes. Next time I do this dish it will not be as part of a feast so I will add spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, and probably some salt. I would be interested to try the dish with some different sugars, such as raw sugar, to see how the taste is affected.

Comments I received on this dish included:

"Very subtle taste, nice relief to stronger flavours. Quite sweet and moist. Felt like a dish to have as palette relief."

" I like the flavour! Very lovely."

"Pleasantly tasty with a delightful texture and flavour."

So, probably a dish worth experimenting with and developing.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

A Sweete Revel in November

One of my challenges to myself last year was to run and be sole cook for a small event. This probably doesn't sound like much of a challenge to the average able bodied reader, but for someone who battles fatigue and is almost constantly ill, it seemed like an almost insurmountable challenge.

Choosing to run a small, low key event was one way to reduce the impact of the event. As it turned out, in the lead up to the event I wasn't actually sick for a change. I did injure my wrist significantly, to the point that I needed cortisone injections and was told to immobilise it for four weeks and wear a brace - on the week of the event. What fabulous timing!

I had planned a pastry-rich menu, but rolling and kneading was definitely out of the question, so I had to alter my carefully considered menu. Now, don't think for a minute that my thoughtful friends didn't offer to jump in and cook for me at the last minute - they certainly did! But part of the challenge was for me to be the sole cook, so I was stubborn and just adjusted the menu. And cursed and sweated while stirring!

The event was a supper revel and games night with a sweet theme. Our Baroness and one of the Barony's peers also brought along some cheese and other items to supplement all the sweetness.

I did have to supplement my menu items with some bought ones like fruit pies. The dishes I made were:

Frumenty (wheat, almond milk, eggs, saffron powder, sugar, spices, prunes)
Torta of Buttered Fruit (cottage cheese, sugar, butter, ginger, rosewater, cinnamon, milk, saffron
powder, dried fruit)
Tarte of Ryce (rice, sugar, lemon juice, eggs, spices, butter)
Prunes in Syrop (prunes, red wine, sugar)
Pomada (apples, spices, sugar, almond meal, rosewater)
Candied Peel (lemon peel, sugar)
Cream (cream, sugar)
Italian Pudding (Eggs, cream, spices, bread, rosewater, dates, dried fruit, sugar)
Fine Cakes (Flour, sugar, spices, salt, butter, eggs, yeast, cream, rosewater)
Fine Cakes GF Version (rice flour, almond meal, sugar, spices, salt, butter, eggs, yeast)
White Leach (milk, cream, gelatine, sugar, nutmeg, rosewater)
Red Gingerbrede of the Court (bread, red wine, spices, sugar)
An Excellent Cake (flour, butter, eggs, mixed fruit, spices, port, yeast, rosewater)
Rice Pudding (rice, almond milk, honey, sugar)
Marzipan Subtletie (commercially produced, containing almonds, sugar and food colourings)

The event was very relaxed, with people enjoying games and dancing. I liked being able to enjoy the event with pre-prepared dishes and not spend the whole night in the kitchen. I must thank my friends for their help and support, especially Federyc, Sorcha, Violet, Ethan, Emma, Skeggi, Faelan, Linet, Vlad and the kitchen clean up crew. It was a gentle introduction to Feast Stewarding/Cooking and I am grateful for all the assistance.